Mexico Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase is one that is very near and dear to my heart. Not only did I grow up submerged up to my sombrero in Mexican culture (Texan transplant alert!), but Mexico is the only country I’ve personally experienced outside of the U.S. I don’t know if it is a surge of youth memories or just the genuine nature of this area, but I feel so comfortable here. Overall, it’s a warm, inviting, fun area to explore… and a good portion of it is indoors! If you’ve learned nothing else about me, you know I love to pitch those escape zones from the Florida heat!
In reality, Mexico is our neighbor to the south. At Epcot, Mexico Pavilion doesn’t border America at all. It is the first pavilion on left pathway as you enter World Showcase, bordering Norway. From a fair distance away, the focal point of the pavilion stands out. If you’ve ever been to Teotihuacan, you may recognize this stunning replica of Quetzalcoatl, an ancient Aztec Temple. Enveloped by lush landscapes native to Mexico (including an amazing, centuries-old Yucca tree), the pyramid appears as if it set within the Yucatan jungles. While you’re not invited to climb the pyramid, it’s worth noting the authenticity of the steps. In Mexico, these steep, thin steps require sideways stepping for stable footing. A klutz like me can find this rather daunting.
Prepare for the busting fiesta of sights, sounds, and smells as you enter the Plaza de Los Amigos marketplace. The weather is always perfect and the night sky is always twinkling over the plaza… because you’re still indoors! The scene is set to brilliantly reflect a village marketplace by twilight, regardless of what time of day it is back outside, in “the real world”. A Mayan pyramid and smoldering volcano sit off in the distance, across a sparkling river; and vibrantly colorful displays cover carts and shops in the foreground. Throughout the marketplace, you’ll find stunning, authentic jewelry, clothing, pottery, home decor, pinatas, and much more. La Princesa de Cristal is a stand-out shop within the plaza. Specializing in crystal products, there’s a unique, meaningful treasure for every budget here. If your timing is right, you may even be able to watch new items being made on-site!
In a far corner within the plaza, you’ll find the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. It is somewhat easy to overlook, and it seems that many guests do just that. You’ll rarely encounter any wait at all for this relaxing, nearly 10 minute long slow boat ride. Soak up the sights on this tour of Mexico as you help Jose Carioca and Panchito locate their buddy Donald. That catastrophic duck has gone on a wild wandering adventure, encountering his own special brand of mischief along the way. Gran Fiesta Tour replaced El Rio de Tiempo as of April of 2007. The ride is essentially the same, but the storyline and film backdrops have changes to include the feathered threesome from Disney’s 1944 animated film The Three Caballeros. Gran Fiesta is reminiscent of Magic Kingdom’s its a small world, but different enough to boast about (and notably less of those eerily creepy, but strangely intriguing Animatronic dolls). Live-action footage combined with superimposed animation is projected onto screens scattered throughout the attraction, cleverly built into the “Mexican” scenery and backdrops. You’ll chase Donald on his wayward journeys through Acapulco, Mexico City, Manzanillo, and Chichen Itza, while delighting in the visions and sounds of Mexican tradition through the years.
But what about the food? Oh, there’s plenty of that within Mexico Pavilion… tequila, too!
La Cantina de San Angel rests alongside the World Showcase Lagoon, offering outdoor seating. This is a spectacular spot for Illuminations viewing (if timed right), and you won’t have to pay a fortune for the meal… so it’s a beautifully welcome winning combination. La Cantina is also the top choice if you prefer lighter, more familiar Mexican fare – including, tacos, churros, nachos, empanadas, and traditional Mexican sodas. Average of $15 or less per person. Lunch and dinner menus available here.
La Hacienda de San Angel offers table-service dinner alongside the World Showcase Lagoon. Zesty, spicy, bold, and yummy all combine to create a menu as colorful as the ambiance. Menu items include tacos, seafood, grilled specialties, and more. Indulge in the many varieties of native beers, wines and margaritas, with the help of an on-staff Tequila Ambassador. (I’d love to know… how do you get that job??) Reservations are strongly suggested for this waterfront dining establishment. Another fine location for Illumiations viewing! Plan on $15-$30 per person (before drinks), and do not miss the Queso Fundido!!
San Angel Inn is the gem of Mexico Pavilion. Overlooking the river scene of the Gran Fiesta Tour, San Angel Inn offers a breathtaking, romantic, subdued setting quite unlike any other in Epcot (or most of Walt Disney World, for that matter). Steak, chicken, and seafood entrees are complimented with a wide array of zesty, tangy, and spicy sauces for a genuine South of the Border delight. And that’s only the start of the lunch and dinner offerings. Reservations are extremely wise at this location, and meals will be pricier than other establishments in Mexico. Plan for around $30 per adult, minimum.
Housed within the “temple”, to the right of the plaza’s marketplace, La Cava del Tequila boasts over 100 tequila varieties, as well as Mexican beer and wine. Margarita and tequila flights are widely raved about, as is the atmosphere within the “cave”. This location participates in Epcot’s After Hours Wind Down. Be sure to check out La Cava del Tequila on Facebook as well!
But that’s not all, folks… no, not by a long shot! Aside from the temple’s interior, and the lengthy list of ingest-ables, you still have more to explore throughout Mexico! For starters, you absolutely cannot pass up a performance by Mariachi Cobre! Performing traditional Jalisco folk, this 12-piece band features strings, brass, and vocal performance of the highest quality. When the weather allows, you’ll find Mariachi Cobre performing pre-scheduled, 25 minute sets outside, near the Mexico-Norway border, but they have been known to stroll the indoor marketplace during rainy spells.
More to know about Mexico Pavilion at Epcot:
The KIDCOT station in Mexico is around the corner from La Cantina de San Angel. What is KIDCOT? Click here. Don’t forget to get your Epcot passport stamped here as well! Mexico’s representative “character” is Donald Duck – complete with a sombrero and sarape. Check schedule for current appearance times. Currently meeting near the base of the pyramid, outside.
If you’re looking for a grab-and-go, cool pick-me-up, visit the outdoor Margarita stand! Margaritas are offered in three different flavors – mango, strawberry and lime… or you can opt for flavor layering!
The national drink is tequila. The national dish is Molé Poblano de Guajalote.
The official language of Mexico is Spanish.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is also its largest city.
Hello in Spanish is “hola”.
Tequila is made from the Agave Cactus.
Quetzalcoatl (“Feathered Serpent”) is one of the most important figures in traditional mythologies of Mesoamerica.
Video tour by iThemePark
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