Mike's Top 10 Countdown: Epcot's World Showcase Pavilions

by Mike Scopa, contributing writer

Mike's Top 10 Countdown: Epcot's World Showcase Pavilions

I've been thinking about how much I like the World Showcase pavilions, but some I like more than others. So how would I go about coming up with a top 10 list? What method would I use, and what criteria would come into play?

So in this session, let's take a stab at it. I realize that this will be subjective, but I'll try my best to be as objective as possible.

The Measuring Stick

What criteria can we use for how well these pavilions measure up to one another? Don't ask me for some fair and scientific method to begin this process because I don't know if that animal exists. Bear with me on this as I try to be as fair as possible. I'll be looking at the following factors:

Attractions – These are first and foremost. Does the pavilion have one? If so, how good is it? Is it one that keeps bringing me back? Should it be replaced? That will play a part in the evaluating process.

Food – We all know about food in Walt Disney World. It's always on our minds. The food options found at each pavilion will be a key factor in the overall formula for ranking the pavilions. Of course the better the restaurants and eateries and the more options available, the better the ranking for that pavilion.

Entertainment – At first I thought about not including this, but why not? We all love to be entertained and since it does contribute to the overall guest experience, we really need to include it in our evaluation.

Shopping and theming quality – Finally, we really have to take both of these into consideration, as they add a lot to enhance an area.

OK now that you know my criteria, here my top 10 countdown of favorite World Showcase pavilions!

Honorary Mention: Italy

Attractions – Right off the bat there is no attraction. That's one strike against this pavilion. C'mon, you mean not even a dark ride on Italian culture? Italian inventors Da Vinci! Michelangelo! DeNiro! OK maybe not DeNiro but there could have been some sort of attraction they could have put into this pavilion.

Food – As far as eateries, I've always been hot and cold on L'Originale Alfredo di Roma so let's hope that its replacement will offer more consistent quality.

Entertainment – Entertainment has been better in recent years but it's not enough to save this pavilion from being dead last in the rankings. I've actually played the part of Romeo in the Romeo and Edna skits.

Shopping & theming quality – The theming and shopping is just OK. I'd like to see change. I'd start with that fountain in the back; but that's for another time.

Number 10: Japan

Attractions – Actually, Japan edges out Italy here only because I thought the Japanese theming and shopping far outshined that of the Italy pavilion. The Japan pavilion's downfall is also the lack of an attraction.

Food – I think when it comes to the restaurants for Japan and China I usually think that the quality is better outside the parks. I've been thinking that for almost 20 years. What does that tell you? However I do understand and recognize that many guests like the dining options in this pavilion.

Entertainment – I'm not that crazy about those drummers. I'm sure there is some talent there but I just can't appreciate it I guess.

Shopping & theming quality – I do love to go into that store and marvel at those wall clocks. Still, I give it the 10th best ranking.

Number 9: Morocco

Attractions – This one was hard but it ends up here because of a few reasons. I might as well get this out of the way. There is no attraction. Not sure why.

Food – Regarding Restaurant Marrakesh, and this may sound quite wrong to many, I could describe it in one word: bland. However, it is almost always guaranteed that you'll find an available table at this establishment.

Entertainment – The entertainment is OK and probably popular to those who are infatuated by belly dancing. Heck, even a movie would be nice.

Shopping & theming quality – I do like the way the pavilion was built and the weaving in and out of shops does appeal to me. The theming and shopping areas really help this pavilion.

Number 8: China

Attractions and Food – China could have done a lot better than #8 but there is a reason for being placed #8. It's really a daily double that is the cause for this ranking and that is the attraction and the food. The attraction and food are both, at best, average.

Entertainment – The best thing going for this pavilion is those young acrobats. As a matter of fact, I think they are the best entertainment in Epcot. Imagine how I would have ranked this pavilion if they did not have those acrobats.

