Epcot's Germany Pavilion: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Germany was a bit of a surprise for us. We've traveled quite a lot in Germany (the actual country), and weren't expecting to find much in the Germany pavilion that impressed us, but a quick walk through reminded us why we like Epcot in the first place.
While there's no ride in Germany like there are in many of the other "countries," you can still get a good sense of the German culture by looking over the products as you browse your way through the various shops. The architecture is true to Germany as well. The country of Germany is a kaleidoscope of new and old building styles, but the Germany pavilion focuses on some of the more classic, old styles of buildings that you find as you make your way through the German countryside or wander the historical districts of the larger cities. While many of the buildings were destroyed during World War II, many remain.
The beer selection isn't bad either, and it's handy. Located almost halfway around World Showcase, you're probably ready for a refreshment by the time you get there.
So, let's get to it. Here are some of our impressions of the Germany pavilion at Epcot:
The center square of Germany has a water fountain with a statue of St. George and the Dragon. You can find St. George and the Dragon in squares throughout Germany. Our first encounter with St. George outside of Epcot was in Rothenburg a couple of years ago. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Karamell-Küche has all the caramel popcorn you could ever want. Here, the brand name of Werther's Original is offered. It's the international brand of the company, Werther's Echte, from Berlin. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
And by the way, for those who are wondering what Karamell-Küche means, it's the name of a candy store in the Germany pavilion. The word Karamell is as you would expect; it means caramel. Küche is German for kitchen.
Die Weihnachts Ecke (the Christmas Store) has all the Christmas ornaments you could want. Germans seem to enjoy their Christmas holiday, and this store is just one way of celebrating all year. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
If you're looking to take a few bottles of wine home, try the Weinkeller. There are an impressive number of German label wines produced in the Rhine Valley in Germany, and you can see a good representation here. Photo by Donald Fink.
The table service restaurant in Germany is the Biergarten Restaurant, which features a buffet of German foods. It feels like a restaurant you would actually find in Germany. While this one is indoors, we've stopped at more than a few outdoor restaurants in various little German towns that looked very much like this one. Photo by Donald Fink.
Der Teddybar (The Teddy Bear) is part of three connected stores in the Germany pavilion. There's Das Kaufhaus, specializing in German clothing; Volkskunst, which sells a selection of German crafts including a large selection of authentic cuckoo clocks; and finally Der Teddybar, which is the German toy store. Here you can find a selection of handcrafted German wooden toys as well as stuffed teddy bears. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
If you want a traditional German Dirndl, Das Kaufhaus (The Department Store) has a nice selection. The Dirndl is a traditional dress worn by women in the Bavarian and Alpine areas of Germany. Like the cuckoo clocks found in Volkskunst, these items are the real deal. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
A Dirndl is based on a traditional Bavarian Alps farm girl or peasant dress, consisting of a gathered skirt, a bodice, apron, and puffed sleeves. The summer outfit is usually more revealing along the neckline. Of course, the modern Dirndl is anything but a "peasant" outfit, often made from the finest silk, and almost always made with bold colors.
Today, the Dirndl is sometimes worn as everyday clothing by older women in Bavaria ,but is often worn by younger women in various traditional and even formal settings, like Oktoberfest.
Legend has it that the placement of the knot on the apron indicates a woman's marital status or availability. When tied towards the left, she is single. Tying the knot to the right indicates that she is married, engaged, or otherwise not interested. We're assuming that left and right in this case means left and right from the perspective of the wearer, but if it's relevant, you might want to get that straight.
Spend some time looking at the exterior of Das Kaufhaus. This building is patterned after Historiches Kaufhaus (Historical Merchant Hall) found in Freiburg im Breisgau. The original building was first mentioned in historical records in 1378, and has four statues. This one here in Epcot has three. They are: Charles V, Philip I of Castile, and Ferdinand I. The missing statue appears to be Maximillian I. While it appears to us that some artistic latitude was used in the recreation of these statues, it's interesting none-the-less. Photo by Donald Fink.
Schöfferhofer grapefruit beer is not a fad or novelty drink. It's produced by the Binding-Brauerei AG, a brewery in Frankfurt, Germany. The name Schöfferhofer is a tribute to Peter Schöffer, who was a German printer in 1451 and apprenticed under Guttenburg. Hofer simply means company. The beer you get in the Germany pavilion is draft, but if you found a bottled version, you would see a picture of Peter Schöffer on the label.
The Trinken Kart wasn't quite open when we walked through, but it's located on the main walkway in front of Germany. This is a popular spot for a beer and pretzel most of the time. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
During our visits to Germany for this article, there was no live entertainment scheduled at the pavilion, which is unusual. There's usually a German band of some kind performing several times a day. We did stop and spend some time visiting Snow White, since on one visit we had family with us and had at least one "princess" in the crowd. Snow White appears almost daily with times posted in the area.
Germany isn't a big land at Epcot in terms of things to do. Unlike Norway, France, or Canada, it doesn't have a ride, nor does it have a large restaurant. It does have a quick service restaurant and a table service restaurant, but doesn't carry the reputation of France, Canada, or Mexico for their outstanding cuisine.
Still, there's good beer, great pretzels, and authentic German goods and clothing that's fun to browse and shop. During most times of the year there is live entertainment, and during festivals, like the International Food and Wine Festival, you can count on an expanded and vibrant Biergarten, with interesting and sometimes just plain strange beers.
For many folks, Germany is a great half way point along their trek around World Showcase, and a good stop to have some refreshments along the way.