Epcot World Showcase

Canada

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: Although they are not necessarily known for their architecture, the Canadians did an impressive job constructing their World Showcase Pavilion.  The Hotel du Canada, modeled after Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier, is the Pavilion’s largest and most magnificently detailed building.  Although visitors are not allowed inside the Hotel, Le Cellier is located directly underneath it.  You can also walk through the gorgeous Victoria Gardens and gaze out at the Canadian Rockies complete with 30-foot waterfall.  Overall, the Canada Pavilion is surprisingly sublime.

Attraction Info: Canada features a Circle-Vision 360 film similar to “Reflections of China.” Updated in 2007 with new commentary by Martin Short, the 18-minute “O’ Canada!” is projected onto nine individual screens that surround the theatre.  The film is presented in such a way that each screen shows the view looking out in that particular direction, so you feel like you’re right in the middle of the shot.  It’s a neat technique and I would recommend taking the time to experience it.  Wait times are usually only as long as it takes for the previous show to end, but be aware that the theatre is standing room only and there is no seating.

The other attraction at Canada is the high-energy Celtic Band, “Off Kilter.”  I’m not exactly sure what they’re doing in Canada, but no one seems to mind.  If you like Celtic music, or just men in kilts, then I would grab a beer and enjoy the show.

Dining Options: Although Canada does not offer a counter service, it does have one of the most popular restaurants in all of Walt Disney World.  Le Cellier is an excellent restaurant that offers a variety of expertly prepared, high-quality meats.

Drink Around the World: Beer is the drink of choice in Canada.  You’ll find a kiosk that serves a variety of Canadian beers including Labatt and Molson along with a cosmopolitan type drink.  Le Cellier offers a more interesting variety, including Maudite, Blanche de Chambly, La Fin du Monde, and more.

Character Sightings: Characters are not usually present in Canada, but check your Times Guide to make sure.

Shopping Opportunities: There are two main stores in Canada.  They’re conveniently connected to each other so you don’t even have to leave one in order to buy more stuff from another.  The usual suspects make an appearance – clothing, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, candy, pins, mugs, and similar items.  You’ll also find hockey jerseys and memorabilia, maple syrup, ice wine, and flannel shirts. 

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 9/10

Attractions: 7/10

Dining: 7/10

Drinking: 6/10

Shopping: 6/10

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China

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: Visitors who enter the China Pavilion walk through an intricately detailed triple-arched ceremonial gate and see a replica of the magnificent Temple of Heaven.  The Chinese built the original in the early 15th century under supervision of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City.  The “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests” is the spectacular triple-gabled circular structure that the Chinese Pavilion is known for and it makes a great background for a picture.

Attraction Info: China’s main attraction is “Reflections of China,” a film shot in Circle-Vision 360.  The film team shot Reflections with nine cameras and the footage of each is projected onto one of nine screens that are located on the walls around the theater.  This technique makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action.  This 13-minute show is well worth seeing and there is rarely a wait any longer than it takes for the last show to end.  The entrance to “Reflections of China” is inside the “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest” and you can check out a number of Chinese artifacts while you wait or sit and relax on one of the plentiful benches.  Be aware, the theater does not have seats and is standing-room only.

In addition, China features a wonderful exhibit titled “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China.”  This is replica of the Terracotta Army excavation in Xi’an and is well worth a look.  In addition, there is a collection of authentic Chinese tomb art from the Schloss Collection that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.

Finally, the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats perform 20 minute sets in the middle of the Pavilion throughout the afternoon and early evening.  They usually begin performing their first show around 3pm and then perform one show per hour until 7pm.  Check your Times Guide to verify dates and show times.  Usually, they perform five days per week.  The act itself is hit or miss depending on who’s performing.  Since the performance is uncovered in the middle of the Pavilion, it can be hot in the afternoon.  The last show of the day, which usually begins at 7:15pm, is the most comfortable because temperatures are slightly cooler.

Dining Options: The Lotus Blossom Café is China’s lackluster counter service.  It’s overpriced, portions are small, and the food isn’t anything special.  Nine Dragons, China’s table service, has improved in terms of food and the atmosphere is serene.  Still, chances are you have much better, much cheaper Chinese food back home.  Neither locations are recommended highly.  The “Joy of Tea” stand also serves a variety of unique teas and other beverages out on the promenade alongside the Lagoon.  I highly recommend the Peach Oolong iced tea ($4) which is as refreshing as it is cold.  You can also order the red bean and caramel ginger ice creams here along with egg rolls and other filling items.

