IllumiNations Post Show: A World Showcase Stroll


Okay, so this isn’t really a post about the post-show to IllumiNations, but as I was listening to the “Evening at Epcot” music, I started thinking about how there are few experiences we enjoy more at Walt Disney World than strolling around World Showcase at night. In particular, we really like wandering around World Showcase after IllumiNations, when the park is closing and the crowds have cleared out.

World Showcase’s countries are inherently romantic, and there’s something special about being there late listening to the peaceful background music, walking hand-in-hand with someone you love through those beautiful environments, while few other guests are around. This is by far our number one World Showcase experience.

That may seem crazy since it’s not something you’ll find on a park map and isn’t really a “thing” at all, anyone who has ever done this probably understands. For us, Walt Disney World is about the little moments during which we enjoy the place and the presence of one another, and walking through World Showcase after IllumiNations is typically one of those little moments for us.

Since the restaurants in World Showcase make dining reservations until park closing and it takes some guests over an hour after park closing to finish their meals, you have some time to linger and slowly make your way out of the park. In fact, the best way to enjoy this tranquil walk through World Showcase at the end of the night is to make an 8:55 p.m. Advance Dining Reservation for a restaurant deep in World Showcase. By the time you’re done with your meal, you’re pretty much guaranteed one of these enjoyable walks out. Our top recommendation for this is Tokyo Dining, where you can enjoy a great view of IllumiNations, too, and is basically in the “middle” World Showcase, allowing you to see the most countries possible on your way out.

We understand that this late night stroll is not going to be possible for everyone for various reasons. Fortunately, while World Showcase is light on actual rides, it’s a great place to just experience, and actually has quite a lot to offer. This post definitely isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to Epcot’s World Showcase. Since we already have a Guide to Epcot Attractions, we’ll instead focus on some of the little things that many guests miss that we like most about World Showcase and random tips for having your own excellent evening in Epcot.

Let’s start out in Mexico and make a stop in each World Showcase country as we embark on our own (virtual) evening in Epcot. Hopefully you can apply some of these tips to your own World Showcase visit. Oh, and this post is best read while playing that “Evening at Epcot” music in the background… (more…)

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe Review

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is a bakery and counter service restaurant in Epcot’s Norway at Walt Disney World. It has a menu with entrees, drinks, and desserts, but the real draw here is the desserts. Kringla is arguably the best bakery in Epcot, with a variety of popular snacks. These desserts include School Bread, which has a cult following, and Lefse, which should have a cult following. Kringla participates in the Disney Dining Plan, with options for using counter service credits and snack credits.

In terms of location, Kringla is located in the village-front between the Stave Church and the Norway gift shops (and the Frozen Princess Meet & Greet), and across from Akershus. Unlike the newly-opened Les Halles in France, Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is small. Essentially, you’re in the front door, through the line, and out the other to the covered, outdoor seating area. It’s definitely not a place you’ll want to go for a snack or meal if you’re looking to escape the weather. It’s popular for guests on the Disney Dining Plan and guests paying out of pocket, thanks to a variety of snacks with a range of prices.

While it’s technically counter service, Kringla is better known as a bakery. This is not to say that the limited menu of meal items is bad (quite to the contrary), it’s just that the desserts cast a pretty long shadow. We generally only get dessert here, but that’s usually because we’ve already eaten somewhere else or are disregarding proper nutrition and are Snacking Around the World Showcase, but can’t resist a Kringla dessert. The “regular” food at Kringla actually makes it one of the better World Showcase counter service menus.

There are several good bakeries in the Epcot area (“area” is intentional here as BoardWalk Bakery rivals the best of them!), but Kringla is definitely our favorite. It’s right up there with Sunshine Seasons (which also has a solid selection of desserts) as the restaurant we visit most at Walt Disney World. We probably stop at Kringla once per trip, and 50% of the time, we get the exact same thing. Still, over time we’ve sampled just about everything on the menu. (more…)

Spice Road Table Review

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Spice Road Table is a new tapas restaurant in Epcot at Walt Disney World. It’s located in the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase, and offers waterfront views in an open area or indoor eating area. Technically table service, Spice Road Table has a Mediterranean menu and is priced between Tangierine Cafe and Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco, skewing much closer towards Restaurant Marrakesh. Spice Road Table accepts neither the Disney Dining Plan nor Tables in Wonderland at present, but we anticipate it accepting Tables in Wonderland at a later date.

