This World Showcase pavilion remains a brilliant gem of Disney Imagineering

From the detailed exterior to lush interior and unique attraction, Epcot's Mexico pavilion remains one of the best original parts of Epcot
Inside the Mayan inspired building is the Three Caballeros ride. Photo by Brian Miller
Inside the Mayan inspired building is the Three Caballeros ride. Photo by Brian Miller /

Epcot is home to a score of great pavilions. Several have seen a lot of changes over the years, some better, others for worse. However, the Mexico pavilion remains an underrated gem for Disney Imagineering and a slew of good reasons why it remains one of the best in the park. 

Sure, it’s good to check it out on days like Cinco De Mayo, yet the pavilion is good in other ways, which proves why Imagineers haven’t changed it too much since the park opened in 1981. 

The Location

The first good bit about the pavilion is that, for some reason, many guests gravitate towards heading left in a Disney park. This means that it’s the first bit of World Showcase that they have seen. The location is amazing, facing Bay Lake, giving it a prime spot for the evening fireworks shows.

There’s also the great addition of La Hacienda de San Ángel restaurant with its fantastic feud and terrific views of the Lake. That location is a good reason why the pavilion instantly makes guests feel that they’re entering a foreign locale when they step into the World Showcase.

The Temple Is Stunning

Epcot World Showcase - Mexico
The Aztec themed pyramid in Mexico is the first country you come to when entering the World Showcase at Epcot. /

What gets attention right away is that temple, the pyramid mixing elements of Mayan, Aztec and Mesoamerican influences with the detail you just don’t see in some modern Disney buildings. The aging makes it look like it’s been around for centuries with vines and undergrowth for a jungle setting and some nice mini-gardens surrounding it.

The original architects were brilliant in the details, from the drawings to the right colors for the bricks and the steps the same number as days in the calendar. You can spend a while walking around to take it all in, along with the wall marked with further artwork, as this temple stands out from the other World Showcase pavilions. It’s easy to see how the Imagineers drew inspiration from actual Mexican spots for this wonderful tribute. 

The Glorious Interior

As lovely as the outside is, indoors is where the pavilion shines. First, you can pass a small but fun display of Mexican artwork that’s always shifting and showing the nice touches of the culture.

Then guests enter the heart of the pavilion and whoever came up with the idea of it being a perpetual twilight market was a genius. It feels like you’ve walked into a small yet lovely Mexican town with market stalls packed with merchandise that mostly avoids the typical Disney theme park fare for items specific to Mexican culture. It’s not just stuff like sombreros but artwork, jewelry and more that’s exclusive to the pavilion. That’s a fun buy that makes it feel better.

There’s also the fountain, the buildings with a colonial influence that look so authentic, and the lanterns above make it feel like night, no matter how sunny it is outside. It’s a nice spot to walk around, especially coming to the river near the rear, home to the San Angel Inn restaurant. While the food there can be hit and miss, it’s hard not to enjoy dining by the river with the backdrop of a forest and even a steaming volcano. It also gives guests a look at the best attraction in the pavilion.

The Gran Fiesta Tour is a great upgrade

The original attraction (one of the few for World Showcase in 1982) was Rio de Tiempo (the River of Time), a boat ride taking folks through Mexican history. It wasn’t a bad idea, but also a bit backward to look on with film screens showing some bits like a stereotypical market barker offering wares and other stuff that might not age well today. That's without how tired the effects were as the 21st century dawned.

In 2007, it was retooled into the Gran Fiesta Tour, using the old cartoon The Three Caballeros. It’s a simple storyline of Donald touring Mexico and buddies Panchito and Jose trying to find him for a show. It’s a far more imaginative and fun mix of animation screens, puppets, and more, with some fun songs that feel far more vibrant than the original ride. It’s really among the more underrated attractions at Epcot, and while there are rumors that it could be changed into a Coco-themed ride, this is a case where the newer attraction is better than the original. 

The mood comes together wonderfully

Mexico Pavilion
Mariachi band performs outside at the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. Photo by Brian Miller /

Overall, this pavilion fully reflects Mexico's ambiance. You can see bits like a mariachi band performing, and the various festivals display their great food and drinks. Yet the overall atmosphere also captivates, making you feel both the history of Mexico and the fun adventure that comes with that country. 

Whether you want a good meal, a fun boat ride, a unique souvenir, or just wandering around and taking in the flowers, design, and details, the Mexico pavilion is one of the overlooked gems of Epcot’s World Showcase, and much like its host country, its cultural appeal can be timeless.