Under-Appreciated Attractions

Magical Blogorail: World Showcase at Night

World Showcase

Spaceship Earth at night is a majestic ball of incredible lights!

As far as I am concerned, Walt Disney World is so much more incredible to experience at night.  That’s why my family is always looking for the evening extra magic hours over the morning.  When it comes to specific areas of Walt Disney World that truly shine after dark, I look no further than the World Showcase area of Epcot.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the incredible things we’ve seen here, and you might too on your next visit!

For this hopeless romantic, few locations on Disney property hold the sway that World Showcase does for me after dark settles in.  For starters, I love the way the path just flows from country to country, pavilion to pavilion, all the way around World Showcase Lagoon.  There’s a tranquility there, a sense of calm, a timeless about it that just really strikes home in this writer’s heart.  It takes me back, back to that very first trip to Epcot, in the summer of 1983, when my grandparents took me, and we went with friends of theirs that had their grandson visiting also.  I remember, that was the very first time in a setting that big that I had been allowed to go (with Chris, of course) off without any adult supervision.  But it was Disney, and my Grandparents knew it would be all right.

The charm of the World Showcase at night is that it grabs you, clutches at you, drawing you this way and that, and all the while, the crowds start thinning out because they are heading towards the bus terminals, or their rooms on the Boardwalk, or maybe they’re driving back home; regardless, the night and the park soon feels like you and your special someone are the only ones there.  I remember one recent trip, we were walking around World Showcase, and we came to the drawbridge, and it went up!  We happened to be there when the giant Earth from Illuminations was passing through on it’s way back to where it is stored, and I was able to capture this photo with my phone…

World Showcase

The Illuminations Globe passes by on it’s way to bed for the night.

I had never seen it up close like that before, and haven’t seen it that close since.

Of course, the World Showcase at night also means fireworks!  Namely, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  This fireworks show to me is incredible, and now, with Wishes closed down over at the Magic Kingdom, is the longest running fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  IllumiNations strikes a great balance between fireworks, laser light affects, narration, and music, and is a great way to kick off the rest of the evening at Epcot.

World Showcase

In the end, the World Showcase at night is about more than a particular attraction; it’s about more than a special fireworks show; it’s about more than getting one last drink before heading out.  World Showcase at night, to me, is all about slowing down, reliving the day with your family and friends, and sharing a special, Magical moment with the one you love most.  That is why I like walking World Showcase at night.  What about you?  Do you like exploring the World Showcase at night? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!


For more ways to enjoy evenings at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Disney’s Top Five Best Decisions of All Time

Recently I listed what I thought Disney’s Top Five Worst Decisions were and so in the interest of fairness I now present my Top 5 List of Disney’s best decisions:

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   FIVE

Live-action Versions of Animated Classics

So although these aren’t my cup of tea the general Disney fan/public has embraced these ‘remakes’ with a passion! Cinderella did very well and the latest, The Jungle Book, also did a brisk business. And the upcoming Beauty and the Beast practically has people frothing at the mouth in anticipation.

While these are obvious attempts at recycling ideas and extending profits from established franchises, one can’t argue that they are beautifully done. My main complaint is that they haven’t strayed much from the original animated source material so there aren’t any surprises or new interpretations.

Maybe the live-action Beauty and the Beast will break out of this provincial approach and break new ground.

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   FOUR

Promoting John Lasseter

I just love this guy! From his early antics on the Pixar DVD releases to his many appearances to promote new productions in both Pixar and Disney studios, you can just feel his enthusiasm for both animation and the Disney legacy.

With Walt gone and no more Disney family members stepping up to fill the void, Lasseter is the next best thing. That doesn’t sound too complimentary until you realize whose shoes he is basically filling!

I hope to see him grow with the company for many years to come, but do wonder just who could fill his shoes when the time comes for him to step down?

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   THREE

World Showcase Ethnic Casting

The best part of World Showcase in Epcot at Walt Disney World is the Cast Member interaction. And the fact that each pavilion has CM’s from the actual country being presented is a brilliant stroke of casting!

And so many benefit! Young people from around the world get to have an experience that they will never forget. The guests get to meet them and learn first hand about the culture and activities of all eleven countries represented in World Showcase. And those of us who are not American get to visit the country of our origin (if represented) and unite with a fellow countryman.

It’s win-win all around and I hope Disney never abandons this decision!

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   TWO

Acquiring Marvel/Lucas Film

    

As I stated in my post about the worst decisions Disney has made they should never have acquired Pixar. I feel it ruined the creativity of that company. But as it comes to Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. I think Disney has only helped to grow these companies.

Largely by leaving them alone, Disney has given the people at Marvel full support to continue to develop the MU in a very interesting and profitable way. The acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. is too new to really tell how things are going to turn out, but if the first Star Wars film under the Disney banner is any indication, it’s not going to badly.

Maybe Disney has learned that putting up the money and just a little creative input is the way to acquisition success?

BEST   DECISION   NUMBER   ONE

Keeping Vintage Attractions

This is a highly debatable decision but I put it in the number one spot for a reason. Walt was all about nostalgia. And nothing sparks nostalgia like the original attractions that were in the parks when they opened. Or that came soon after.

