If you ask someone what they’re going to do at Epcot, there’s a semi-decent chance that they will say “drink around the world.” And really, who can blame them? Tons of tasty adult beverages can be found all around World Showcase, especially when the Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, Festival of the Arts, or Festival of the Holidays are happening. In fact, finding alcohol at Disney World is easy, and tasty too!
Another reason we love a good Epcot drink-around-the-world adventure is because, when done the right way, you’re able to get a taste, both literally and figuratively, of 11 different cultures from around the world. That’s a whole lot of traveling without ever even needing to leave World Showcase.
But, what if you and your crew don’t drink, you’d like to spare your fellow Epcot guests all the antics that are sure to follow an all-day drinking extravaganza? Perhaps you’re just more of a food, photography, or people person? Or, maybe you’re traveling as family with children but still want a fun way to explore all the different World Showcase pavilions?
In short, what are some booze-free alternatives to an Epcot drink-around-the-world day? The answer might surprise you.
7 Simple Rules for Traveling Around the World at Epcot
Exploring any of the Walt Disney World theme parks is almost always guaranteed to be a good time. However, just like at Animal Kingdom, a trip to Epcot has the potential to be so much more. With cast members from around the world representing their countries and cultures, plentiful restaurants and food kiosks serving up some authentic and seriously tasty menu items, and 11 immersive country pavilions just waiting to be experienced, guests have the opportunity to not just try something new, but to learn something about our world and some of the cultures in it.
All that being said, World Showcase is huge and there is a lot of ground to cover. So, if you don’t plan correctly, chances are good that you’ll run out of time and be forced to rush through or skip countries. We don’t want that. That’s why we came up with these seven easy-to-follow tips and tricks for making sure you have the best time possible taking pictures, eating, or drinking around the world.
1. Get an Early Start
We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but we are strong supporters of starting your Disney day as early as possible, ideally at rope-drop when the park opens. This is especially important for those drinking around the world because it allows you to spread all the alcohol out over time, but it is just as important for guests on an alcohol-free adventure around Epcot. Remember: There are 11 different countries to visit at World Showcase. If you plan to eat around the world at Epcot, that is the tall order. By getting a jump on your day, you’re able to spread whatever it is you’re doing out into manageable chunks and intersperse it with lots of wandering through the pavilions. This is also key if you plan on doing all there is to do in Future World before starting your journey around World Showcase.
2. Take Time to Explore
Piggybacking off of our first tip, make sure you save some time between checking everything off your list to truly enjoy each pavilion. Pop into the shops to see what is for sale. Take some time to have a conversation with one of World Showcase’s cultural representatives. Check out the attractions like the 360° films, educational exhibits, and the rides. A few of the pavilions – particularly Morocco, the United Kingdom, and France – are especially made for wandering, with winding passageways and unique details you can’t see just by walking by the front. Canada, Japan, and China also have some fun out-of-the-way paths.
3. Pace Yourself
In the same vein, don’t try to rush your way around World Showcase. Yes, taking time to explore is important, but so is giving you and your squad time to digest, unwind, and soak up some shade. Central Florida can be oppressively hot during the best of times. Add in massive amounts of food and/or drink in a short period of time and you have a recipe for disaster. So, why not take your craft beer with you in to see The American Adventure, enjoy a cup of gelato while watching the Voices of Liberty, or snack on some maple popcorn during Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360?
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
As we mentioned in the last tip, Orlando can be hot at best and sweat-through-your-shirt sticky at worst, and there’s nothing worse than having to cut your visit to the parks short because you forgot to stop and have a drink of water. Again, this is especially crucial for those drinking around the world. After all, nothing can save you from a nasty hangover like some well-timed cups of water. Still, this is a good rule of thumb to follow whether you’re drinking or not, so take advantage of one of our favorite Disney World freebies and just ask a cast member for a free cup of ice water already.
5. Sharing Is Caring
Depending on what you order, that can be a whole lot of food to eat, drinks to drink, and things to pay for. While 11 snacks, desserts, or mocktails may not seem like that much at the beginning of the day, chances are that you are eventually going to run out of room, energy, money, or a bit of all three. So, consider splitting dishes with the rest of your crew. This can be a great way to keep you from overspending or overeating and can also allow you try to even more things.
