My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!
Japan, The American Adventure, and Italy photographed in February 2008 and January 2010:
I have artificially subdivided the 11 pavilions of World Showcase at EPCOT into three threads because this land is too large to cover thoroughly with one and eleven separate threads would be too many. This thread focuses on the three adjacent pavilions on the central part of the land. EPCOT is divided into two lands, Future World and World Showcase, the latter being a collection of 11 pavilions that each focus on one country. They are each composed of a unique layout of shops and restaurants housed in one or more buildings that represent their homelands' heritage architectural styles and landmarks; in addition, some of them feature attractions like rides or theater shows or art/craft galleries. They form a complete circle around a large central lake, each oriented toward the lake, where a nightly show of fireworks and lights called IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is showcased. All are wonderfully detailed areas that are a joy to explore.
This area is dominated by several tall recreations of buildings fronted by rather typical raked gravel and koi pond gardens. On the lake, a copy of the Miyajima Torii gate and a few pine-dotted small islands set the stage, while across the walkway the Goju-no-to Pagoda pierces the sky; both are off limits to entry. Set above the koi pond is Yakitori House, a casual restaurant set in a tea house with an outdoor dining terrace next to a waterfall. A large rectangular two-story building houses the Mitsukoshi Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining rooms on the top floor, while the bottom is an extensive series of rooms for the Mitsukoshi Department Store, a smaller version of the famous 400 year-old chain in Japan. The backdrop of the pavilion is the scenic and massive-appearing Shirasagigi Castle, with a gateway guarded by Shogun statues and a bridge over a moat leading to the doorway. Once inside, there is a small gallery for art exhibits, and another entrance to the back of the department store, an interior letdown for such a promising edifice!
THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE:
The central pavilion of World Showcase is different from the others in several ways. It is on axis with the entrance to the land, which is in turn on axis with Future World's central core. It is the pavilion for the 'host country.' It is a very formal and relatively simple building, as opposed to the complicated and varied composition of the other pavilions. Also, it is dominated by its attraction rather than its shops and restaurants. The symmetrical layout begins with America Gardens Theatre, an outdoor live show amphitheater with a poorly designed covered stage structure that blocks the view of the lake. Strangely, an antique sailing ship is moored in front of it on the lake. In front of the theatre is a square with a fountain basin, on axis with the grand entrance to the attraction, which takes up most of the pavilion's Federal style space. The attraction waiting area is just inside, in a two-story rotunda-topped hall with the small American Heritage Gallery at one side for exhibits. This leads to an escalator hall draped with flags that leads to the entrance to the Liberty Theatre for the fantastic show called The American Adventure, a combination of film projections and stage sets with robotic figures of famous Americans that tells the story of the nation. After exiting, there is a counter service cafe called Liberty Inn at one side of the building whose indoor dining area has the feeling of a conservatory; its symmetrically-located counterpart on the other side is a shop.
Although its front facade is a convincing recreation of part of the Piazza San Marco and Doge's Palace in Venice, this pavilion is the weakest in World Showcase and only features a few unimpressive shops and a formally decorated restaurant; it has an outdoor terrace piazza set back from the entrance, but it is almost entirely contained with low walls and a fountain niche on two sides, leaving it to feel unfinished. Currently a new casual food location is being built on one side that promises to help extend the atmosphere and interest. Despite these shortcomings, it is still a pleasant area and the Campanile is certainly an effective landmark in the panorama of the pavilions.