Rides from the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair like The Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World still interest park goers today just as they did in the past. And the fact that Disney fans mourn each time a beloved attraction is demolished confirms this as truth!

While other parks continue to focus on thrill rides Disney wisely nurtures its attraction heritage of dark rides and corny shows. Hey, if it works…

Conclusion: For every bad decision there is a good decision. And given the success of the multi-billion dollar business that is Disney, one would have to believe that the good decisions are outweighing the bad!

Mexico Pavilion

Magical Blogorail: The Mexico Pavilion!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are taking you on a virtual tour of Epcot’s World Showcase.


Mexico Pavilion

The Mexico Pavilion is housed in an Aztec style pyramid!

The Mexico Pavilion

Welcome, friends, to the Mexico Pavilion, one of the eleven incredible countries depicted in the World Showcase of Epcot!  I’m joining my friends at the Magical Blogorail in talking about each of the pavilions, and I’m going to tell you why I love the Mexico Pavilion, and describe in more detail what you can experience when you visit this country — one of the original countries at Epcot!

The Mexico Pavilion is one of my favorite World Showcase countries.  Featuring a nighttime outdoor market theme, wonderful shops, incredible smells from the San Angel Inn, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, this pavilion has it all!

For starters, the structure that is the focal point of the pavilion is the Aztec style pyramid that houses the pavilion.  Inside this structure is the open air market, pictured below, with it’s subdued lighting and aesthetics.  The Disney Imagineers are such incredible storytellers, when we enter the pavilion I am immediately immersed, perhaps even transported, from Florida to a spring evening in Mexico, with twinkling stars and the smell of delicious food wafting through the air.

Mexico Pavilion

The open air market depicted in the Mexico Pavilion is one of it’s biggest selling points!

Aside from shopping, there are many more things to do.  For starters, the San Angel Inn is located in the pavilion; while I have not eaten here, in my mind it is the perfect romantic setting for a wonderful date.  This is because the seating overlooks the launch site for the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros! This ride takes you on a relaxing journey through the heart of Mexico, and you find out that Donald Duck has gone missing — perhaps because of his love of the women?  In any event, your journey follows Panchito and Jose Carioca as they look high and low for Donald so that they can perform their concert!

Mexico Pavilion

Be on the look out for Donald Duck, help Panchito and Jose Carioca find him!

In addition to the San Angel Inn, La Cava del Tequila features appetizers and over 200 varieties of tequila for you to choose from; personally, it’s not my style of hangout, but that’s just me.

Outside of the pavilion is La Hacienda de San Angel.  This restaurant, pictured below, is strategically located on the lagoon for great viewing locations of the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show.

Mexico Pavilion

La Hacienda de San Angel is located outside the Mexico Pavilion on the World Showcase Lagoon.

Additionally, Donald Duck makes his presence known both inside and outside the pavilion.  Perhaps the reason he couldn’t be found on the Gran Fiesta Tour was because he was getting his picture with my daughter?

Mexico Pavilion

Donald Duck signs autograph books and poses for pictures inside and outside the Mexico Pavilion!

Thank you for stopping by today, and taking a stroll into the Mexico Pavilion with us!  Do you like this pavilion?  Please let me know in the comments, and thanks!

For more info on Epcot’s World Showcase, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Tour of Epcot’s World Showcase Loop:

EPCOT Pavilions – A Canadian Perspective

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
  • Mounties

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!

American Adventure

68 Days: The American Adventure

American Adventure

The American Adventure Pavilion – Our choice for #Day68 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown

The American Adventure pavilion and show are our choice for #Day68 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown.  This pavilion is directly opposite the main entrance to World Showcase, and has an incredible amount of activity bustling around it!  For starters, this is the home of the Liberty Tree, one of the better counter service restaurants in Epcot in my opinion, where you can pick up standard American fare.  Also, this pavilion is home to the Voices of Liberty that we featured in #Day75 of our countdown last Tuesday.  An accompanying musical performance group, the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, is also a main part of the pavilion.  In the picture below you see them marching into place to perform for the Guests.

American Adventure

The Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps are an integral part of the American Adventure pavilion!

In addition to these great singing and performing bands, the America Garden Theatre is home to some of the best musical and narrated performances anywhere at Epcot.  Each summer the theater is home to the Sounds Like Summer tribute band concert series, and of course, in the Christmas season they feature the Candlelight Processional that tells the Nativity story as narrated by some incredibly well known celebrities.

But in my opinion, what really makes this pavilion stick is the American Adventure show featuring Mark Twain and Ben Franklin.  This dynamic duo narrate the story of how America was shaped by it’s greatest natural resource — it’s people!  I’m not sure why this is, but I think it is because I saw this in 1983 during my first trip to Epcot, before the America Garden Theatre existed, and it was truly the highlight back then of this pavilion.

American Adventure

The American Adventure Pavilion is also home to a show by the same name featuring Mark Twain and Ben Franklin

So tell me, what do you think of the American Adventure pavilion?  Do you stop by each time or do you just pass through on your way to your next stop?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks!