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!
Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico 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 four adjacent pavilions on the East side 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 pavilion favors Bavaria and is a wonderful collection of small shops in highly detailed buildings on each side of a central square, backed by castle turrets and parapets. At the back of the square is the large indoor Biergarten Restaurant with its central live show stage and extensive dining terraces set in an atmospheric village that emulates a perpetual Oktoberfest night.
Dominated by the beautiful Temple of Heaven which serves as the entrance to a large circular stand-up theater showing 'Reflections of China' (a travel film around the country), this pavilion is centered on a traditional garden and surrounded by bright temple forms housing the table service restaurant Nine Dragons, the informal Lotus Blossom Cafe, shops, and a gallery.
Another scenic European panorama is represented here. This pavilion's restaurant is the dark rustic castle-like Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at its entrance while the small Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe faces it and leads to a series of shops featuring various traditional facades and interiors located down a passageway. The entrance also features a stand-alone building that recreates a stave church, with a small gallery inside featuring viking information. The back of the pavilion's walkway has a rocky cliff face with a cave opening; occasionally, a boat can be seen inside. The boats are the vehicles for the pavilion's indoor water flume ride called Maelstrom, which features scenes both real and imaginary that depict the coastal features of the country. Guests enter the building nearby and board the Viking-like boats in a large simple modern queue room dominated by a mural. The dark ride is far more detailed than this, and the route features a backward section and drops, making it the only mildly thrilling attraction in World Showcase. Guests unload the boats in a different room that recreates a fishing village at night before going into a modern small theater for a short film.
This pavilion is mostly housed inside a massive building with a Mayan temple facade; only a few small buildings cluster at its base forming the Cantina de San Angel lakeside dining location. Once inside the temple, a formal gallery featuring Mexican crafts serves as the entry. This opens out to the Plaza de Los Amigos, a richly evocative space lit with festive lanterns and filled with market carts and surrounded by village shops and La Cava del Tequila, a small interior bar. All of this is in a simulated night scene that is very convincing. At the far end of the plaza, an 'outdoor' dining area forms the San Angel Inn Restaurant, in a stucco-walled and lantern-lit compound on the edge of a waterway. In the distance is another Mayan temple and a volcano in the dimly lit background. World Showcase's calmer boat flume ride is called Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros; it departs from a queue area nearby and floats past the restaurant and temple before entering its own rooms full of festive film projections and sets.