World Showcase: Borefest or Brilliant?
Epcot’s World Showcase is often considered boring, unless you like to drink around the world or do some snacking. For its size, it has one of the worst ride distributions in all of Walt Disney World, and more “educational films” than most guests will tolerate. After Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’s probably the second-most divisive large-scale area in Walt Disney World.
This is a follow-up of sorts to the “I was wrong about Disney’s Animal Kingdom” post, except in this case, we weren’t wrong. We have always (well, since being adults) loved World Showcase, and think it offers a great mix of architecture, details, entertainment, ambiance, dining, and attractions. We probably spend more time in World Showcase than any other area (for lack of a better term…it’s not a land, per se) of Walt Disney World.
Others aren’t necessarily wrong for not liking World Showcase, as it isn’t for everyone. World Showcase is notoriously lacking for small children, and this reputation with families is a reasonably fair one (even despite the couple of rides, coloring station, and Phineas and Ferb game). However, we feel a lot of people who might be inclined to enjoy the World Showcase attractions skip them because of their reputation and the common sentiment that they’re “nothing but boring movies.”
Unlike Disney’s Animal Kingdom, World Showcase isn’t necessarily misunderstood. Most people recognize the beauty of the pavilions and enjoy the dining here, so there’s no point in fixating on how great each of these things are (actually, not to incite controversy or anything, but we think World Showcase has several good restaurants, but its dining is overrated as a whole).
Even the atmospheric entertainment acts seem more popular than in other parks. In the case of World Showcase, it’s pretty much all about the attractions. In the vein of that Animal Kingdom post, we’ll start by looking at World Showcase’s attractions and then move on to where World Showcase is lacking.
We’ll start in Mexico and hit each World Showcase pavilion in order, addressing only the moderate to major attractions (skipping smaller exhibits and displays):
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (boat ride) – This indoor boat ride that seems like a nighttime cruise through various parts of Mexico as Panchito and Jose search for Donald Duck. If there is one attraction in World Showcase that’s going to appeal to kids, this is it. Gran Fiesta Tour can best be described as a nice diversion with enjoyable music and fun character antics in a culturally rich setting.
This attraction was updated from El Rio del Tiempo a few years ago to add the characters (in the process removing one of my favorite Disney theme park songs), and I think this is one instance of characters breathing life into a dated attraction, but it could probably use even more of an update. For what it is, it’s not a bad little ride, especially one that’s typically a walk-on. Just don’t go in with any sort of expectations.
Maelstrom (boat ride) – This boat ride is supposed to showcase Norway’s sense of adventure. I love Maelstrom for what it is: bizarre, campy fun that is clearly a product of the 1980s. It has everything: trolls, anorexic polar bears, an oil worker who looks like Chuck Norris, and Children of the Corn. It’s also infinitely quotable, with plenty of memorable lines that have great use in everyday life (such as “Back, back! Over the Falls!” and “You are not the first to pass this way, nor shall you be the last.”). I doubt Maelstrom aspires to be this bizarre, as it certainly doesn’t make me want to book a trip to Norway, and guests who lack nostalgia for the attraction or don’t have senses of humor similar to mine probably won’t enjoy it nearly as much as I do, but if you go in with the right mindset, it’s a lot of fun. In the past it has had a lot of issues with maintenance that hinder the experience; many of these have been resolved, but the ride still feels very dated.
Spirit of Norway (film) – This borders on minor/moderate in terms of World Showcase attractions, but we think it’s worth mentioning. For a while, this film was a running joke between us. If the doors to it were open when we got off Maelstrom, we had to race out of the boat to prevent being trapped. If the doors were shut, we were trapped because of the “[Expletive] Norway film!” The theater doors are now left open, but we recently stopped to watch it all the way through for the first time. Much like Maelstrom, parts of the Spirit of Norway are laughably dated, but you can tell the film was well done for its time, and it did make us more interested in Norway. It’s definitely the worst film in World Showcase, but it’s also the shortest, and you should get a chuckle out of some of the outfits and electronics. Not something we’d watch every trip, but amusing once in a while. I think just about everyone agrees that it needs to be updated.
Reflections of China (Circle-Vision 360 film) – This is a major attraction, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s one that most guests have never done. This Circle-Vision 360 film is poetically narrated, and features scenes in China where Western camera crews are not normally allowed.
