Everyone has their favorite Epcot World Showcase pavilion they stop at each trip, but which one is the best in all of World Showcase? We asked and you answered! Check out which pavilion reigns supreme!
There is so much to experience in the World Showcase! Each country is full of new experiences and cultures. I know my family spends several days of our vacation at Epcot enjoying the atmosphere, food, shopping and entertainment experiences available at the different pavilions.
One thing that has been consistently excellent at Epcot throughout the years is the food. I’ve said it before: If you can’t find something to eat at Epcot, seek medical attention immediately.
Check out what Disney fans think are the best restaurants and snacks in all of Epcot.
There are so many great countries to visit at Epcot, but which one is the best of the best? We asked YOU to tell us which Epcot World Showcase pavilion is your favorite!
This article is Part 2 of our poll results and will focus on the countries that came in at the top of the list. To see which pavilions came in last place, check out the “worst” pavilions ranking list HERE!
Some key factors we asked you to consider when deciding what makes a pavilion the best overall included:
Now, let’s check out which pavilion reigns supreme!
Germany has so many great features to offer! The charming design of this fairytale-like town square takes inspiration from many different eras and regions of Germanic architecture. Rather than replicate one distinct location, it is a mixture of various historical influences.
The beautiful Das Kaufhaus shop on the right side of the pavilion takes its inspiration from the famous crimson Historisches Kaufhaus in Freiberg, Germany. Originally built in the 14th century as a customs office, the Historisches Kaufhaus was converted into a marketplace in 1520 and has undergone various design changes throughout the centuries.
While the Imagineers toned down the exterior color of the Das Kaufhas (formerly known as Der Bücherwurm) shop, you can see the direct resemblance between the two structures in the archways and exterior moldings. Disney also included three of the 4 replicas of the House of Hapsburg statues that adorn the original buildings’ facade.
Other architectural influences come from small German towns such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber and medieval-era Eltz and Stahleck Castle.
One of the most prominent structures you’ll notice in the Germany pavilion is a replica of the famous St. George and the Dragon fountain located in the Bavarian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
St. George is considered the Patron Saint of Soldiers. Legend has it a dragon had taken up residence inside the waterways of a small Bavarian kingdom. The citizens would offer up human sacrifices to distract the dragon until one day when the King’s daughter was chosen as the next tribute. St. George, who was passing through, heroically defeated the dragon and saved the kingdom.
Statues depicting St. George and the Dragon can be found in many Bavarian towns throughout Germany as a symbol of protection, but the inspiration for Epcot’s version comes directly from the St. George fountain in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Shopping and Attractions
There are some amazing shops in the Germany pavilion. You will find plenty of authentic German merchandise such as beer steins, Christmas ornaments, and stuffed animals. Not to mention one of the best stores in the World Showcase: Karamell-Küche.
There is nothing better than that fresh buttery smell of Werther’s caramel that hits you in the face when you walk through the door. There is no wrong item to choose in Karamell-Küche and we highly recommend you buy more than one item.
There is no ride attraction in the Germany pavilion, which does influence its ranking for our readers. When the Germany pavilion was built, there were plans for a riverboat ride that would take guests on a journey down the Rhine River passing miniature sculptures of various historical German landmarks along the way.
You can see remnants of this attraction in the mural that goes along the back of the wall by Sommerfest which would have been the loading and unloading dock of the attraction.
It would have been great to have another ride in the World Showcase, but sadly due to funding it never came to pass and the area where the attraction would have been is now a Cast Member rehearsal area and storage space.
For those looking to dive into all the German cuisine they can enjoy, there is no better place to visit than Biergarten. This is a buffet meal that has plenty of unique offerings and allows guests the opportunity to try new and familiar dishes in the quantity they desire.
One of my favorite places to stop in Germany is the Sommerfest quick service stand tucked away in the back of the pavilion. Several items from this menu make it onto my bucket-list-worthy snacks list and you should absolutely try them on your next trip!
Sommerfest serves up all the stereotypical German snacks such as sausage sandwiches, jumbo pretzels and beer. You can’t go wrong with a giant German soft pretzel the size of your face and a cup of Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen to wash it down because beer and pretzels in Germany are like America to apple pie!
Sometimes, you might find some surprise characters visiting the Germany pavilion during special holidays or events, but the regular tenant you’ll find in Germany is Snow White. She can be found off to the left side of the pavilion near the wishing well.
There may be a few areas in which the Germany pavilion could improve to move it higher up the list, however, it excels in many areas and is a great place to visit on your journey through the World Showcase.
Check out this full guide to the Germany pavilion!
Norway is a not-so-hidden gem of the World Showcase pavilions. It has quickly become a very popular pavilion in Epcot.
