Welcome back to another My Disney Top 5. Please keep your comments coming and thanks for being such an amazing group of readers.


The recent snowfall has already melted here in New York, and the up-and-down winter we’ve been having is starting to get to me. As a skier…I want snow. I love the snow. But, after a while, even I have to admit, a New York winter can get to you. This has been a pretty warm winter so far, but, as the cold finally settles in, and I’m not taking a ski trip, my thoughts turn to warmer climates and bring me…where else…to the Walt Disney World Resort in sunny Florida.

I realize it’s only been about five months since that last wonderful week we spent at Disney's Polynesian Resort, but I’m having some serious Disney withdrawals lately. As I start yearning for another visit, I begin thinking about what I miss the most. Is it the attractions? Is it the resorts? Is it the overall overdose of magic? It’s all of those and more, of course, but when my thoughts turn magically to Walt Disney World, I begin to think about individual places and particular magical spots that I enjoy soaking in when I’m there. You know the kind I’m talking about. The spots that totally immerse you and make you realize that you’re not in Kansas anymore, you’re away from it all and totally surrounded by Disney magic. It’s a physical thing. It’s landscaping and color. It’s atmosphere and sounds. It’s everything that the Imagineers strive for when they are designing a park, an attraction, or a resort. It’s the full package. They’re the places that I can’t wait to see again.

There are so many to list, and I don’t believe I would do them justice by coming up with a blanket Top 5 for the whole resort. So, today marks the first installment of a new series of Top 5s that I’ll be dishing out for who knows how long. Call them what you will. You know what they are. But, I’ll be calling them my Top 5 Magical Spots in Walt Disney World. Today’s installment takes us to what I consider to be the most unique of any Disney park: Epcot.

As amazing as the Magic Kingdom Park is, much of what is there can be found elsewhere. Disneyland is, of course, the blueprint. Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong all have their own Magic Kingdoms.

I adore Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, but animals can be found elsewhere. Obviously not in the same amazing kind of park, but they can be found in places like Busch Gardens: Africa and the many incredible zoos and aquariums that follow the natural-habitat design pioneered in San Diego and The Bronx.

A similar thing can be said about Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Universal Studios theme parks can be found on both coasts in the United States. I know it’s not exactly the same, but I hope you’re getting the point here.

Simply put, there’s just nothing like Epcot… anywhere…period. It’s a world unto itself. It’s unique and amazing in so many ways, and I believe Disney truly broke the mold when it was built—and it will never be duplicated.

So, with that said, what are my favorite magical spots in all of Epcot? Once again, too big a challenge. Let’s narrow it down. World Showcase is my favorite half of the park. With its 11 nations represented around the lagoon, World Showcase is truly one of my favorite places anywhere. So, let’s find out which particular spots I like best with my Top 5 Magical Spots in Epcot’s World Showcase.

5 – The Trains in Germany

The train garden in Germany. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There’s a picture of my wife sitting on a garden bench drinking her morning coffee staring out at the Alps on our trip to Salzburg years ago that absolutely defines her. She looks completely at home and I’ve never seen her so relaxed. She gets that look about her when we come across the Germany pavilion at Epcot. That’s how I know the Imagineers hit the nail on the head. If they can make Diane feel at home with her German heritage, then they’ve done their job properly. We both love to shop here, and dining at the Biergarten is certainly a hoot. But, I think what I love most is the incredible train garden. If you haven’t already, make sure you stop and meander through the path, watch the trains go by and look for all the amazing little details. It’s very beautiful and very relaxing and it's constantly changing as you can see in the photo below taken last spring.

MousePlanet's Jeff Kober took this photo of the Tangled tower in the train garden last spring. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

4 – The Gardens of the United Kingdom

The gardens of the United Kingdom. Photo by Chris Barry.

The United Kingdom pavilion is really chock-full of things to see and enjoy. Fish and Chips at Yorkshire County Fish Shop by the water, the tea shop, meeting Pooh and/or Wendy, and listening to The English Channel playing in the gazebo can all occupy your time. But, for me, wandering the gardens—especially during the Flower and Garden Festival—is tops. We find ourselves spending more and more time enjoying the peace, tranquility, and beauty of these English gardens every time we stop there.

3 – The Waterfront in Italy

The Venetian gondolas in Italy. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Italy is a wonderful pavilion. The amazing Murano glass shop, the towering Campanile di San Marco, and the remarkable detail on the Doges Palace are all favorites of mine. To me, the best part of this pavilion is across the promenade along World Showcase Lagoon. Here you’ll find the wonderful gondolas that you would find in Venice. This is one of those places that you just have to be after Illuminations ends and the park begins to empty. I love the view across the lagoon and I love turning around and soaking in the view of the pavilion itself. Cross over the bridge, look down at the gondolas—and the wonderfully colored Venetian gondola poles—and you'll feel detached from the hustle and bustle of the pavilion. It’s a great spot.

2 – The Medina in Morocco

The back streets of Morocco. Photo Courtesy Google Images.

The Medina is the “old city” of the Morocco pavilion. It’s the rear of the pavilion and features the marketplace or bazaar. I think this is one of Epcot’s hidden gems. We all love roaming around the alleyways of the bazaar, admiring the mosaic tiles, and incredible craftsmanship that is evident at every turn. The King of Morocco himself sent his own craftsmen to build this pavilion and fully represent his nation in all its splendor. One of my favorite things to do at when I visit is stop for lunch at the Tangierine Cafe, have a Shawarma Platter, and, afterward, explore the pavilion with a cold, refreshing, delicious glass of Iced Moroccan Mint Tea. Nothing could be better.

1 – The Waterfalls in Canada

The streams, walkways and boulders of Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Physically, this is my favorite pavilion in World Showcase. I love the walk through the gorgeous gardens and into the canyons, where you end up at the waterfall, which happens to be one of my top favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World. Here, you aren’t in flat, humid Central Florida. You are clearly in a rocky ravine in Canada, appreciating the beauty of the flowers, the towering rock formations and the crisp clear spray cooling you off from the waterfall. You’re completely transported to another place. It’s wonderful and it’s my favorite spot in all of World Showcase.

The waterfalls in Canada. Photo by Chris Barry.

Each country in Epcot’s World Showcase is full of nooks, crannies, and corners to explore and enjoy. They’re all beautiful in their own ways. Of course, we spend time in the wonderful shops and dine in the fantastic restaurants. But it’s these magical spots that bring each nation to life. Whether it’s the ones I’ve listed or others—like the streams and pools of Japan, Norway’s town square or the gardens in France—World Showcase has plenty of magic for everyone.

It’s spots like these that set Walt Disney World apart and make it the special place that it is. Make sure you stop rushing around the next time you’re there and seek out these magical spots, or allow World Showcase to reveal a new favorite, a magical spot that you’ll yearn for and miss like I miss these.

That's My Disney Top 5 for today. What's yours? Click on the "Discuss this article on MousePad" link below and share your list!


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Chris Barry lives on Long Island in New York with his wife and three kids. He has had a lifelong love of cartoons, comics and animation. Those who know him well say he has truly, "earned his Disney PhD." Chris has been involved with Television Production for 20 years and began his career working with The Muppets at Jim Henson Productions in NYC. Currently teaching TV Production to high school students, Chris has been writing about many different facets of The Walt Disney Company for several years now.