Much like Impressions de France, it’s beautifully shot and scored. You are enveloped in the action in a way not possible through traditional film, and this 360-degree approach also adds repeat-ability to the attraction, since you can’t possibly see it all in one viewing. We highly recommend Reflections of China to any discerning guest.
The American Adventure (Audio-Animatronics stage show) – The American Adventure has stood the test of time, with only minor changes since EPCOT Center’s opening. It still amazes me each time I see it as I am stunned that so many convincing scenes featuring Audio-Animatronics figures can simply appear out of the ground.
The geek in me would love to see the “war wagon” that organizes and controls these scenes. It’s visually impressive and its take on American history might be a sanitized, CliffNotes version (what do you reasonably expect in a theme park?), but it’s a moving and powerful tribute. For me, this ranks as one of the all-time greatest achievements of Imagineering, and an attraction that always leaves me a little misty-eyed.
Impressions de France (film) – Impressions de France is a panoramic, 220-degree film exploring France. Besides The American Adventure, Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth, Impressions de France is the only attraction at Epcot that we make sure to experience every trip. It’s one of our picks for “Underrated Walt Disney World Experiences.” In fact, I’ve argued that it’s superior to Soarin’ at Epcot, and I stand by that.
The score is hauntingly beautiful, and the imagery as you swoop through different parts of France is stunning. Besides receiving a digital projection, it remains unchanged since 1982. With the exception of a few 80s outfits here and there, it has aged well. Thanks to its gorgeous footage and a great classical score, I think it’s fairly timeless and hope it isn’t tinkered with anytime soon (there are bigger fish to fry in Epcot, anyway).
O Canada (Circle-Vision 360 film) – O Canada is the newest attraction in World Showcase, and the differences between it and the other films speak to the current mentality of decision-makers versus the mentality in the early 1980s. O Canada is still a beautiful film with awe-inspiring visuals, but instead of minimal, elegant narration, Martin Short hosts with his over-the-top shtick.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Martin Short is hilarious, but I don’t think this is the appropriate venue for his talents. O Canada is still enjoyable and those who find the other films boring are most likely to enjoy this one, but not everything should need to be ostentatious and flashy in order to be considered entertaining. We like it better than the Spirit of Norway, but far prefer Impressions de France and Reflections of China.
Overall, the attraction lineup for the World Showcase is different than what you’d find elsewhere, with the rides actually being the weakest part of the experience, in our opinion. World Showcase’s strengths are its live atmospheric entertainment, its beautiful and fully explorable environments, and its overall ambiance. Quite simply, it’s a fun place to be.
However, since rides are what most guests are inclined to do, they form a negative opinion of World Showcase due to the relative dearth of them. It also doesn’t help that the two rides World Showcase does have are far from headliners. World Showcase might be a boring place for kids (depending upon what they enjoy), but it certainly shouldn’t be for adults. If guests take the time to experience the supposedly boring educational films, they just might find themselves enjoying World Showcase a little more, especially if those films are supplemented with exploring some of the walk-through exhibits, watching the artisans at work, enjoying the live entertainment, and doing a little snacking and drinking!
What’s Wrong With World Showcase?
I don’t think Walt Disney World is all about rides, but I do think World Showcase could use at least one more ride “deeper” in it. Having another family ride that both kids and adults could enjoy would definitely give World Showcase better balance.
With that said, the most common complaint about World Showcase is the abundance of films, and we don’t see any problem with this, whatsoever. In fact, we love the World Showcase films. Not only are films like Impressions de France and Reflections of China brilliantly shot and scored, but these are actually attractions that will encourage guests to visit those countries. Since the goal of each pavilion’s sponsor is to promote tourism to the actual location, these films are more valuable to the countries than rides–even good ones.
Think about it…how many of you want to visit Norway after riding Maelstrom? Probably not many of you who don’t count yourselves as professional troll-hunters. Does seeing Impressions de France make you want to visit France? It made us want to visit, and before planning our trip to France last year, we researched some of the places in the film. These films are able to capture the actual beauty of a foreign country that encourages people to visit in a way that a ride simply cannot. Even the best ride has an attendant fantastical element to it that makes it less likely to convince guests to visit the country it represents.
