There is only one way to go around the world in such a short time, see wonderful places on all continents, experience different cultures, try exotic food and still have time to buy souvenirs to take back home. Well yes, and less than 20 minutes from home I can do it.
One of the theme parks at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL is EPCOT (experimental prototype city of tomorrow). It is my favorite park and in it you can travel around the planet, knowing different countries and I am not talking about watching a video of the countries (which you can also do in Soarin’, the most popular attraction of all Disney parks), I am talking from visiting them, living with local people, trying their drinks and food and even getting to know iconic places of each one of them. EPCOT is divided into two areas, Future World and World Showcase. The first, futuristic full of attractions that will take you to know a little more about how our planet can be in the near future. World Showcase, around the great lagoon, is a tour of 11 different countries, where with the help of Disney’s imagination and technology it will make you seem that you really travel within its borders.
So let’s get started:
Upon arriving at the World Showcase, starting with the clock, the first country to visit is Mexico. With its great pyramid from the Mesoamerica era, which it is the most attractive in the country, until you enter it and realize that the interior reassembles a typical market that you can find in any city from Mexico. With its colors and music, its bar with almost all the existing Tequila varieties and its striking Margaritas, a first class restaurant with typical dishes of the country and typical crafts from different regions of the country. Simply enter and it will automatically take you to one of the most visited countries in Latin America. Do not forget to do the Grand Fiesta Tour with the Tres Caballeros.
It was the last country to be added to the World Showcase and it was inaugurated by the Norwegian Prince Herald V in 1988 (I still remember visiting EPCOT before they added Norway). A mystical country, with its Vikings and tales of trolls. The Norwegian pavilion will take you to a small village in the north of the country, where you can enjoy 4 different styles of local architecture, the Setesdal, Bergen, Oslo and Alesund styles. It is incredible to admire its architecture that includes even a “Stave Church” medieval Christian church built in wood. It also has the newest attraction in the park: Frozen Ever After, of course based on the Disney movie Frozen that takes place in Norway. If there are girls in your group when you visit it, don’t forget to book for a meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, where you can enjoy the typical dishes of the region in the company of Disney princesses.
As in reality, China is the largest pavilion in size. With its oriental architecture, the first thing we come across is a replica of the “Temple Of Heaven” and inside you can watch a short video (Reflections of China) presented in a 360 degree cinema, where you can see the wonders of this country making you feel part of the video. In its stores you can find a wide variety of articles and souvenirs from this legendary region of our planet. The gardens are incredible and in its main square, several times a day they do a gymnastics show reminding us why this country is always among the first in the Olympics. Do not forget to try the culinary art and to savor the varieties of tea that you can find here.
Although it is not considered a country, it is part of the World Showcase and is worth mentioning. The Outpost was created with the intention of making it a country on the African continent, but the idea was never completed so it only remained as an “Outpost” representing one of the countless rest stops that you can find in Africa between towns and cities. In it you can find handicrafts from different parts of the continent, mainly from East Africa where tourism is more encouraged. Here you can take a break between countries, have something cold to pass the African heat (or the Floridian heat? I don’t know which is worse) and continue the tour of our planet.
We got to my favorite, Germany. During the construction plans of the park, the pavilion would have an attraction similar to that of Mexico and Norway, a boat trip that would take us to navigate the main rivers of the region. In the end, due to lack of budget, they did not conclude it and Disney announced at the time that it would only finish it if the host country placed the funds for it. At that time, Germany did not have the extra capital to finance this project and it was never completed. From the idea, only the area where it would take place remained, which today is used as a warehouse and training place for “cast members”. The German restaurant, Biergarten (also one of my favorites), was located in the entrance hall of the attraction and if it is there and you go to the bathrooms, direct your gaze to the end of the corridor and you will be able to see part of the space where it was going to be the attraction. The pavilion is also designed as a German village with architecture from different regions and eras. At The Platz you will find the statue of St. George and the dragon and the clock tower that is always on time, with good German precision. Remember a very cold beer and some delicious sweets while you admire the model of scale trains.
