I’ve always loved the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. It’s the first stop from the left in the World Showcase and is immediately welcoming, with music, margaritas and a ‘pyramid’ that houses a market, a restaurant, and a boat ride.
The interior of the structure is designed to mimic an outdoor street indoors, with the ceiling painted and festooned with twinkling lights to provide an atmosphere of perpetual twilight. I’d always loved the effect, and wanted to eat “under the stars” at the San Angel Inn Restaurante. But for years I’d convinced myself I should be more adventurous with my Epcot meals and skipped it in favor of cuisine I can’t readily obtain at home. A reasonable decision – there are SO MANY amazing restaurants across Disney World – but there’s something to be said for atmosphere, and deep down I felt like I was missing out.
And so, when planning the meals for my family’s holiday vacation I put San Angel on the table – and it was welcomed by all.
We chose to reserve dinner around 7pm – it was two days before Christmas so every table was taken all day long – and headed inside the pyramid some 40 minutes early so we could browse and go on the Gran Fiesta Tour ride before checking in.
Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros is one of two rides in the World Showcase (the other is Frozen Ever After, formerly Maelstrom, next door in Norway) and it can be described as It’s A Small World for just Mexico. It’s simple and slow, but barely ever has a line and is a treat for fans of Donald Duck like my brother, Freddie and my daughter, Aeris.
Pixie Trivia: The Three Caballeros
- Initially simply a boat ride through Mexico, the ride was rebranded in 2007 to feature the Three Caballeros, a fictional animated band that includes Donald Duck.
- The Three Caballeros is an 1944 Disney film featuring animation combined with live action performances, the first feature length film to do so. The film will be streaming on the Disney + platform!
- Like the film, the ride combines mounted movie scenes (also featuring both live action and animation) with animatronics.
- The boat ride travels through the lagoon in between the San Angel Inn Restaurante and the volcano and pyramid backdrop.
- There are rumors that the ride will be rebranded again to feature characters from Coco and a trip into the Land of the Dead.
After our ride we headed over to check in for dinner. A party of six, we were tucked into a corner with a good view of the whole restaurant and the decorative pyramid-within-the-pyramid that overlooks it.
They have a nice selection of cocktails, margaritas and other tequila drinks. I chose the spicy Horchata and paired it with the equally spicy Chile Relleno con Camaró. Both were delicious, though I’d suggest choosing one or the other, my sinuses were on fire! Everyone at our table found the food to be superior and my daughter still describes her meal as the “Best. Tacos. Ever!”
Pixie Trivia: San Angel Inn Restaurante
- The restaurant shares a name with the San Angel Inn in Mexico City, first built in 1692.
- There is a second table service restaurant, La Hacienda de San Ángel, set up aside the lagoon. Cantina de San Ángel is a quick service option and there is a tequila bar and a margarita bar.
- San Angel serves lunch and dinner and accepts the Disney Dining Plan.
As we were finishing up, I pulled up my Disney app to check wait times on Frozen and figure out if we could squeeze it in before check in for our Illuminations reservation. We’d planned to do Frozen first thing in the morning, but it had been down and this was my last chance. I calculated that if we zoomed over right away we could make it, and since our magic bands were tied to our hotel and my credit card for incidentals my brothers could pay my bill by tap while my daughters and I ran over to Norway. I presented this clever plan and started to gather my things but my brothers stopped me. What about dessert? they asked, Are you sure the tapping will work? I explained the plan again, but they continued to hem and haw. Meanwhile my daughters disappeared to go to the bathroom. I sighed, frustrated that I might not get to see the new ride, but I was in Disney, in Epcot, in San Angel, which was just as great as I’d imagined it would be, and I was surrounded by family which was, all told, better than any ride. So I ‘let it go’.
My daughters returned, and then suddenly my chair was surrounded by wait staff singing, a birthday flan was placed in front of me, and I was presented with a unicorn piñata and the Coco Mouse Ears I’d been eyeing in the market before we sat down. While I’d been inspecting them Freddie had surreptitiously told the hostess they wanted to celebrate my birthday and my daughters’ trip “to the bathroom” had actually been to purchase the ears and signal the staff it was time. I was surprised, I was touched, I loved the dessert – and we still got over to Norway in time to get on Frozen.
Never forget how much your family loves you.Coco (Disney, 2017)