Category Rank: 3
Park Rank: 2
We are back to the strange "park ambience" category, that item describing those areas of the park that pull together the sights, sounds, smells, and all-around experiences into one package.
With #11, we hit the highest ranking world of Epcot. We've seen the UK, Morocco, and Japan earlier, and made mention about why we didn't pick other European lands in our list. Mexico makes the list as an overall great attraction, but its lofty ranking is for something altogether different.
First, the land itself has one of the more notable landmark features, the Mesoamerican style pyramid. In true definition of ambience, when you go inside the pyramid, you are whisked away to a whole new experience, as it is permanently dusk inside. Within, there is an "outdoor" village marketplace as well as an eating area for the San Angel Inn restaurant, all of which are lit by lantern-style street lights. There are a couple shops, as well as the Three Caballeros boat ride, which goes on the indoor lagoon next to the backdrop of the Mexican countryside (featuring a volcano).
The pyramid's interior stands out among all the pavilions. While other pavilions have their shops and their circlevision shows, this is the only one that brings the whole marketplace inside. The effect is very neat.
The exterior isn't too shabby either. As a regular feature is the Mariachi Cobre, one of the longer lasting music groups within Epcot. Though it doesn't have the flair that Mo' Rockin has, the music is distinctly Mexican and festive. In addition, there is a character meet-and-greet area for Donald, one of the original Three Caballeros. Unbeknownst to us, the Mexican culture and Mexico-in-general as a setting has been one of the longest running staples of Disney movies, rivaling UK and France.
Mexico benefits, though to a slightly less extent, from the same "foreign-ness" that Morocco and Japan benefit from. The music, the clothing, the artwork, the food, and the language is all distinct from the European bland lands. We aren't drinkers of alcohol, or otherwise I'm sure the margaritas would be a reason to visit Mexico as well.
The biggest benefit of Mexico is hard to explain, however. As mentioned, we are creatures of habit, and we tend to eat in the same locations when we visit. When it comes to Epcot, I already mentioned the crepes that we get as a snack. Our lunch has most often been the Cantina de San Angel counter-service restaurant, which is outside on the lagoon. No, the food is not unbelievably outstanding... it is run-of-the-mill Disney counter service (though it is better than what Disney Rob thinks).
It is the view, though that puts this place so high on our list. We get our lunch and sit and look out over the lagoon. It offers a relaxing respite during the busy day of walking, and it is actually fairly out of the way of the hustle and bustle. There will often be birds there scrounging for food, which adds to the fun. Now, you could re-create this experience in many different locations around the lagoon (there are admittedly many great views which you could couple with the food of your choice). But for us, the choice is Mexico.
As mentioned, that midday respite is one of the most relaxing places in all of WDW. Moments of serenity happen to be one of the best things more me to reminisce. Our next item, and first one in our top ten, is a similar respite "park ambience", though at a different park.