Italy is represented in its maximum splendor. With its gondolas on the canals of Venice, its architecture and works of art throughout the city. The pavilion is very beautiful and in it you will find famous monuments such as the Trevi Fountain (Rome) and the San Marco Bell Tower (Venice). Without leaving behind the variety of Italian wines that you can taste here alongside a good regional dish or simply while enjoying the beautiful view. Like other pavilions, this one also remained in the plans of the construction of a gondola tour through the landscapes of the country. Pasta and pizzas made in wood-fired ovens are part of the gastronomy that you can enjoy here, without forgetting a good gelato for dessert.
The American Adventure
This is the name of the United States pavilion located in the center of the World Showcase. You are in the country, so it does not have much to show, here you can see a simple colonial-style building and inside a small exhibition that varies throughout the year. Something that does not change is the attraction, it is a theater where they speak a little of the history of this country in a way that only Disney could tell. Something interesting, also here is that there is the EPCOT amphitheater where concerts and shows are held, the most popular being during the Food and Wine Festival that takes place every year between September and November, where famous singers perform with their best hits.
Remember when I told you that Germany is my favorite? Well, no, it is definitely Japan in all its glory. He was one of the first to appear at the World Showcase and one of the most projects for attractions ever, with none being completed at the end. Inland train ride, 360 degree video like China, Godzilla attack, and even a Mount Fuji-based roller coaster (the latter was made in Animal Kingdom using another mountain, do you know which one?) None of these projects were carried out and not for lack of capital or sponsor, I think they never agreed on what to do. But it does not matter, without any attraction it is still the most beautiful to visit, with a Torii in front and inside the lagoon, a replica of the wooden temple of Nara, its gardens and fountains around the Pagoda and a castle in the background, they definitely do. Japan one of the most photographed and visited. Its shops with all kinds of unique and peculiar Japanese items and its restaurants at the top, without forgetting the great variety of Sake that you will find in its bar. Without a doubt, my favorite country both actually and here.
The only country where the government of the same helped in the design and construction. King Hassan II sent architects and artisans to recreate a Moroccan city as close to reality as possible, with its handmade murals and mosaics and the influence of the Muslim religion that can be captured in each area of the pavilion, The food is very good and its in-house restaurant even has a show of dancers from the region. Here you can find a great variety of articles from Morocco and Western Sahara. A peculiar note about this pavilion is that due to its religious significance, during the EPCOT fireworks show, it is not illuminated and to maintain balance at the World Showcase, the one in Norway is not illuminated either.
We arrived in France. Simulating a Parisian neighborhood, the pavilion even has a replica of the Eiffel Tower in the background. All the stores that you find here are real French chains where you can get the latest in perfume trends and the most classic wines of the country. It also has two restaurants, a bistro and an ice cream parlor. In its streets surrounded by fountains and gardens, you will also find at certain hours of the day street actors performing acts typically seen in Paris. The pavilion has a theater with a panoramic video where they show all the beauties of this European region, for me it is one of the best videos among all those that are in the World Showcase, so do not forget to attend the theater.
Simulating a typical British village, with its gardens and typical buildings where you can even find a garden with different types of tea where they do tours showing the most popular varieties of tea in the United Kingdom. The most interesting thing here is the British Revolution band that performs several times a day with their songs by different British artists from all eras, with a British Pub and restaurant where you can enjoy a good beer along with the highest British cuisine, fish & chips. Like France, here they also have actors who perform at certain times in the streets of the town, with their shows aimed at all types of audiences, from the smallest to the largest.
OH Canada !, this pavilion is designed to remind visitors of the great outdoors that you can enjoy in any region of the country. With its waterfalls and large rock walls, this is one of the most interesting to visit. During its construction, Disney sought to obtain funds from the Canadian government for its development and in exchange they would let it contribute ideas in its design, but the Canadian government, doubtful of the stereotype of the country that Disney wanted to show the world, did not accept, thus leaving everything under the control of Disney. Le Cellier, one of the most expensive restaurants in WDW is located here, with specialties in steaks, it really is very good, but I do not think it is all they say it is. Here you also have a 360 degree video showing the beauties of the country.
And with this we finished the trip around the world in 80 minutes. If it is your first visit, it will surely take you longer to turn it around, I have long since lost count how many times I have done it, visited all its restaurants, enjoyed all its attractions and witnessed all the changes facts since its opening and who knows how many more in the future.
Written by Manu Por El Mundo
Photography by Todo Sobre Disney