Willkommen to the Shoppes at Epcot's German Pavilion

by Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
Advertisement

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome. Those are the opening strains of theater's Cabaret, but they also apply to this month's shopping and merchandise article. Epcot's World Showcase is full of many wonderful shopping experiences—both of the Disney variety and those more authentic to the host country's homeland—but arguably, my favorite of them all is Germany. There isn't a more eccletic variety of merchandise to be found on property.

The pavillion is basically a big horseshoe, and the shops—like so many at Walt Disney World—are interconnected and easy to walk through. There are eight shops in all. and each features a unique type of merchandise, ranging interestingly from sports jerseys and plush animals to wine and caramel popcorn. Let's take a tour by starting on the right and moving counter-clockwise around the pavillion to see what we find.


Epcot's Germany pavillion is a big horseshoe full of fun, shopping, and food (and wine). Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The first shop you encounter on our tour is Das Kafthaus, which translates to "the Department Store" in English. This store is a bit of a dichotomy. The outside is designed to invoke a medieval German village, with statues of three Hapsburg emperors on the facade. The inside has a passing resemblance to a German Foot Locker.


Das Kafthaus is oddly a great place to find Adidas clothing. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

There are multiple racks here of sports clothing, such as jerseys, sweatshirts, athletic jackets, and even shoes. They are primarily from famous German brands such as Puma and Adidas. I also found soccer balls (one with a famous Mouse logo) and other light sporting equipment. Again, kind of an odd to see racks of clothing in a medieval setting, but these are German goods, and it might be fun to buy that soccer jersey at Epcot. I found it a little pricey, but there was a good selection.

As you continue the tour, you pass from one room to the next. It's a bit unclear as to where one shop starts and one ends here, but assuming we're still in Das Kafthaus, this room features German souvenirs, mainly mugs and glassware, but also T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and little German flags. A notable group of items here is the selection of bottle openers in various German themes. I particularly like the ones shaped like beer steins.


You can't buy the lederhosen, but Das Kafthaus does have nice glassware and bottle openers. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Next up on our tour is Volkskunst ("Folk Art") Clocks and Crafts. The stars here, hands down, are the authentic German cuckoo clocks. I've been to the Black Forest in Germany where these are made (the clock that followed me home just chimed and played music as I was typing this), and the selection at Volkskunst is a pretty good represenation of what they have there.


It's worth a visit to Volkskunst just to see the authentic cuckoo clocks. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The craftsmanship on these clocks is amazing. They range from fairly small and simple (where the cuckoo bird just comes out and cuckoos a number of times based on the hour) to clocks with very complex movement (where small figures come out and circle the clock and move each time it chimes). The latter are admittedly pricey. The smallest clocks will run you a few hundred dollars, while the most ornate will run into the thousands—but these are worth a visit, even if you're not a buyer. A fun activity is to make sure you're in the shop as the clocks strike the hour. You'll get a free show as dozens of clocks cuckoo and move at once.

We now continue to walk through the connected shops and come to Der Teddybar (won't bother with a translation here; it's kind of self-explanatory). The store has the feel of an old German toy shop. A theming highlight is the model train set that runs around the ceiling of the shop. There is a wide range of offerings here, including snowglobes, dolls, and boxed Disney playsets. Appropriately for the Disney items, there's also an emphasis on Snow White and Rapunzel (Tangled), the characters whose stories take place in Germany.

The highlights here, from my point of view, are the plush, of which there are several displays. Steiff is a famous German plush toymaker that actually dates all the way back to 1880. It's best known for its teddy bears, which are made with the best workmanship and sell at high-end retailers, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in the United States. They also sell their goods at Der Teddybar, including those classic bears.


Der Teddybar has offerings from the historic toymaker Steiff, both of the classic and the Disney variety. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

By now, you may know of my fondness for fine brands that create merhandise featuring Disney properies, and Steiff doesn't disappoint here, selling plush of classic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Dumbo, among others. These are not cheap, however, running $175 and up depending on size, even if they are beautiful to look at. For a less expensive, but still wonderful alternative, there are smaller Steiff plush keychains for sale starting at $16.99. Here's a link to the Steiff website if you'd like to see more of its Disney collection.

