The World Showcase makes up the other half of Epcot. Eleven countries from several continents are represented by pavilions containing cultural attractions, clothing, merchandise, food, and cast members native to their country. All pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon and visitors can walk the 1.2 mile circumference of the lake while touring each country. Younger visitors can take part in Kidcot while visiting this park.
Canada – Besides this pavilion featuring the beautiful architecture native of Canada, the landscaping is also breathtaking. Guests can learn about Canada’s culture and heritage through the movie “O’ Canada,” as well as the food found in Le Cellier Steakhouse. In addition, there are two stores featuring goods and clothing found in Canada; Northwest Mercantile store and The Trading Post.
China – The main feature of this pavilion is the ceremonial gate which is a replica of one found in Beijing. Inside the Chinese-inspired buildings, guests can watch a 360 degree circle-vision film entitled “Reflections of China.” After the film, check out the replica of the Terracotta Army found inside as well as the Chinese acrobats that perform at multiple times during the day. The merchandise store, The Yong Feng Shangdian shop, is a favorite of ours and contains everything from expensive silk clothing to Chinese lanterns. If you get hungry, there is a sit-down restaurant named Nine Dragons, as well as The Lotus Blossom Cafe counter service. We’ve never eaten at Nine Dragons, but the quick service food is excellent if you’re a fan of Chinese food.
France – Stroll the cobblestone streets of France as french music plays in the background. This pavilion offers a real-feel of what France is like through its many shops featuring wine, french perfume, and french souvenirs. Our favorite place to eat in France is Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. This patisserie features croissants, french pastries, sandwiches, and much more. It’s fantastic! This pavilion also has a sit-down restaurant, Monsieur Paul, which offers pricier foods and L’Artisan des Glaces which offers ice cream and sorbet. Find out more about France by watching the 18 minute film,”Impressions de France.” There are also french painters and mimes spread around the pavilion to increase the “feel of France.”
Germany – You feel as if you have stepped into a Bavarian village with cobblestone streets when you walk into this pavilion. It is absolutely beautiful. Shopping is abundant here with five different stores which sell everything from beer steins to teddy bears. Our favorite is die Weihnachts Ecke, which sells German-made Christmas ornaments year round. The best part of Germany is their restaurant Biergarten. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet and worth every penny. While you dine, there is a German band which entertains you (complete with yodelling). We have eaten at Biergarten many times and never been disappointed. There is also a counter service, Sommerfest, which serves bratwurst, pretzels, and apple strudel.
Italy – Upon entering this pavilion, the first thing you notice is the replica of St. Mark’s Campanile (bell tower). As you wind through to the back of the piazza, you will find a wishing fountain, “Fontana de Nettuno,” which is great for taking pictures. The food is wonderful in Italy. We love the pizza at Via Napoli. If you want more upscale fare, Tutto Italia is a wonderful restaurant. Attached to this restaurant is Tutto Gusto. This out-of-the-way spot is great for sampling smaller Italian dishes. The decor in Tutto Gusto is beautiful! We love this little spot. There is no attraction or film in Italy, but they do have performers and shops for purchasing authentic Italian merchandise.
Japan – There is so much to see in Japan! We love to walk past the enormous pagoda and past beautiful Japanese gardens and ponds to get to our favorite part of Japan……Mitsukoshi Department Store! This store has everything! From wooden shoes to kimonos, we have seen and purchased it all. I still have a pearl that I personally picked out of an oyster shell and had it made into a necklace. Besides the wonderful and inexpensive shopping, we also love the food! The Teppan Edo dining room is incredible! The Japanese chef prepares the meal before you and it is one of the best in all of Walt Disney World. Tokyo Dining is another sit-down restaurant, although we have never tried it. There is a counter service restaurant outside the main building, Katsura Grill, that serves less expensive Japanese fare.
Mexico – Mexico is the first World Showcase pavilion we visited in 1992. It’s still our favorite! The building itself is a stand-alone Mexican temple and very plain at first sight. When you walk into the building, it’s the most spectacular sight to see. It feels as if you are walking into an outdoor market at night. This market is filled with wonderful Mexican merchandise. As you walk through to the back of the market, there is an attraction on the left and a restaurant on the right. The attraction, El Rio Del Tiempo, has changed since we first rode it, but it has changed for the better when they added “The Three Caballeros.” Once you finish the ride, please try San Angel Restaurant. The chips and salsa are great! There is also a restaurant outside, La Hacienda de San Angel, that overlooks the lagoon. You will learn a lot about Mexican history in this pavilion.
Morocco – Our favorite part of Morocco besides the unusual buildings native to Morocco is the splendid shopping in the back of the pavilion. There are bazaar type stores in an open atmosphere that carries everything from leather wallets to rugs. Guests walking through Morocco will get the feeling they have been transported to the country itself. There is a beautiful indoor fountain which is great for photo ops. Although we’ve never eaten at Morocco’s restaurant Spice Road Table, we have read wonderful reviews. There are two other opportunities to enjoy Moroccan fare at Restaurant Marrakesh and Tangerine Cafe. Although there is no film or attraction in this pavilion, the architecture and daily performers are educational enough.
Norway – Norway is home to a new Frozen-themed attraction, Frozen Ever After, featuring Anna and Elsa. The attraction is set to open May 1, 2016 and will take guests on a log ride through the “Winter in Summer” festival. In addition to this wonderful attraction, there will be an Anna and Elsa meet and greet at The Royal Sommerhus. The pavilion also features Norwegian architecture and is home to the Stave Church Gallery. The gallery houses authentic Norwegian clothing, instruments, and folk art. One of the best parts of this pavilion is the “school bread” found at Kringla Bakeri og Kafe. This cafe also features sandwiches and pastries, but if you are in the mood for a sit-down meal featuring Disney Princesses then Akershus is a great choice.
United Kingdom – Although this pavilion has no attraction or film, it really doesn’t need one. The architecture, shops, food, and cast members are enough to educate guests in “all things British.” The architecture features winding streets and English tea gardens that are breathtaking. The shops feature soccer merchandise, Winnie the Pooh, and English tea. We always stop here to buy a box of tea and we “always” eat dinner in England at the Rose and Crown Pub. This restaurant has authentic British fare featuring our favorite food….Bubble and Squeak. We also love their Cottage Pie and Fish and Chips. The pavilion has wonderful photos ops throughout, especially the signature “red phone booths” located across from the pub.
United States – The American Pavilion is rich in American heritage. The main attraction is the American Adventure; a 29 minute educational show hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. This attraction tells the story of America through a combination of film footage and Audio-Animatronics .
**Besides the wonderful features of each country’s pavilion, every cast member working in the restaurants and stores are from their native country. Asking cast members about their country is a wonderful way to hear different languages, as well as learn about their many customs and cultures.