Around the World in 25 Countries


The giant sphere that holds the Spaceship Earth ride is visible in all parts of Epcot. Spaceship Earth looms over everything else in the park, so onlookers can see it no matter where they are in Epcot. The sphere, besides being an impressive sight, can also serve as a directional beacon, as it is located near the entrance of the park. This is most helpful to those who are stuck in the Food and Wine Festival, as they can easily guide themselves back to the entrance of Epcot.

Jack Scott, Staff Writer

Every autumn, a section of Disney’s Epcot Park is transformed into a surreal and sometimes confusing conglomeration of culinary culture from all over the world. Chinese monasteries stand aside Norwegian stave churches, attracting crowds of people weary from the blistering and oppressive central Florida sun. Moroccan bazaars greet tourists who just minutes before were visiting Brazilian plazas and Japanese pagodas. Throughout this blissful turmoil of culture and cuisine, no place exists where food can leave eyesight.

Despite the impressive architectural recreations and marvelous street performances, food remains the focus of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Food stands flank every corner of the festival, drawing in tourists who line up to taste bizarre and delicious cuisine. Disney goes to great lengths to endure that the cultures and meals of each country are represented as accurately as possible. The Poland stand is staffed by actual Poles, China’s temple is connected to a museum displaying recreations of artifacts from throughout Chinese history, and Japan’s gift shop is stocked with Pokémon products and anime-related merchandise, and by the Scotland stand, bagpipes and tartans sit atop a wooden cart full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Part of the appeal of the Food and Wine Festival is that the 25 countries are arranged in close proximity without attention or care to the cultural differences between them. Disney is perfectly content to place Japan between Morocco and the United States or Mexico next to China. Every time tourists move from country to country, their taste buds are assaulted by drastically different cuisines from vastly different sources. Rainbow trout from Canada is complimented by spanakopita from Greece. Pedestrians can taste French escargot while watching others eat Irish lobster.

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival should not exist. The amount of cultures packed into such a small area creates a stark contrast that is not natural in any sense of the word, yet the same thing that makes the annual event surreal is also what makes it brilliant. It is an oxymoron in that it is a unification of exceptional diversity. The attempt is not perfect; some cultures are not represented as accurately as they could be. All sub-Saharan African countries are grouped under one food stand, for example. But despite this, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is a remarkable showcase of foodstuffs representing countries from pole to pole.