I have to admit, I went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for literally years before I ever visited Epcot. For some reason, it was always overlooked by us. Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom always had our full attention. However, it only took one visit for Epcot to jump to the top of the list for me.
From the time I was a young child I have been fascinated with other countries and their cultures. I would look through social studies books for hours, studying the photos closely and reading everything I could on the far off lands. We did not have computers in our homes at that time and Google certainly did not exist. To a southern girl in the tiniest of towns, two hours from any city, these places seemed unreachable and beyond fascinating!
I am no longer in that tiny southern town, far from it actually, but I have never lost my love of other countries and cultures. When I decide I’m ready for the taste of another culture, and a long trip across the ocean is not possible, I plan a visit to Epcot and make my way around the world to 11 different countries!
Epcot is home to the World Showcase, which consists of 11 pavilions representing 11 different countries from around the world. The countries represented are Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.
When you walk from country to country it is pretty mind blowing. You feel as if you are truly in that country. Just like with all things Disney, they go above and beyond and have made sure to represent these countries as true to their culture as possible. The architecture is true to the country, the music playing in the streets is original to that country, all wares and food items are authentic to that country. The staff and artists that are working in the shops, restaurants and/or performing are from that country. In fact, Disney has a fantastic program that allows students from the represented country to come live and work at Disney, in the country of their origin, in the World Showcase. While having this experience they are also offered schooling opportunities. The different young adults that we spoke with were so happy and thankful to have the opportunity to live in America while also representing their country.
One of my favorites things to do is experience the authenticity of the food prepared in these countries. The chefs that prepare the meals in the restaurants of each country are of course, from that specific country. Their dishes are authentic and simply delightful to the taste buds!
My favorite restaurant in all of Epcot is Tutto Italia in “Italy”. The dishes are exactly what I remember from my time in the literal country of Italy years ago. Eating at Tutto Italia brings back memories of a special time spent in Italy but it is more than that. The atmosphere is nice and quiet and relaxing and the service top notch!
The food at Tutto Italia is definitely comfort food for me…and the taste is nothing like American Italian food! I always get the lasagna and it only takes one bite to take me back to the first time I had lasagna in Italy and the delightful shock of how very different it is from American lasagna.
My husbands favorite is Teppen Edo in Japan. I do admit, it is amazing food and the chef who prepares your food in front of you is delightful. Our daughter eats only a plant based diet and has for many years now. We were impressed with Teppen Edo for several reasons but the main one was due to the fact that the chef paid close attention to her diet restrictions and thoughtfully prepared her food first. Therefore, the grill was not touched by a single piece of meat before her meal was cooked and served to her. That truly meant alot to her.
Italy and Japan are also two of our favorites as far as architecture goes with Morocco coming in among those top three favorites.
As far as enjoyment of conversation. It is Japan hands down! The young adults working there, and representing their home country, are so joyful and thankful to be here. They are eager to have a conversation and to show you things like the Japanese candies that they love and why we should try them.
If you have not visited Epcot I highly recommend you do. But don’t just fly through the countries. Really take your !me and you will be very pleasantly surprised at the detail that leads you to believe that you are truly in another country. You will learn beautiful things about the countries and cultures if you really pay attention!