Norway was the most recent pavilion to be added to the World Showcase. It had its grand opening in June of 1988 with the then Crown Prince, Harald V of Norway, officiating at the dedication ceremony.
The theming of Norway’s pavilion comes from different aspects of Norwegian culture. You will find various styles of architecture such as Setesdal, Bergen, Olso and Ålesund.
Setesdal-style architecture can be found in The Puffin’s Roost shop and Kringla Bakeri og Kafe. The grassy rooftops which are used as a form of heating and air conditioning along with the thick wooden log design are classic staples in Setesdal architecture.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall was modeled after Akershus Fortress, sometimes referred to as Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway. Ålesund-style architecture can be found in the stone trim and white stucco facade of the information building.
The close-set wooden Fjording shop buildings represent Bergen-style waterfront architecture, which were designed with tall triangular roofs to create a spacious and dry place to preserve the fish products used in trading.
These buildings were built close to the water with large doors that could swing out to the boats for easier loading of goods.
One of the most iconic structures in the Norway pavilion is the Stave Church. The name comes from the post and lintel structure design which consists of a type of timber framing and load-bearing ore-pine posts.
This type of design structure translates to “stav” in Norweigan which eventually became known as the stave church. Today there are only 28 stave churches left in Norway.
The replica located in Epcot often houses small museum exhibits dedicated to various components of Norweigan culture and history. The current exhibit on display is the Viking of the Gods – a tribute to the Norse gods’ Thor, Loki and Oden.
Shopping and Attractions
There are some excellent shopping locations inside the Norway pavilion. You will find plenty of Frozen merchandise for the kids to enjoy, but there are tons of unique and authentic Norwegian products, as well.
I have almost purchased one of the Nordic sweaters on several occasions, but my bank account told me to “back it up Rockefeller”. In turn, I usually then end up buying a piece of artwork from Larry Dotson, instead.
If you visit the Puffin’s Roost, you can stop in and say “hello” to the giant troll statue that sits in the middle of the shop. The troll’s name is determined each day by the first family that enters the shop. The troll also has a special Instagram account you can follow to see what his name is each day.
Norway is one of the few countries to house an attraction, which helps put it at the top of many Disney fans’ list. The original log-flume ride, Maelstrom, which took guests through scenes of Nordic gods and mythical trolls, maritime villages and Viking times has now become Frozen Ever After.
While I am often someone who lobbies for the original edutainment atmosphere of Epcot rather than IP-COT, I have to say that Frozen Ever After is an upgrade that is fun for the whole family.
The Frozen Fever doesn’t stop with the attraction either, guests can stop by the Royal Summerhaus and say hello to Queen Anna and Elsa from Frozen 2. Not only is Norway the one place you can meet the Frozen Sisters in Disney World, but when Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is open, you can meet other princesses during breakfast, lunch and dinner, too.
Akershus is a great restaurant if you are looking to try some dishes that are unique yet slightly familiar. My favorite place to visit in Norway is the Kringla Bakeri og Kafe. There are so many authentic Norwegian pastries available such as Skoolbread, Troll Horns and Rice Cream.
I would like to shout it from the rooftops that the berry cream puff has finally returned, as well. This dessert is one of the best things I’ve eaten in all of Epcot.
The one category Norway is lacking in is Entertainment. While you may find some entertainment during the Festival of the Holidays or other special events, there isn’t a regular entertainment act in Norway.
There is still so much to see and do in Norway, it’s no surprise this pavilion ranks so high in the battle for the best pavilion in Epcot! Check out this full guide to the Norway pavilion!
Taking the bronze medal in the battle for the best pavilion in the World Showcase is Japan! Japan has so many unique things to experiences and many guests don’t spend enough time exploring all there is see, do and eat.
One of the first structural elements you will notice when you enter the Japan pavilion is the red Torii gate modeled after the Torii of Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima. Torii gates were commonly used at the entrances or inside Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples to symbolize the transition from the mundane to the sacred.
The other more prominent architectural structure is the 5-story Goju-no-to pagoda at the front of the pavilion. This pagoda was modeled after the Horyuji Temple, one of the oldest pagodas in Japan. Each roof of the pagoda symbolizes one of the 5 major elements of Buddhist thinking: earth, air, water, wind and fire.
Considered one of the seven mysteries of the Horyunji Temple, the orignial was found to have scythes (curved blades used for cutting grass and wheat). Since lightning was once considered to be a celestial monster by the Japanese people, it was believed to be a form of an early lightning rod.
Shopping and Attractions
Mitsukoshi is one of the largest stores in the World Showcase and has some really unique souvenirs. You can find everything from manga and anime products, to authentic samurai swords and kimonos. One of my favorite things to do when I visit is to pick a pearl from the oyster tank when available.
