Epcot’s World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
Disney’s Epcot theme park truly represents the future of our world, both in this country and others. While many of us dream of someday travelling the world, DestiNations Discovered within Epcot’s World Showcase gives guests the opportunity to do it in a day. The World Showcase features eleven countries around a World Showcase Lagoon. Each pavilion holds some of the most iconic architecture and landscapes from the given country. Guests are immersed in the culture with food options, shops, attractions, and an authentic community. To make the experience as authentic as possible, Disney hires citizens from the representative countries to staff each destination. The entire walk around The World Showcase is about a mile in distance, although guests can choose to boat across the lagoon to break up the journey. The countries on display (from left to right along the lagoon) include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. Walt Disney himself came up with the idea of The World Showcase, as he hoped to create some sort of permanent World’s Fair that tied together guest experience and individual culture. The following gives a brief overview of the various destinations and what each has to offer.
The Mexican Pavilion consists of a Mesoamerican pyramid, home to a display of Mexican artwork and a marketplace called Plaza de los Amigos. Souvenirs, artifacts, and treasures can be found throughout the land. The marketplace offers artwork, pottery, clothing, piñatas, sombreros and jewelry. Colorful shops and carts are found around the pavilion representing the vibrant life of the country. A mariachi band often makes its way around the land, adding to the authenticity of the atmosphere. The pavilion offers original restaurants, each with a menu unique to the culture. These include La Hacienda de San Angel, San Angel Inn Restaurant, La Cantina de San Angel, and La Cava del Tequila.
The Norwegian themed pavilion inside Epcot’s World Showcase is made up mostly of connected shops. These shops give guests the opportunity to purchase souvenirs and other authentic Norwegian gifts and clothing items. It is designed as a small village with a detailed church as the centerpiece. This Stave style church houses the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant. The restaurant features classic Disney princesses such as Belle, Aurora, and Cinderella. The pavilion is also home to a Viking style specialty restaurant known as Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. In June 2016, Norway’s main attraction, the Maelstrom, was redesigned and reopened as the home of two newer Disney princesses. Frozen Ever After follows Anna and Elsa through Arendelle on a boat voyage full of adventure and fun.
This pavilion is one of the most detailed and extravagant of them all. It represents authentic Chinese cuisine, tradition, art, and history. The pavilion begins with the Gate of the Golden Sun- Zhao Yan Men, the entrance for the destination. Guests will then find a lotus pool, Chinese garden, Mulberry trees, and additional architecture bringing the true Chinese culture to life. This destination offers shopping, which includes parasols, toys, tea sets, silk robes, and other variety items. The Nine Dragons Restaurant serves traditional gourmet cuisine, while the Lotus Blossom Café serves well-known Chinese-American dishes. For entertainment, guests may watch Reflections of China, a circle-vision three hundred and sixty degree movie narrated by an ancient Chinese poet. Guests may also take part in the live action show Dragon Legend Acrobats.
This themed- destination inside Epcot’s World Showcase was created to look like a small German town. There is a main town square surrounded by statutes, towers, and buildings. There are six shopping stops that sell numerous goods authentic to Germany. The focal point of the pavilion is the Biergarten Restaurant, modeled after the well-known Oktoberfest celebration. The restaurant offers beer, bratwurst, and other traditional German dishes. The Sommerfest restaurant is also available as a quick service option.
The Italian style pavilion is home to a collection of replication architecture and top of the line food. The destination includes recreations of bell towers, columns, fountains, and shops resembling the Sistine Chapel. Through the II Bel Cristallo, La Bottega Italiana, and Enoteca Castello shops, guests may find wine, souvenirs, candies, clothing, and other takeaways. Entertainers are found throughout the pavilion, including flag throwers, a juggler, and a group of female comedic musicians. Two restaurants, Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli Pizzeria e Ristorante, are found here along with a Tutto Gusto wine cellar. These restaurants feature delicious Italian dishes and wine created by world-class chefs.
The American Adventure
This United States style pavilion stands as the World Showcase’s host pavilion. The destination brings guests back a few hundred years into the colonial days of America and represents the true American dream. The American Adventure show stands as the main attraction, narrated by Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin. In the main building, guests may also find Heritage Manor Gifts and the Liberty Inn Restaurant.
Japan is a World Showcase pavilion that is put together by many buildings surrounding a main courtyard. The torii of Itsukushima Shrine is the main focal point of the destination and sits on the edge of the lagoon. The pavilion is home to an art and culture gallery known as Bijutsu- kan that looks into Japan’s lifestyle. The Mitsukoshi department store stands as the only shopping center in the pavilion. It holds books, toys, and an expanded variety of other items. The destination has three dining options which each offer different cuisine unique to the Japanese culture. Teppan Edo stands as a Hibachi style restaurant where a chef prepares stir-fry foods right in front of guests. Tokyo Dining is a traditional sushi restaurant; the Katsura grill serves as a variety counter service option.
A Minaret surrounded by a small city represents the culture of the Moroccan pavilion. The destination consists of six shops with traditional Moroccan clothing, leathers, rugs, and other souvenirs. Many acts serve to entertain guests such as a musical/dance act, a celebration of customs, and an Arabian rock and roll set. Three restaurants stand to offer Mediterranean dishes, various salads, and other Moroccan cuisine: Restaurant Marrakesh, Tangierine Café, and the Spice Road Table. This pavilion is the only destination that had assistance from the country’s government on the design.
The France destination of the World Showcase is structured to resemble a neighborhood in Paris. The ambiance includes fountains, a glance at the Eiffel Tower, shops, and an Opera House. The shops sell things like perfumes and pastries unique to the France culture. A panoramic film entitled Impressions de France takes guests on a tour of the nation with original music. Dining opportunities in the pavilion range from fine dining to quick service. Les Halles Boulangerie- Patisserie, Les Chefs de France, and Monsieur Paul offer delicious treats, renowned flavor, and fine France food choices.
English gardens, telephone booths, and a small village bring together the United Kingdom destination. Many shops line the main pathway. These shops sell a variety of items, from books and clothing to trading pins and swords. The pavilion has a few entertainment options. A British rock band known as the British Revolution plays on the grounds, as well as a piano player known as the Hat Lady. There are two dining options; one is a full service restaurant and the other is quick service. The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room serves British fare such as potato and leek soup and bangers and mash. Yorkshire County Fish Shop serves tradition fish and chips.
Destination Canada is predominantly portrayed as an outdoor landscape within Epcot’s World Showcase. Totem poles, gardens, canyons, and waterfalls surround the pavilion. The main attraction, O Canada!, is a circle vision three hundred and sixty degree movie showing the scenery and lifestyle of the nation. The shopping venues sell maple syrup, hockey jerseys, flags, and other Canadian goods. The destination is home to a popcorn cart that sells popcorn, Lagers, Draft beer, and sodas. The sit down restaurant Le Cellier Steakhouse offers land and sea cuisine as well as other Canadian inspired dishes.
Special thanks to Lexsie Ditter for writing this article!