In the midst of the Floridian humidity, and the bustling atmosphere of Walt Disney World in June, two members of the Grace Belle team embarked on an epic Disney adventure. Neither of us had been to Disney World before, and we were utterly shocked by the scale of it all. It was all so large, with its sprawling green acres and attractions as far as the eye could see. By far, our favorite day in the resort was exploring Epcot and all of its international flair. There are eleven countries represented in the Epcot world showcase, and we ventured to each of them in one day. We were so thoroughly impressed by the attention to detail, the sheer scale of the architecture and grandeur of each pavilion, as well as the unique culture fostered by each country. It really did feel like we were in a different country. Here’s a recap of our travels to each pavilion, as well as some tips and highlights.
Our first pavilion of the day was Canada. We were greeted with beautiful green gardens emulating the Butchart Gardens, as well as a giant Victorian-style hotel. Everything was so green and lush. Around the corner we found a rushing waterfall coming from cascading mountains- an homage to the Canadian Rockies. It was a perfect way to start the day.
ATTRACTIONS: “O’ Canada” film displaying the natural beauty of Canada, featuring Martin Short.
This beautiful pavilion is flanked with manicured hedges, red telephone boxes, and beaming flowers. Everything has its place- from the practically perfect gardens to the quaint tea shop. The United Kingdom pavilion is a perfect place to take a stroll. There’s pubs, English cottages, and a plethora of tasty food. We strolled through the tea shop and also spotted Alice greeting curious guests. It was simply delightful.
The France pavilion was definitely one of our favorites. Everything was so bright and beautiful. There’s so many dining opportunities- from the Monsieur Paul to patisseries. The Eiffel tower is nestled behind gorgeous French architecture, reminding us that we are in Paris. There are street artists set up by the “Seine” with their easels, paintbrush in hand. There are flowers and tourists with baguettes and macarons in hand, wandering through the colorful gardens. We stopped by the L’Artisan des Glaces for some refreshing sorbet. Be sure to check out the “Serveur Amusant” acrobat show!
By far, this was our favorite pavilion. Towering walls dotted with palm trees and murals surrounded us as we escaped to the East. At this point in our international journey we were ready to sit and relax a bit. We grabbed some Moroccan mint tea and some baklava, sat by the fountain, and took it all in. There are bazaars, brightly colored mosaic patterns, and acrobats performing in the streets. As we strolled through the pavilion, the smell of frankincense filled the air. We were very tempted to get henna tattoos, but sadly we moved on. There were so many places to take photos. It made us want to travel to Marrakesh!
ATTRACTIONS: Matboukha Groove- a musical group playing music from both Morocco and Latin America.
As we entered the Japan pavilion we were greeted by a towering pagoda and Matsuriza performers creating rhythmic beats. We listened for a while, before heading into the main shopping center- the Mitsukoshi Department Store. I bought some rice paper candy and stickers before heading back out to the pavilion. The department store was incredibly impressive- stocked with calligraphy brushes, Hello Kitty memorabilia, lanterns, chopsticks, and much much more. We desperately wanted to eat at Teppan Edo- one of Epcots greatest and tastiest restaurants they offer.
This pavilion celebrates Colonial America and the principles this country was founded on. It’s an homage to the founding fathers, the brimming hope of the great revolutionaries that fought for this country, as well as the ever-prevalent promise of a brighter tomorrow and the American Dream. The main building is similar to that of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The interior is filled with quotes and murals that epitomize the American Dream. We opted inside for the AC, and found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the Voices of Liberty- an a cappella group singing American folk songs. It was beautiful- a must-see.
ATTRACTIONS: American Adventure- an Americana show hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. This show focuses on the founding ideals of this great country, as well as its history and perseverance.
Ah, Italy…such a beautiful place. At this time of the day the heat was scorching, but that did not stop us from exploring. Everything is so intentionally designed. As someone who has been to Italy before, I have to say I felt like I was back there, eating gelato at the Roman forum. The first thing we did was climb onto the Venetian bridge overlooking a small canal, complete with gondola. Then we walked over to the main square, Plaza de Teatro, and saw the “Fontana de Nettuno” fountain. Everything was bustling. Pasta-stuffed tourists were exiting the Italian restaurants, patting their full bellies and yelling “ciao!” at every passing stranger. We are itching to visit again!
Next up was Germany. As we neared the pavilion we could here the upbeat tunes of the Polka and the notes of the happy accordion. The platz (plaza) was filled with tourists eating Frankfurters and sipping on beer. The Bavarian style buildings, along with the artwork on them, was stunning. They all told a story. Fairytales were around every corner. We passed through the lovely smelling platz. Delicious notes of potatoes, spatzle, and apple strudel filled the square. Everything was a beautiful homage to Germany. We listened to Wies n Buam play some traditional Polka music.
By the time we entered China, we were starving. It was past our lunch time. We took some pictures of the gorgeous ponds filled with lily pads and shrub grass, as well as the great red architecture and footbridges. We finally decided to eat at the Lotus Blossom Cafe, where we unanimously all had orange chicken and white rice. We ate in the peaceful, quiet atmosphere before walking around the shops. We entered the Yong Feng Shangdian shop, where we browsed through tea pots, stuffed animals, and lanterns.
ATTRACTIONS: Reflections of China – which showed footage of all the grand sites of China. From the Great Wall, to the Forbidden City, this amazing show is not one to miss.
Granted, the main reason we wanted to visit Norway was for the new Frozen ride, but the pavilion itself was breathtaking as well. The cobble stone streets and traditional Nordic architecture offers a warm welcome. The Frozen ride sits squarely in the middle of the courtyard- you can’t miss it. We waited an anxious 80 minutes in line for this attraction. Although the ride itself was very short, the technology was stunning, and we absolutely loved it. We highly recommend it, but next time we’d definitely get fast passes. The rest of the pavilion is packed with souvenirs from the infamous movie. I appreciated how lush and green everything was.
ATTRACTIONS: Frozen Ever After- this boat ride gives you a glimpse into the beloved sisters’ lives after Frozen takes place. The best part of this ride? It goes backwards at one point! ❄️
This was such a fun pavilion! The eye-catching piece of architecture is definitely the giant pyramid surrounded by Yucatan jungle. We entered the pyramid, not quite knowing what to expect. We were so pleasantly surprised that most of the pavilion actually lies in the pyramid. Once inside the Plaza de Los Amigos, there are street vendors, artists, and more- all making you believe that you are taking a stroll through a beautiful Mexican village at night. We decided to go on the Gran Fiesta Tour – starring the Three Caballeros! This magnificent boat ride takes you with the Three Caballeros on their tour around beautiful Mexico.
ATTRACTIONS: Gran Fiesta Tour- you won’t want to miss this refreshing boat ride featuring Mariachi music and glimpses into the culture and vibrance of cities around Mexico.
If you head to Epcot anytime soon, tag us (#gracebellecommunity)! We’d love to see your posts!