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Showcase Showdown

02/09/2013

After the morning at Epcot’s Future World, we walked around its more leisurely counterpart, the World Showcase. Now, the silly thing about this “international” stroll is that it’s 70% focused on Europe and North America and hardly a proportional snapshot of world culture. Aside from the various films and art exhibits, it’s mostly geared toward eating and shopping. But it’s still a nice walk, with lots of interesting architecture and details, and it’s the most adult of the various Disney World parks. With ample room, it feels more relaxed and less crowded than other areas, though weekend nights can get rowdy. If it’s your first visit, there’s plenty to do just wandering through all the pavilions.

Here is an overview of the showcase walk, which is apparently only 1.3 miles but seems a lot larger.

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Top things to know about World Showcase:

1) World Showcase opens later than Future World. If the showcase is your destination, check out the opening time.

2) Drinks are sometimes cheaper indoors than at the carts. The same champagne that I bought at the tasting bar in France was $9 inside and, I think, $12 at the cart. So be sure to check out your options.

3) Food has the opposite cost ratio, where such choices occur. Take the fish and chips at the UK’s Rose & Crown Pub. The portion is smaller outside, but it’s half the price and you don’t need any more. This is generally true of all Disney parks; the take-away windows offer a better deal if the food you want is also served inside. The fish ‘n’ chips, in particular, are an excellent value. I think they were $7.99.

4) Best time to go is during fall’s Food & Wine Festival, when additional carts are slotted in between the regular pavilions, and there are more small-bite food choices. You can graze and drink your way around the whole circle. Plus, the weather is nice.

5) Japan has the best pavilion, with the biggest and coolest shop and a sake-tasting bar in the back. Don’t miss the small gallery at the shop exit with interesting art and cultural exhibits. They also feature drumming performances and have a quiet (when the drummers aren’t performing) sushi/udon spot away from the masses.

6) The people who work in each of the “countries” hail from those places. You can learn a lot of interesting things–or not, depending on your level of engagement. Again, I recommend Japan and the sake bar for this.

7) There are ferries across the water. Not that the walk around the lake is too hard, but if you are hungry and sushi is aaaaaaaall the way on the opposite side of that pond, the ferry can get you there pretty quickly. We also saw an osprey perched on the central islands, something we never could have seen from the shore.

8) This is more about Epcot in general. You can take the monorail to/from The Magic Kingdom in about 20 minutes. The ride itself is 15, and the train stops right outside both park entrances. I did this on my solo day there, parking my car in one place and using the monorail to travel between the two locations.

At this point, you might be asking yourself what I mean by a solo day? Well, after I spent a few days in “the World” with a friend, I dropped her off at the airport and had six hours alone before my husband’s arrival. This was a two-legged trip.

I’ve always enjoyed being in the park(s) alone for a bit, not that I’d want to spend days there in isolation. But a few hours to just stroll with no agenda is nice. In this case, my agenda was shopping for family and various kids, so I had a list of items to find. That day it was cold and rainy too, which drove many people indoors. That made the shops rather crowded at times, but I was clothed to hang outside as well. I traveled around the Magic Kingdom, checking into stores I hadn’t been in before, and then I took the aforementioned monorail to Epcot and did the same thing there.

If I’m on a tight schedule, shopping isn’t generally my priority, but when there’s time to kill, one thing I’ve come to learn is that it’s worth looking into every nook-and-cranny store you see, because none of them carry the same things. I found interesting postcards in some out-of-the-way places, and good postcards can be hard to find; the main stores carry the same four or five that haven’t changed in years. I guess no one mails them anymore. No wonder USPS is broke. If Disney made more and better postcards, I bet they could save our postal service with the volume of stamps required.

That’s a lot of blabber and no pretty pictures, so I’ll leave you with a tour of the land. Almost everyone travels the World Showcase in counter-clockwise direction, and I’m no exception to that.

First up, Canada:

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Then the UK:

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The tea shop has imported souveniers, such as these Diamond Jubilee cups.

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It’s also a good place to find Alice and Mary Poppins, though we didn’t seek them out this trip. They used to have a faux-Beatles band perform, but now the act runs an odd gamut of British-invasion tunes mixed with the odd ’80s UK import. As I hung out in the shop to buy a gift, the songs ranged from The Who, to Modern English, to Pink Floyd.

France:

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Morocco. This pavilion is cool to explore, but the amount of incense makes me sneeze, so I can never stay in the shops for too long.

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Japan Pavilion shop. It goes on forever, with toys, media, clothing, paper goods, dishware, swords, decorative arts, candy and junk foods, the sake bar, and more. This is only a sampling.

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At this point, you reach the American Pavilion, which is halfway around the lake. Look at how far away and small Spaceship Earth seems to be.

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For some reason, I didn’t capture many photos on the second half of this walk. Next up would be Italy, China, Germany, and then Norway.

Here’s a shot inside Norway’s Maelstrom ride, which is a bizarre mix of funny troll lore and depressing oil-rigging imagery.

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Closing the circle, back near the bridge to Future World, is Mexico. We didn’t go inside this time, where there’s a Three Caballeros ride similar to “it’s a small world,” but with a Mexican theme. This pavilion is quite large, with food, the ride, and various venders inside. Oh, and tequila, too.

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From → Disney, Travel

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