We last left off on the Destinations Discovered tour as Craig, Chris and myself left Italy and were approaching the American Adventure! For all the details on the first part of the tour, read The Epcot DestiNations Discovered Tour Review: Part 1.
As you probably already know, Walt Disney was a patriot through and through. His love for the good ole USA ran deep. This beautiful pavilion sits center-stage in Epcot’s World Showcase. Though Epcot is not exactly what Walt envisioned, I’m sure he would be proud of how the imagineering team represented his country. Again, the World Showcase was not yet open to normal day guests, so it was a real treat to explore without distraction and get great photos like this one!
Our tour guide discussed and pointed out how the design illusion of forced perspective was used in creating the structures of this pavilion. We were shown a remarkable painting that hangs inside the American Adventure that actually give the illusion of movement. Be sure to stop by and gaze at “Defending Freedom”. Keep your eye on the nose of the plane, notice anything?
We also got a history lesson about the Eagle on the official crest of the United States and what it means when he faces a certain way.
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat and watched The American Adventure. Unfortunately we did not do that on this tour, but I’m going to make it a point to do on my next visit for sure.
On to Japan! Our last country to enjoy before the masses began to fill the park. If you’ve ever been to the Japan pavilion, you’ve surely browsed through Mitsukoshi, an eclectic store that peddles a wide variety of items ranging from food products to fine jewelry-a condensed shopping mall of sorts. In fact, notice the “since 1673” on the sign? The Japanese opened the very first Mitsukoshi store or shopping mall WAY back then!
The Japan pavilion is among the most beautiful and serene in all of World Showcase with lush gardens, a Koi pond, sculptures and ornate architecture. The embellishments on the White Heron Castle, which is modeled after a 17th Century fortress, tell a story if you look closely (or if your tour guide points it out and explains). Inside is an art gallery that exhibits the “Culture of Cute” and showcases how adorable Japanese pop culture can be. Even the food packaging is adorable!
All good things come to an end and alas, so did our private tour through the World Showcase. As we approached the Morocco pavilion, the World Showcase began to fill with park guests. To get over this sad realization, I stopped and got myself a Habbibi Daquiri. When in Rome! er, Morocco!
By FAR, the Morocco pavilion is the most impressive and authentic. It was not only financed by the Moroccan government, they actually came and did all the tile work inside the pavilion. If you’ve ever visited before, you know that’s a lot of tile. ALL. HAND. LAID. with intentional imperfections and all. They took great pride in this showcase of their country and it shows.
We wandered through this pavilion at a leisurely pace getting treated to wonderful history and anecdotes. Our tour guide, Chris, pointed out wonderful details and gave us some behind the scenes information on how they create that open air market feel while having it fully protected from the elements. Speaking of behind the scenes, we traveled backstage on our way to France.
We spent a lot of time backstage in the France pavilion. We learned a lot about how the “story” carries visually backstage here due some views from DVC villas and on the boat ride to the International Gateway. We also got a peek at Cast Member life and how close they are during their short time working together in America. Of course no pictures were allowed, but we were treated to a fabulous and constantly changing work of art created for and by the World Showcase Cast Members.
It was here, in France, that I felt we got the most behind-the-scenes goodies. It was unexpected and a very pleasant surprise. Of course that handy “forced perspective” was pointed out to us AND we found out how it is that birds don’t land on the Eiffel Tower replica! All that insider information was making us hungry, so off to the UK for lunch!
Prior to the start of the tour, we were given a menu to choose our meals in advance at the Rose & Crown. I ordered the Shepherd’s Pie which came with a salad and Scotch Egg (first time for me and it was delish!) and of course a tea to wash it all down. We are in the UK after all!
We sat down for about 45 minutes having a very nice chat with Chris and got to know each other more. He told us wonderful stories of being a VIP Tour Guide and gave us some history on the Rose & Crown as well as the UK pavilion. After lunch we toured the gardens and listened to a wonderful story of a gardener and a chef. Whether it’s folklore or an actual account of history, who knows, but it was entertaining to hear!
You may have seen this large building (it’s actually a tent!) in between the UK and Canada pavilions. This area is used for large events like DVC Member parties and the like. We were able to take a peak inside. It’s just as blue and sparkly inside as it is outside!
Our final stop (so I thought) was the Canada pavilion. I could spend hours there. It’s almost as if you have stepped into a very specific spot, on a very specific mountain range. If you haven’t already guessed, the imagineers designed that waterfall area to the exact specs of a certain set of coordinates. I’ll let you find out for yourself on the tour as to where. We learned here exactly how they built the faux mountains and how they get them to not only looks so real, but to last so long.
The hard-to-ignore totem poles have quite a story of their own, let alone the story each one depicts. The detail and craftsmanship is outstanding and don’t you know, they even added in a Hidden Mickey! Can you spot it? The gardens leading up to the Le Cellier Restaurant are breathtaking! Each season the gardeners change up the foliage to match the calendar! We enjoyed the Fall colors and a few other fun facts.
Before heading backstage, we were shown the location that was supposed to house entertainment, and were quickly shown why it was not possible and very poor planning. Thus the stage along the main World Showcase pathway was built. Backstage we were educated on just how they constructed the mountains and waterfall scene and told a few other fun facts about the Canada pavilion.
Our time was about up, so Chris thanked us very much for taking the tour, gave us these super adorable commemorative pins (we were provided the name tags at the start) and then asked us to join him on an attraction! Like VIPs we walked right on to one of my favorite Tier 1 attractions in all of Walt Disney World! What a wonderful way to end a fantastic 5 hour tour around the World! What’s more, we were invited to attend another VIP experience later that evening. I’m sure you could probably guess, but I’m not going to spoil it, my lips are sealed…but it was illuminating! 😉
If you love Epcot, history, getting to going backstage and feeling like a Disney insider, this tour is for you my friend!