Only eleven countries have the privilege of being represented in EPCOT at Walt Disney World. And as you probably already know, they are:
Mexico; Norway; China; Germany; Italy; American Adventure; Japan; Morocco; France; United Kingdom; and, of course, Canada. It’s this last country that this article will focus on.
To begin with, I was surprised to find a Canada Pavilion at EPCOT. It’s all-too common for most of the world to see my country as nothing more than an additional State of the U.S.A. and not as the truly unique and beautiful place that it is. So I was doubly pleased to see that Canada was one of the first countries encountered as you walk around The World Showcase, Mexico being the other, if you go in a clockwise direction.
Canada isn’t one of the biggest Pavilions, but it does have a lot of content packed into its compact footprint. For example, you will find:
- A Mountain (Above)
- A river ending in a waterfall (Also Above)
- A reproduction of the Butchart Gardens from Victoria, BC (Below)
- A model of the Victorian-style Chateau Laurier hotel found in Ottawa
And these are just the physical features of the Canada Pavilion. In these things, this Canadian proclaims that the Imagineers have done a nice job of representing his country. Anyone who visits Canada leaves declaring the beauty and scope of our land, and this is well displayed in EPCOT.
But what of the other features of the Canada Pavilion? They are:
- A totem pole and Indian canoe
- An old Trading Post
- A large French influence
Here we have the same problem that the other ten Pavilions exhibit: Outdated representation.
The totem pole, Indian canoe, and the Trading Post have long vanished from the common landscape of Canada. Any French influences are mostly restricted, at least overtly, to Ottawa and Quebec. Mounties are rarely, if ever seen, in the red uniforms associated with them. And I have never seen a man in a kilt in my entire life in Canada!
I remember sitting in the Norway Pavilion one day just across from the old Viking Ship, before it was removed. A mother walked by with her two children, and upon seeing the stereotypical ship, said to them: “Oh look, kids: A Viking Ship! We all have one of those in our back yards, don’t we?” The sarcasm told me she was Norwegian and didn’t care for such a representation of her country.
That being so, I can say in Disney’s defense, that without such stereotypical representations of a country’s heritage, how would one stand out from another? Today, we all have skyscrapers, cars, and modernization. EPCOT could thusly consist of just one Pavilion called Everycountry! How boring would that be?
The Canada Pavilion has a wonderful shopping area filled with traditionally Canadian wares. But for the most part, only expensive items are stocked, which the average Canadian wouldn’t buy everyday. Le Cellier Steakhouse does serve an authentic Canadian cuisine. I recommend the beer. And that brings us to the 360 degree Circle-Vision film ‘O Canada’. Recently redone, with Martin Short as emcee, this too gives a nice overview of both old and new, or modern, Canada.
So, as a Canadian, do I approve of how my country is represented by Disney at EPCOT?
I’d have to say ‘Yes!’
But I wonder if this is the case with you, the readers from the other countries represented in The World Showcase? Does Germany, United Kingdom, or even The American Adventure live up to how you would like to be represented?
Why not engage in discussion in our comments section and let us, and Disney, know!