It was that time of the week again – time to leave the kids at home and enjoy some one on one time at Epcot with Hubby. This week, we took Dating Around World Showcase to Deutscheland ~ a.k.a., the Germany Pavilion, where romance means clanging beer glasses and doing the chicken dance. Hubby was happier than a pig in mud for this date.
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The Personal Connection
When I was 15 years old, I had the unique opportunity to stay with family living overseas in Germany. My uncle was stationed there with the military and my mother was looking for any chance she could to get me out of her house for a period of time. So, I was a teenager on a European vacation…well, for at least a four month vacation. But those four months left me with a lifetime of amazing memories.
Interestingly, Hubby and I both have a familial history rich in German ancestry between us, so there is a also tremendous appreciation for all things German (well, almost all things).
Our Date Begins
We once again started our date mid afternoon so as to afford the time to enjoy dinner and then roam around for a bit. It’s nice when we don’t have to race to a rezzie and this time we actually had one (remember, in Norway, we chose to do a quick bite to eat).
We entered the park and casually strolled past Spaceship Earth. Since the week prior we had found there was an artist on the premises, we decided to see if there was yet another.
Indeed there was!
I got a little giddy – hee, hee. Fortunately, it didn’t take much twisting of Hubby’s arm to get him to go inside. We still had a good hour or so before we had to make our dinner appointment.
So, Let’s Meet The Artist
This week, the Disney Fine Artist signing his work was David E. Doss. Mr. Doss had brought his own collection of matted prints down from North Carolina to sign and sell at the Art of Disney Gallery here at Epcot. There were so many prints from which to choose and I loved a good handful of them ~ unlike our Norway date where it was very clear which one was meant for us.
We finally and happily settled on a Christmas piece called “Winter Wonderland,” which featured Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Pluto with Cinderella Castle in the background. I am all about Christmas AND Disney ~ honestly, the perfect combination, if you ask me. We then stood in line to meet the artist and have him add his “John Hancock” to our purchase.
We were able to spend a good ten to fifteen minutes or so with Mr. Doss. He is yet another Disney artist with an amazing personality, tremendous talent and fascinating story to tell. So Hubby asked……
How DOES become a Disney artist?
Mr. Doss has been an artist his entire life, starting off as a small child. In 2003, he began his Disney journey after submitting work to a publisher who worked for a Disney buyer. In the Fall of 2003, he debuted his Disney collection with “Mickey & Donald’s Fun in the Sun” and his pixie dusted journey took off from there. Now his images can be found in Disney theme parks around the world, the Art of Disney Stores, at the various gift shops and resorts, as well as on the Disney Cruise Line. He also makes several personal appearances for signing events in Florida ~ such as the one we experienced that evening!
After our wonderful fifteen minutes or so chatting with Mr. Doss and snapping a few keepsake photos, we actually had a little time to spare. We were able to leisurely stroll our way over to the Germany Pavilion, which is the fourth country to the left when entering World Showcase from the bridge exiting Future World.
The walk is getting longer for us ~ so at least we can say we are burning the calories we are consuming (oh, wait – Disney calories don’t count!! That’s right!! That’s awesome ~ I should be a toothpick by the end of this series then!).
The Germany Pavilion
I don’t know about you, but the Germany Pavilion has always struck me as “adorable.” There is just something about its architecture that fascinates me. Its construction highlights the shared German traditions and folklore of both East and West Germany before the reunification (the pavilion was built prior to this historic event).
I also have a personal fondness for the Cast Member costumes in this country. Having been to Germany as a teen, I can proudly say I have my own dirndl stored away in my container of memories.
Hmm….I don’t remember Hubby ever mentioning having owned a pair of lederhosen…
Plus, I just love the bold colors, the strong accent, the bears, the clocks and the trains. Yes ~ bears, clocks and trains! Oh, my!
What can you find in the Germany Pavilion?
