World Showcase

EPCOT is really a 2 day visit to see everything - if you know what you want to see and what you don't mind missing then a full 1 day is needed - stay late for the IllumiNations show.

World Showcase is centred around a 40 acre lagoon with a demonstration of history, architecture and culture for each of the eleven countries with show pavilions. With rare exception, World Showcase opens at 11:00am, after the main park opens and is one of the more relaxing areas of Disney; several countries have films, boat rides and shows.

Passing from one land to another you never feel like you are in two places at once, with Cast Members dressed in their country's outfits and eager to talk about their homeland. Dining at World Showcase is a must of you wanted to sample food from a different country but recommend Advanced Dining Reservations are made beforehand. Don't forget that Epcot became child friendly when WDW added Kidcot stations to every pavilion so little ones could create free crafts - yes FREE crafts.

Every evening Epcot presents "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" show which is a spectacular presentation around the Lagoon with fireworks, lasers and dancing fountains are choreographed into a display performed to an inspirational musical score. Epcot also hosts two special annual events - "The International Food and Wine Festival" in Autumn and in Spring hosts " The International Flower and Garden Festival." Don't forget the holidays are especially festive with the "Candlelight Processional" for the Christmas season.

So let's explore the pavilions - working in clockwise direction with the "golf ball" behind you (and in no particular order of entertainment value!)

#1 Mexico - is a pre-Columbian pyramid surrounded by Yucatan jungle landscape. Inside it is always twilight, a perfect backdrop for a smoking volcano. There are colourful stalls selling jewellery, Kahlua, pottery, clothing plus a strolling mariachi band. But what you have really come inside to see is the boat ride. The Gran Fiesta Tour starring The Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, Panchito and José Carioca) are your host for the boat tour based on the 1944 film of the same name. Here you will find also four dining outlets here - either serving lunch or dinner or both.

#2 Norway - resembles a Norwegian town square, cobble stone courtyard and a replica of a 14th century fortress from Oslo. The attraction here is the Maelstrom, which has FastPass but this is rarely needed, unless visiting in peak times. Maelstrom uses a 16 passenger Viking-style boat to take you on a 5 minute trip through a 10th century Viking village with mythical forest to encounter trolls who cast a curse on the boats. You exit into a quaint Norwegian village setting to see a film about Norway but you can exit from the film at any point. A couple of places to eat - one is lunch and the other is snacks only. Shopping consists of a large selection of books on trolls, Vikings, Scandinavian cuisine, Norwegian Proverbs, and Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales.

#3 China - walk through a triple arched ceremonial gate into a replica of Beijing's landmark The Temple of Heaven - quite a peaceful pavilion in comparison to others. Watch Reflections of China, a 14 minute film shown on 9 screens wrapped around the audience. It is rarely busy so a good place to escape the crowds for some peace, escape the heat or dry off after a thunderstorm. Take time to explore the intricacy of the carvings in the pavilion and look at the replica of the Terracotta Army. Also The Dragon Legend acrobats entertain guests throughout the day - expect a crowd for this demonstration. There are two eating outlets although they don't get great reviews and a shopping emporium selling teabags and lanterns.

#4 Germany - the centrepiece is a fountain with a statue of St. George slaying a dragon, surrounded by cobblestoned German platz. You will see building based on actual buildings found in Germany - from the medieval castle to the fairy tale Bavarian style buildings. The clock tower features a glockenspie which chimes a special melody on the hour and there is a miniature German village with three model trains. While there is no attraction ride or film here, there is plenty of shopping and two places to eat.

#5 Italy - based on Venice with its 83 feet bell tower replica of St Marks Square, with Venetian bridges and the gondolas are moored in the lagoon to candy cane style poles. There is a spectacular replica of the 14th century pink and white Doge's Palace and in the central plaza area called the Plaza del Teatro, you will find the "Fontana de Nettuno" fountain. Authentic dining is found in all three food outlets with many quaint shops selling perfume, jewellery and leather bags.

#6 The American Adventure - this colonial style mansion is the centrepiece of the pavilions. It is all about patriotism, with the gardens planted in shades of red, white and blue. There is an outdoor stage and amphitheatre close by on the promenade. The main attraction here is the American Adventure show - a 30 minute inspirational show and also the display of natural treasures. Two places to dine here - one is a place where you can buy a giant turkey leg to gnaw at whilst you walk around - if that is the size of the turkey leg then I would hate to see how big the whole turkey is - kind of Thanksgiving size I think !

#7 Japan - this pavilion is very restrained and formal - it is picturesque and a great place to shop. Photo op here - capture the large red torii gate that welcomes visitors and then you see the towering blue-roofed pagoda - the five levels represents earth, water, fire, wind and sky. There are beautiful gardens to relax in and admire the koi fish ponds. Japan pavilion offers 4 dining experiences and a recommended viewing point for IllumiNations is on the front porch of the pavilion - shhhhh don't tell everyone !

#8 Morocco - a replica of the Koutoubia Minaret of Marrakesh guards the entrance to the pavilion. It is intricately carved by native craftsmen gives it a greater sense of authenticity. Inside the pavilion you will find the bustling market bazaar with some of the best handmade crafts in the whole of the World Showcase. Here you will find carpets, brass and leather ware. There is a daily walking tour of Morocco called The Treasures of Morocco. Also there are two places to dine, one with belly dancing entertainment.

#9 France - the pavilion includes a one-tenth scale replica of the Eiffel Tower along with mansions and a rustic village main street. The centre fountain is a great place to sit, relax and people watch. During the day the Serveur Amusant acrobats perform - it's a fun show if you have time to watch it. For shopping there are several carts place around the area for you to buy your souvenirs, order an authentic crepe or sample the wine. Also there is a film to watch - Impressions de France - this is a 20 minute film offers a whirlwind tour through France. Don't forget there are three places to eat here.

#10 United Kingdom - this pavilion is usually busy and there is a great mix of architecture that takes you from the streets of London to an English cottage. There are cobble-stoned streets, a quaint pub and the smell of fish and chips carries in the air to make this an authentic visit across the pond. Other features are replicas of Hampton Court Palace and Anne Hathaway's cottage (wife of William Shakespeare). There are soot stained chimneys, gazebos, gardens, a maze for the children and replica bright red phone boxes ! Other than that there is shopping, dining - make sure you try the fish and chips and performing bands.

#11 Canada - you may recognise the replica of Chateau Laurier, a historic hotel found in Ottawa and named Hotel du Canada here. The pavilion design consists of a log cabin, 30 foot high totem poles, a rocky chasm and ornamental gardens, a boulder strewn stream that rushes to a 30 foot waterfall. Finally there is a Circle-vision film called O Canada! The film unfolds across 9 screens as the audience turns from screen to screen. There is dining and shopping too - here you can pick up some hockey gear, hand made glass ornaments, ice wine and perfume.

Just visiting the World Showcase could take you a full day in peak season if you want to fit in the rides and films and sample the cuisine. Enjoy !