We continue from Yukon.
The World ShowPlace, in between the Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions, is host to three individual “booths,” in addition to entertainment, a store, and the new home of the Gingerbread Capital City that used to be hidden back in the corner of the lobby area inside The American Adventure. We’ll take a look at the food options first and then see what else is going on in there.
You may need to move quickly through here should three gentlemen come out to The Mill Stage to play the oven.
If you visited the ShowPlace for this year’s (A Taste of) EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, then you’ll recognize the basic setup in here. You’ll find individual lines for each of the kitchens with the stage just about in the middle of the area set up for a variety of entertainment. There are quite a few tables available, making this a good stop during inclement weather. But it also won’t be an original idea as a lot of people head in from the rain and/or the cold. During most of the year, this is a nice respite from the heat. But 2020 does still have a couple more weeks up its sleeve. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see another 95-degree day and a hurricane move through before the year is up.
We’ll start with Festival Favorites:
The name may bring more oomph than “random assortment of dishes that didn’t fit in elsewhere this year.” At least in the last ten years, they’ve never even served Bass at a Festival. The menu mentions the booth where the dish was supposedly offered, but that was catfish rather than bass. I still hesitate to quote the grocery store price of any particular product, but you would expect to see a higher price tag on the bass, making the catfish more attractive on Disney’s side. Of course, Vietnamese catfish is what Yorkshire Fish in the UK Pavilion serves in their Fish and Chips, so there may be some redundancy there.
Blackened Bass, White Cheddar Grits, and Okra with Tomato and Onion Stew— $7
You’ll have to bear with me on these pictures as it’s dark inside the ShowPlace and using a Christmas Tree as background bokeh turned out to be more distracting than pretty. Despite never appearing on a menu in this form, the Bass turned out to be one of our favorite dishes at the Festival.
The fish reminded me more of the Ghost-Pepper Dusted Tilapia that may have been last seen at the 2014 Flower and Garden Festival. That means it’s spicier than the menu probably indicates. The fish brings the appropriate crispy sear with a delicate, flaky interior. I think the Bass holds up better than the Tilapia or the Catfish, but the paprika flavor does dominate the fish more than you might expect. Underneath, the creamy White Cheddar Grits offer a solid, if slightly fine consistency for a sharp cheesy base. If the fish is spicier than you’d like on its own, the Tomato and Onion Stew does a nice job of taming it alongside a couple bites of Fried Okra that will taste best when they’re hot and crispy. The dish is probably a dollar overpriced, even by Disney standards, but it is a favorite after all.
Duck Confit and Dumplings with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fig Reduction — $8
The Duck was another…favorite as well. The portion is significant and the meat is tender and juicy as it almost falls right off the bone underneath the sweet, plum-like glaze and crispy skin. The Brussels Sprouts on the side were roasted nicely, but a little on the bland side compared to the bolder flavors of the main components. These remain two of the best dishes at the entire Festival, though they’d set you back a combined $15 and be significantly less food than an entrée from most major quick services. Then again, you could say that about most anything served at the various Festivals. And obviously, just about everything here is greatly elevated. You may as well key in on the tastier ones that you probably can’t prepare easily at home.
Gingerbread Cookie — $2.50
The Gingerbread Cookie is about what you would expect from something purchased at the store in a plastic container alongside 11 other gingerbread friends. The cookie is just fine – it’s soft with the ginger, cinnamon, and molasses flavors potentially a little more muted than you might expect. I would have preferred a little more chew. If you’re rocking the Cookie Stroll, then you’re probably picking one of these guys up, but otherwise, I’d put the money towards the cake back at the Yukon or the Bundt Cake coming up.
Coquito: Tropical Eggnog — $4.25 served without the booze or $10 with Bacardi Gold Dark Rum.
This coconut-based drink is heavier on the cinnamon and cloves than it probably looks, with vanilla and condensed milk dominating the palate. The cups remain small for the money and holds about four ounces total, leaving little room for the rum or much else. But the flavors are festive and the drink is creamy and easy to drink. We liked it, though it doesn’t really pair well with either of the two main dishes offered here. It would help the gingerbread go down as it’s on the dry side.
Frozen S’mores – $4.50 served without the booze or $11 with bottom shelf vodka
I didn’t care for the texture of the whipped milk, which is kind of foamy and yucky (in my opinion). There’s only a subtle chocolate flavor amid the whipped mess, which is just topped with a handful of marshmallows and a bland graham cracker this year. You might have a better experience. In my experience, adding the vodka makes for an even foamier mess, but those who enjoy foamy milk chocolate drinks more than I are in business.
We’ll check out Holiday Hearth next:
It’s quite the assortment.
We have everything nicely bundled up here for the most part.
Red Velvet Mini Bundt Cake – $4
This is a smarter buy than most of the various cookies. I’m not usually very wild about red velvet anything, with all of the food coloring going on, but it works here with the sweet, moist cake serving as a nice base for even sweeter cream cheese frosting on top and then a festive spread of sugary delight on top of that. The price point and portion size make this an attractive proposition, but it’s quite sweet on its own. You might pair it with our favorite fish to help relieve some of the spice over there and eat the sugar here.
