My Disney Top 5 - Things to See in Epcot's Morocco Pavilionby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5. For the last several months I've been busy taking you all around World Showcase, one nation at a time. It's been a long journey through one of my favorite places anywhere in the world. Epcot's World Showcase is one of a kind. There's nothing like it anywhere and we happily spend as much time as we can strolling around the lagoon on each visit. Right now, we're about to spend some time in one of the true jewels of Epcot, the Morocco pavilion. Morocco may be my all-time favorite of the 11 countries surrounding World Showcase Lagoon. It's got fantastic food, great music, unique shopping, and some of the most ornate, intricate, and authentic details to be found anywhere in Walt Disney World.
As many of you may be aware, the King of Morocco was so thrilled that his country was chosen to be represented in Epcot that he sent his personal builders and artisans to complete the pavilion. The Imagineers always sunk themselves into a culture to duplicate it in the pavilions they were constructing, even visiting some of the nations and exploring their architecture firsthand. Workers from the host nations were used in Epcot's construction but none so much as in Morocco. Having actual Moroccan craftsman on hand, not to mention the royal craftsman, was something unique and certainly produced outstanding results.
And yet, because of Morocco's relative obscurity, I feel that it often goes overlooked by guests touring World Showcase. Maybe obscurity is the wrong word; after all Morocco is certainly not a tiny unknown nation, but the average Walt Disney World tourist definitely is more drawn to the more typical nations like Germany, Mexico, the UK, and Japan. Morocco is the sole representative from the African continent and is clearly the most exotic nation represented in World Showcase to date. But its main full-service dining establishment, Restaurant Marrakesh is usually an easy reservation and can sometimes actually be experienced as a walk-in, something just about unheard of in the era of Disney Dining Plan reservation madness.
For those in the know, Morocco is something that should never be missed on any Walt Disney World vacation. Let's find out why with my Top 5 things to see in Epcot's Morocco pavilion. Let me preface this piece by saying that it was just about impossible to construct this list as each of the five things I talk about could be deserving of a number one slot. I love everything about Morocco and here's some of the reasons why.
5 – Shopping in the Medina
As you enter Morocco, you find yourself in an enchanting open courtyard with a beautiful fountain and an intoxicating mix of citrus plants, olive trees, and palms. If you make it past that beauty you'll pass though gates leading into the Medina, or "old city."
This is where you leave Epcot behind and enter an authentic Moroccan bazaar. Walk through the passageways and discover something unique around every corner, much the way you would, I imagine, in an actual bazaar in North Africa. You won't find any Mickey Mouse emblazoned objects from the various vendors here. You can, however, find authentic Moroccan clothing, jewelry, crafts, scents, brass, baskets, and even "magic" carpets. It's one of my favorite places to walk around even if I'm not buying anything. Take your time and explore it all on your next visit.
4 – Restaurant Marrakesh
I live in New York and was raised within the New York City limits in Queens. Every nationality is represented in my old neck of the woods and yet, I had to go to Epcot to eat in my first Moroccan restaurant.
This is the true World Showcase experience: Eating delicious authentic food that you're not familiar with in an exotic surrounding all within the comfort and familiarity of Walt Disney World. It's always shocking to me that Marrakesh is typically such an easy reservation. The food is top notch. The staff is warm and inviting and for goodness sake, there are actual belly dancers entertaining you. How often do you get to witness that?
3 – Tangierine Café
Let's say you don't have the time for a sit-down meal but you'd still like to sample some delectable Moroccan cuisine. Your stop should be my favorite counter service spot in World Showcase, the Tangierine Café. The Mediterranean wraps are fantastic. The shawarma platters are excellent. The vegetarian platters filled with couscous, hummus, and tabbouleh are my favorite. It's a good, quality, healthy meal.
Like the rest of the pavilion, you'll be dining surrounded by beautiful and intricate tile work and colored glass. Even better, grab a seat if you can on the small covered terrace outside by the main promenade and people-watch as you enjoy your delicious meal.
2 – Moroccan Mint Iced Tea
Yes, I put a beverage this high on my list. And yes, it's a simple iced tea, nothing too exotic for sure.
It'd be hard to find something I enjoy more on a hot summer walk through World Showcase than the Moroccan mint iced tea. I'm a big iced tea guy and I'll walk the full length of Epcot just to grab one of these. For that matter, I usually grab two because the first one goes down so perfectly. It's my favorite drink in Walt Disney World and I'd drink it every day if I could find some up here.
1 – The Craftsmanship
Don't go for the food, the iced tea, the belly dancers, or the exotic shopping. Forget about meeting Aladdin and Jasmine. Skip the shawarma and the baklava and the live music. All of these things are integral parts of the Morocco pavilion experience for sure, but honestly, you could skip all of it and just walk around and be blown away by the stunning details that King Hassan II's artisans and craftsman put into every inch of this place.
The imposing prayer tower that greets you as you approach the pavilion towers over the streets and alleyways packed with authentic representations of Moroccan art and architecture. Seek out the Gallery of Arts and History behind closed doors and appreciate the artifacts and costumes straight from Morocco. You can feel the love and pride that was put into the pavilion everywhere you look. It's simply extraordinary and it's such a unique experience, one that you simply can't find in many places outside of North Africa, never mind in Central Florida.
Make sure that the next time you're visiting World Showcase you spend some quality time in Morocco. There's something for everyone to see and marvel at. I still haven't dined at the Spice Road Table, so I still have more to experience in this wonderful spot. I'll be there in a few months and I can't wait until I return. There's always some new detail that I never noticed, some amazing cluster of tiles that I haven't seen before and some gracious Moroccan cast member that I have yet to meet and speak to. It's one of the most wonderful places in all of Walt Disney World and that's saying something.
Do you find Morocco as enchanting as I do, or have you skipped it like I unfortunately feel many guests have? One way or the other, let me hear your thoughts. Click on the link below, share what you have to say and I'll see you next time as we continue around the lagoon with a stop in the always beautiful France pavilion.