Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places to visit, and that statement comes from a TravelingMom who loves world travel and has been lucky enough to visit all seven continents! My love of history and travel is something I first shared with my husband and now have been imparting to both of my little ones. But when we visit Epcot’s World Showcase in Walt Disney World, we are able to share our love of both Disney and world travel!
I love everything about Disney – from its wonderful family-friendly rides, to its Broadway-style shows, to its charming Disney characters who bring so much joy to children of all ages. But I also love world travel, and visiting foreign countries always ranks very high on my list of must-do activities. So visiting Epcot’s World Showcase with my family lets me satisfy both loves at once!
World Showcase consists of 11 pavilions, each representing a country from around the world, including China, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Japan, Morocco, Canada, France, Mexico, Germany and, last but not least, the United States. Each pavilion strives to highlight the unique cultural and historic attractions of the country it represents. The World Showcase is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to foreign culture and cuisine. It also provides a future world traveler with a wonderful overview of some of the most famous sights in the world. We found the pavilions compared quite favorably to their real life counterparts:
Terra Cotta Warriors and More
The China Pavilion has done a superb job of capturing highlights of its ancient civilization. The Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit in particular gives an amazing perspective of the actual Terra Cotta Warrior statues which were built over 2000 years ago to protect the first emperor of China in the afterlife. We were extremely fortunate to view the actual statues in Xian, China 8 years ago, when our daughter was one, and we have returned to the China Pavilion many times since then to remember that visit and see the amazing replica statues in the gallery. We also love the 13 minute 360 degree Circle-Vision film “Reflections of China” showcasing the beautiful and unique landscapes of China, including the magnificent Great Wall of China!
The France Pavilion is one of my daughter’s favorite places in World Showcase, and not just for the amazing French delicacies! She particularly loves the Eiffel Tower (or “La Tour Eiffel” as they say in France) and has wanted to visit France ever since seeing Disney’s animated movie “The Aristocats” years ago, and “Ratatouille” more recently. Having studied in France several decades ago, I have a fondness for the French culture and cuisine, not to mention their spectacular architecture and history. I wanted to introduce my children to some of the things I remember most about my visits to France, and the World Showcase gave me the opportunity to do just that. My daughter particularly enjoyed the 18 minute film “Impressions de France” which provides a gorgeous overview of the French culture, scenery and architecture, set to beautiful classical music by French composers. After exiting the theater, she said to me, “When can we visit?” It was a great way to encourage her love of travel and history (not to mention the language)!
During our visit to Canada and Alaska last summer, we particularly loved seeing the gorgeous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada, listed as one of the National Historic Sights of Canada. Our little ones loved the gorgeous roses and beautiful fountains scattered around the gardens, and seeing them again, albeit in a much smaller size, at the Canada Pavilion was a highlight. The gardens in the pavilion give quite an accurate view of the breathtaking grounds in Victoria, along with sample totem poles of the native people of Alaska, both excellent representations of what the country of Canada offers to visitors. We also all enjoyed the 18 minute 360 degree Circle-Vision movie highlighting the varied scenery of our northern neighbor.
The Beauty of Venice
The Italy Pavilion is a wonderful, miniature replica of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, complete with the Campanile (Bell Tower), Doge’s Palace and gondolas tied up in the World Showcase lagoon! While there are no movies or rides in this pavilion, the replicated architecture is lovely and gelato cart is a well worth a stop, serving Italy’s famous creamy ice cream – yum!
Pyramids South of the Border
No, not the ones in Egypt, but the ones in Mexico, our southern neighbor! The Mexico Pavilion’s main structure is a replica of the many pre-Columbian pyramids scattered throughout Mexico. During our Western Caribbean Disney cruise a few years ago, we loved climbing the pyramids in Costa Maya, and the Mexico pavilion does a great job of capturing the steep steps leading up to the top of the pyramid’s entrance. Once inside the pyramid, you can enjoy the “Gran Fiesta” boat ride, currently the only ride in the World Showcase and a great tribute to Mexico’s culture and architecture. Both little ones love this “Small World” type ride as it’s led by the comedic Donald Duck and his two comrades, Panchito the rooster from Mexico and Jose the parrot from Brazil, from Disney’s animated movie “The Three Caballeros.” As a bonus, the line is rarely long so, on a hot day, it’s a great ride to enjoy a couple of times in a row or after sipping an exotic margarita in La Cava del Tequila!
World Travel Includes America
I love world travel, but I also love exploring my home country, and the America Pavilion offers a great overview of America with a focus on its founding. Both children loved visiting Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and they recognized the colonial style in the main structure of the pavilion. Inside the beautiful rotunda, my daughter particularly loved hearing the “Voices of Liberty” a cappella group’s rendition of “America the Beautiful.” The 30 minute film, set to patriotic music, gives a wonderful overview of America’s history, with Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain figures as the show’s two guides. Both children enjoyed seeing the Audio-Animatronic figures, which was a great way to impart history to the youngest viewers!
We also found the other pavilions to be true to the countries they represented, from the mosaic artwork in the Morocco Pavilion, to the red telephone booths in the United Kingdom, to the pagoda designs in the Japan pavilion.
Both children really enjoyed their visit, although my younger one was ready for the pool at our resort a little sooner than my daughter. It always helps to have a large, comfy “home away from home” to return to after a fun-filled day in the parks, and Vacatia is a great site to use for finding the perfect family resort.
No matter which of the 11 “countries” you visit during your world travel stroll around World Showcase, or which resort you choose to relax in after your fun-filled day, have a “magical” trip!