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June 4, 2014

Epcot - World Showcase - Morocco Pavilion




Morocco is a culturally rich kingdom known for sandy beaches, spicy cuisine and exceptional craftsmanship. It is the jewel of North Africa, but at Epcot's World Showcase, it's nestled between France and Japan. 





From a distance, the mighty reproduction of Marrakesh's Katoubia Minaret prayer tower can be seen as the focal point of the Morocco Pavilion. While this is an impressive structure, there is much more to this area. In my humble opinion, Morocco may be the most detailed and intriguing of all of the World Showcase pavilions. Notably, it is also the only pavilion that is sponsored by the government of the represented country, rather than a business. In fact, the King of Morocco selected and provided Moroccan craftsman and artisans to design and construct the awe-inspiring structures (representing three Moroccan cities) when Morocco was added to World Showcase shortly after Epcot's opening in 1984. This is likely the explanation for the remarkable authenticity of the design detail you'll notice as you stroll through stunning tributes to Marrakesh, Fez and Casablanca. 


Without a doubt, the first thing you'll notice is the architecture. Walls, archways and even a magnificent fountain demonstrate the renowned artistry of Moroccan tile work and mosaic design - combined with terra cotta, carved plasters and wood thatching. Details in ceramic, brass and iron tastefully adorn entryways and line twisting paths. One building to specifically take note of is the Gallery of Arts and History, located just inside the Morocco Pavilion, to the left of the fountain. Here, you'll learn about the Moroccan "art of personal adornment", which includes the native techniques in textiles, jewelry and body art - namely the art of henna tattooing. 



Past the replica Bab Boujouloud gates, feast your senses on the Medina Bazaar marketplace. To the delight of your olfactory nerves, the Moroccan culture is rich in spices and incense - two things you'll find plenty of in the Bazaar. If you're in the market for souvenirs, Morocco boasts one of the most diverse and unique shopping outlets in all of Epcot. You won't find Mickey Mouse ears here, but you will discover: handmade carpets and textiles, intricate baskets and woodcrafts, lamps and brass crafts, leather goods, clothing, jewelry, mirrors, musical instruments and housewares... just to generalize. When it comes to the clothing, keep in mind that Epcot's World Showcase doesn't specialize in the standard Disney t-shirt. So ladies - be prepared to rock the choli, sari, harem pants and hip scarf! You don't have to be a belly dancer to wear the outfit, and I found it doubled as a great Halloween costume. Then again, you could let it motivate you to learn a new skill!



If you are looking to pick up some Mediterranean moves, make sure you catch MO'ROCKIN -  the six-piece musical act performing six times daily near the entrance to the pavilion. This talented troupe presents "Arabic fusion rock" through various drums and stringed instruments, along with belly dancing accompaniment. Performances are pre-scheduled, and last approximately 20 minutes. 


Didn't I mention something about spices earlier? Well, they're for more than just smelling, and after your tour of the area, you'll probably be considering moving on to tasting too! Lucky for you, there are three palate pleasing dining and drinking spots in the Morocco Pavilion!
  • Spice Road Table - Themed around a traditional Mediterranean coastal outdoor cafe, Spice Road Table offers a limited menu of light meals and snacks (primarily seafood). Most meals are $10 or less. The focus of the Spice Road Table menu is on beverages, with a diverse selection of specialty drinks, wines and regional beers. This location participates in Epcot's After Hours Wind Down. Lunch and dinner menus available here
  • Tangierine Cafe - Near the entrance to Morocco, Tangierine Cafe provides quick service light meal options with a distinct kick. The menu consists primarily of wraps, sandwiches and skewers featuring combinations of lamb, chicken, hummus, falafel and vegetable varieties. Picky children will be glad to find hamburgers and chicken nuggets on the kids' menu. Plan on $10-$15 for the average entree. Lunch and dinner menus available here
  • Restaurant Marrakesh - Dine as a special guest in the Sultan's Palace, with belly dancers for entertainment. Dimly lit and intricately themed, Restaurant Marrakesh offers the best of Morocco's culinary treasures, including a wide array of appetizers, entrees of beef, chicken, lamb, and salmon - featuring Couscous, of course! The Taste of Morocco Feast is a fantastic menu option offering appetizer, multiple entree samplings, side and dessert selections for one set price. Plan on $15-30 per person. Lunch and dinner menus available here
More to know about the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot:

During the holiday season, Epcot presents Holidays Around the World. Morocco's Taarji shares tales of Ramadan and Ashura. 



Morocco's representative "characters" are Aladdin and Jasmine. Check schedule for current appearance times. Currently meeting near Restaurant Marrakesh. I've even seen Genie there on occasion!



The KIDCOT station in Morocco is in the Medina Bazaar marketplace. What is KIDCOT? Click here. Don't forget to get your Epcot passport stamped here as well!




To prepare for your visit to Morocco:

  • The national drink is mint tea; national dish is couscous.
  • The official language of Morocco is Arabic.
  • The capital of Morocco is Rabat; its largest city, Casablanca.
  • Hello in Arabic is "salam".
  • Recipe for Epcot's Couscous Salad from Food.com
  • Morocco Pavilion drink list



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