It’s not easy being Canada…in Epcot that is. You’re the first pavilion in World Showcase for anyone who chooses to go to the right. Your neighbor is the UK pavilion which is beloved by many thanks to its charming storefronts, popular pub, and excellent entertainment. Even your World Showcase equivalent–the first pavilion if you go left instead of right–Mexico, really brings on the heat with three dining options, a boat ride, an award winning mariachi band, and an amazing tequila bar that stands as THE ambassador of the heritage and tradition of tequila.
Sure, the Canada Pavilion is a beautiful spot. The lovely gardens found throughout the country are well represented here. There are lots of delightful spots, especially the waterfalls found at the back of the pavilion. Still, many people tend to bypass this pavilion, which is a shame. A new drinking establishment, however, may help to increase interest in this overlooked area.
The new Trading Post Refreshments has been dubbed Epcot’s new bar. This terminology is a bit of a stretch since there is no seating inside, as you would find at a traditional bar. It is still a nice addition, however. There are three Canadian beers from which to choose plus two ice wines; each selection represents Canada fairly well.
The prices are also relatively reasonable; two out of the three beers are $6.25 plus tax, with the Blanche de Chambly being $9.25. This beer hails from Quebec and is said to have a yeast and wheat flavor, but I opted to go with the Labatt Bourbon Barrel. I love the rise of beers aged in bourbon barrels, something I’m seeing more and more. I enjoyed the smokey flavor of this beer, though it left a long, lingering aftertaste.
I also ordered the Neige Premiere Apple ice wine — 2 oz for $6.57. A two ounce pour is standard for an ice wine because it is sweeter, and has a syrup-like weight to it. Ice wine, to me, is delicacy and only a few countries have the climate to support the production of this special wine. The price of ice wine has gone up over the years because the harvest yields less suitable grapes. There are a few reasons for this, most scientist cite warmer winters. The apple ice wine has a strong, but not overpowering apple flavor, accented by a light honey tone. I actually prefer the other ice wine that is offered, Inniskillin Vidal $9.38, it really is divine.
The bar / counter itself is tucked inside a small room inside the merchandise shop. Food and beverage themed merchandise items line the walls. I visited on a Tuesday evening and there was a steady flow of guests placing their orders. All seemed delighted to have this new bar.
There are no high top tables or places to sit inside, however, a good amount of tables and chairs were added outside. I enjoy seeing this once inactive landing now being put to good use. I can only imagine how busy this seating area will become at about 8:00 PM when people snag a chair and relax with some Canadian beer and wine while waiting for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I, for one, would gladly do such a thing. It was about 6:30 PM–again a weekday–and every table was occupied. I can see this being a positive spot.
This is an example of taking an area that lacked purpose and “activating it” as we say in the hospitality business. The bigger picture here is something we fans of Disney have seen occur in the past year or so: Disney leadership being tasked with finding new ways of generating revenue. This has resulted in lots of “hard ticket events” and increases in food & beverage pricing, as well as an increase in snack and beverage carts / kiosks. Practically all businesses in the hospitality field have been tasked with finding new sources and increasing revenue, not just Disney.
This strategy, particularly increasing food and beverage pricing and creating more snack and beverage kiosks, has been criticized by some as being quick and easy “solutions.” In the business we call that “low hanging fruit.” To me, there isn’t much shame in such an approach. Just because it’s simple and easy to pull off, doesn’t make it less strategic or advantageous.
In reality this new bar at Canada is not that different than existing small bars at other Epcot pavilions, therefore, it is easy for me to accept it and appreciate it. Two of my favorite spots in World Showcase to grab a drink follow this same model. The Weinkeller is a great little spot inside the Germany pavilion that I often visit, as well as the Sake bar in the very back left corner of the Mitsokoshi mega-store in the Japan pavilion.
Canada has previously only offered a snack cart with a variety of beers and a few snacks. It is nice now to see the beverage options expanded in this pavilion (though I still mourn the loss of my beloved Torontotini – a frozen slush Cosmopolitan style martini). It is a nice place to stop in and seems to be bringing people into a part of the pavilion that previously saw little foot traffic. I can see myself returning for a beverage here and a stroll through the entire pavilion. If nothing else Trading Post Refreshments has given more options to the drinking around the world marathoners.