I’m certain that Rhine River Cruise and the Mt. Fuji Coaster would have been great attractions, but there probably would have been a disconnect between what you experienced on the rides and actual Germany or Japan, making these rides of lesser value from a marketing perspective. Certainly not every guest leaving the World Showcase films is going to log onto Expedia the next day and book a trip to a foreign locale, but I’d hazard a guess that more people visit France, Canada, or China because of those countries’ World Showcase attractions than visit Norway or Mexico because of their World Showcase attractions. I’d also hazard a guess that more people experience the attractions in Norway and Mexico each day than any of the World Showcase films.
The point here is not just that World Showcase films are a necessary evil from the perspective of the Epcot sponsorship model, but also that they play an important role in Epcot’s mission. Since they are (mostly) well made and show cultures with which many guests are unfamiliar in a light that encourages further exploration, they advance the “edutainment” goal of Epcot.
This isn’t to say each pavilion should have nothing but films; I just know that if I were a representative of the country or corporation sponsoring a World Showcase pavilion, I’d be quicker to write a smaller sponsorship check for a film than a larger one for a ride. Based upon the numbers the Parks & Resorts division of The Walt Disney Company does, I’m not so sure the “sponsorship model” is actually necessary.
Sponsors are great, but where they are available, Disney should open up the coffers and build as necessary. A ride in Japan, Italy, or Germany might qualify as such a “necessary” addition. I think it could also use a daytime show on World Showcase Lagoon or even a pre-Illuminations parade, like fan-favorite Tapestry of Nations.
Beyond the attraction balance, my qualms with World Showcase are that it has been calculably adjusted to be a food and beverage cash cow. Flower & Garden Festival was turned into Food & Wine Festival light, and new restaurants and bars have been built in World Showcase at a far greater rate than any other refurbishments, let alone additions.
More and more of World Showcase real estate (and waterfront views!) is disappearing in favor of restaurants, and for nearly half the year, temporary kiosks selling expensive snacks and booze clutter up the place. Entertainment doesn’t seem as prevalent as it once was, and fall weekends are intolerable because management seems fine allowing World Showcase to turn into a satellite frat party for UCF–so long as it means plenty of liquor sales!
Ethnic cuisine is an important part of the World Showcase experience, but it isn’t the only important part, and for the last few years, it seems that has been the sole focus of adjustments and additions to World Showcase. Beyond balancing out the attraction lineup, it would be nice to see Disney recognize that World Showcase is a part of a theme park, not a fancy setting for a fancy food court, and make improvements and changes to it accordingly.
Overall, World Showcase is an incredible place to just pass time and enjoy “other” elements of the theme park experience besides attractions, but it’s not too shabby when it comes to attractions–just not rides–either. Kids are least likely to enjoy it, although we think there is a reasonable number of things for them to do in World Showcase, too. We think World Showcase is probably best for couples, especially those looking for the adult side of Walt Disney World, but any adults should be able to find ways to have fun in World Showcase!
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How do you feel about World Showcase? Have you done all of the attractions listed here? What would you like to see added to World Showcase? Hearing from you is half the fun, so share your thoughts in the comments!
I have to confess to being in the “World Showcase is boring” during our trip in 2012, but really enjoyed it in 2014. The difference was our Hidden Mickeys guide. My daughters and I had a great time searching for hidden Mickeys while my wife popped into stores. It was a great way to really appreciate the detail of the pavilions.
I still think Epcot is a one-day park, at best, but that’s because I’m only interested in Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth in future world.
My family absolutely loves World Showcase. Usually we visit the Disney parks twice a year and we always spend a lot of time in Epcot. My kids always love to explore every country, check the stores, get something different to eat and so on. We also enjoy eating around the world :-). Can’t forget to mentioned the beautiful pictures we have taken there!
We don’t usually spend any time during the day in World Showcase, simply because there’s just not a lot to hold my six kids’ (or my husband’s) attention. However, on our last trip, we spent almost every evening there. It’s such a gorgeous, relaxing way to end the day. My husband and I can grab a few drinks, and the kids can wander free with no lines and no agenda. Next trip (March ’15) I’m planning to make a late dinner reservation so we can have the park to ourselves on the way out…. thanks for the idea!
I highly recommend the backstage magic tour if you want to see how the American Adventure Works! It’s fascinating and truly a technological feat.
Awesome, thanks for the tip!
Ideas for Epcot:
Italy: Gondola ride (great option for young children and older guests seeking a ride option)
Pizza making classes (not a ride per se, but fun and interactive nonetheless)
France: Ride to the Eiffel tower.
