Canada Photo Tour II
The Canada pavilion in World Showcase provides great examples for several of the Disney Imagineer's tools of the trade. Making great use of theme, visual tricks such as forced perspective, and some of Walt Disney World's best examples of landscaping this part of Epcot is a feast for the senses.
In Part I of our tour, we left off with a view of the stairs that lead up to the upper (the highest) level of the pavilion. In fact, that might be the very highest spot that any guest of World Showcase can reach on foot (if not, it's likely a close second to the upper story of Japan's Mitsukoshi building where that pavilion's restaurants and lounge are located).
The stairs from the Trading Post level to the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
On the way up the stairs, you can see the coat of arms of the "Canadian National Hotels." I'll have to do some research to find out if that is a real organization or not.
The coat of arms of the "Canadian National Hotels" is emblazoned on the wall of the Hotel du Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Just a few more steps and an old style phone booth, very much like those used in the larger provencial cities decades ago, can be seen... along with the more modern equivalent (actually in use by another Epcot guest in this photo).
The antique phone booth on the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The buildings across from the Hotel du Canada are empty of anything for guests to see or do. I don't know if at one time in the pavilion's history there were shops to stroll through or not.
The buildings across from the Hotel du Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Across the way, in the building of the Hotel du Canada itself, La Boutique des Provinces used to provide shopping for visitors. Besides books and stationary, the shop had a great collection of tea sets and porcelain figurines.
La Boutique des Provinces, the upscale shop on the first floor of the Hotel du Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Alas, La Boutique des Provinces closed its doors as a shopping venue back in January 2005, and now its doors are shuttered to Epcot guests. Perhaps in the future the Disney folks will think of some way to reuse these now empty spaces.
La Boutique des Provinces is now closed. Photo by Brian Bennett.
I took this photo of the Hotel du Canada building as I stood in front of the shuttered doors and looked skyward. It's gorgeous and perfect at capturing the theme of the pavilion and the scale of the building.
The Hotel du Canada's central tower. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Just for kicks, here's yet another view of that turret and the building's gothic, copper-sheet roof.
Another view of the upper reaches of the Hotel du Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Turning around and continuing toward the back of the pavilion is one of the loveliest spots in all the park. In my opinion, this little courtyard could use some extra benches for passersby to sit and enjoy the waterfall.
Canada's "rocky mountain" viewed from the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Looking down from the edge of the upper courtyard you can clearly see an artificial limestone pit, much like Mr. Buchart's on Vancouver Island.
The limestone quarry viewed from the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The waterfall is lovely viewed from above...
Canada's 30-foot waterfall viewed from the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
... or below.
The 30-foot waterfall viewed from ground level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Meandering through the rocks is a pathway from this part of the pavilion out to Victoria Gardens toward the front.
Lower pathway from quarry back to Victoria Gardens. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Here is a perfect view of the Hotel du Canada. The view is perfect for another purpose, too. Note the column of windows along the left-hand side of this back facade of the building. It is very clear that the lower window is larger than the one above it. That window, in turn, is clearly larger than the window above it. That window, also, is larger than the dormer window built into the roof. If you look closely, you'll also see that the "blocks of stone" in the building wall are slowly getting smaller as you gaze up from the bottom toward the roof. There are some exceptions as there is some randomness to the block pattern, but for the most part the upper "blocks" are smaller than the ones down below.
This is a perfect example of the Imagineer's trick called forced perspective. Forced perspective is a way of making your eye, and thus your brain, think that a building is taller than it really is. Cinderella's castle, in the Magic Kingdom, uses forced perspective in exactly the same way as does the Hollywood Tower Hotel (better known as the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) over at the Disney MGM Studios.
Another example of forced perspective occurs right here in the Canada pavilion. The Rocky Mountain has larger trees toward the bottom and smaller trees toward the top to achieve the same effect.
The Hotel du Canada from the rear. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Well, enough of that lecture... let's duck inside the quarry and see what can be seen down below. The man-made (both literally and figuratively) cavern is the waiting area for the 360-degree Circlevision presentation Oh Canada! The walls of the waiting area are used to display quarrying tools much as Mr. Buchart's company would have used in the early 20th century.
Limestone quarry tools provide atmosphere in the Oh Canada! queue. Photo by Brian Bennett.
A miner's water level gauge has been reworked to show the amount of time before the next showing of Oh Canada!"
An antique water level gauge is now used as the show timer in the Oh Canada! queue. Photo by Brian Bennett.
of course, there is no way to photograph a film presentation like Oh Canada! Suffice to say that every time I see this film, I enjoy the scenery... and cringe at the steriotypical "Canada-isms" such as the several times that a narrator says, "eh?" to punctuate a declarative sentence. Even Bob and Doug McKenzie from the Great White North on the old SCTV television show said "eh?" more sparingly.
As usual, I asked a cast member if they'd heard anything about a refreshing of this long-in-the-tooth film. "Just rumors, but until I actually see it on screen I won't believe them," was the answer.
