For those of us who have a special place in our heart for Epcot Center, the Winter holiday is one of the best times to be in the park. Next to the Food & Wine Festival and the Garden & Flower show, Holidays Around the World is my favorite event at all of Walt Disney World. I love sampling the special foods and learning about the traditions of other cultures. Epcot provides many opportunities to do both of those things in a fun and festive environment.
As with all special events, Future World has themed topiaries out in full force from the moment you enter the park. This year the display at the entrance showcased the woodland creatures from Bambi, but once you make your way into the park, they take on a more modern look with these greenery balls framed with snowflakes that shift into Mickey heads as your position moves past them (both above & below). Between the walkway to the World Showcase and Spaceship Earth, you’ll find a stage set up for concerts throughout the day.
We usually enter the World Showcase from the Canadian side, but this time, we chose to go in through Mexico. I really wanted to see the traditional Mexican dancers doing the “bow dance”, so that was our first stop. We showed up just in time to see the entire performance and I filmed it to share with all of you, but when I went to transfer it to the laptop, it wasn’t there. I’m not sure how it got deleted, because I even live streamed it on Periscope, but I wasn’t able to save it to the computer from there either. Just know that the dancers were beautiful and were able to tie the ribbon bow with their feet by the end of the song!
The Mexico pavilion had more to offer than just music and dancing, they also had pretty Feliz Navidad decorations and the Sweet Tamales available inside La Cantina de San Angel that were VERY yummy (both above). Another strawberry flavored holiday treat available during the event was the Traditional Rice Cream from Norway (below). I felt like this was the best of the limited time food items available this year, it was incredible! You have to actually go inside the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe to find it, though. Now is a good time to note that many of the special foods are not available in little kiosks like you would expect, but you actually have to go into their quick service venues in order to find them.
The Kringla Bakeri also has the best holiday decor (above) in the Norway pavilion, so be sure to check that out while you are ordering your rice cream! If you are looking for something a little more on the “Christmas cheer” side, the Prost! kiosk has you covered! Here we picked up a Pure Cider, a Pure Cider Rose’ and Black Forest Cake. All three (below) were excellent, but I could have thrown back several of those black forest cakes before I knew what hit me! They are made with German hot cocoa and cherry liqueur.
Another spot serving adult beverages can be found outside of the American Adventure. The Sugar and Spice Holiday Bakery kiosk (below) has mostly cookies and little snacky items, but the real stand out is the Buffalo Nog: Fresh egg nog spiked with Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon (also below). This is a nice spot to take a break and listen to the carolers inside the building or if you are lucky enough to be able to see through the crowd, watch the Candlelight Processional as you sip your nog.
While all of the desserts in the cases at Les Halles in the France pavilion look like they are intended for Christmas celebrations, only one of them is offered as a limited time holiday dessert, the Bûche de Noël au Chocolat (below). This chocolate yule log is so good! Ya’ll know I love chocolate and this shiny chocolate shell is full of light, creamy chocolate mousse which is my absolute favorite! This was a close tie with the Rice Cream from Norway, but that had such a clean and unique taste that I settled on that one as my fav of the season.
France has several big ornaments on display with dioramas inside of them, and you might think that those are the only decorations they have, but if you go off the main walk, and down the side street (above), you’ll see that it is also decorated with stars, greenery, and lights. It’s very cute! While you are back there, give the Gingerbread Ice Cream at L’Artisan des Glaces a try! Of all the entertainment available during these months, the most energetic is by far The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs. You can find them at the Lumberjack show stage performing several times throughout the day. Their show was another video that somehow got lost in the shuffle, which is such a shame because their jazzed-up-yet-folky versions of traditional carols were so great! This is a not-to-be-missed show!
I know after all of the walking and eating that you are tempted to leave early and get a jump on the traffic, because I am too… but even if you have seen the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks spectacular before, it is different during the holiday season. Every night through the end of December they extend the display by several minutes and add a special “Let There Be Peace on Earth” finale that will bring tears to your eyes. If you are not able to visit this year, I DO have a video of it below which includes the Spaceship Earth “Goodnight” message in multiple languages.