A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have a chat with Ryno and Deni where we did a good bit of reminiscing about Disneyland and since the show aired, it's got me thinking about my family's first trip to Walt Disney World. There are so many things at Disney World that you just don't see at Disneyland and for that reason, I love them both in different ways. In case you didn't catch the show, you can watch it over on the DIS Unplugged YouTube channel.
Anywho, I thought I'd start a new 4-part series on the things I can't miss at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks. We'll start today with EPCOT.
1) Living with the Land
Whenever I visit EPCOT, I head straight to The Land pavilion for a leisurely boat ride on the Living with the Land attraction. With Disneyland being my home park for years, I’d never experienced anything even similar to this attraction and I’ve been fascinated over the years to learn about all the work that goes into the hydroponic way of growing fruits and vegetables.
Once I learned that the food that’s harvested in The Land pavilion is used in some of the EPCOT restaurants, riding every time moved higher on my must-do list. Back in 2008, my family enjoyed a lovely dinner at Coral Reef Restaurant – being from Seattle, we’re huge seafood fans at theirs was fabulous. I haven’t had the opportunity to dine at Garden Grill yet, but that is on my need-to-try list. Seeing the different items being grown throughout the attraction each time is my favorite and the AC break is always a much-needed respite.
2) La Maison du Vin
We are the family who leaves Future World and heads to World Showcase via the RoseWalk that lets out just a few steps away from the Canada pavilion and then we start making our way around the world. I’ll be honest, while I do love both the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions, I often don’t spend a whole lot of time in either one as I’m too busy making a bee-line to France.
I absolutely LOVE shopping in EPCOT, but my very favorite shop is La Maison du Vin – or what I call, the kitchen shop. I’ve got several of the wooden spoons they sell there in my kitchen along with both sizes of the French wooden rolling pins and a few other cherished items in my kitchen. The wooden spoons are fabulous – they are sturdy and don’t snap in half easily like many of the cheap ones out there. I still have a few things on my list to purchase there and they are always bringing in new must-haves. What I really love is that I can count on the staples being available whenever I visit. I love giving their wooden spoons and dish towels as wedding gifts – who doesn’t need those in their kitchen?
3) Mitsukoshi Department Store
Coming a close second behind shopping in France is the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan pavilion. I feel like browsing through this amazing shop is like an attraction all by itself. We used to start every trip inside with a visit to Miyuki, the candy maker. Unfortunately, she is no longer making handmade rice candy at EPCOT, but we sure enjoyed her on every one of our trips. In fact, one year she made my daughter a horse and we wrapped that bad boy in so much bubble wrap to carry it safely back home. Rather than being saved forever, she begged me to eat the horse and I finally let her do it. She said she liked Dum-Dums better. LOL!
If you've never perused this shop, please make a point of it on your next visit to EPCOT. There are so many useful items there that make for fantastic gift-giving. It's really a treasure trove from traditional Japanese footwear and clothing, including kimonos, to chachkies such as "Anime" trading cards, i-Pets, Kingdom Hearts 2 action figures, and model cars. One year, we had so many packs of HI-Chew packed in our suitcase that our clothes smelled fruity when we unpacked. My son got some super cool Pokémon items there back in the day and just last month, my daughter bought the most adorable cat backpack you've ever seen with little paws that move up and down. We even bought a little kitty hat complete with bunny ears!
My next stop is always Karamelle-Küche in the Germany pavilion. I have to be honest and say that I don't always buy a treat here because that can be pretty dangerous as I've never tasted a single thing from that shop that wasn't delicious. The smells wafting around the pavilion are unbelievable and if you are able to maintain composure, I highly recommend stopping by. Although, unlike me, when most of you visit, you're on vacation where calories supposedly don't count so in that case, go for it! You won't be sorry.
5) Select Attractions On the Way Out
Back when organizing FastPass+ selections early was a thing, we always made ours for late in the day if we planned on spending a full day at EPCOT. We'd hit Frozen Ever After in Norway, then the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabelleros in Mexico, followed by Test Track and finishing off the day with Spaceship Earth, and then we'd leave and head "home" to have dinner in our DVC Resort.
What's on your EPCOT not-to-be-missed list?