Salted Caramel Spaceship Earth Cookie – $5.25
The cookie comes packaged, which may make it a prime candidate to put in your fanny pack for the ride home. The novelty factor is probably playing the biggest role here – they’ve basically just given two circular cookies legs and put some sticky caramel in between them. But the sugar crystals add a nice crispy, texture and they even threw on more sugar with the holly on top. There are better desserts available, but the cookie is pretty hefty, pretty sweet, pretty precious, and probably best shared.
Snowball Cookies – $4
It would be funny if they added a sticker with the year on it to every dish so that we would be obligated to reorder everything every year. Or just take the sticker off. And then you would know. These Cookies are packaged up even better than the Spaceship Earth cookie, but there isn’t anything particularly “Disney” about them. Even the logo doesn’t mention Epcot. The cookies are fresh and flavorful and there are quite a few of the soft, buttery, nutty concoctions covered in powdered sugar stuffed into the generic jar. By all accounts, it’s a lot of cookie for the money considering we’re used to paying $2.5 0for just one. These are obviously smaller than the standard cookie, but there has to be a dozen of them in there for just $1.50 more than the gingerbread person. If you’re looking for something less sweet, but rather generic, these would fit the bill. They might also double as something you can throw at bloggers and then easily recollect.
Peppermint Bark – $6.25
That is definitely a bag of average peppermint bark. It’s hard to say how much of this was put together at the last minute, but some unique packaging would certainly go a long way to making some of these more generic items compelling. The bark was more fragile than most, basically caving in on itself with each passing bite. The flavor profile is exactly what you would expect with the white chocolate and peppermint. You could certainly grab a bag if you were dying to have peppermint bark at that exact moment, but Costco does it better and the box is about three pounds.
Stollen: Holiday Fruit Cake – $4.25
This must be it. Again, it’s packaged nicely if you want to take it on the go, but most people are probably after items that they’re planning on consuming on the premises. There’s really nothing special about this fruit cake either. it’s dry, light on the fruit, and heavy on the powdered sugar. It’s “just fine,” and a better value than most of the cookies, but I’m not sure who would find this a compelling purchase at Epcot. Maybe if it was in the shape of Living with the Land or something. Like the whole ride.
Mouse Crunch – $6.50
This is basically the Caramel Apple Popcorn from the Food and Wine Festival served in a holiday bag alongside chocolate-covered pretzels and M&M’s. At least the last part will eventually be themed well to Disney Springs. This is perfectly skippable in my estimation. The popcorn tastes stale and there’s nothing unique about the other additions.
Gingerbread Milkshake – $4.50 served without the booze or $11 with bottom shelf vodka
This one is actually pretty tasty, though it’s probably more ideal on a warmer afternoon than at the end of the night. The drink is creamy and thick, while still remaining easily drinkable. The addition of the gingerbread cookie is a nice touch and the Pinnacle Vodka mixes in better with the Shake, helping to reduce its chocolaty richness and adding a light flavor of marshmallow.
Hot Cocoa – $3.50 served without the booze or $11 with peppermint schnapps.
That is indeed what watery, instant hot cocoa in a small plastic cup with a tiny handle looks like. If you can figure out how to microwave water and add a packet of Nestle Hot Cocoa, and have the ability to confidently purchase some schnapps at the liquor store, then you could recreate this at home without too much trouble. I think the Gingerbread Shake is more compelling, though this may potentially be a better choice if it’s cold and you’re headed back outside. It won’t last long, typically making the Joffrey’s coffee stand just outside the ShowPlace a lot more bang for your money.
I always forget to take a picture of one menu. Apparently this year, it’s Prost! The emphasis is theirs. Here’s what’s on the menu:
- Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50
- M.I.A. Beer Company White Christmas IPA, Doral, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- 3 Daughters Brewing 70 Degree Winter Weizen, St. Petersburg, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- Playlalinda Brewing Co. Gingerblonde House Ale, Titusville, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- Ciderboys Mad Bark Apple Cinnamon Hard Cider, Stevens Point, WI — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- 3 Daughters Brewing Blueberry Peppercorn Hard Cider, St. Petersburg, FL — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards 1911 Honey Crisp Hard Cider, Lafayette, NY — 6oz. $4.50 / 12oz. $8.50
- Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50
Charcuterie and Cheese Plate — $6.50
The small Charcuterie and Cheese Plate is reminiscent of what they served at the Appleseed Orchard during Food and Wine, this time with a lot more cracker than anything else. If there was about three times as much of the few cheeses and meats, then this would be a much better value. As it stands, you could nibble on things a bit while enjoying a drink, but I think the small size of each portion comes through in the picture. It’s certainly skippable, but grabbing one probably wouldn’t be the biggest mistake you’ll ever make, either.
There are no flights this year, but you can still put one together yourself, two-at-a-time, with the six-ounce pours. I like the White Christmas IPA the most, but you’ll want to head in whichever direction sounds tastiest.
Overall, they were right about the Festival Favorites with two of the better items at the Festival offered there. They may be in luck with improved facilities inside the ShowPlace, compared to the small outdoor booths where they have to cram in however much equipment they can. The Bundt Cake and Gingerbread Milkshake also stand out.
The World ShowPlace is also home to the Gingerbread Capital this year:
You can also look forward to a variety of musical performers throughout the day. Joyful! returns in this new location after performing on a stage in what is now the hole in the middle of Future World.
There are some nice backgrounds for photos inside, but it is dark:
And you’ll find most of the Festival merchandise just inside the door on the left:
That’s the World ShowPlace.