Canada: Small coaster ( there’s plenty of room)
UK: a dark ride that incorporates England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland. (Dare I say a touch of classic Alice in Wonderland would be fun to integrate in a ride of this nature?)
Epcot would benefit from more rides that accommodate the young to attract younger families. Also, this would provide more options for couples & older guests who aren’t seeking thrill rides.
I could talk Epcot all day. Such a great place to visit. It’s like no other park in the world.
World Showcase might be my favorite place in WDW. I’ve always been a bit of an Epcot fanatic – maybe because it was the first Disney park I ever set foot in. I just remember being 10 years old and entering Epcot and just having one mind-blowing discovery after another in ’80s Future World and then my head exploding with all the different countries in World Showcase.
There are few places I’d rather spend an afternoon and evening than World Showcase. I never miss the American Adventure – it always makes me want to run out and buy a David McCullough presidential biography or history book.
The entire area of World Showcase is incredibly hard to beat for just being so completely immersive and atmospheric. That being said, I would love to see a couple more countries added, and a ride or two. It’s really a shame that the Rhine River attraction never saw the light of day. Whenever I pass by Sommerfest, all I can think is “The queue is RIGHT HERE! Why, why?!”
As you’ve mentioned, Tom, and others have as well, my main concern is the seeming insistence on adding more food/beverage locations to the detriment of adding attractions or keeping the ones there fresh. As much as I look forward to trying Spice Road Table, there’s also a part of me that sees it as a bit of an eyesore or nuisance since it’s taking up valuable waterfront property that I wish they’d keep clear.
Well, the wife and I are retired and in our later 60’s. We live in Northern Illinois – a long ways from Orlando. But we are Disney Vacation Club members and have season park hopper passes, so that should say how big of a fan we are of WDW. We love to take family and friends down with us and use our DVC points to stay in DVC villas with full kitchens, separate bedrooms, etc.
Unless we are taking the grandkids down, our vacations are adult only and so we tend to stay away from places like the Magic Kingdom that are packed with kids. Our favorite park is Epcot and so we tend to spend most of our time there. We do hit all the parks, but generally do not spend all day in any park other than Epcot. For us, Epcot is not about rides, it is about enjoying the ambiance of the different cultures represented by all the country pavilions. We have done the rides mentioned in the article a million times and every time we go down, we do them again. Sometimes, it is nice to get out of the heat of the day and do these rides just to get cool. But they are familiar and still entertain us. There are a few rides at Epcot that we do like to catch whenever we can – test track and soarin are the best at Epcot. Plus the way they have redone the ride inside the globe is fabulous. We have a great time creating our little movie of us in the future when we are on the globe ride.
We are also big pin traders and spend a lot of time chatting with cast members and trading pins with them. Because Epcot is not packed with kids like some of the other parks, it seems more leisurely to walk around, chat with cast members, trade pins, and just look at the things being highlighted depending on the time of year. One of my favorite things to do in the afternoon is to get a beer at the UK pavilion and sit in the English garden there in the shade and watch people walking by.
We love the San Angel Inn across from the Mexico pavilion and always try to book one meal there whenever we go down. And the Caballeros ride in the Mexican pavilion is another “boring” ride that we love to do on every trip. Epcot does have its busy days and we like to go down in late Fall towards the end of the Food & Wine festival, or in the early Spring to catch the start of the Flower and Garden show. These are times when the crowds are not so bad. But overall, the tour of nations area has a lot fewer screaming kids and that is what appeals to us – it is the one place at WDW that appeals more to adults.
Yes, we have our own kids and grandkids and we take them down now and then and they like to do their rides at MK and the other parks and we enjoy seeing them have fun and enjoy our trips down with them. At the same time, we grew up with Mickey Mouse and his friends back in the 50’s when we were kids and our older generation seems to have a different kind of appreciation for Disney and what it stands for. I am really interested in the history behind Mickey and the gang, how they have developed over the years, what goes on in the background at the parks, hidden stuff that most people don’t see or look for, people watching while having a beer in the UK garden area, watching the performers that appear out of nowhere on the streets in the parks – there are tons of things going on all around you that don’t involve crazy rides. We can’t wait for the next trip to go down and see what new things we can discover, new foods we can try, what new pins we can trade – there is just so much to look forward to. We always have a place to stay thanks to DVC and we already have our park hopper annual passes so we can always get into the parks. All we need to do is catch a plane down there and take wads of money to eat, buy Disney junk, and survive for a week – ha..ha..
