The Great EPCOT Debate – Food

Last week, our agents began the Great EPCOT Debate by focusing on the Intangibles at Epcot and how they stacked up against the ones at the other 3 Walt Disney World parks. The findings and debate concluded that the Other Parks have more intangibles that surpass EPCOT even though it still has some good going for it in terms of a more cultural park for adults to enjoy. Will EPCOT get on the board in round 2?

Welcome to Believe Vacations’s Weekly Post where we enter round 2 of our debate by comparing the FOOD at both EPCOT and the other parks. For this article, our agents who traditionally rank EPCOT lower decided to share their thoughts on the food choices of the other parks and why they are superior to EPCOT. Then, the pro-EPCOT agents have a chance to rebut the initial claims and share their thoughts on the food choices available at EPCOT. After those remarks, the undecided agents made a final decision on whether EPCOT won the category or not. Below is some of the real dialogue that took place:

TEAM OTHER PARKS

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1) Nostalgia and Theming

“Other Park” food choices stand out with theming that takes you to a whole new time and place. Tony’s Town Square has Lady and the Tramp imagery displayed prominently which invokes the nostalgia that Disney is known for. You can visit recreations of iconic locales like Hollywood Brown Derby.

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2) Personalized Experience

Other parks excel at unique experiences at table service restaurants that may not be Disney related such as the “mom’s kitchen” feel at 50’s Prime Time Café or the drive-in experience at Sci-Fi Drive-in Theater. You can go to Liberty Tree Tavern and have your family name and state proudly announced for all to hear when it’s your turn to be seated. The obvious standouts for personalized experiences are Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest. Both of these restaurants are set in larger than life castles and allow you to to meet the princesses and characters that we see on screen.

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3) Too Much Focus on Non-Traditional Food and Drink

With the other parks, you get traditional selections that are perfect for quick service and on-the-go meals. I’ll put up the selections at Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom against your best local BBQ dish any day. And regarding snacks, sometimes a simple bucket of the world famous Disney popcorn is perfect. You smell it all over the parks and it’s something the kids won’t spit out because we’re not asking them to “try something from another country.”

TEAM EPCOT

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1) Nostalgia and Theming

The theming of the countries is amazing and while it may not be “Mickeyish,” it is definitely Disney quality with every attention to detail. All of the cast members in each country are from that particular country. Most are part of the Disney College Program. What a great opportunity to be able to talk with them about their country while enjoying delicious food from around the world! Without ever leaving the good ol’ USA!

2) Personalized Experience

Going to EPCOT and “traveling around the world” is the closest many will actually get to seeing these countries.  Getting to speak with the waiters and interact with other cultures is beyond fascinating and and an experience in itself. No other park can offer that.  And you’ll always find something you like. Pretty much all restaurants offer a kid friendly chicken fingers and fires or cheese pizza. My daughter doesn’t eat meat or cheese, so even the quick service meals don’t appeal to her. We always ask for a side salad or a yogurt a la carte and Disney always works with us to find something an 8 year old picky self-proclaimed vegetarian will enjoy.

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3) Too Much Focus on Non-Traditional Food and Drink

We enjoy sampling the different foods EPCOT has to offer and based on the reservation availability, so do many others. There are tons of options that are not in the World Showcase where people could use their snack credits for more American type or traditional food. It’s all about trying new things and most likely if a guest is walking around the World Showcase and is intrigued by the menu items to try something in the first place, then they are OK with using a snack credit if it’s not to their liking.  The France and Italy pavilions both have tons of food items and sweets that anyone would love. Who doesn’t love pasta or a croissant? You always have traditional options in future world as well. There is a never a shortage of sweets and popcorn at Disney no matter what park you’re at! And everyone including the kids will like that! 

Judges’ Comments

Judge 1 – Quality and diversity give EPCOT the nod. There is theming – just not the character driven sort. EPCOT 1 – Other 0

Judge 2 – I’ll give EPCOT my vote on this one. A nice break from your traditional theme park food, and I love the Food and Wine Festival.
EPCOT 2 – Other 0

Judge 3 – I think EPCOT wins the food vote. All the classics (Mickey bar) plus the cultural and unique specialties! EPCOT 3 – Other 0

Judge 4 – EPCOT and food definitely go together especially in the World Showcase in my book! To me, it’s definitely catered to adults and older children. I know my younger two would turn their noses but my oldest (13) would appreciate it! Honestly, I can’t remember having anything bad- from drinks, to food, to desserts- while in EPCOT! And I love that I get to meet people from the different countries while dining! It’s a “unique” experience and while I totally love the themed characters options at Disney- I love to have at least one meal in EPCOT during a trip! EPCOT 4 – Other 0

Judge 5 – EPCOT gets my vote on Food as well. Overall, there is such a diverse pool of choices, most themed to the specific country they are in, with unique experiences in their own right. One of the main reasons to visit World Showcase is to get a taste of different parts of the world. It is Non-Traditional to US because we live in America, but I very much appreciate the opportunity to try as close to authentic foods as possible from all countries and do keep that in mind when going myself and advising clients. On the flip side of that, there are definitely many options for the basic Uncrustables, fries and chicken nuggets for the kids to grab if the adults want to do Food & Wine or the other incredible festivals. One of the main reasons we enjoy EPCOT is for all the food options! EPCOT 5 – Other 0

Final Score and Thoughts

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A straight up shut out for EPCOT 5-0! This ties the Great EPCOT DEBATE at 1-1. EPCOT is THE park for food. As you see from the judge responses, you can try new items as full-course meals or snacks but also fall back to the theme park regulars if something different does not satisfy the taste buds. Added into the actual taste is the presentation of the food in its authentic form. Whether it is in a setting that resembles the country you are visiting or the cast members who are actually from that country, you’ll be served with as much authenticity as anywhere else in Disney Parks.

Next week, EPCOT has a chance to take the lead as they begin the argument and discuss if EPCOT has the best LANDS/THEMES. Until next week, always remember that one little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation!

Brian Pavlick
brianp@believevacations.com

Brian Pavlick is a husband and father residing in Maylene, AL. His love of Disney goes back to his early memories of watching the New Disney Channel on cable, occasional vacations to Orlando Florida and attending Disney Institute Management Training classes. He keeps up with Disney news and updates by reading numerous websites, experiencing attractions by watching YouTube videos and introducing his family to classic and timeless Disney movies, attractions and songs.

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