At the top of the Pavilion, outlining the perimeter of the lake, Guests can find a few quick food service items – namely beer and pretzels. These are just small cart-like stands whose lines usually remain pretty busy.
Turning into the cove of the Pavilion, there are several shops on both sides. On one side, you have a wine cellar of sorts, which connects to a store selling beer steins and candy and another selling Christmas items. On the other side, you have shops showcasing teddy bears, dolls, cuckoo clocks and trains. Just on the outside of the pavilion, there is a model German village with working model trains running for Guests to enjoy.
TIDBIT: The model train village was originally designed for the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, but was enjoyed by Guests so much, they decided to make it a permanent fixture.
Also located in the Pavilion is perhaps the most frequented place to grab a delicious sweet snack in Epcot – Karamell-Küche. Ah – the smell of fresh caramel popcorn as you walk by is both magnetic and tantalizing. This is a must-visit at some point during your Epcot visit, my friends. Sooooo good!
Now, directly in the center of the pavilion’s back wall, Guests can find the two food service options, a quick service (Sommerfest) and a table service (Biergarten). While we have tried both, we definitely prefer one over the other..and it won’t be hard to figure out which if you keep reading. However, it is not without a story to tell.
Zeit zum Essen ~ Time to eat!
Okay, I have a confession to make…
I was not actually looking forward to eating at Biergarten initially. Truth be told ~ a few years back, a grumpy chef soured my taste when he was hesitant and reluctant when it came to accommodating our son’s food allergies (this was years ago, people – things have progressed tremendously since then!!). Unfortunately, I just never had an interest in trying again, much to the chagrin of Hubby because he had fond memories of visiting on a Scouts trip when he was much younger.
It wasn’t until my stylist (a former Cast Member who absolutely loves Biergarten) convinced me that it was worth a shot. She said it would be impossible to do the blog post justice if we didn’t eat there at least once.
So…….we made the rezzie.
The Restaurant itself
Biergarten is a buffet style restaurant designed to give the Guest the feeling of being at Oktoberfest. Inside, the central focus is a stage down front that features live entertainment during dinner rotations. The stage is separated from the dining area by a small dance floor. The seating is crescent-shaped with two tiers, meant to provide every Guest an opportunity to see the stage (yes, some better than others).
Upon our arrival, we immediately began to drive the Cast Members “verrückt.” As part of the intent was to gather intel for a blog post, Hubby wanted to make sure I could see the stage in order to snap some good photos (what a guy!!). After about three tries by a very frustrated Cast Member (God bless her, please!), we finally found our seat – and actually had the most amazing Cast Member EVER as our server!!!! But more about her in a bit.
Let’s talk food!
When Guests arrive, they are seated at communal tables for eight, which means that a couple (or any family less than eight) may very well be sitting with another family or two during their meal. We were actually seated next to this absolutely adorable Canadian family from Montreal, who were very gracious when it came to my husband’s desire to be rather social that evening. Fortunately, we all had more than Disney in common ~ they were also Boston Red Sox fans (go Sox!!).
As noted above, it is buffet style dining and Guests can return to the buffet as often as they would like during their dining experience.
The buffet showcases several traditional German dishes, including schnitzel, spätzle, liverwurst (yum – yes, I’m THAT girl) and strudel. Among the various stations, there is a salad section, a carving station, various meat options, potato leak soup and, of course, an extensive section devoted to desserts.
I love that there is even a section dedicated to the younger Guest with options a little more geared toward their liking.
What did we try?
Since it was a buffet, we tried a variety of tastes and returned several times to try more. Some of the things we plated included liverwurst (Hubby at least gave it a try ~ I’m so proud of him!), pork, bratwurst, macaroni salad, potato leak soup, a pretzel roll, spätzle and schnitzel. Mind you – we took small portions each time so we had the room to try new flavors. There really wasn’t anything we didn’t enjoy, though I did think the pork was a bit on the tough side. I think it was just the piece I was served, to be honest.
