When you enter Epcot’s World Showcase it is hard to ignore the temple-pyramid standing strongly to the west. An immense structure, this is actually modeled after an actual Aztec temple which could be found at their capital of Teotihuacan. As if this area is not entertaining enough, with the flavored Margarita stand, and frequent shows from the Viva Mexico band, there are even two new restaurants to tempt your palate! Housed together, La Cantina de San Angel, a quick service restaurant, and La Hacienda de San Angel, a table service restaurant, offer gorgeous waterfront views. The Cantina opens at 11am and is a perfect midday reprieve, while La Hacienda opens at 4pm and is surely a prime location for Illuminations viewing.
With all this area has to offer, it is amazingly not until you enter the temple that the true wonders of Mexico are thrust upon you. When you first venture into the temple you find yourself immediately immersed in the culture of Mexico. You walk into a bit of an art gallery where crafts, paintings, and artifacts are available for viewing and purchase. As you continue you have somehow arrived back “outside” near a beautiful fountain, in a colorful Mexican marketplace. Handmade pottery and margarita glasses, authentic sombreros and ponchos, as well as food and souvenirs are available for purchase as you walk through the market.
What stands out about the marketplace is the small details. The ceiling looks like a beautiful night where the sun has just set. Forever in twilight, the sky inside the Mexico Pavilion gives even Pirates of the Caribbean a run for its money on how authentically outside Disney imagineers can make a ceiling inside look! The architecture of the buildings which line the sides of the marketplace have an authentic colonial look and feel. Paper lanterns are strung from one side to the other, creating a sweet, romantic, and fun atmosphere. Mariachi Cobre, an authentic Mexican mariachi band, can be seen and heard around the perimeter of the market. And the piece de resistance? In the far distance a volcano that appears to be active and even smoldering a bit.
As if the atmosphere and ambiance inside the Mexico pavilion is not enough to add it to your “must-see” list, one cannot overlook all there is to do there. In the back of the room you come to San Angel Inn, a delicious restaurant that serves authentic Mexican cuisine. The food here is consistent and there seems to be something on the menu for everyone. The wait-staff is courteous and polite, and their name tags don’t just list their names, but the area in Mexico they come from. This is a delightful spot for lunch or dinner or even to stop for an appetizer or relax with a Margarita (they even have sizes big enough to share). However, if you came to have a drink, the marketplace area features a new tequila bar, La Cava del Tequila, which will surely quench your thirst.
Once you have had your fill of eating, drinking, and shopping, there is still more to do inside the Aztec temple! What may by the most overlooked and underrated attraction in all of Epcot, Gran Fiesta Tour with the rounds out this fabulous pavilion. This boat ride, which rarely has longer than a five-minute wait, is more than just a tribute to the 1944 live action/animated film. As you ride through the River of Time, you view scene after scene of Panchito and Jose Carioca, as they search for the final member of their trio: Donald Duck! You join the boys for a fun journey through some of the most amazing cities and sights in Mexico (such as Acapulco and Chichen Itza). Gran Fiesta Tour is sure to please with lively music, fun characters, and a little adventure. And, just outside the pavilion you can often meet and greet the Three Caballeros themselves. (Be sure to check the Times Guide for the day to find out when one or more of the “birds of a feather” will be out and about!)
It is easy to fall in love with Epcot’s World Showcase. There is so much to do and see… and where else can you travel around the world in one afternoon? With so much attention to detail the Mexican pavilion pays tribute to the vibrant culture of Mexico and is not to be missed on your next visit!
Melissa has created Chip & Company’s ‘Guide to Walt Disney World: Restaurant & Snack Options’ posts as well as chronicling her Disney baking (and cooking) exploits In the Kitchen. She also writes original articles about her experiences visiting Walt Disney World and finding Disney magic in her home state of New York. Melissa is a World History teacher and you can find her on tumblr. Oh & you should probably know she believes in fairytales.