United Kingdom - Photo Tour
Photos by Brian Bennett
Hi there! I'm glad you could join me here at the Rose & Crown pub at such late notice. I'm having a little iced tea here (sacrilege here in the UK, I know, but I don't like it hot). Feel free to grab a bitter or stout, and we can get going...
I want to show you the indoor seating at this lovely restaurant. Unlike most pubs in the UK, which tend to be very informal, this one is pretty well dressed up. The paneled walls and that great ceiling (check that out!) really add to the "old England" feel, even if it's not terribly authentic.
Just some quick comments on the food here. The fish & chips, as you would expect, are fabulous. The traditional pies are less so. The prime rib with Yorkshire pudding is to die for, and the trifle is a fantastic desert to top off dinner! If you'd like some more information on the Rose & Crown, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on the United Kingdom!
Here at the edge of World Showcase lagoon is a canal lock, like one would see all over the central and Northern areas of England. Wigan, the town that my father's family is from in the UK, actually has a pier in the middle of town. It's odd, because Wigan is a land-locked town. However, the canal that runs through the area provides water access to Liverpool and on to the world's waterways, so "Wigan Pier" is at the same time an impossibility and a fact. It's also bears the brunt of many English jokes. The picture here really shows the outside seating at the Rose & Crown, the canal lock is to the right in this view. By the way, if you want a great place to view IllumiNations, get a priority seating for the Rose & Crown late in the evening, and ask for a table on the lagoon. It's worth the wait.
Leaving the Rose & Crown behind us, let's walk across to the promenade to the Tea Caddy shop. This is a great little place that sells teas (including Earl Grey and various English blends featuring Keemun). The Tea Caddy also has a great selection of shortbreads and other cookies and so on that are just perfect to put out with afternoon tea. The Walkers shortbread is probably the best well-known.
The United United Kingdom Pavilion has an interesting mix of architectural styles. The building that the Tea Caddy is located in is a good example of this mixing. The shop is in a low-ceilinged building that has a great thatched roof on the back (when you get a chance, walk through the herb garden in the back, the side facing the International Gateway) and look at the building from that side. It's designed to look like like a small cottage, reminiscent of the Cotswold's area in Southern, central England. On the side facing Canada, it's got a much more urban look to it.
Continuing through the shop, to the left of the shortbreads, takes you into the Magic of Wales shop. The Magic of Wales has a great number of tea sets on display. You can choose from several Prince Albert patterns made by Royal Daulton. I'm not a tea drinker, but these china sets are works of art. Oh, and look at the little white wire displays here. They're filled with marmalades, jams, and jellies that go great with tea time, too.
Here are some quotes on the civilized beverage of tea, that I grabbed from A World of Tea.
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." (C.S. Lewis.)
"As a rule they will refuse even to sample a foreign dish, they regard such things as garlic and olive oil with disgust, life is unlivable to them unless they have tea and puddings." (George Orwell, in an article entitled, "The English People")
"A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards." (A.A. Milne, in "Pooh's Little Instruction Book")
And last, but certainly not least, "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." (Jean Luc Picard, star date 41697.9)
The Queen's Table is our next stop on the tour. This shop sells perfumes and other products that are produced in the United Kingdom. Lavender, rose, and other fragrances are uniquely British, as compared to the blended perfumes preferred by the French folks across the channel.
Each scent can be sampled, if you so choose. Many of them are available in perfumes, hand creams, bath oils, and room fragrances. The lavender and rose products in the picture (the lavender is the purple boxes, the rose are in the center display in light yellow or straw colored ones) are the same brand that I purchased at the tower of London on my one and only trip to the real UK a few years ago.
The last room in the Queen's Table has a lovely ceiling and egg shell colored walks. The displays are lined with more of the fragrances and products that any properly lady needs to complete her daily toilet.
Exiting the shop, the last one in the row, takes you to the inner courtyard of the United Kingdom pavilion. The street that meanders by looks for all the world like "Penny Lane," but is really only a short walk back to the World showcase promenade.
In this picture, the Crown & Crest shop shop is directly in front of us with Pringle of Scotland to the left. Immediately to the right, out of the picture, is the Queen's Table. To the left and behind is a courtyard that is the location of performances of a group of Beatles impersonators (they're really quite good, actually) and a place where characters can often be found including Mary Poppins & Burt, Peter Pan, and the Pooh characters among others.
Onward to Pringle of Scotland, which is a shop that sells, primarily, sportswear appropriate for a tourist in the United Kingdom. Golf and Tennis clothing and products, of course, are the primary offerings. The influence of St. Andrews and Wimbledon are strong here. I love the golf bag with the tartan. By the way, there are several products for sale here (including ties and so on) that have tartans (traditional and modern) from many of the best-known clans of Scotland. They're fun to look through, even though I don't have any Scottish blood running in my veins.
The one thing that struck me as I took these pictures was the wide open spaces around the display tables. This is very unusual in a Disney shop, but clearly makes the store more inviting. I suppose that the spaces are more filled up with people during the busier times of the year down here in Florida. I also wonder if the relative lack of unique or specialized merchandise makes Pringles less busy. It's location in the back of the pavilion has got to hurt, too, but I suspect it would pull in more traffic if it sold more products (like those tartans) that you can't buy at your local department store.
The Crown & Crest is a great shop that is next on the itinerary. It's a great shop that has the feel of a manor home, with the crossed swords, pikes, and other armaments mounted high on the wall. The "candle" chandelier carries that medieval flavor up to the ceiling where your eyes can see a wonderful display of crested banners and pendants. The open beam construction and the colorful standards make you want to find out what YOUR family coat of arms is and pick one up to take home. I did that myself several years ago. The wooden plaque now hangs over the fireplace of my home. (I think it looks pretty good there.)
If anyone out there can identify some of the standards that are in the picture for me, drop me a line. I can't accurately tell which is which, so I won't pretend to be able to do so.
Another item for sale in the Crown & Crest products that I really enjoy are the wonderful chess sets. In the past, I've seen several standard "Staunton" design sets, as well as sets based on the war of the roses, various Disney-themed sets, and so on. The prices tend to be very steep -- usually several hundreds of dollars. I suppose, though, if you're an aficionado of the game, it would be worth the investment. This picture shows some examples. I should have taken a picture of the ones on the opposite display, too.
The next shop, after the Crown & Crest, is the Toy Soldier. It sells toys, not surprisingly, including a bunch of Pooh-themed stuff (lots of plush) and other character merchandise -- of characters that originated in the United Kingdom, primarily, such as Alice in Wonderland, Pooh, and so on.
The Toy Soldier also tends to be one of the busiest shops in the pavilion. I'm sure it's location, right off the promenade, has something to do with that. The fact that it sells popular toys (many of which, again, you can find in your local department store, Disney Store, or at the World of Disney) is probably another factor. I don't think I've ever seen anything in here that is that great, though. I've seen it all elsewhere.
After browsing through the Toy Soldier shop, we come to the end of our walk. The exit from the Toy Soldier drops us back off at the promenade, directly across from the Rose & Crown where we began our little odyssey. To the right of the final picture, is the Yorkshire County Fish Shop, if you're hungry after our little walk. Of course, the International Gateway is beyond that. To the left is Canada and Future World.
Well, that concludes our little tour of the United Kingdom pavilion. Don't forget that tips for the tour guide are appreciated. ;)
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