Mexico is an Epcot World Showcase pavilion at Walt Disney World featuring the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride, several restaurants and a tequila bar, and gift shops. In this post, we’ll share tips and info on shopping, dining, and attractions in the Mexico pavilion.
We’ll mainly focus on the Mexico pavilion’s shopping and architecture, since we detail Gran Fiesta Tour, entertainment, and dining in other posts. We think shopping is one of the overlooked aspects of World Showcase; many guests assume that if they don’t want to buy anything, the shops don’t hold a lot of appeal.
While our past installments in this series have focused on gift shops because we think they are oft-overlooked aspects of World Showcase, that probably is not true here. About half (maybe a little more) of the Mexico pavilion’s shopping is in an open-air marketplace that guests must pass by on their way to La Cava del Tequila, San Angel Inn Restaurant, and Gran Fiesta Tour…
Nevertheless, let’s take a look around the Mexico pavilion. We’ll examine its architecture, its placement in World Showcase, dining, shopping, and more.
EPCOT Center was laid out with Canada and Mexico Pavilions flanking the entrances to World Showcase to show harmony with our geographic neighbors to the north and south. Such a gesture is fitting of the optimism of the original park, but in the political climate three-plus decades later, seems almost quaint.
This section on architecture is not as interesting as the other World Showcase pavilions, if only because there’s one principle structure in Mexico, the 36-foot pyramid. However, just as with other pavilions, this is a pastiche of Mesoamerican architectural influences.
The primary of these is El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulkan. This pyramid was built by the Mayans sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries at the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Mexican state of Yucatán. Each of El Castillo’s four sides features a 91-step stairway plus the final step to the pyramid’s top, for a total of 365 steps, equal to the number of days in the Mayan calendar.
While the El Castillo has a more muted appearance, and looks exactly like something you might expect at an archaeological site, Epcot’s pyramid is more vibrant and contains more artifice. This is mainly accomplished via color, Aztec carvings, and sculptures of serpent heads representing Quetzalcoatl.
Inside Epcot’s pyramid, the Mexico pavilion opens up into an entry area where rotating exhibits are displayed. This entrance is meant to evoke a Mayan Ceremonial Hall. Currently, there’s a Coco exhibit detailing the authentic cultural inspiration for the film.
Deeper inside, the Mexico pavilion opens up into the Plaza de la Amigos Marketplace. This marketplace is modeled after a traditional settlement in the Spanish Colonial style. Thanks to the enclosure of the temple, it’s perpetually evening in this marketplace, which is a nice change of pace from the rest of World Showcase–and the Florida weather. I suspect real world inspirations exist for the inside of the pavilion, but I’m unsure what those are.
Continuing inside on the far side of the temple’s interior is El Castillo yet again. I think it’s an interesting choice to include the pyramid you’re inside, inside the pyramid you’re inside (#pyramidinception), but that’s just me. I guess some suspension of disbelief is necessary to step into the temple to find an outdoor marketplace, to begin with.
Finally, you might have read all of this about the architecture of the Mexico pavilion and found yourself thinking, “gee, I really ought to climb the pyramid for a closer look!” Please don’t. We know climbing the pyramid is not okay (not because of, you know, common sense or anything) because no “no climbing” signs have been added to Mexico’s pyramid in the last few years.
On a sad yet amusing note, these have been needed due to drunken guests (plural) had been trying to scale the pyramid. There’s a certain irony in the Mexico pavilion trying to prevent mostly-American guests from climbing over it.
Dining, Attractions & Entertainment
Here are some of our other posts about Mexico that will serve as helpful resources for dining in Mexico:
- San Angel Inn Restaurante Review – Often criticized as inauthentic and uninspired, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by our meals at San Angel Inn. While it’s Americanized to a degree, all World Showcase restaurants are. The food is still good, and the setting is exceptional.
- Snack Around World Showcase Tips – If you don’t have time (or stomach space) for a full meal in Epcot, all is not lost! This ‘culinary world tour’ includes a stop in Mexico.
- Drinking Around World Showcase Tips – Not “about” Mexico directly, but a primer for one of the most popular unofficial endurance events at Epcot.
- Top 10 Bars & Lounges at Walt Disney World – La Cava ranks #4 on this list of the best bars at Walt Disney World.
Mexico has a solid cross-section of merchandise. Throughout Plaza de la Amigos, there’s a colorful assortment of glassware, leather goods, handmade figurines, and Coco stuff. There’s also a large assortment of apparel, both of the variety featuring Disney characters, and handcrafted Mexican attire.
There are even artisans throughout the marketplace who are working on products celebrating Día de los Muertos. These are beautiful, ornate, and (surprisingly) fairly priced. These are just one of several Día de los Muertos inspired merchandise lines. I’d say Día de los Muertos, Coco, Three Caballeros, and “tequila stuff” collectively account for over three-quarters of the merchandise.
It’s some really cool stuff, such as the following:
Overall, the Mexico pavilion is yet another one I love. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the few pavilions with a ride, and also set almost entirely indoors, making it a great way to escape from the Florida heat and get off your feet. Even setting that aside, I think Mexico stands out because it takes such a different approach, and does so successfully. It’ll be interesting to see whether the rumored Coco attraction ever comes to fruition, but either way, I think the Mexico pavilion will be a strong and fun component of World Showcase for generations to come.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviewspage. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Did you learn anything about the Mexico pavilion at Epcot from this post? Thoughts on attractions, merchandise, or dining in the Mexico pavilion? About the pavilion’s architecture? Do you like the mostly-indoor design inside of the pyramid, or wish the Imagineers had taken an approach similar to other World Showcase countries? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!