By the way, I have a younger brother (64) and a younger sister (60) who are DVC members and who also feel like we do. Sometimes our vacations overlap, but most of the time we are going down at separate times. Our family spends enough down there that Mickey could dine on steak and lobster at least once a week. Our next trip down is coming up in early November and I can already feel Mickey’s hand on my wallet. It is a familiar feeling. Guess I better start stuffing it with cash early to make sure Mickey is happy to see us coming.
Sounds like you know how to do Disney! 🙂
We have found that World Showcase is least busy when it isn’t Flower and Garden Festival and isn’t Food & Wine Festival. Regardless of how busy the other parks or (or even Future World is!), World Showcase generally isn’t too bad if those three things aren’t happening. This is especially true before 6 pm. We were there over July 4th weekend (an insanely busy time), and during the day, World Showcase was not busy at all.
It can get really crazy at the beginning of Food & Wine Festival, which is really “impressive,” especially since that’s an otherwise slow season in the other parks!
I like that world showcase has minimal rides it always seems less crowded! As for it being a food and beverage cash cow…. If it wasn’t for the food and wine festival or the flower festival I’m sure 90% oft he people who look forward to going to disney each year (me included) wouldn’t spend more than one day in would showcase apposed to what has now become 3 days. Even if they had one ride that was a bit more exciting I can’t see my self going back to work showcase over and over in one visit. I would say most people who go to world showcase are going for the food and beverage not the films. I think disney is putting their money where they are receiving the investment from their guests. Disney got this right.
If guests aren’t going to World Showcase for attractions (and you’re right, they aren’t), but only for food & beverage, that doesn’t suggest to me that Disney should focus solely on food & beverage. It says that Disney should direct more attention to the attractions to balance things out. It’s clear Disney’s primary concern with World Showcase is increasing food & beverage sales, because those are highly profitable. That would be fine if people weren’t already paying admission to enter a theme park. If you’re paying admission for a theme park, you shouldn’t then have to spend even more money in order to actually enjoy an area.
I’m not saying World Showcase should be a place for ride junkies–just that Disney shouldn’t ignore that aspect of the experience, which is what they’ve effectively done by not adding anything besides restaurants and snack kiosks in the last decade plus.
One of the big reasons we spend so much time in World Showcase is its seasonal events. In no way am I suggesting those be eliminated or that they aren’t important.
I’ve been to Epcot twice in my life, first in 82 or 83 and then this past June. Neither time convinced me that this was an awesome park. As a kid I was bored, and as an adult I was disappointed in how dated Future World was and the sheer size of World Showcase. Grant it, the summer heat didn’t help, but the scale of the place made us underwhelmed at most pavillions by the time we got to each one. I still find the lack of rides to be the weakest point. While the pavillions are aesthetically nice, I couldn’t help feeling that I would have a similar experience in Vegas (where drinks are free!).
I’ll give it one more chance and try to visit during a cooler month. But I still think Epcot is the WDW park most in need of a major revamp.
October and November are great times to visit.
I love World Showcase, and my appreciation has only grown over the years. If I lived in Orlando, the one place that I could visit and not do any rides would be EPCOT. World Showcase is the reason. It’s fun and attractive and is like no other place in a park, even from Disney.
That said, I do agree that it could use another ride. One of the countries without an attraction (Germany, the UK, Japan) could support one and help with distributing crowds. I love the movies, especially Impressions de France. It didn’t even need an update!
I will disagree on the Mexico ride, which feels like a shell of its former self. It isn’t as big a downgrade as Imagination, but the characters don’t add much. On the other hand, my three-year-old daughter loved it. So I can see why Disney made the change.
Nice job with this post!
A lot of people disagree with me on Gran Fiesta Tour. I think I’m in the minority by liking it.
“This indoor boat ride that seems like a nighttime cruise through various parts of Mexico as Panchito and Jose search for Donald Duck.” Run-on or partial sentence. 🙂
I could sit here and go on about my love for the World Showcase and all it’s interesting things to see and do but I a way to excited for our upcoming trip to the Food and Wine Festival! We are staying at the Boardwalk Inn and have the tequila lunch, party for the senses, and a few seminars booked!