Exiting the theater is one of the most spectacular garden views in all of Walt Disney World as the gorgeous spectacle of Victoria Gardens is spread before you.
Victoria Gardens viewed from the Oh Canada! exit. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The stream, that originates from the waterfall in the back of the pavilion, flows by us here and on through the gardens.
The stream and walkway from the back of the pavilion viewed from the Oh Canada! exit. Photo by Brian Bennett.
I already stated, in the Part I of this Photo Tour, that Victoria Gardens was inspired by Buchart Gardens in British Columbia. There is a significant difference in climate, though, between Vancouver Island and Central Florida. As a result, the horticultural staff at Walt Disney World uses a mix of plants to reproduce the look and feel of the original garden, but does so with plant material that thrives in Florida's hot, humid weather.
River birch, deodar cedar, and leyland cypress are all used as "stand in" evergreens to provide a Northern look. The shrubs and bedding plants displayed here in Victoria Gardens are certainly used in Buchart Gardens, but primarily during the Summer months, of course.
During the Winter it is common to see snapdragons, dianthus, phlox, and alyssum (the latter usually in white, to represent "snow"). During the Spring time, marigolds, salvia, celosia, and zinnias are commonly used. In the Summer, geraniums, daisys, and impatiens are frequently on display as these plants are very hardy in the hot weather. Fall time displays feature chrysanthemums, dusty miller, ageratum, and rudbeckia.
Victoria Gardens viewed from the lower level. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The rocky mountain backdrop for the pavilion holds a lot of secrets. I wrote earlier that, to employ forced perspective to make the mountain appear taller, it "has larger trees toward the bottom and smaller trees toward the top to achieve the same effect."
Well, what in the world do you think that the horticultural staff does when those trees near the top get too big?
They replace them.
Actually, all of the trees growing in and about the rocks on the mountain are actually planted in specially-designed five-foot-deep planters. The planters provide irrigation but also makes it feasible to remove (via a crane, when the park is closed) and replace overgrown plant material with another selection that is to better scale.
Canada's "rocky mountain" viewed from Victoria Gardens on the lowest level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Here is a closeup look at some of those trees "growing" on the mountain. Notice how the rockwork has been designed to hide the containers in which the trees are growing.
Containerized trees sit on the "rocky mountain." Photo by Brian Bennett.
As we continue to walk along the path we come across a little bistro. Once a buffeteria service restaurant featuring dishes from across Canada (the "Seskatchewan" beef and pork stew was my favorite), Le Cellier is now billed as a steak house... and is a much busier restaurant for the change. At dinner, entrees include free range chicken, seared king salmon, Prince Edward Island mussels, and butternut squash risotto as well as it's steakhouse features of mushroom filet mignon, filet mignon, New York strip steak, grilled pork tenderloin, and herb-crusted prime rib.
Don't even get me started about the chocolate whiskey cake...
Entrance to Le Cellier. Photo by Brian Bennett.
The restaurant features adult beverages from Canada.
Le Cellier serves Canadian wines. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Le Cellier is supposed to be in the cellar of the Hotel du Canada. The atmosphere, even though a bit dark, is friendly.
Le Cellier's seating is dark, but not at all dreary or uncomfortable. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Back outside, here's one final view of Victoria Gardens before I make one final stop on the photo tour.
The stream bridge viewed from Victoria Gardens. Photo by Brian Bennett.
At the far left side of the pavilion, nestled below the Northwest Mercantile, is a stage where an interesting group performs.
Off Kilter is a very popular entertainment group. It plays a very unique style of music that combines guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, and bagpipes. Not knowing what would be considered a "Canadian" music style, Off Kilter just might be it.
Off Kilter performs in December, 2002. Photo by Steven Railing, used by permission.
If you miss a performance when you're at the park, there's always opportunity to pick up a CD.
Off Kilter CDs are popular souvenirs. Photo by Brian Bennett.
Canada is a pavilion worth visiting. During the annual Flower and Garden Festival, especially, Victoria Garden alone is worth the price of admission to the park (well, almost). Oh Canada! could really use a complete makeover. Canada has grown so much in 20 years that the minor tweaking that was sufficient for Wonders of China would just scratch the surface here.
Rumors have flow around the Internet of a flume ride being added to Canada. I guess that would be possible. I would also like to see the upper levels of the pavilion revitalized. Certainly displays depicting Canadian culture could be produced much like the "Tin Toy" display in Japan. Perhaps that could draw guests up to enjoy the spectacular waterfall.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy the pavilion just the way it is, eh?
Canada viewed from across the World Showcase Lagoon. Photo by Brian Bennett.
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One of the original editors at MousePlanet, Brian Bennett has written an encyclopedia's worth of online resources on Walt Disney World. Enduring freezing winters in Michigan with thoughts of trips to Orlando and staying at Disney Vacation Club resorts, Brian had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move to Orlando with his wife and sons.