As is typical in World Showcase, there's usually a shop that sells candy from the host country—and in Germany, Der Teddybar is it. There's a large display of German candies—mostly chocolate—that's worth checking out.

Although you can't exactly shop there, let me give a quick thumbs-up to the Biergarten Restaurant. It features authentic German food, buffet style. The seating consists of long tables arranged in ampatheater-style around a large stage. They have talented musicians playing oom-pah-pah music and putting on a fun show while you eat. I've eaten there several times and love it. They have good food and good entertainment.

Heading back indoors, we come upon Weinkeller ("Wine Cellar"). Weinkeller is the Germany pavilion wine cellar, and with its wood-beamed celing and stone floor, it exudes that feel, even feeling a bit chillier than its surroundings. There's a remarkably wide selection of German wines available for purchase here, and while they are more expensive than they'd be at your local liquor store, the prices in general aren't too bad.

If you don't want to take a bottle but rather just want a taste and a snack, they have you covered. You can walk right up to the counter at any time, and the helpful cast member will be happy to give you a tasting or pour you a wine flight if you'd like to sample what they have. For $14, you can select three different wines to taste. If there's one you enjoy, you can buy a glass along with any of several smallish snacks, such as a cheese plate, and stand at one of several tables and enjoy wine and cheese in a cool, themed room.

Continuing the alcohol theme, we reach Stein Haus ("Stone House"). The name of the shop describes exactly what it is. This is where you go to choose a beer stein. A classic German ceramic mug, they usually have a metal top that tips open when pressed. They offer dozens of differerent designs here. When I was kid of around 10, for reasons unknown, I decided I wanted to get stein from Germany, and I still have it to this day.


At Stein Haus, there are many many different beer steins available. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Some of the designs are classic. Some are funny. Some have images of animals or holidays. These, in a way, are the classic German souvenir, and look great in a display case or to use if you want to knock back your favorite German brew. They are also relaively inexpensive, generally in the $19.95 range (more ornate versions are somewhat higher priced).

Now we come to Kunstarbeit in Kristall ("Art Work in Crystal"). I won't get into too much detail here (for that, you can read my article on Arribas Brothers crystal). This is where you go for beautiful collectible figurines and crystal, some of the Disney variety and some not. The highlight here is authentic German crystal that is hard to find anywhere else in the United States.


Kunstarbeit in Kristall is the place to go for crystal figurines, including some featuring familar images. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Next on the tour is Die Weihnachts Ecke ("The Christmas Corner"), one of my favorites. It's the pavillion Christmas shop, and is loaded with beautiful ornaments. I've described Disney holiday shops as "there are many, many ornaments," but it definitely applies here.


Die Weihnachts Ecke has trees and displays full of beautiful ornaments. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

My favorites among the selection are the handblown glass ornaments that come in many shapes and colors. There are also glass Christopher Radko-type ornaments with images of different animals and scenes. If you love the cuckoo clocks from Volkskunst but they were a little out of your price range, there are a few cute cuckoo clock ornaments here that are far more reasonably priced. Most of the items you'll find in this shop are in the $15 to $25 range—not too too bad for a handmade ornament.

Saving the best for last—especially if you're hungry—is Karamell Kuche ("Caramel Dog"; not sure why it's a dog). The space that formerly housed figurines and crystal is now loaded with treats of all kinds. Sponsored by Werther's Original, best known for the hard caramel candies we've all seen in the commercials, the place has many different ways to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you want something fresh, there's a bakery-style counter with glass displays of all kind of treats, including cookies, brownies, krisped rice treats, and a variety of others. Most are caramel in theme and flavor, but chocolate or other sweets lovers won't come away disappointed. Along this bakery counter is one of my favorite treats in all of Walt Disney World: caramel popcorn. You can buy these in bags by the main entrance (and there are several other flavors besides caramel), but do yourself a favor and wait in line. If you time it just right, you can get a bag of popcorn right out of the oven. This way you get it warm and melty, the way it should be eaten.