6. Strive for Authenticity
Epcot is filled with food, beverages, merchandise, and more that are authentic to their pavilions’ home countries – or, are at least semi-faithful renditions that have been adjusted to suit American tastebuds and sensibilities. However, Epcot is also filled with much of the exact same stuff that you can find everywhere else in Walt Disney World or even back in your hometown. So, as delicious as Mickey ice cream bars might be, we suggest that when given the choice between something unique to the country you’re visiting and something you’ve seen every other day of your trip, always reach for the thing that’s new and different. You’re sure to come away with some memorable moments and possibly even future vacation inspiration.
7. Connect When Possible
As we mentioned previously, we love chatting with the cast members who represent their countries throughout World Showcase. While much of what you’ll see in the various country pavilions are recreations or Americanized versions of something from their home country, the cast members that work there are invaluable resources. Simply just taking some time to have a conversation with someone while buying items at a register or after having your picture taken can be a memorable moment, and you might even learn something.
Epcot Around the World, No Alcohol Needed
Epcot’s World Showcase consists of 11 country pavilions with the World Showcase Lagoon at the center. As the host, the United States rests at the center with The American Adventure. The US’s neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico, sit at the tips of World Showcase’s right and left sides and welcome guests to this part of the park. Going from left to right, Epcot World Showcase countries include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
You might be wondering which country you should start your adventure around World Showcase at? In general, we think this is largely based on your preferences and what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you’re drinking around the world, some folks might be partial to starting their day with tequila and margaritas while others might prefer to begin with beer. If you’re planning on doing a progressive dine-around starting with breakfast and ending with dessert, you might want to shake things up and use the back entrance at International Gateway so you can begin your day with a flaky pastry from France. Do whatever works best for you and your group.
There are a lot of things to try, see, and do at Epcot’s World Showcase which don’t require a valid ID and at least 21 years of life experience. Read on for our list of the best booze-free alternatives to drinking around the world.
Non-Alcoholic Drink Around the World
Alcohol isn’t for everyone. And whether you choose to stay dry for religious, health, or other personal reasons, or if you have some under-21 members of your group, the seemingly ubiquitous popularity of “Drinking Around the World” can have many feeling left out. But, just because you might not be interested in having a 21-and-up Disney Drink Around the World doesn’t mean that you can’t do some no-alcohol-included drinking around the world. Bring on the mocktails, coffee, tea, and international sodas!
For this one, we recommend starting in Mexico. Stop by La Cantina de San Angel for a glass bottle of Jarritos – Traditional Mexican Soda, available in several flavors including pineapple, mango, fruit punch, and apple. If you’re not in the mood for soda, pop by Choza de Margarita instead for the Conga, a Mexican-style fruit punch made from pineapple, orange, and lemon juices. From there, make your way over to Norway and the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. This is a pastry place, so, unfortunately, non-alcoholic beverages here are pretty slim. Grab a cup of Cold Brew or a bottle of Water to fuel the journey that lays ahead. Next, make a stop at China and Joy of Tea for a sweet Bubble Milk Tea with peach-flavored black tea and boba pearls before crossing the bridge to the Outpost.
This next stop isn’t a country, so consider it extra credit. There’s too exciting at Refreshment Outpost, but if you’re feeling especially hot, an Ice Cream Float or Frozen Lemonade or Coca-Cola Slushy is sure to cool you down. Next is Germany, and it’s time for another frozen delight. Swing by the Germany Beer Cart for a cup of Frozen Mezzo Mix, an orange-flavored Coca-Cola. This one is also available spiked with a honey and bourbon liqueur. Head next door to Italy and pay a visit to the Gelati cart. While the Espresso Affogato – some vanilla gelato with a caffeine jolt from a shot of espresso – isn’t a drink per se, there is coffee involved so we figured why not. If you’re not the color-outside-the-lines type, then go for the Primavera, a frozen blend of peach, banana, and strawberry nectars.