Shopping & theming quality – Every pavilion should have some excitement in it. Not so for China, except of course for Yong Feng Shangdian. It's always fun to guess the price of the jade dragon and then wonder, "Who the heck is going to buy this thing?" Hmmm, maybe that store IS the attraction.

Number 7: France

Attractions – This pavilion has it all, not to mention a special meet-and-greet area for seeing such favorites as Belle and Cinderella.

It also has an attraction, "Impressions de France", several places to eat, and entertainment in the form of those two guys who do their shtick with the chairs... chair mimes.

So why isn't it ranked higher up on my list? I think it's because I always feel something is missing from this pavilion.

I think that this pavilion lacks something. Not sure what that something is but I do know that I never seem to really want to visit it, unless there's a chance to visit with Belle of course.

Food – I do know that many people like the restaurants and for that I am placing France slightly ahead of Morocco.

Entertainment – The movie is somewhat average, maybe it needs a new movie and the restaurants don't excite me so that may be getting to the way of a fair ranking.

Number 6: Germany

Attractions – You guessed it. No attraction. It's a shame that there is no attraction for this pavilion. That hurts this pavilion's overall rankings.

Food – The Biergarten offers you not just a great restaurant but also some great entertainment. Also, think of this, the entertainment occurs while you're eating. That is a big plus.

Entertainment – I'd almost say that with a decent attraction this pavilion could vie for the number one ranking.

Shopping & theming quality – The shops are pretty interesting and the theming is excellent. It's one of my favorite places in all of WDW.

Number 5: United Kingdom

Attractions – It sounds like a broken record but the United Kingdom pavilion would have finished higher had the pavilion been sporting a nice attraction. I'm running out of ideas here but hey, how about the history of British Rock and Roll?

Food – Rose and Crown is a good restaurant. It is actually one of the better dining deals in World Showcase.

Entertainment – The British Invasion helps the ranking as these guys are very good at their impressions of the Beatles.

Shopping & theming quality – I always enjoy visiting this pavilion's shops.

Number 4: Mexico

Attractions – This pavilion has moved up in class a bit. The recent refurbishing and transitioning from El Rio de Tiempo to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros has boosted its appeal.

Food – The restaurants always seem to be packed.

Entertainment – There are strolling musicians throughout too so this pavilion has a little bit of everything and thus gets this ranking at #4.

Shopping & theming quality – the pavilion's night-time atmosphere and shops really make this a fun place to visit.

Number 3: Norway

Attractions – Norway has The Maelstrom, which is my second favorite World Showcase attraction. Obviously this helps this pavilion's rankings in a big way.

Food – I am also a big fan of Akershus. Anytime you get to see a princess it's a good thing. The Kringoli bakery is also a treat.

Entertainment – The entertainment is lacking, which hurts, and I was disappointed when they made some changes to the Stave Church but Norway still ranks up there as one of my favorite pavilions.

Number 2: United States

Attractions and Entertainment – This is where things became somewhat difficult.

My favorite attraction in all of WDW is the American Adventure and I've often said if I could have any job in WDW it would be as a Voice of Liberty. Thus this pavilion starts off real well and then struggles with the dining and shopping aspects.

Food – The lack of a sit-down restaurant prevents this pavilion from taking the top spot and the shopping somehow falls short for me too.

Number 1: Canada

Attractions – For some reason, I never get tired of watching "Oh Canada!" We hear that another film is in the works. Hopefully it will be as good as the present attraction.

Food – Canada has my favorite restaurant, Le Cellier. That helps its ranking.

Entertainment – Next you have entertainment and for a lot of people Off Kilter is their favorite entertainment in Epcot.

Shopping & theming quality – The pavilion itself, with its shops and theming, really tops it off.

So at least for now it's the Canada pavilion that does it for me and helps me...

...Remember the Magic.

Next Time

I have a pet peeve. It's not with Walt Disney World. It's with you, the Walt Disney World guest. Are you curious as to what I mean? You should be. This affects all of us. We'll talk about it next time.