This picture of caramel popcorn makes me really hungry. Copyright Disney.

If you're in a hurry or are craving a Werther's classic, there's a whole wall of pre-packaged treats, ranging from chocolate bars to the classic Werther's caramels available as well.

This concludes our shopping tour of the German pavillion. I hope you enjoyed the small taste of what was available I tried to give you. World Showcase is all aboiut sampling foreign cultures, and I think in terms of merchandise (and food and wine), the German pavillion represents its home country extremely well. Happy shopping!

 

Comments

  1. By DaLoon

    The food and waiters in Biergarten were very good and the caramel shop is tasty, but the article is about merchandise. On that assumption, the pavilion fails. There are interesting things to buy, but no one wants to talk to you about them. They will ring up the sale if you carry something to the register, but are otherwise too busy talking with each other to bother with customers. We looked at clocks for 1/2 hour or so trying to decide which would be the best to buy. No one approached, even just walking by who could be grabbed or tripped to slow them down. Eventually we decided not to buy, went home and bought a good cuckoo clock from a shop where they showed us multiple ones, different price ranges, but more importantly gave us details on each one we showed some interest in. (And we saved money, so I guess we should say thanks to Germany.) We always walk thru and look in all shops in EPCOT. The most telling experience was a day when we started on the left, walked through each shop, looked, picked up some items, but did not buy anything. As we were leaving there was a cast member at the door and as we approached she said "have a nice rest of your day." I said "you must not work in this pavilion" Why, she asked, so I explained that in several trips no one had spoken to us at that pavilion. She then explained she was the area supervisor or manager over a few pavilions and she was very disappointed to hear that guess were not being greeted. A third trip, I was with a German gentleman, now living in the US and a friend. Our wives were looking in the shops and we were outside at the little drink cart and the clerk there was on the phone talking to someone on her cell phone while waiting on us -- in French. I turned to my friend and said tell her in German that she is being unprofessional and rule (which she clearly could hear) and he said "she don't care." We continue to walk through, look and only spend money in the parks that work - the candy and the lunch or supper. NO other pavilion has this same problem -- all are quick to greet guests, and if not busy tell the kids about their home countries.

  2. By cbarry

    In regards to cold cast members, I've actually had some of the opposite experiences in Germany. My wife is German and this is a must stop for her on every trip. I've mentioned many times in my old Disney Stuff series how much we have bought from the Germany shops - crystal, Steiffs, ornaments, etc. I've had plenty of nice cast members over the years. The cast comes and goes. I'm sorry you've had a few bad eggs, but i wouldn't go so far as to say it's the norm - at least from my experience and we spend a lot of time there on every trip.

  3. By Mickey021

    Quote Originally Posted by DaLoon View Post
    The food and waiters in Biergarten were very good and the caramel shop is tasty, but the article is about merchandise. On that assumption, the pavilion fails. There are interesting things to buy, but no one wants to talk to you about them. They will ring up the sale if you carry something to the register, but are otherwise too busy talking with each other to bother with customers. We looked at clocks for 1/2 hour or so trying to decide which would be the best to buy. No one approached, even just walking by who could be grabbed or tripped to slow them down. Eventually we decided not to buy, went home and bought a good cuckoo clock from a shop where they showed us multiple ones, different price ranges, but more importantly gave us details on each one we showed some interest in. (And we saved money, so I guess we should say thanks to Germany.) We always walk thru and look in all shops in EPCOT. The most telling experience was a day when we started on the left, walked through each shop, looked, picked up some items, but did not buy anything. As we were leaving there was a cast member at the door and as we approached she said "have a nice rest of your day." I said "you must not work in this pavilion" Why, she asked, so I explained that in several trips no one had spoken to us at that pavilion. She then explained she was the area supervisor or manager over a few pavilions and she was very disappointed to hear that guess were not being greeted. A third trip, I was with a German gentleman, now living in the US and a friend. Our wives were looking in the shops and we were outside at the little drink cart and the clerk there was on the phone talking to someone on her cell phone while waiting on us -- in French. I turned to my friend and said tell her in German that she is being unprofessional and rule (which she clearly could hear) and he said "she don't care." We continue to walk through, look and only spend money in the parks that work - the candy and the lunch or supper. NO other pavilion has this same problem -- all are quick to greet guests, and if not busy tell the kids about their home countries.

