Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Epcot World Showcase, Orlando, FL

Educational opportunities abound in Epcot, but the World Showcase cannot be beat for it's unique mix of culture, education, and fun. There are so many elements to delight the senses - the architecture, food, performances, and more. I've been many times and always notice something new.

The World Showcase features 11 countries. Everything is carefully modeled after the country it represents, and the Cast Members in each section are natives of that country! It's the millions of details that really draws you in and creates such a rich, immersive experience.

What You Need to Know

The 11 countries represented are:

Mexico
Norway
China
Germany
Italy
The American Adventure
Japan
Morocco
France
United Kingdom
Canada

The countries, or "pavilions" are arranged in a circle and you can start in either Mexico or Canada and work your way around from either side - there's no wrong way to start. There are themed restaurants and food kiosks in each section The gift shops offer unique wares, too, with most countries having additional shops geared toward something that country might be known for - perfumes in France, tea in the UK, etc. Also, there are also unique performances and shows sprinkled throughout.

For example, in Mexico you can enjoy the sounds of a Mariachi band, and learn about Dia de los Muertos. In Norway, be on the lookout for the Stave Church Gallery which features history on Norse Gods. The Dragon Legends Acrobats perform throughout the day in China. Prepare to ooh and ahh over the miniature train replica of The Romantic Road in Germany. Master juggler, Sergio, will awe you in Italy. Get a refresher in American history at The American Experience, and stay to hear the Voice of Liberty acappella group. Japan will enthrall you with the strength and precision of the Taiko drummers. Drop into the Gallery of Arts and History, and grab a coffee at the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco. France offers fantastic treats of all kinds, and a lovely show, Impressions of France. Snap a photo in an iconic red photo booth in the U.K. And last, but not least, the live music shows in Canada are fantastic and not to be missed.

As you can see, there are so many things to see, do, and eat! But there's more!

Each pavilion offers Kidcot stations where kids can drop in and meet a Cast Member from that particular country. They'll do a small art project and fill in a spot in their passport. The opportunity to meet and speak with a native is pretty awesome - kids can hear the language and get answers to whatever questions they may have!

Since there's so much to see and do, you'll want to decide ahead of time if you want to breeze through each section to hit the highlights, or really immerse yourself in a handful of pavilions. You can visit the website prior to arrival, and download the My Disney app to get up-to-the-minute info while you're in the park.

Voice of Liberty Acappella 

Toe-tappingly good music in Canada

Beautiful China



PB&J Funnel Cake in The American Experience

A spicy dumpling in China

An eclair in France

Germany

The model train in Germany

The gondolas in Italy

Italian architecture

Mexico - there's a ride, a restaurant, and a gift shop inside!

Inside the Mexican pyramid

Fantastic Mexican music.

The Tangerine Cafe in Morocco. Good food and excellent coffee.

The Stave Chapel - Norse Gods and Mythology museum

Lovely Norwegian architecture.


Another thing I wanted to mention is that Epcot hosts several festivals throughout the year. We've been during the International Flower and Garden Festival, the International Food and Wine Festival, and now the Festival of the Arts. Personally, I've never felt like the festivals add or detract much to the experience - I wouldn't plan around one either way, but I thought I'd mention it.

Be sure to check out a crowd tracker like such as this one at Magic Guides. You can get a sense of how busy the park will be and when. The Disney calendar is also very helpful to see the park hours on any given day and any events that are scheduled.

For planning, Disney's website is a must. It will give you up-to-date information on all attractions and you can make reservations, if needed.

Last, but not least, Disney has a ton of resources to help you - whether it's trip planning or accommodating special needs. Check out the website first, but if you still have any unanswered questions, hop on over to the Mom's Panel OR call guest services.


Additional Resources:


Tons of great info here from The Sparrows Home, including links to other resources. Her book is available on kindle for free right now or you can get one from her site! Be sure to sign up for her email list - there's a wealth of info on her book's site!

If you're completely overwhelmed, consider booking a tour through Traveling Homeschoolers. I haven't booked with them, but I've been following them for a few years and everything seems very well done.

The World Showcase, just like a single vacation to any one country, can never fully capture what each culture has to offer, but it can give a glimpse into the differences, and more importantly, the similarities between far-off places and people. Hopefully, a new appreciation will be gained and a curiosity will be sparked that will lead to better understanding of the world around us.

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney




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