The 1.3-mile path circling the World Showcase Lagoon is home to 11 pavilions created in the idealized image of their home countries—get your picture taken in front of a miniature Eiffel Tower (it’ll look real through the lens), or at the Doge’s Palace in Venice. The pavilions were built more to elicit an emotional response than to truly replicate. Disney is diligent about the upkeep of this area, but it neglects development—the last “country” to open was Norway back in 1988, and without joint participation by foreign tourism offices, hopes aren’t strong for more. There also seems to be an emphasis on countries that Americans already know, and neither South America nor Australasia is represented at all.

But World Showcase does have some of the most original restaurants in Disney World, and the shops are occasionally stocked with crafts and national products (the pandemic disturbed supply lines, but you can usually buy real Chinese tea in China and sweaters in Norway), although the variety is slipping, replaced by the same old Disney merch. It’s also the only area in Epcot in which alcoholic beverages are sold; they seem to get stronger as you leave Future World for the back of the park.

There is far more fascinating stuff to do in World Showcase than the free Disney map lets on. Pocket it and let your curiosity guide you; the app posts times for unexpected musical and dance performances conducted by natives of each country (shows usually wrap up by dinnertime). Seeing them makes a day richer and squeezes value from your ticket. Rush and you’ll miss a lot. I suggest going counter-clockwise around the lagoon mostly because the newest big ride is in France; if you go clockwise, you’ll reach it after it accrues a line. After midafternoon, the direction you go won’t matter.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.