Spice Road Table continues a recent trend in the expansion of World Showcase dining options. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, but when the only additions to World Showcase in recent years are La Cava del Tequila (2009), Via Napolia (2010), La Hacienda (2010), Tutto Gusto (2012), Les Halles Boulangerie and L’Artisan des Glaces (2013), with no substantive attraction additions or overhauls (excluding minor exhibits and games) since El Rio Del Tiempo became Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros in 2007, it’s a little troubling. This is especially true when the last bona fide new attraction added to World Showcase was Maelstrom in 1988. That’s over 25 years ago. We love some of these new dining options–La Cava del Tequila and Via Napoli are great–but the idea of paying admission to a theme park for the “privilege” of then paying more money for its new focus, dining, is frustrating. If the dining additions were coming step-in-step with attraction additions and plussings, we would applaud these new dining choices.

But we digress; Disney’s focus of increasing upcharge opportunities at Epcot instead of experiences included in theme park admission doesn’t bear on the quality of Spice Road Table itself. While it eats up more prime World Showcase lagoon waterfront space, it’s actually replacing a hodgepodge of “temporary” kiosks and looks far nicer than these kiosks. So at least there’s that small victory. (more…)

Holidays Around the World at Epcot Tips

Holidays Around the World at Epcot is one of our favorite traditions at Walt Disney World during the Christmas (err…holiday…and in this case it isn’t a matter of being politically correct, as other holidays are celebrated in World Showcase!) season. The highlight for us is the ironically earth-shaking “Peace on Earth” tag at the end of Illuminations, but the Holiday Storytellers, decorations, and music acts also make for a festive time at Epcot. Candlelight Processional is another big aspect of it, but we’ve already separately covered that, so we won’t discuss it here. Of course, we still mourn the Lights of Winter display, and Epcot will never have the same luster during the Christmas season for us until those return or a replacement is added in their place. Holidays Around the World at Epcot typically starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs until the end of December.

We assume you won’t be taking a separate day to experience Holidays Around the World at Epcot (we don’t recommend that you do), so this article will share some of our tips for weaving the Holidays Around the World into your normal visit to Epcot, including our take on what you should prioritize, and what you can skip.

The Holiday Storytellers in World Showcase are the most time intensive aspect of Holidays Around the World, so let’s start with them… (more…)

Snacking Around the World Showcase at Epcot

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Drinking Around the World at Epcot has long been a popular activity at Walt Disney World, which in a way is unfortunate, as it overshadows the far superior activity: Snacking Around the World! It is superior for two reasons: the options are better, and the options are cheaper. While boozing around the World Showcase is all sorts of fun, many of the drink choices are lacking, and like many things at Walt Disney World, all of them are overpriced. The situation is a lot better for competitive eaters, as snacks are still somewhat expensive, but significantly cheaper than booze. Plus, all of the snacks are unique whereas some of the alcohol choices are uninspired (Bud Light served at the American Adventure is the beer equivalent of a Little Debbie cupcake). Not to mention that you can use your Disney Dining Plan credits on snacks!

We started out our wildly popular (to date one of our most popular posts all time) “Drinking Around the World” post with a bunch of warnings about not over-drinking. The same is definitely not appropriate here. Not only is eating as many snacks as possible in a single day a commendable endeavor, but snacks are universally healthy and will probably definitely prolong your life. Or at least your quality of life. I’m no medical doctor and I know very little about science, but I’m almost positive that eating a lot of snacks is good for you when you’re on vacation. So eat as many of these as you can!

In that “Drinking Around the World” post, we promised a future article on snacks. That was almost two years ago and we’re just finally getting to this article. It’s not because we forgot, but because we keep adding snacks to our “list” of things to try. Just when it seems like we’re ready to write this post, there’s another excuse to try more on a future trip so the post can be more thorough. Rather than put it off indefinitely, we’ve decided to write the post and supplement it as time goes on. Otherwise, with the constant new delicious additions, we’d never write it! (more…)