Happy Friday! I have to apologize for the layout and format of the post, I am having issues with editing. Anyhow, Here is a nice juicy food-related post to get you in the mood for weekend eating:
When you are visiting the Disney parks during a very busy time, you can easily get frustrated by the lines for EVERYTHING. My sister and I chose to visit EPCOT during our very short stay at Walt Disney World during New Years; one of the busiest times of the year. The beauty of this park versus the others is that there is so much to see and enjoy rather than just rides (though EPCOT does have fun ones!). EPCOT also has some of the best sit down restuarants, however it can be very difficult to get reservations with some people calling in 6 months ahead to reserve their favorite spot! With only one day in the parks and no prior planning, my sister and I had a delightful day snacking our way around EPCOT. She had to leave at 4pm but I stayed until right before the park closed. This walk through of an ideal day is designed to minimize your waiting-in-line time and maximize your sight-seeing, rides, and enjoyment. So whether you are planning a trip to the parks, want to reminisce about vacations, or just daydream about eating and shopping, I hope you enjoy this (rather lengthy) post!
I generally have to wait about an hour or so after I wake up before I can eat anything so my ideal morning would start off by taking a walk to the resort cafeteria or store to purchase a small coffee or espresso and some fresh fruit or graham crackers that you could easily take along with you into the parks. Also, grab a refillable water bottle so you can keep hydrated throughout the day, filling up at water fountains for free. I like to bring a light but relatively large satchel to the parks so you are able to throw various items in throughout the day like snacks, maps or souvenirs. If you are staying at the Caribbean Resort, you can take a lovely morning stroll to Port Royale and enjoy the setting of a calypso street market. I feel immediately transported to the islands! This resort really puts me in a great mood because it reminds of my time in Hawaii (or perhaps I loved my time in Hawaii because of my time at the Caribbean resort… ok maybe not quite).
Alright, now you’ve made it to EPCOT which has just opened. First thing is first… make your way to the Land Pavilion and ride Soarin’ while the wait is still relatively short. By now you can pull out your banana or what-have-you and eat in line. Take the time to enjoy what the imagineers have placed in the queue while you munch on your little snack. Once you’ve ridden Soarin’, head on over to get a fast pass for TestTrack or Mission Space (whatever you prefer). You’ll probably have enough time to ride 2 quick rides (Finding Nemo and Journey into Imagination would be my suggestion) before returning for your fast pass.
Kelly and I are swimming along outside of "The Seas with Nemo and Friends":
Kelly and I are swimming along outside of "The Seas with Nemo and Friends":
So by now it is surely 11:00 AM and World Showcase is open... let the snacking continue! If you are able to get to the France Pavilion and there is not much of a line at the Boulangerie Patisserie, grab some coffee and a pastry or crossaint for a mid morning pick-me-up. You can either eat it amongst the bustling French market atmosphere there or walk over to one of the many benches looking out across the lake. If the Boulangerie is too busy, you can also go to the Coffee and Pastry kiosks around the pavilion and take it wherever you prefer. I opted for an Irish Cream latte and danish!
A view of of the Mexico Pavilion across the lake from one of the benches nearby
While you are walking and shopping around the various world markets, take a look and see what each has to offer for food options so you can plan some of your later meals. EPCOT also has some fantastic sit down restaurants and if you don't have reservations, you can always walk into the restaurants and take a look at the fun themes. Le Cellier in Canada would be a great one to take a quick look inside.
Here are two of my favorite options once you have worked up an appetite for lunch. Germany Pavilion has huge soft pretzels that you can quickly pick up at a kiosk or quick-service restaurant. England has fish and chips which are a delightful deep fried splurge (yes… another reason why I love Disney is that you can eat WHATEVER you want thanks to all of the immense walking). For a place to sit down and enjoy your lunch, there is a little garden tucked away in the back of the England pavilion with benches and pretty views. It’s off the beaten path so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your snack of choice in the shade.
After more walking and a few rides here and there, you will start to see alcohol tastings at the various countries. I’m not sure if this is a new addition (and there is certainly more offered than what I mention here) but now you can get a sample pouring for a few dollars of: wines in France, Italy and Morocco; beers in Germany; and sake in Japan. Pick your favorite and take it along as you stroll through the Moroccan street markets or gaze longingly at the silk dresses in China.
Les Vins de France: wine, port, and champagne sampling
Stunning silk dresses in the China pavilion
I sampled a French wine and bought a small piece of chocolate. After looking through the French soaps and perfumes, I found a real Disney treasure between the France and Morocco pavilion; a grassy knoll with 4 bistro tables (with umbrellas). This was my go-to spot for the rest of the day. No one seemed to be sitting there during a busy day at the parks! The tables were a bit small so perhaps they aren’t suitable for more than two people. This little spot was so peaceful. I was able to sip my wine and nibble on my chocolate while relaxing in the shade and enjoying a view of the lake.
Intoxicating! French Perfumes
My quiet little spot!
For dinner I took a stroll back to the Land Pavilion which has loads of vegetarian and vegan options. As a side note, some (or perhaps all) of the restaurants there serve food that was grown in “The Land” greenhouse. There is a lot to choose from and healthy options too! I chose some tuna with a piece of pita bread, tomato and lettuce and veggies on the side. I grabbed mine to go and walked over to the Mexico Pavilion where I sat and enjoyed the indoor “outdoor-nighttime” Mexican market. You can enjoy the shopping (leather satchels, purses, jewelry!), the Gran Fiesta tour boat ride, or even some tequila in the bar before heading out.
To end the evening, I stopped in Mitsukoshi’s at the Japan Pavilion for a sake sample and some almond covered Pocky (think of a thin sweet cracker dipped in chocolate and almonds). I took my snacks over to my favorite grassy knoll between France and Morocco in preparation for Illuminations, the nightly fireworks show. The show started at 9PM but people had been lining up around the lake for at least an hour and a half however there wasn’t a single person at the French bistro tables! I grabbed a spot only 5 minutes before the show and was able to sip my sake and nibble on the pocky throughout the dazzling fireworks.
After the spectacular show was over, I sat back and did a bit of people watching as most guests were leaving the park. I did one final lap around the World Showcase in the opposite direction of the other guests which allowed me to get on every ride one last time with no wait. I made my way through Future World and did the same thing for all of my favorite rides with the exception of Soarin'. As a side note, there are single-rider lines for some of the bigger attractions with a largely reduced wait time!
Good night EPCOT!
After that it was onto a bus for the ride back to the hotel and time for a good night's sleep!