For dessert, we enjoyed bites that included Red Berry Compote, Blueberry Crumble Cake, Chocolat Mousse Roulade, Bavarian Cheesecake and Black Forest Cake. My favorite? The Chocolate Mousse Roulade – oh, my goodness….so yummy!
Oh – I forgot to share with you what we had to drink!!
When in Germany, a man must have his beer, right? Okay, some women, too, but I’m not that woman. Hubby had to get his fix and made sure to ask our Cast Member what their darkest beer was on the menu. Our amazing Viktoria (more on her in just a bit), directed Hubby to the Warsteiner Dunkel, a dark pilsner with a chestnut brown hue and smooth, toasty malt flavor and mocha aromas. He was happy – he couldn’t see through it!
Of course, he didn’t just order a small….he had to get the one liter stein! Why? Because they offered it…..(cue huge wife sigh).
I went simple and ordered a nice glass of Valckenberg Madonna Riesling Spätlese ~ a nice fruity white to just seemed right for the moment.
With each dinner rotation, Guests are treated to some live musical entertainment. We enjoyed a group of four young gentleman who entertained us with traditional German songs, as well as a few instrumental selections utilizing hand bells, cow bells and a giant alpenhorn! THAT was cool!
FUNNY TIDBIT: Viktoria had a fun fact for me to share. While all four gentleman use a German accent while up on stage, they were actually all American!! They are just really good at faking the accent! Ha – who knew!?
Okay – Time to Brag about Viktoria!
I said it and I meant it – I think Viktoria was one of the best Cast Members we have ever met to date (there may one or two that are on par or just above)! Why? Well, let me tell you about this young woman!
The first thing we remember about Viktoria is that she greeted us with the most ginormous smile ~ teeth gleaming and eyes twinkling. No joke.
She looked like she genuinely loved her job!
She patiently and compassionately helped us through drink choices, food options and even questions about the restaurant. When we mentioned that we would be writing a blog about our dating experience that evening, she perked up even more! When we shared that we love to highlight amazing Cast Members, she became even MORE intrigued. She even showed genuine interest in what we were doing and asked questions herself! I loved and appreciated that more than she will ever know (unless she’s reading this and…well, now she does)!
Over the course of the night, Viktoria shared so much with us ~ from Disney facts to her own pixie dusted story. While she is originally from Germany, she had learned about the Disney Cultural Representative Program through a gentleman she knew who was in the program while she herself was working as a nanny in Canada. She had come to visit and just fell in love with the program, the area and the opportunity. When she returned to Vancouver, she applied for a position in the program, was contacted soon after and offered an interview. The funny thing? She actually had to return to Germany to interview for the job in Florida. Why? Because…logic.
That was in February. In May, she returned home for her passport and then arrived on Disney property in August. That was a year ago. At the time we met this beautiful soul, she was just completing her one year appointment. As you read this, she is likely preparing or actually on her way back home to see her mother (who misses her tremendously) and begin her apprenticeship in architecture.
We wish Viktoria all the pixie dust in the world as she begins her new adventure!
Did she ever have the chance to return home during her one year stay? Yes! She loved sharing her story of returning home to surprise her Opa for his birthday. I bet he’s pretty happy she is returning home, too!
Zeit, es eine Nacht zu nennen
(Time to call it a night)
We were stuffed and satisfied in more ways than one! What is such a tiny little pavilion in the World Showcase turned out to be another night packed with amazing discovery. No – we still didn’t stay to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (don’t worry ~ I’m trying to get Hubby to do it within the next date or two), but we did enjoy another evening learning, tasting, laughing and exploring together.
One of these days, I’d love to do the wine tasting offered, though…
Have you explored the Germany Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot? What’s your favorite thing to munch on there? Pretzel? Popcorn? A frankfurter from Sommerfest? I’d love to hear YOUR story of when you visited the Germany Pavilion OR what about our story intrigued you the most. Share your comments below!
Don’t miss out!
You can read the whole Dating Around World Showcase series by clicking on any of these posts!