22 February 2008

Visiting Epcot

As planned, I spent most of the day at Epcot, after finishing up my business in the morning hours. Here is how my day went at Epcot, as I arrived at noon.

Although the Florida humidity was very noticeable, and temperatures were very warm (80s), it wasn't too bad. The showers held off, which helped.

Spaceship Earth, the symbol of Epcot. Inside is a slow ride talking about the human communications evolution. But I decided to save that ride for later, and hit the back half of the park, the World Showcase, right away.

The World Showcase has pavilions representing eleven different nations, ringing this huge lake. It's possible to make out, from left to right, Chinese, German, and Italian pavilions. I spent most of today here, to see if the presentations of the nations were authentic (I've been to a good number of the nations represented).

I went counterclockwise, starting at Canada, where I saw a CircleVision movie called "O Canada" narrated by Martin Short. It was very lovely to see the familiar Vancouver and Montreal skylines again - and get hints of the Rockies, Toronto, and other Canadian locales I have yet to visit. In front of the pavilion is this garden, modeled after Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.

The UK pavilion was next. It was a dud, save for some fish & chips. There is a Beatles tribute band performing here, but I missed it.

This waiter plays with the chairs at a cafe in the French pavilion. Here, I watched another movie, this time about the various parts of France. Again, it was so refreshing to see the Parisian cityscape. I noted that the attendants here were native French speakers, and their heavily accented English was hard to understand. Of course, basic French lesson was given, from "bonjour" to "oui" to "merci."

This gate, in Morocco, is based on a city gate in Fez. Behind it lies markets and restaurants. Although I was hungry at this point and the kebabs sounded pretty good, I moved on.

I liked the Japan pavilion, complete with three restaurants and a huge department store. This storyteller (in orange) tells the story of a fisherman named Taro, who rescues the turtle and travels to the underwater world, only to return 150 years later. The man next to the storyteller is a guest playing the role of Taro. Just like France, Japan's staff were natives with heavy accents.

After listening to a drum troupe, I ate fast food lunch here, consisting of sukiyaki beef and teriyaki chicken with rice.

This drum and flute troupe in Revolutionary War costumes played various patriotic music at the US pavilion, culminating in "God Bless America" which all spectators were expected to sing along. Here, I entered a colonial building, where an a capella group in 19th Century costumes sang even more patriotic and folk music, before showing a movie about the American spirit. Glad to see the unique, in your face, American-style patriotism, but I dozed off during the film, so I will need to return here tomorrow.

Italy simulates Venice's St. Mark's Square. A man was juggling soccer balls, but beyond that, not much to see.

Next was Germany, where these figurines are ringing in the 4 o'clock hour already. This clock tower, along with the beer hall, was supposed to represent Munich; honestly I was disappointed, since I was expecting something more elaborate, like Glockenspiel in the real Munich. There was a band playing in the beer hall, but I had to buy the expensive buffet to get in, so I gave up, and moved on.

China was represented by this small replica of Beijing's Temple of Heaven. Having seen the real thing, I was nevertheless impressed by how good it looked. It led to a few things...

These are fake terra cotta warriors representing the Qin emperor's tomb in Xi'an. Alongside were exhibits showing Chinese burial practices. After seeing these, I watched another CircleVision movie, showcasing the major landmarks of China. Again, I was glad to see the familiar sights of Beijing's Forbidden City.

The China gift shop had various goods for sale, including these Buddhist sculptures, from Buddha to Kwan Yin. Honestly I wanted to buy a traditional Chinese dress in mini length, but the ones for sale were too long for my tastes.

The Norway pavilion had a Viking boat ride with a long wait. I obtained a FastPass and spent some time over at the Mexican pavilion next door, before coming back for the ride, which was gentle despite a drop. After the boat ride, I had to watch a 5-minute movie on Norway before exiting.

The mariachi band played at the last pavilion, Mexico. They almost made me homesick - with Los Angeles being so close to Mexico (and having so many Mexicans), mariachi music is a fact of life for me. After enjoying their performance, I hopped on a boat ride, much like It's a Small World except that everything was Mexican-themed.

I saw this collection of Disney princess dolls for sale. From left to right: Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, and Snow White. Not in the picture, but just above them, was Jasmine from Aladdin.

This pretty much wrapped up my World Showcase tour, leaving me about three hours to spare before park closing. I immediately went on General Motors' Test Track, which propelled me at 65 MPH in open air (I had to really watch my hair on that one!). Then I took a long ride on Ellen's Energy Adventure, which was a dud despite the presence of lesbian icon Ellen DeGeneres. Rides on Mission: Space and Spaceship Earth wrapped up my day.

As the night fell and the park closed, this fireworks show, called IllumiNations: Earth, took place at the large lake in the middle of World Showcase. It was a good sight to end the day with.

I will return tomorrow to finish Future World, revisit some of the World Showcase pavilions, and have good time in general, before preparing for the flight home. All in all, a wonderful day, and a wonderful end to a nice week. I've always wanted to visit Epcot since its opening in 1982, and it surely did not disappoint today.