There are no attraction rides in Japan, although there were many potential projects over the years that never saw the light of day. One idea for an attraction was a roller coaster similar to the Matterhorn Bobsleds that would take guests through Mount Fuji.
There was also talks of a Godzilla themed attraction that would have been sponsored by Fujifilm, however, since Kodak was a major Epcot sponsor at the time, they convinced Disney to decline the project.
One attraction that almost came to pass was a Carousel of Progress-style show called ‘Meet the World’. Unlike in the Carousel of Progress, where the guests are on the rotating platform and move through the scenes, Meet the World was built with the scenes on the rotating platform and the guests were stationary.
The 19-minute show would have been similar to the version that played in Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorroland from 1983-2002. The show was said to “explore Japan’s heritage in an incredible time-travel adventure” through the narration of an animated crane and two young children from Yokohama.
Due to miscalculations in the structural design of the show building, the attraction was not able to safely run without major work being done to the building. Since the pavilion construction was already behind schedule, Disney decided to scrap the idea altogether. The show building is now used as a Cast Member rehearsal space.
One of the coolest performance acts in the World Showcase resides in the Japan pavilion is the Taiko drummers: Matsuriza. This ancient form of Japanese drumming is so cool to watch and you can hear them from half way across the World Showcase.
There are several dining locations in the Japan pavilion that range from simple quick service to high-end, you need to take a mortgage out, elevated experiences.
If you are looking for a quick service option, look no further than the popular Katsura Grill. For a a sweet snack grab some kakigōri shaved ice at the Kabuki Cafe while you watch the Matsuriza drummers perform.
If you would like to sit down and enjoy a nice table service meal Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo are your best bets. We love hibachi-style dining so Teppan Edo is one of our favorites.
For the true foodies, there isn’t a more luxurious spot than Takumi-Tei. The Chefs Table Experience costs $180.00 per person and takes 3 hours to enjoy. If you are looking for a highly elevated dining extravaganza, this is your place!
Check out this full guide to the Japan pavilion!
Coming in second place is the Mexico pavilion. For many guests, Mexico is the only place to start their World Showcase journey. Mexico has it all: great food, entertainment, theming, dining and shopping.
The temple pyramid was modeled after ancient Mezoamerican civilizations. There are direct elements from El Castillo (also known as the Temple of Kukulkan) and the Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan (also known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent).
You’ll notice various serpent heads located on the outside of the pyramid with their mouths open. It is believed that the Mayans would insert and move placeholders in the mouths of the serpents to mark the passing of days on the calendar and special rituals.
Inside the pyramid, the details and design are even better. You will find lots of ancient Mexican artifacts and art pieces. The main room of the pyramid is designed to look like an open-air marketplace at twilight. The reason it is depicted as nighttime in the pavilion is that the evenings are when fiestas and celebrations occur in Mexican culture.
Shopping and Attractions
Mexico also has some of the best shopping in all of Epcot. From the marketplace carts in the center of the pavilion that sell authentic hand-made artwork and glassware to the La Princesa de Cristal shop where you can find some beautiful jewelry pieces, there are some amazing souvenirs in this pavilion.
One common theme that seemed to catapult pavilions to the top of the ranking is whether they have an attraction or not.
The original attraction inside the Mexico pavilion was called El Rio del Tiempo (the River of Time). In 2007, Disney began its IP invasion by converting the attraction into the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.
While I understand that adding the Three Caballeros made the attraction more popular, this was one change that took away from the cultural learning experience of the ride.
For better or worse, the insertion of Disney IP into this attraction was the stepping stone for the recent explosion of IP-infused attractions in Epcot.
There is no limit to the amazing dining options available both inside and outside the Mexico pavilion. San Angel Inn inside the pyramid is a replica of the original San Angel Inn restaurant located in Mexico City. Once a Carmelite monastery in 1692, it was eventually converted into a restaurant and hotel in the early 1900s.
The second table service location in Mexico is La Hacienda de San Angel. While the theming of the San Angel Inn is slightly better because it is located inside the pyramid, the food is definitely better at La Hacienda de San Angel. This restaurant has some amazing dishes and provides some beautiful views of the nighttime fireworks.
If you are looking for a quick snack or meal, there are several great locations in Mexico to visit. La Cava del Tequila serves up some amazing hand-crafted cocktails and light bites inside the pyramid and outside at La Cantina de San Angel, you’ll find some amazing quick-service Mexican cuisine that our readers have voted as the best quick service location in all of Epcot.
There is only one character available for meet and greets in Mexico but it’s a rather unique experience. Outside the pavilion, you can find Donald Duck in his Three Caballeros outfit greeting guests. I love meeting Donald in this unique outfit and location.
As if all of the amazing food and shopping experiences weren’t enough, the entertainment in Mexico is equally outstanding. Mariachi Cobre, a 12-member mariachi band that plays various instruments has been performing in Epcot for 39 years.
