North America - Photo Tour
Photos by Brian Bennett and Mike Morizio
Unfortunately, I don't have a whole bunch of great pictures of the American Adventure, Canada, and Mexico pavilions -- so I decided (at least for now) to combine all the photos that I have from the three into a single "photo tour." Most of the pictures came from my own most recent visit to Epcot, but I've also tossed in some by permission of Mike Morizio.
Canada, Mexico, and the United States are very familiar to those of us that live in North America. They don't have the air of a strange, exotic land (like Morocco) or of the "old country" (like the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, or France) or of the unfamiliar beauty of the orient (Japan and China). Instead, they are very familiar to us.
That made Disney's job very difficult as they put these three pavilions together. How do you celebrate the usual? How do you hype the normal? How do you sell what so many already own? The answer is not simple. If you want to read more, check out Stephen Clark's excellent article, "Sense of Places and Times," here on MousePlanet.
Here is Epcot's version of Chateau Laurier a very posh hotel in Ottawa (or perhaps Le Chateau Frontenac or Le Manoir Richelieu in Quebec -- all three hotels are owned and operated by Fairmont Hotels and have the same distinctive architectural).
To the right of the chateau (in the park, not the picture) is a recreation of Victoria's Butchart Gardens. "Victoria Gardens," as it's called, provides one of the most spectacular garden displays in all of Walt Disney World. It's well worth a walk-through (or a more leisurely stroll if time permits and your interest is tweaked). The "real" Butchart Gardens was begun as an effort to beautify an old, used up limestone quarry. The results, since the job began in 1904, are spectacular! If you're a serious gardener, you really should check out the website -- and plan a trip to Western Canada!
To the left of the chateau, is a series of walkways and stairs that wind up and around to the left of the building. At the first level is recreation of a small Northwestern-style trading post that sells the typical logo items including t-shirts and trinkets (not surprisingly, the primary color options here are red and white).
Further back in the store, though, the options get a little more unusual. Hand-carvings, dolls, and other items reflective of Canada's central and western native American cottage industry, are available here.
As you exit the trading post, and continue the walk upward and onward, you'll find yourself in a small, provincial street that looks like one you'd find in one of the Eastern cities in Quebec (one of those cities that tries so hard to be French, but just ends up being so uniquely, Canadian)!
On one side of the street is a shop called La Boutique des Provinces that peddles the same types of china and finery that you'll find in the Magic of Wales shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. I'm sure the manufacturers and patterns are unique, but for a shop with a French name, the tea sets certainly look like ones that a proper British citizen would feel comfortable with. This is another great example of the character of Canada -- a mix of French, British, Native American, and "American" (United States) influences that are so delicately balanced that each one can be easily recognized, yet the resulting blend is uniquely Canadian.
Before we leave the shops of Canada, I'll share an up-close view of some of the porcelain pieces that are featured in La Boutique des Provinces. It really is very lovely. Someday when my ship comes in...
Continuing around the back of the chateau, and down the stairs (passed the waterfalls), you'll end up in a queue area for one of my favorite of all of Epcot's attractions. "Oh Canada" is a Circlevision presentation that takes you on a coast-to-coast tour of this wonderful nation. Come to think of it, I missed "Oh Canada" on our last trip. I'll be making a point of seeing it next time!
If you'd like to read up on the Canadian Pavilion's Le Cellier restaurant, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on Canada!
Directly across World Showcase Lagoon from Canada is the Mexican Pavilion.
On the water side of the World Showcase promenade in Mexico, is a cantina that serves beverages and food.
On the other side of the promenade is a towering Aztec pyramid. Besides being a great eye-catcher, the pyramid serves as the entrance to the rest of the pavilion which is all indoors.
Again, though, if you're a gardener, you may want to take note of the tropical foliage that surrounds the pyramid. If you follow the wheelchair access ramp to the right, you'll see some great plantings including orchids and other less familiar tropical flowers. This is one of the most lushly planted areas in all of WDW and it's executed perfectly!
Just inside the pyramid is an area filled with pre-columbian art and sculpture.
Here's a picture of the central room, which acts as a buffer from the outside sunlight to the dusk of the Plaza de los Amigos inside. To the right and left are a couple of display rooms. Someday I'm going to stop for a few minutes and really look over this stuff. So far, though, I've always been immediately drawn in to the Plaza marketplace inside.
The Plaza, "place of friends" if my non-Spanish speaking, gringo brain can figure anything out, is lined with shops selling crystal, pottery, and fine decorations. The central plaza itself has pushcarts with hand crafts and trinkets. It's a lovely place, very strong on theme.
At the very back of the pavilion is a restaurant, the San Angel Inn, serving fairly authentic Mexican dishes (but for a premium price) in a nighttime, riverside setting that is just perfect for atmosphere. The pyramid and volcano in the picture below is the backdrop for this restaurant. In between the restaurant and the pyramid above, flows El Rio del Tiempo, "the river of time" which provides an "It's a Small World on Burritos" view of Mexico. It's worth riding, but beware that you're unlikely to really learn much about the rich Mexican culture and that some 1980's stereotypes come through loud and clear.
Turning around to exit the pavilion, you get a great view of the fountain as you walk around to mount the stairway.
If you'd like to read up on the pavilion's cantina and restaurant, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on Mexico!
That brings us back to the center of World Showcase...to The American Adventure.
I don't have much to show you here. I do have a picture of the main American Adventure building at night.
I also have one of the Gardens Theatre.
Finally, a brief shot of Heritage Manor Gift shop.
The main "attraction" of this pavilion, though, is the attraction inside the building...the American Adventure itself! It's a fantastic walk through American (read that "United States) history from the colonial period through today. It's a bit jingoistic, but that's fair...it's our park.
If you'd like to read up on the pavilion's only restaurant, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on the American Adventure!
Other than that, there's not much to show for now. I'll add more pics in the future, when I get some to toss in here.
Click here to return to the Epcot Attractions Page.