Monday, September 5, 2011

EPCOT: Drinking the Countries

Epcot is the second theme park that was built in Disneyworld, where my dad just took us for his retirement celebration.  It is also my favorite park in Disneyworld.  I'm not just saying that because they brought back Michael Jackson's Captain EO in 3D last summer, although that didn't hurt.  Epcot is split into two sections: Future World--consisting of a bunch of pavillions with themed attractions--and World Showcase--consisting of a loop of "countries" from around the world, with restaurants and attractions focusing on the culture (or at least stereotypes) of each country.  I think Walt Disney had originally envisioned Epcot to be something greater than a theme park--the acronym stands for stands of Experimental Prototypical Community of Tomorrow--and in some ways it is.  Take the Land boat ride, and see the world's first tomato "tree" that produced 36,000 tomatoes in 16 months.   Epcot has a lot of cool stuff to see and do, but on this trip, I had one objective: to drink the countries of the World Showcase.  My wife and I decided to try it in a very limited window, during Magic Hours on the only night we'd be in the park.  Magic Hours are times when the Disney parks are only open to Disney resort guests.  (Magic Hours and Fast Pass are like a Disney-fied classism; the provide a  feeling of elitism as you jump lines and stay in the park after it closes). 

World Showcase consists of 11 countries, each with food and drink--and employees, or "cast members," from those countries.  Let me take you on a tour of the world.

After taking the pleasant boat ride through the faux Mexican plaza, we hit the tequila bar.  We decided up front to split each drink, as we didn't want to ruin the rest of our trip with a killer hangover.  But when we ordered a tequila, the bartender gave a recommendation for a better tequila--El Mayor Blanco--for the same price as the El Jimador that I had ordered--and poured us each a shot (maybe the communication barrier?)  Oh well, down the hatch. 

We took the Norway log flume ride (don't anyone try to deny the thrill of being chased by the troll), then hit up the beverage cart.  The cart had Carlsberg beer (not from Norway, damn sponsors) and Linnie Aquavit, which is more or less a spiced vodka.  No communication barrier here, we shared one shot of the Norweigen Aquavit.  I can't say I really enjoyed it, but it was interesting to try.

We split a Tsingtao beer.  If you've ever had it, you know that it's a pretty straightforward mass produced lager.  It uses rice as an adjunct grain, which somehow seems more acceptable in a Chinese beer than in Budweiser, which also uses rice because of its key property: being cheap.

The German beer cart was out of control, there were these folks from New York who were obviously also trying to drink the countries.  I really appreciated their spirit, as they seemed to want to try everything and not just get hammered (though that was obviously on the agenda, too).  The cart had a couple of liqueurs, including Jager, and one of the guys from NYC tried to get me to order the liqueur that none of us could pronounce so he could see if it was good.  I opted instead for an Altenmunster Oktoberfest.  It was smooth and malty and typical of the style.

We shared a glass of wine in Italy.  I'm not ashamed to say we chose the cheapest red blend that they had.  It wasn't half bad.

This is where we ran into some trouble.  Most of this country was closed, and no one was serving any booze.  I was starting to think that Magic Hours are a fraud.  But we pressed on.  And two days later came back and had a Sam Adams Summer Ale to fill the gap.

Also closed.  We just missed the chance for some sake, and again had to get some two days later.  At this point we felt the quest was doomed and that the rest of the countries would be shutting down.

We were renewed in the quest in Morrocco, as two gentleman from a cart were serving Casablanca, or "Casa beer."  It wasn't bad, in fact I ordered it again when we went to Morocco for lunch a few days later.

Another cheap wine.  I think it was a white, sweet one, but I'm getting hazy by now.

United Kingdom
The party lived on in a pub that looked like many I hung out in while studying abroad in England.  We bumped into the NYC folks, and that same guy was asking for "Whatever is the most British.  Prefferably a shot."  The bartender recommended gin or Pimm's.  That would have been a good call, as we were so full from dinner and beer, but we had already ordered our Boddington's.  Cheers!

Now it gets weird.  The steakhouse bar was closed, no Mooseheads or Molsons in sight.  There was a beverage stand, I don't know if it was actually in "Canada," or just adjacent.  They were serving frozen Bacardi Mojitos.  Gross.  But we had to do it, and did.

In case you think that what we did didn't count, as we drank Japan and the U.S. on a different day, consider this.  For dinner just before arriving in Epcot, we ate at an African restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge called Jiko (translation: the cooking place).  We had each had a different Ethiopian beer, and a glass of South African wine.  Perfect math!  Those two countries replaced the two we missed, the quest wasn't in vain!  As I mentioned we still went back to the two missed countries for good measure.  I do have to question the sense of closing some countries before others, and believe me if they were open we would have drank them.

As far as sharing most of the drinks...Like I said we had beer and wine before even arriving and didn't want to be smashed.  Also, we were on a tight schedule, having only a couple of hours to complete the loop.  I'd say we did a damn fine job.  But if you think you can do better, I'd like to see you try.


  1. I'll allow it, its unorthodox, but we'll substitute the other countries and count it as a success. I will have to give this a try if i'm ever in epcot again. last time i was there we ate at that canadian steakhouse and i drank probably 1 beer for each country represented in epcot, then stumbled around to the other countries.

  2. Ha you'll allow it. Thanks. Another thing about drinking in Disney, they have this red beer, I'm pretty sure it's the same everywhere, but at one place it's "Reef Amber" and another "Island Red" depending on the theme. I almost think it's the same as Hogshead...have to do some research.

  3. i guess the atmosphere can affect the beer almost as much as the flavor, so it probably is the same beer. do they sell beer while youre waiting in line for the rides? they did at universal and it got me into trouble a few times. i would drink a few while waiting and i thought i was gonna have to pee my pants on the ride.