Salaam Aleikum! (That means ‘hello,” in Moroccan Arabic!) Welcome back to our Epcot World Showcase Tour Series. I hope you’ve been enjoying your trip around the world (or, at least, the World Showcase Lagoon) so far. Today, we’re focusing on what is, in many ways, my absolute favorite, and I believe, the most unique pavilion of all: Morocco! From its beautiful Gallery, to its exotic cuisine, and from its enchanting marketplace to its mesmerizing entertainment, Morocco is unlike any pavilion or theme park land you’ve ever visited before, and it is absolutely not to be missed. Listed below are just a few of the features that make Morocco so fascinating and fun:
5. Total Authenticity:
Opened in 1984, Morocco was the first expansion Pavilion to be added to the World Showcase, and it remains, to this day, the only Pavilion directly sponsored by its national government. In fact, when Morocco was accepted into Epcot, the King hired several native Moroccan craftsmen and builders, and flew them to Florida to work on the project. This led to an incredible attention to detail, and a pride of culture and workmanship that is apparent throughout every inch of the pavilion, from the designated prayer area, complete with prayer mats available for guest use, to the intentionally flawed mosaic tiles, marred to represent the fact that Islamic Muslims believe that only Allah is capable of producing perfection. The result is an amazingly immersive experience that makes one feel as if they’ve been transported to another place and time. There are plaques explaining the significance of many structures and details in the Pavilion, so be sure to take some time to walk around, read, and explore during your next visit.
4. Gallery of Arts and History:
While several Pavilions house culturally informational rides or short films, Morocco has taken it to the next level, with an entire mini-museum. Be careful though, because if you don’t know where to look, you just might miss it! Hidden behind two large wooden doors lies the beautifully decorated and exquisitely ornate Gallery of Arts and History, and it is truly a hidden gem. The stunning décor alone is more than worth a mention, but that’s just the beginning. In addition to several permanent informational displays on Moroccan culture, music, tradition, and more, the gallery also features rotating exhibits on various topics of interest.
3. Henna Tattoo Artists:
Believe it or not, the Morocco Pavilion is one of only two locations in all of Word Disney World that offers henna tattoos! (The other is Mombasa Marketplace in the Animal Kingdom.) Created from a plant-based paste, henna is painted in ornate designs onto one’s skin, creating a hand-drawn work of art that can last anywhere from 7 to about 14 days. Guests are encouraged to leaf through a binder filled with many tattoo patterns and pictures ranging from authentic, to whimsical, to straight-up Disney (yes, you can get a Mickey Mouse henna tattoo!), but if you don’t find anything you love, the skilled henna artists are more than happy to custom tailor a design to your liking. You can even have your tattoo finished with some glitter or rhinestones, if you’d like. The whole process can take anywhere from less than 10 up to about 20 minutes, depending on the size and intricacy of the design you choose, and prices tend to range from around $15-$30. Stopping for a henna tattoo is more than just a fashion statement, it’s also a great excuse to take a quick break and relax for a few minutes in the middle of a long day in the park.
2. The Food:
Excitingly unique, exotically flavorful and deliciously diverse, the food options available in the Morocco Pavilion are like nothing else in the park. While the average American park visitor has likely had exposure to at least some variety of Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, and even French food, most have probably had limited experience with foods of the Moroccan persuasion. Never fear! With variety ranging from couscous to lamb and chicken dishes, to regional dessert and drink specialties, any of the three restaurants in the Pavilion are an excellent place to branch out and experience some delectably new cuisine. Restaurant Marrakesh is a table service restaurant in an opulent royal setting at the back of the pavilion, complete with belly dancing set to live music! Tangierine Café is one of my all-time favorite quick-service restaurants, offering a refreshingly different menu, including several healthy and vegetarian friendly options. Finally, the Pavilion’s newest addition is Spice Road Table, a lagoon-side bar and restaurant offering small plates featuring seafood, meat, and vegetarian options, tempting dessert items, and a lengthy specialty drink menu, not to mention incredible waterside seating for Illuminations. Oh! And if you get a chance, try the Sangria. You won’t be sorry!
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1. The Marketplace:
I’ve saved my favorite area in all of Epcot for last. Barely visible from the main pathway around the lagoon, the Morocco Pavilion is home to the most elaborately designed, authentically constructed, and all around fun to shop in marketplace this side of Casablanca. As you wander through the indoor and outdoor marketplace, set along rambling storefronts and hidden pathways nestled toward the back of the pavilion, don’t be alarmed if you forget completely that you’re in Epcot, or even in the United States! You’ll find yourself surrounded by a variety of delicately crafted artisanal goods, as well as traditional clothing and jewelry, rugs and tapestries, belly dancing accessories, decorations for the home, and more. This is my very favorite place to wander and get lost in the atmosphere around me, allowing my imagination to guide me, and taking in all of the wonderful sights, and sounds at every corner.
It seems to me that no matter how many times I return, I always discover something new in the Morocco Pavilion. My wish is that you, too, will continue to notice, experience, and appreciate something new, not only in Morocco, but in every pavilion, park, and resort each time you return to Disney World. While we must say “beslama,” to Morocco for now, we will soon say “konnichiwa” to the next country on our tour around the World Showcase: Japan! Check back soon for our feature on the Japan Pavilion, and in the meantime, visit our previous articles on Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, by clicking on the links below. See you soon, World Travelers!