Epcot is a two full day park for my family, and my 3 children are 6 and under. Now granted, a great amount of time is focused in the front of the park as there is SO MUCH for children to do, but we also love the world showcase. My girls love finding the princesses scattered around the world, and as we always go at the flower garden time of year, they love looking at the many topiaries and beg for pictures in front of each one. Parents don’t realize how excited children get over carefully groomed plants!
I always convince families who are quick to ‘skip’ Epcot on their upcoming vacation to go. They are always shocked to hear just how many things there are (mostly in the front of the park)that their kids will love. Next to Magic Kingdom, it has the most to offer for young children. – Between the ride, turtle talk, and the aquariums, my kids spend over an hour in the seas pavilion alone…
We always spend the am in Future World and then head over to World Showcae sometime in the afternoon after lunch. We are the “commando” type family and see all the films and ride all of the rides there. We’ve been to Disney enough to learn how to work the parks and do it all. I do wish they would update the films and maybe add another ride there. My favorites by far are The American Adventure and Reflections of China but enjoy them all! World Showcase is great since it offers something for the non riders and older guests. Always enjoy your posts!
I love World Showcase, but the lack of any real “attractions” bothers me. As you say, it seems to be viewed as a glorified food court by management as no new rides have been built since Norway. Because of that, I don’t think it’s fair to charge full price for admission. Granted, Epcot admission also includes Future World, but when we visit Epcot, we spend the most time in World Showcase.
Disney is almost certain to make money off of guests on food, drinks (booze), and souvenirs in World Showcase- why charge admission on top of that simply for “atmosphere.” I think the few rides, films, and shows like American Adventure should be charged a la carte and admission to World Showcase should be free- much like Downtown Disney.
I know it’s logistically nearly impossible and could overwhelm the space with crowds, but I can’t help but feel ripped off every time I buy a ticket to Epcot, ride the rides in Mexico and Norway, then spend the rest of the day eating, drinking, and giving more money back to TWDC.
I LOVE World Showcase for precisely the reason you state: it is a fun place to simply BE. The places where it is fun to simply BE, I think, are the key to WDW, and the failure to recognize that is what leaves some guests sometimes disappointed with the experience.
Also, anytime anyone mentions Norway I immediately think to myself, “The spirit of Norvay has alvays been and vill alvays be ADVENTURE!” followed shortly by “BEfore REcorDED time…”
“For a while, this film was a running joke between us. If the doors to it were open when we got off Maelstrom, we had to race out of the boat to prevent being trapped.”
As a kid I used to rush my parents to get the heck outta there after we got off the boat. Hated that film!
My husband and I LOVE World Showcase – it’s our favorite part of in all Disney World. I am hoping the rumors I’m hearing are true, and several new countries will be added to the line-up soon.
One thing I have to say – I laughed out loud when you said that the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico would appeal to any kids. When we rode it last fall, the two children sitting in front of us became hysterical when we entered the scene that’s reminescent of It’s a Small World. It wasn’t the skeletons that scared them to tears, no – it was the animatronic children! They just kept screaming “They’re zombies! Why aren’t they blinking? Why?” It was just hysterical, and it was a real fight not to laugh.
On a roll Tom. I Commented on your last post about DAK. Now you have hit my second favorite photo op in WDW! I have spent hours shooting the pavilions. Hundreds of great photo ops (if you ever see a couple with tripods shooting the ceilings in Morocco at dusk waiting for the people to clear from in front of Chine say Hi;-)) Shoot the pavilions at dusk for truly magical shots. I also love the films. China being my favorite. France is very good but needs updating a bit. As for a parade I remember the one they had for the millennium. Can’t remember the name. We went over for it almost everyday while were there a couple of years. A new one would be great. Something to show off the culture of the places in the showcase. It is why , overall, Epcot is our favorite park.
Since our first visit to DW in the early 90’s, Epcot’s World Showcase has been our favorite. So much so that when we first took our 3 children, then aged 11-16, to DW, we chose to stay at the Beach Club. Its wonderful accessibility to Epcot was a big reason. (Back then, it was a private access for hotel guests only.)
Epcot’s countries were our favorite entrance to any Disney property. Their peaceful elegance and immersive ambiance set the tone for the day.
As one person already put it, it’s the experience of viewing that is the key to World Showcase. Great architecture and landscape design are powerfully soothing and uplifting. More so than we realize!