    Ugh. Very sorry you've had bad experiences there, and glad you brought it up with the supervisor. Hopefully it's the case of a few bad apples and not a pervasive problem. I've actually had mostly good experiences there, especially in the Christmas and Caramel shops. I've also been there with small kids, and the cast members have always been very attentive with them. I'm glad you enjoy the rest of World Showcase as I do, and hopefully the next visit to Germany will be better,.

  4. By DaLoon

    Chris -- I do not question that your experiences are different from mine. I can just say that my message was my experiences over the 19 trips since Hurricane Katrina. We will be there very soon. Only in the caramel shop and Biergarten have I had experienced good vibes or even interaction of any sort. We have eaten in Biergarten 6 times in these trips (including taking some cast members with us to dinner). Given that I have traveled with a German and his wife (who lived for years in Germany), who shared my view of the experiences and the response of the area manager of the pavilion and others nearby, I feel justified in my evaluation. That said I usually write positive reviews (as you know). We tend to approach issues in the opposite way, rewarding those who help us or are particularly pleasant with some keepsake pins (fleur de lis from Louisiana and the NO Saints), which is positive reinforcement rather than complaining. And we all have good and bad days, I understand the experiences vary from case member to cast member, most of whom are in 6 month or year long terms. All of that said, nothing beats a day at Disney.

  5. By davidgra

    Just an FYI -- "kuche" means "kitchen," not "dog." (This forum doesn't seem to want to allow me to put the umlaut over the u in Kuche.)

    The Karamell Kuche is one of the very best things the World Showcase has to offer -- fantastic treats. We always get a bag of fresh caramel popcorn on every trip. Since I speak German, it's fun to get to visit with cast members in their own language, too. I love how they all seem to brighten up when you ask them a question in German.

  6. By Mickey021

    Quote Originally Posted by davidgra View Post
    Just an FYI -- "kuche" means "kitchen," not "dog." (This forum doesn't seem to want to allow me to put the umlaut over the u in Kuche.)

    The Karamell Kuche is one of the very best things the World Showcase has to offer -- fantastic treats. We always get a bag of fresh caramel popcorn on every trip. Since I speak German, it's fun to get to visit with cast members in their own language, too. I love how they all seem to brighten up when you ask them a question in German.

    Thanks David! Your translation definitely makes more sense and since you speak German, I will more than take your word for it. Just so you know though, I Googled "Karamell Kuche translation" (sadly I have no umlaut on my keyboard, which may be the problem) and it came up Caramel Dog, which I agree is weird:-) In any event, totally agreed on the popcorn. It's a must for us on every trip too.

  7. By DisneyGator

    On our very first trip, I went into the chocolate shop and had a milk chocolate covered marshmallow bar. It was awesome!!!! And I had one on nearly every trip after that. I've had good ones since then, but I've not found one that matches what I get at Epcot.

  8. By stan4d_steph

    Quote Originally Posted by davidgra View Post
    Just an FYI -- "kuche" means "kitchen," not "dog." (This forum doesn't seem to want to allow me to put the umlaut over the u in Kuche.)

    The alternate spelling if you don't use an umlaut is Kueche.

    Yeah, it's definitely not a dog. The German word for dog is Hund. Not even close.

  9. Discuss this article on MousePad.