So, we're on the home stretch of my review/travelogue of the World Showcase in Epcot - thank God, right?! Hey - don't blame ME - Epcot is one huge, honkin' place - and so it's only natural that it has to be reviewed in 3-4 blog posts! I wouldn't/couldn't have done it justice if I had tried to condense everything into one post - so suck it up and continue reading; we're almost done!
We left off in the American Adventure...so if we continue on our journey, counter-clockwise, we will reach the fabulous country of:
Ahhhh....Italy. My favorite "country" in Epcot to visit...maybe because it brings back memories of my own trip to Italy last summer... maybe because it's just so romantic and beautiful and so...Italian. Mama mia....I love me some Italy.
Much of the pavilion is based on the timeless city of Venice...although I have to say, Disney's version of Venice is much - um - cleaner and brighter than the real Venice. Maybe because it's not hundreds of years old...? Anyway, it's beautiful....
Original plans for the pavilion called for a gondola ride and a Roman ruins walk-through - but those were cancelled. Dang - that would have been so cool to be able to ride a gondola again....It's unfortunate that Italy doesn't even offer a film - anything! - to show off it's beauty and history, but alas - no rides OR film.
So - with no rides, I had to resort to the next best thing - shopping. What a travesty - to be forced to shop in an Italian store. Ah, the agony of it all. I have to be honest - the Italian shop of Il Bel Cristallo is absolutely my favorite shop in the World Showcase.
Along with Venetian glass, it sells my most favorite perfume in the world - Acqua di Parma's Blu Mediterraneo Mandorlo.
Besides buying it online, this is the only place I know of it purchase it - and so I restock every time I visit Epcot. This perfume is so fragrant, and so scrumptious, that it is not unusual for me to receive a compliment from a complete stranger every time I put it on. Seriously - it's that good. I would drink the stuff if I could.
Although I didn't sacrifice shopping in Italy, I did make a sacrifice - I bypassed the gelato. Yes - you read that right. I skipped the gelato. Unheard of, I know. But there was a reason, as you'll see later.....!
I will be very honest here...Germany is my least favorite pavilion. I don't really know why - it just doesn't intrigue me like the other worlds do. I've never had a beer in the Biergarten (I'm not a beer drinker), and I don't really enjoy "oompah" music. The shopping doesn't tempt me, nor does the food offerings. Germany is normally a very quick walk-through - with maybe a very brief stop to look at the huge train setup of a German-style town. If you look carefully at the pretty dwellings in the little village, you may see several would-be Godzillas perched on rooftops or in gardens, in the form of Florida's ever-present geckos. Rather funny, I thought.
We leave the festive beer garden atmosphere of Germany and now head over to China, where the Temple of Heaven stands imposingly. In the architecture here, you'll notice a lot of red - as red is considered lucky. It's the color of happiness and prosperity, and it is also used to scare off certain evil spirits.
For entertainment, China offers a wonderful 13-minute film called "Reflections of China" - a great movie about the wonders and mysteries of China. We also like to watch the China Dragon Acrobats show - however, this show is VERY popular, and if you're not in the front, you basically can't see it. They don't have the acrobats up high - and so forget about it if you're late to the show. It's too bad, too, because these young performers are amazing.
On to the cold pavilion of Norway - where I love the little details such as the grass on the rooftops, the castle Akershus, medieval stave churches, and the trolls. There are 28 mischievous little trolls hiding throughout the pavilion - so look closely!
Norway is only one of two pavilions in the World Showcase that offers a ride - Maelstrom, a 15-minute boat ride with a few mild drops...think of a very, very tame Splash Mountain. Sometimes, the stand-by line can get long, and so we used a Fastpass here and was able to walk on the ride in only 10 minutes.
Now, remember earlier when I said I bypassed the gelato in Italy? It was because I wanted to sample some of the delectable wares at a hidden gem - the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. This is a delicious place to stop for a snack while strolling through the World, and for this trip, I sampled the school bread - a doughnutty/pastry type thing filled with custard, glazed on top, and covered in coconut. I had read wonderful things about it, and it did not disappoint. It was scrumptious!
On a very full, but happy tummy, it was now time to visit our last pavilion:
Mexico's pavilion is dominated by a giant Mayan temple - which actually looks better at night, when it's all lit up, then it does by day. I knew from my own travels through Mexico and Guatemala that Mayans do not like people to enter through the front of their temples - only the high priests should enter that way - so side entrances to temples were usually built for the common folk. The Disney Imagineers originally intended to mimic this by building a side entrance; however, many guests could not find the door so it was relocated to the front. Hopefully, it has not upset the Mayan gods too much.
When you walk inside the pyramid, it's dark. It's always dark in there. The reason? Because twilight - in Mexico - is the time friends and family gather to socialize; day time is reserved for working and taking siestas. Disney wants us to party - so the party takes place at night!
Mexico has the only other ride, besides Norway, in the World Showcase. It's a 7-minute boat cruise, entitled "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Cabelleros." It has been "remodeled" since the last time I visited Disney, and frankly, I didn't care at all for the new ride. As you ride through a winding river, music, short film and animation clips are shown. I wasn't entertained at all. If I had to skip something in order for more time, this is something I would skip.
Outside the pavilion, there's normally a great Mariachi band playing...the perfect serenade for sipping a fabulous margarita!
Did I eat in Mexico? No. I've had enough Mexican/Guatemalan food in my lifetime to last me for three more lifetimes - so I skipped the restaurants here.
So, the tour of the World is now over. Around the World in three blogposts. Not bad. Better than 180 days, right? I hope you can see, if you've never visited, just how much there is to really see and do while visiting...I'm often asked if the World Showcase is appropriate for children, and my answer is always a resounding "YES!" Where else can you expose your kids to this culture and food in one place? Each of the worlds has a "Kidcot" station where children can make simple crafts and talk to a representative from that country - it's a great learning experience.
I'm always sad when I leave the World Showcase...but knowing that I'll be back - again - in a short time, for another visit, always gives me hope.
As the famous Arnold once said, "I'll be back."