Friday, April 17, 2009

World Showcase Part I: Mexico

Welcome back to Katie's Guide to Epcot!

Now that you've safely wasted about an hour and a half in Future World, it's time to start the main event: the World Showcase.

If you're coming in from the front entrance, the most logical way to start the World Showcase is to move clockwise around the lake, starting with Mexico.

When you arrive at the Mexico pavilion, the first thing you will see is a gigantic Mayan pyramid on your left. On your right will be a hacienda-style structure with outdoor seating. This is the cafe. Beyond the cafe on your right, you have a small shop that is somewhat connected to the cafe. Then on your left beyond the shop, there is a small "jungle" area with vegetation and beyond that, a convenient margarita stand. We'll start with the pyramid.

Look! You can even take pictures that make it look a little like you're a tourist in a foreign land.

If Mexico is your first stop on your world tour, you can probably ride the Mexico boat ride without much of a wait, or no wait at all. It is entirely up to you whether or not you choose to ride it, but I have to say it is relaxing and quite a bit cheesy. Basically, two unidentifiable tropical birds speak and sing in vaguely Mexican accents and wear sombreros, while chasing Donald Duck (who wears a Mexican poncho) throughout the ride. The three birds, including Donald, are the Three Caballeros, for those who didn't have Sing Along Songs growing up. It's a nice cool boat ride, and if you choose to skip it, you can always come back in the (possible) heat of the afternoon, when you're sick of walking, but you may have to wait in a bit of a line. The ride also provides a scenic backdrop for the indoor restaurant, the San Angel Inn. I've only been there once, but from what I remember, they had large portion sizes and authentic Mexican food.

Inside the pyramid, aside from the ride and the restaurant, is a big fake outdoor market. It's pretty dark inside the pyramid, and the transition from the bright sun outside to "nighttime" inside is a little disorientating. When you first walk inside, there will be a guy from Oaxaca making authentic Mexican wood-carved figurines, painted in very bright primary colors. I don't even know if you can buy those figurines he makes, he might just be an art installation.
Once you go through the gateway beyond figurine-carving guy, you enter the market area. The market sells cookbooks, sombreros, Mexican blankets, hot sauces, margarita mixes, weird Mexican candy, and any number of other souvenirs that no one really needs. But it's fun to try on the gigantic sombreros.


There is also a shop that sells crystal figurines, and a shop that sells silver jewelry and other fancy stuff. It's a good place to know about in case you have a necklace that breaks during the day - you can replace your necklace chain conveniently! Of course, that's not why it's there. Just go look at it.

Once you're bored with the sombreros, go back outside to the cafe.
Mexico is a great (fake) country to visit because it has extra booze. It has the bar attached to the cafe on your right, and it has the margarita stand on your left. Of course, that creates the problem of human traffic jams on big days, since the cafe makes the walkway smaller than usual, and there can be up to 200 people in line for the bar. This creates an effect we shall refer to as the "Epcot Death March."

However, my point is, there is a cafe that sells stellar nachos, I believe some quesadillas, tacos, burritos, and churros. I really recommend the nachos, but you have to ask for extra sour cream and salsa.

Next to the cafe, there is Bar #1. At this bar, they sell Dos Equis Lager. Go with the Lager.


Apparently, if you go order a Dos Equis Amber at the bar, the bartenders will laugh at you and talk about you in Spanish. They don't even serve Dos Equis Amber, apparently. The Amber is for tourists, and is a "Vienna-style amber lager." I'm not saying I've witnessed it myself - I never stand in that line long enough to know. But that's what I hear.

They also sell margaritas at the bar. I think they only sell the frozen lime kind, that comes out of a slushie machine, but what do you expect.

The internal debate you should be having now is, do I want my margarita from the bar, or from the margarita stand?

You see, right across the walkway is a stand dedicated to selling margaritas and ONLY margaritas. If you get the whole 4 flavor version, it is $10.50 for what amounts to probably a 16 oz. glass. The 4 flavors are lime, strawberry, mango and green apple. You can get these in any combination that you choose, and you can get them with either salt or sugar (or nothing) on the rim.
It depends on the day, but in my personal experience, the margaritas at the bar are somewhat stronger than the ones from the margarita stand. They may also be cheaper, but I don't know.

It's entirely up to you as to your choice of beverage, but I recommend the straight-up lime with salt. And if you're not a lime person, then the mango and strawberry mix is pretty darn good.
I HATE the green apple flavor. It tastes like they put some Pine Sol in it.

So what else is in Mexico? After all that booze and nachos, do you really need anything else? Yes? Oh well.

Next to the cafe, there is a small shop selling cliched Mexican souvenirs, including mini-sombreros, which I delight in putting on my cat. Sorry about the culturally-insensitive caption, but this one got on the Vote page of Not to brag or anything.

That's my gigantic cat, Oscar. He recently swallowed a frog whole. Or so they tell me.

Anyway, also in this shop you can buy various soccer (futbol) items, including Chivas jerseys and scarves, and themed Adidas footwear. Inside, they sell sets of margarita serving pitchers and glasses. They also sell straight tequila inside - some of it even has the famed worm at the bottom.

Drunk enough yet? No? You will be, as we continue our journey into Norway - coming soon.

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