We’re officially halfway through! Reward yourself with The American Dream, frozen strawberry and blue raspberry slushies mixed with vanilla ice cream, from the Fife & Drum Tavern at The American Adventure. Next, head on over to Kabuki Café in Japan for a Ramune Japanese Soda. Or, if you wait long enough, the Kakigōri, or Japanese Shaved Ice, will turn into a drink too once it melts. Oasis Sips & Sweets in the Morocco pavilion is your next stop. For some cool and refreshing, give the Frozen Mint Tea or Citrus-Pomegranate Slushy a try. If you need a pick-me-up, the Moorish, espresso with nutmeg and cinnamon, at Tangierine Café is another yummy choice.
France is up next. Check out L’Artisan des Glaces for the Café Glacé, a cappuccino served with a scoop of the ice cream of your choice and crowned with whipped cream. We’re entering the home stretch as we cross the bridge and round the bend into the United Kingdom. If there’s one thing that Brits love, it’s tea. So, warm up your pinkie finger and get a cuppa of Twinings Tea. We’ve reached the end (AKA Canada) and we’re sorry to report that there isn’t much here in the way of non-alcoholic beverages other than water and soda. With any luck, there will be a festival happening, in which case you can just get a boozy-free cup of something special to round out your day.
Eat Around the World
If there’s anything that is as popular as drinking around the world, it’s eating around the world. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Snacks & Sweets
One thing is certain: When it comes to snacks and sweets, Disney knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, that means narrowing down what to eat on your sweet or savory journey through World Showcase can be especially difficult. But don’t worry, that’s where Rule #5 (Sharing Is Caring) comes in. It doesn’t really matter which country you start in, but we’ll begin in Mexico here for the sake of specificity.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, start your day off at La Cantina de San Angel with Churros with chocolate hazelnut spread. For something salty, cross the walkway to Choza de Margarita for Esquites, or Mexican street corn, or Fresh Guacamole topped with mango and pumpkin seeds. Continue on to Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway for some Norwegian treats. The School Bread, a sweet roll stuffed with custard and crowned in coconut, is a favorite, as is the Troll Horn, puff pastry filled with an orange marmalade cream.
Next, make your way to China. Choose the Caramel-Ginger Ice Cream or Lychee Ice Cream at the Lotus Blossom Café for some unique flavors. Or for a drink that’s basically a dessert, snag a cup of Bubble Milk Tea at Joy of Tea. From there, head on over to Germany. For something savory and more substantial, opt for the Bratwurst at Sommerfest. Otherwise, follow your nose to Karamell-Küche for something deliciously caramel-y like freshly made Caramel Corn. After that, make way for Italy. If you have a chance to sit for a bit and there’s a few people in your group, you may want to consider stopping for lunch at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria for a traditional Neapolitan pie. If lunch isn’t in the cards, the Gelati cart is a good stop for both caffeine and dessert in the Espresso Affogato.
Your next stop is The American Adventure, and you know what that means? You’re halfway through! Congratulate yourself with either a classic Root Beer Float from Fife & Drum Tavern or a Funnel Cake from the Funnel Cake Stand. Then, keep heading on to Japan. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, stop at Kabuki Café for Kakigōri with Sweet Milk Topping. If not, continue on to the Katsura Grill for Yuzu Miso Wings. Onwards to Morocco for a stop at Spice Road Table. One of the only table service restaurants on our list, Spice Road Table is all about Mediterranean small plates. Enjoy a plate of House-made Hummus Fries or Pomegranate-Chili Crispy Cauliflower.
France is the next stop in our snack-filled adventure around the world. Picking something to try here is difficult – there’s just so much to choose from! Craving ice cream? Stop in to L’Artisan des Glaces for a Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich or a Croque Glacé, a scoop of your choice of ice cream and a sauce pressed warm into a brioche bun. If you’ve got a hankering for something savory, you won’t want to miss the Jambon Beurre from Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, a classic ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette.