Their infectious music will have you dancing and smiling from ear to ear. I cannot hear mariachi music anywhere without being instantly transported back to Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.
There is so much to see, do and eat at the Mexico pavilion it’s no surprise it is one of Disney fans’ favorite pavilions in Epcot!
Check out this full guide to the Mexico pavilion!
The winner of the best World Showcase pavilion in all of Epcot, according to Disney fans, is the France pavilion! It’s no surprise because France excels in every single one of our categories.
From the moment you first cross over the bridge from the United Kingdom, which represents the Pont des Arts (a/k/a “the lock bridge”) to passing by the River Seine and seeing the Eiffel Tower in all her glory, you will be whisked away to Parisian grandeur.
The overall theme and design of the buildings in the France pavilion are taken from the La Belle Epoque era (the Beautiful Age) which lasted roughly from 1871 to 1914. It was a cultural and artistic Golden Age in France which is apparent in the beautiful and quaint architecture and landscapes around the pavilion.
Fun Fact: The Eiffel Tower stands high above the pavilion in a picturesque backdrop. Disney used the actual blueprints for the original Eiffel Tower to make their replica, but it is built at a 1/10 scale.
Though the tower is only 103 feet tall, Disney’s mastery of forced perspective tricks your mind into thinking it’s taller. A few ways this is accomplished is that the tower actually sits on top of the roof of the Palais du Cinema and bird deterrents are installed in the tower to prevent birds from perching on the top which would give away the illusion.
Shopping and Attractions
After you finish admiring all the beautiful scenery in the pavilion, make sure to spend plenty of time walking through the various shops. You’ll find lots of authentic wines, perfumes and French-style Disney merchandise. I love shopping in France because I always find something unique.
As with the other countries that rank at the top of our list, France now has a ride attraction. The addition of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure has catapulted the France pavilion into 1st place!
This trackless ride shrinks guests down to the size of a rat and they move through both screen scenes and live sets as they make their way through Gustaeu’s busy kitchen.
It’s a great ride for the whole family to enjoy and is just one of many reasons you should visit France while you are touring around the world.
There’s no shortage of entertainment available at Epcot’s France pavilion, too. Stop into the Palais du Cinema and watch the 18-minute long Impressions de France movie.
This timeless classic plays on 5 adjacent screens spanning 200º and takes guests through 49 scenes of various locations throughout the countryside and cities of France. Impressions de France also holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running daily screening of a film in the same theater.
Impressions de France has it all: beauty, culture, scenic backdrops…air-conditioning…seating. It’s a heavenly oasis! I truly wish I could say the same for its counterpart show: ‘The Beauty and Beast Sing-Along’, but sadly I cannot get those 15 minutes of my life back.
If you have Belle fans in your family, it might be a nice option to take a rest and get out of the heat, but if you are expecting the same level of quality as the Frozen Sing-Along in Hollywood Studios, you will be disappointed.
Guests looking to say hello to some Disney characters will find Aurora and Belle (in her blue dress) meeting guests at various times of the day. Check character locator for all character schedules!
The pièce de résistance of the France pavilion is the food. Whether you are looking for one of the best pastries in all of Disney or looking for an upscale dining experience, you will find it all here.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie is the place to go if you are looking for some of the most exquisite and decadent snacks in Epcot. Everything is baked fresh. The word artificial does not exist in the chefs’ vocabulary. The result is artistic culinary perfection that can only be described with a chef’s kiss.
One of my favorite quick meals in Epcot is a bowl of Lobster Bisque with a French baguette and chocolate mousse, though you cannot go wrong with anything in Le Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie.
There are two table service meals in France. Chefs de France has been around since Epcot opened in 1982. It is one of my all-time favorite meals and we never have a bad experience.
Monsieur Paul is located towards the backside of Chefs de France and features an elevated menu and price point. If you are a foodie, this is a great destination, but if you find you have a more basic palate, Chefs de France is the perfect place.
It’s no surprise that the France pavilion is our winner for the best pavilion in the World Showcase! It has everything: food, entertainment, characters, theming and an attraction. You should absolutely make France a must-do when you visit Epcot.
Check out this full guide to the France pavilion!
What do you think of our readers’ choices for the best and worst pavilions in Epcot? Did your favorite win? Let us know in the comments below and on Facebook what your favorite pavilion to visit in the World Showcase is and why!
Christina you’ve done it again. Your reviews are fantastic and I always look forward to them and save them on my iPad. Thank you for the wonderful info on these 5 Epcot Pavilions. I always learn something new from your reviews. Thank you so much for your research. Appreciate you. Lois Nunn
Thank you Lois! That means a great deal to me that you enjoyed them! I appreciate your kinds words <3