Cultural Gems at Epcot
Epcot’s beloved World Showcase is a favorite for many travelers to Walt Disney World. The beloved cultural hub, once planned as a futuristic place to live was thusly named the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT); the spirit of Walt's vision for an ever-changing blueprint of the future became a beautiful fusion of the two key points. In Future World you can see and appreciate ways to preserve our planet and explore new ideas for the future. Making your way through Showcase Plaza into the World Showcase you can see how that vision translates to seeing our world as a more perfect union; we can appreciate and explore the cultures of the world by trying new foods and in some amazing and often missed attractions, learn more about the cultures presented.
With this post, I want to take you through Epcot's World Showcase and talk about these cultural gems; where they're located, and why they're great! If you are taking a trip without the kids, or with older children, these will be a new adventure, and hey.... maybe get a credit for the kid's school? It's educational, right? While one of the biggest Disney Debates surrounding Epcot is "where to begin", for me it is always an absolute start with Mexico... let's go!
Mexico: Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
This boat ride adventure is perfectly located inside the Mexican Pavilion's icon, next to the full service, La Hacienda de San Angel (yum by the way). Upon entering the Pyramid- homage to El Castillo ( a real landmark in Mexico) you will find a beautiful display
"Remember Me" A celebration of Dia De Los Muertos in the style of Disney's Coco. I really was moved by seeing this scene re-created as a parks display. The Mexican culture truly appreciates their ancestors and I think the celebration of life and love that surround this holiday are a great message to us all. We have to remember where we come from, and the family behind us that paved our way.
Once moving into the building further you really do see authentic Mexican cultures come to life. Dining, shopping, and adult beverages are all able to be found in this beautiful buildingscape. Nestled in the far left corner of the pyramid is our main attraction, the Gran Fiesta Tour! Hop on a boat and follow Donald and his pals on an adventure through the sights of Mexico!
This ride through is just a taste of this wonderful attractions. The colors and sounds really are captivating, and will be a family favorite--even if just for a break in the air conditioning!
Norway: Stave Church
Norway's cultural nod is more subtle than some of the other pavilions' and could definitely go unnoticed if you aren't looking for it. The icon of the pavilion would definitely be the replica of the Stave Church and gallery inside, as well as the wood carvings on the buildings. The slanted roofs were engineered to keep snow falling down, rather than accumulating on top of the churches to prevent collapse!
Did you know Norway's culture inspired a lot of Frozen's Arendelle? Check out the inside of the gallery and you can see different cultural artifacts from Norway that may have inspired one of our new animated favorites.
China: Reflections of China
Inside the China Pavilion's replica of the Temple of Heaven you will find the 14 minute film, Reflections of China on the wonderfully encompassing Circle Vision 360. This film, narrated by poet Li Bai, will take you though the sights and sounds of China from the Great Wall, to the modern city of Shanghai. The amazing wraparound style of this theater really puts you in the landmarks.
America: American Adventure
In the middle of the World Showcase you will happen upon The American Adventure. The icon building, doubling as an attraction, is modeled after two historic American buildings: Independence Hall and the old Sate House in Boston. These buildings evoke many emotions in Americans, and create a sense of nostalgia and pride in our homeland. Enter the stately theater decorated with stunning architecture, columns, and chandeliers and sit back to enjoy a dramatic telling of America's history; narrated by Ben Franklin and Mark Twain and highlighting many of America's prominent historical figures. This retelling includes projections, set design, and audio-animatronics.
France: Impressions de France
France's pavilion icon is notably a replica of one of the most famous structures in the world,
the Eiffel Tower. This replica is 1/10th the size of the original structure in Paris, but still stands 103 feet tall. The building beneath the tower of the pavilion you will find Palais du Cinema; here you will find the attraction Impressions de France. This attractions features the amazing circle-vision style theater (200 degree screen coverage) showing film and music highlight the grandeur and charm of the French countryside.
Canada: Far and Wide- Circle Vision 360
Not only is this another beautiful film tour of a county, the narration is by two of my favorite (and now Emmy Award winning ahh!) actors from Canada themselves. Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy give a colorful depiction of their beloved Canada.
*image of waterfall in the Canada Pavilion, outside of the Far and Wide 360 exhibit.
These are just some of the beautiful gems from the World Showcase, the remaining countries' pavilions showcase some beautiful structures/architecture. Additionally, each of the showcase pavilions have a "Kidcot" spot where there are special cultural cards and moments from each country--Check out the Disney Kidcot Puzzle Hunt, exclusively on the Disney Parks Play app!
So, next time you head to Epcot, be sure to pay attention to the detail and love put into each of the showcase Pavilions, you may learn, or taste, something new!