We continue from Canada.
You’ll find four individual Marketplaces inside of the large indoor World ShowPlace building in between the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions.
You may recognize the building if you didn’t black out during Party for the Senses, like I do every year, or if you grew up in Florida and had your high school prom at Epcot. When you say “World ShowPlace,” people will sometimes reply smugly, “Oh, where in World Showcase?” as if you are the person who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You do not want to be that person. The blue building is the World ShowPlace in World Showcase.
Also note that the “P” is uppercase, unlike “shopDisney.” There’s another mistake you don’t want to make on social media. The ShowPlace is also home to the largest, coolest (temperature-wise) bathrooms in the Park. Because it’s indoors with yet another attendance cap, the building may fill to capacity during busier afternoons. When that happens, there is a virtual queue mechanism where you will give the cast member at the entrance your number and the system will ideally text you when space becomes available. For that reason, you may want to get here before 12:30pm to avoid a wait. The Joffrey’s Coffee Stand on my right actually serves some of the better frozen beverages at the Festival. Always get the double shot.
With ample air-conditioning and a lot of food and drink options inside, the ShowPlace is a great…place to stop and recuperate for a bit while enjoying several of the Festival’s best items. The first Marketplace on the right, out of frame, is “Wine & Dine Featuring Festival Favorites.” After doing this 43 times, you would think I would be better at it. This is not the case. It is over there on the right, though. Honestly.
Favorites brings back three popular food items that have been unavailable for a couple of years, in addition to the lineup of wines that we saw at the grape portion of the Apple Orchard last year. The Bleu Spectrum returns from the Light Lab and the Guinness Baileys Milk Shake arrives here from Ireland.
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream, Poland — $5.50
We’re not off to a great start with this.
Back when you could get the dish at the Poland booth, it looked like the above with two pierogi and a lot more of the onion. I had this to say:
No matter what anybody else tells you, these are Mrs. T’s brand frozen pierogi served with a couple bites of spicy sausage and a large side of caramelized onions. With the higher price point, I’m not sure there’s much value here as you can buy a whole box of the pierogi at the grocery store for around $4. Still, you might find some value in Disney doing the microwaving for you.
The dish is even worse than I remember and now arrives with a single pieróg. Much like raviolo is the singular form of ravioli, the menu may be doing some false advertising. Fortunately, you probably won’t want more than one of these crusty, gummy, flavorless mounds of dough that would make you think there is a potato shortage given the meager filling. The bites of sausage are better, but ours suffered from too much time under the heat lamp and there’s nothing to differentiate it from one a hundred grocery store sausages. The onion does add a sweet tang with the sour cream working to cool off a bit of the heat from the meat.
This is an easy skip in my opinion, though I’m sure Disney Food Blog lurved it. You may receive a miracle and get one that’s prepared better. You would just have to decide if you want your single miracle to be in the form of three bites of slightly-above-average potato dough for $5.50. I’m holding out for world peace or something.
Value: Feel bad
Seafood Fisherman’s Pie, Ireland — $6.50
The Seafood Fisherman’s Pie is my Horizons. Whenever someone brings up Epcot, I don’t wax poetic about the bright promise of the future or how much I enjoyed the singing broccoli band. No, I am all about the Fisherman’s Pie, and I have whined about it excessively in every Ireland review since Disney removed it 1,181 days ago.
Fortunately, our Seafood Pie has made its prodigious return and I am happy to pass along that it is just as delicious as ever. It’s packed with shrimp, scallops, and lobster underneath a layer of steaming-hot mashed potatoes and cheese. Somehow, the price hasn’t gone up in five years, either. I thought somebody might arrest me as I actually walked around with a reasonably-priced Festival item. Certainly, this must be illegal? The fact that you don’t have to eat it outside in Florida in the sun is also good news. When temperatures cool, you could walk any of these items outside if that’s what you wanted to do. This is a personal favorite and a dish that I always recommend.
Spanakopita, Greece — $4.25
The menu says Spanakopita and that’s exactly what you get. Two fried spinach pies arrive unceremoniously on the black plastic plate. Since garnishes just get in the way, it would be annoying if Disney served this with eight decorative pillows on top or something.
The Spanakopita used to look like this, when I described them as having a “thin, flaky, buttery crust that gives way to several layers of spinach, feta, and spices.” I also noted that despite bring previously-frozen, you couldn’t tell. This year’s “Favorite” version was considerably worse and tasted like something you would buy in the Sam’s Club freezer aisle, then cook it, and then try to serve it the next day. The phyllo dough was soft, without the crispiness that you would expect. The filling was also bland without the cheesy, spinach-y goodness that you’d hope for with this dish. You may come away with better luck than we did, and fortunately, $4.25 is one of the lower price points at the Festival. They still may not be worth it.
The Wines – Forge Cellars Dry Riesling Classique, Conundrum Red Blend, tenshən Rhône Style White Blend, Lang & Reed Wine Company Cabernet Franc, Frog’s Leap Zinfandel, Kurt Russell’s Gogi Wines Pinot Noir
Each wine tastes like wine as seen here in flights from last year.
The Kurt Russell Gogi Pinot Noir is easily the best wine available, but also by far the most expensive. Conundrum is a grocery store brand, but it’s a solid choice for a less expensive red. The tenshən Rhône – a delicious blend of Viognier, Rousanne, Grenache Blanc & Chardonnay, is a good value on the white wine front with peach and honeydew melon notes. Very refreshing.
Bleu Spectrum: Blanc de Bleu Cuvée Mousseux with Boba Pearls — $9
If you ever think any of these reviews skew towards the negative, I would invite you to read my Light Lab review, which may be the most scathing piece of theme park journalism of all time (of all time). The Bleu Spectrum was the only highlight; it’s a pretty decent sparkling wine – crisp with a delicate blueberry flavor and a dry finish. The boba balls are kind of fun if you’re into the whole slurping thing. If you’re just after the wine, ask for the balls on the side.
Guinness Baileys Milkshake — $11
Yes, still in the Ireland cup. The overwhelming flavors are chocolate and Baileys – there’s virtually no Guinness presence whatsoever. While the menu calls this a “Shake,” the mouthfeel is closer to a thin chocolate milk. I’m honestly not sure where I come down on it – it doesn’t really deliver based on the title, but it’s still cold, delicious, and refreshing. So I just don’t know. It might be more like an above average, boozy chocolate milk. It’s better when it’s a little thicker, which may be more likely given the air-conditioning. The plastic cup also makes for a nice souvenir.
Overall, I’m not sure who decided to go with the Pierogi as a Festival favorite. They’re not even the best box you can buy at Publix. I’d still take a look at the Fisherman’s Pie and the wine selections are abundant and above average. You could do worse than the Bleu Spectrum and Baileys Shake, which is a stronger endorsement than it sounds.