We’re nearing the end of our eat-around-the-world Epcot adventure and the next stop on our journey is the United Kingdom pavilion. Pop by the Yorkshire County Fish Shop for some perfectly fried Fish and Chips. Finally, the last stop of our day is Canada. With any luck, a festival will be happening, and the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup will be on the menu. If not, head into Le Cellier Steakhouse for a cup. Feeling like dessert instead? Snag a bag of Maple Popcorn from the Popcorn Cart.
We think it’s pretty clear that dining at Disney World can be an attraction in and of itself, whether that’s drinking and eating around the world at Epcot, Disney’s Highway in the Sky Dine Around experience around the Magic Kingdom monorail loop, or our own suggestion of a progressive dine-around along the Disney Skyliner route. This next idea is a little bit of all three.
For those of you wondering what progressive dining is all about, it’s pretty simple. Basically, you go from restaurant to restaurant, getting one course at each. So, you might start with drinks one place, get an appetizer somewhere else, an entrée at another restaurant, and end at a final spot for dessert. It’s a great way to see and try new things, from new restaurants in Epcot to different resorts across Disney property.
Of course, you’ve probably realized that four courses are nowhere near enough to cover the 11 different Epcot World Showcase countries. That’s why we propose that you start your day in France with breakfast and eat your way through the day all the way to dessert in Morocco in the evening. This helps you get away from the early morning crowds, allows you to come through the back entrance near International Gateway if you’d like, and will also put you in perfect position to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure once it opens October 1.
Our culinary journey begins on the back streets of the France pavilion in Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. There are plenty of tasty options here to try. For something savory, go for the ham & cheese Croissant Jambon Fromage, Quiche Lorraine with ham and gruyere, or the Croque Monsieur. For something sweet, we suggest the Pain au Chocolat. It’s brunch time in the United Kingdom, so make way for the Rose & Crown Dining Room. Snag a Scotch Egg for breakfast-y ingredients with lunchtime attitude.
Canada is our next stop. Swing in to Le Cellier Steakhouse for the start of our light lunch. The Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup should hit the spot. Keep the cheese theme going over in Mexico at La Cantina de San Angel with the Empanadas con Queso before continuing on to Norway. It’s not quite dinner time yet, so just grab something small from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. The Lefse is a tasty snack with authentically Norwegian roots. Before we enjoy a drink before dinner, stop into Nine Dragons Restaurant in China for an appetizer. We recommend the flavorsome, fresh, and slightly spicy Sichuan Dumplings.
As we round the corner for Germany, it’s time for a refreshing beverage. Pop by the Germany Beer Cart for a chilly cup of orange-flavored Coca-Cola called Frozen Mezzo Mix. To really get in the dinner spirit, you can even spike it with honey and bourbon liqueur. From there, continue on to the Italy pavilion. You can find some very yummy pizza here at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, but it’s not time for the main course just yet. While you could get the Cesar Salad at Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar or Tutto Italia Ristorante, we suggest you mix things up with another appetizer that Via Napoli sneakily disguises as something for kids only: the Bocconcini, lightly breaded and perfectly fried balls of gooey mozzarella.
Before you get your main course, you better fill up on some veggies. Stop into the Regal Eagle Smokehouse in The American Adventure for the Power Greens Salad with or without chicken. Next, make way for Japan and sit down to dinner and a show over at Teppan Edo. There’s plenty to choose from here, but we like everything from the NY Cut Steak and Filet Mignon to Ebi (grilled shrimp) and Tori (chicken breast). Finally, close out your dinner and day at Spice Road Table in Morocco where you can enjoy a Dessert Platter under the stars.
Photography Around the World
This next idea is less a set of specific suggestions and more like some guidelines we think you should follow. After all, art – and photography, by extension – is all about being inspired by the world around you. Unless you know your visit will last all day into the night, it doesn’t matter which pavilion you start at. If you will be starting in daylight and ending in after sunset, we suggest beginning in Mexico and ending in Canada.
As anyone who has ever been to a wedding or a work holiday party knows, the best selfies are those which include fun props and backdrops. And fortunately, when it comes to both of those things, World Showcase is your oyster. For this idea, pop into the various shops at each country and look for things that could be good props. Things like hats (a fez in Morocco), stuffed animals (a Marie plushie with an extra-long tail in France), and even cups (nothing says the UK like a cup of tea) can work. Some pavilions will even have photo props readily available, like France’s baguette, canvas, and artist’s palette in Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie. Of course, keep in mind that as of the time of writing, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, so use your best judgement and be considerate of others by sanitizing your hands when doing this.
Alternatively, you could also just pose yourself in front of all the different architecture styles or with something like the giant troll in Norway’s store, The Fjording. While you can certainly take your own selfies, another thing we suggest is asking a cast member to help you. Since many of the cast members throughout World Showcase come from the countries they represent, this can be a great opportunity to connect with them, even if just for a moment. You might even consider asking them how to say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ in their language if you don’t already know how. Overall, this a wonderful idea for groups large and small, young and old, plus you’ll walk away with tons of pictures to look back on later.
With lifelike recreations of architectural styles from across the world encapsulated in World Showcase, a day in this half of Epcot can feel like you’ve traveled much further than Central Florida. That’s why this recommendation is simple: Just wander around from country to country capturing what you see. From close-ups of vases and stacks of Turkish rugs in Morocco to up-angled shots of the vibrantly painted ceiling in China’s Temple of Heaven, World Showcase is brimming with beautiful details just waiting to be appreciated.
If possible, make two loops through: one in the daylight and one once the sun has set and the lights have turned on. Just keep in mind that Morocco doesn’t light up in quite the same way as the other pavilions. For an extra challenge, try to take your photos in such a way that they don’t look like you’re in a theme park, whether that’s with the perspective you use, blurring out the foreground or background, or any other way you can think of. In general, this is a fun activity for individuals and pairs.
Arts & Crafts Around the World
Our next suggestion is perfect for families with children, as well as artsy adults who don’t mind sitting in a kiddie chair if it means getting their hands on some markers and a coloring book. Kidcot Fun Stops can be found at each of the World Showcase pavilions and are totally free for Epcot guests. Just pick up your Ziploc baggie “suitcase” at any Kidcot Fun Stop and start making your way through World Showcase. At each station, guests collect unique traveler’s cards which have a fun fact about the country you’re visiting on the front and a little coloring scene on the back. You don’t have to color these in right away, however markers are provided for any immediate coloring break needs.
Best of all, guests both young and old can use these opportunities to talk to the cast members running the Kidcot Fun Stops about their home countries. They might even teach you a few words or tell you how to say or write your name in their language. This activity is also super flexible in that it doesn’t matter where you start, and you don’t need to finish all 11 pavilions.
Talk Around the World
Our last idea is the simplest, and possibly the most useful, of all. We call it “having a conversation.” Yes, it might seem silly, but as delicious as eating or drinking around the world may be, the most authentic experiences you can have at the various Epcot World Showcase countries is talking to the cast members who work there. So, why not consider learning how to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in each country’s language? Ask them which foods or drinks at the pavilion remind them the most of home, and then go and try them afterward. Overall, this is a wonderful activity for individuals, small groups, and families with kids to get to see World Showcase in a new way.
Well, we hope you’re feeling inspired for your next trip to Epcot and around World Showcase. Wanting to see all the must-see attractions instead? Don’t miss our 1-day Epcot plan. You can also see our Disney World Planning Guide if you’re interested in learning more about planning a vacation. All this talk about food got you hungry? Be sure to see out Top 10 Table Service Restaurants at Disney World for some mouth-watering dining. Looking to save money on your tickets to the parks? We have a guide for that too!
Do you have any other alcohol-free alternatives to drinking around the world at Epcot that we missed? Let us know!
Amber is a proud former Walt Disney World Cast Member, an unabashed travel addict, and a hospitality and tourism specialist with over 10 years in the industry. She likes getting her wanderlust fix by sharing her favorite park tips and tricks with other Disney fans. When she isn’t working, you can usually catch her in a hot power yoga class or spending way too much money at Disney Springs.