Drink Around the World: The Lotus Blossom Café serves bottles of Tsingtao ($5.75), Yuengling Traditional Lager ($5.25) and a plum wine ($5).  Yuengling is actually brewed domestically so it’s not exactly “Chinese” in origin, so I would probably go with the Tsingtao for the sake of authenticity.  Outside in the Pavilion is the “Joy of Tea Stand.”  You’ll find a similar beer and plum wine selection as well as a variety of alcoholic ($7.50 each) and non-alcoholic ($4.50 each) cocktails.  I would recommend the Canto Loopy, which is a mixture of vodka and cantaloupe juice.

Character Sightings: Mulan makes an appearance in the China Pavilion throughout the day.  She appears near the front of the Pavilion when the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats aren’t performing and up near the entrance to the Temple of Heaven when the acrobats are performing.  Check your Times Guide for appearance times.

Shopping Opportunities: The Yong Feng Shangdian Department Store is the main shopping attraction in China.  Like other World Pavilion stores, they sell a great variety of unique and mass-produced items.  Look out for Beijing Cloisonne Ware, Chinese lanterns, jade and crystal jewelry, slippers, silk goods, handbags, paper fans, and much more.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 9/10

Attractions: 8/10

Dining: 5/10

Drinking: 7/10

Shopping: 8/10

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France

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The 1/10th size replica of the Eiffel Tower is the most famous (replica) monument in the France Pavilion.  The buildings are themed like those found in Paris between 1870 and 1910.  Otherwise known as “La Belle Epoque,” or “The Beautiful Time,” France features a gorgeous courtyard area with a fountain and immaculately maintained gardens.

Attraction Info: France’s main attraction is an 18-minute film titled “Impressions de France.”  Projected onto five large screens, Impressions provides a 200 degree panoramic view of France, its people, and its culture.  You’ll experience many of France most popular destinations, including the gardens at Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and the breathtaking French Alps.  Unlike the films at China or Canada, you’ll be able to sit and relax during the air-conditioned show.  Ask the cast member at the entrance how long it will be until the next show begins.  If it’s more than a few minutes, check out the stores in the meantime.  The theater won’t fill up before you return.  Impressions is an excellent break from walking around the World Showcase and I would recommend taking the time to view it.

The Serveur Amusant and his comedy/acrobatics show is also available for your viewing pleasure in the courtyard area throughout the afternoon.  This is a funny and daring show in which the performers build a tower out of chairs and tables and then juggle and do various tricks while standing at the top of their creation.  Check your Times Guide for when this 20 minute show starts and make a point of being in France to view it.  It’s your author’s favorite.

Dining Options: Chefs de France, Bistro de Paris, and Boulangerie Patisserie are all excellent choices.  Be sure to check out the Boulangerie for a delicious, relatively inexpensive treats.  The only problem is its small and lines quickly build at the Boulangerie.  There is also a crepe kiosk that serves delicious crepes, ice cream, and assorted beverages.

Drink Around the World: Along with Mexico and Germany, France is one of the better drinking destinations in the World Showcase.  The kiosk in the France Pavilion serves a variety of wines and champagne by the glass ($6-$12), Kronenbourg 1644 beer ($6), and the extremely popular Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush and Grand Mariner Orange Slush ($9 each).  Although not particularly manly drinks, both slushes taste like liquid candy and I would recommend either if you’re looking for a nice cool beverage.  The Kronenbourg 1664 isn’t a particularly good beer, but it’s inoffensive and easy to drink.

Character Sightings: Belle and Beast of Beauty and the Beast fame are stationed in France throughout the day.  Princess Aurora and Marie from The Aristocats also make appearances.  Check your Times Guide for times.

Shopping Opportunities: France is certainly known for its shopping so there shouldn’t be any surprise that there’s plenty to buy in their Pavilion.  Guerlain, owned by the Louis Vuitton conglomerate, is the title sponsor and many of their products are available at La Signature.  There is also another parfumerie with a variety of other fragrances for men and women.  Expect to find a wide variety of other items as well, including wine, chocolates, designer soap, clothing, miniature Eiffel Towers, and a plethora of other items.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 7/10

Attractions: 8/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 9/10

Shopping: 8/10

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Germany

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The Germany Pavilion is styled to look like a 16th century German town, only with architecture from several distinct periods.  You’ll immediately see the statue of Saint George slaying a dragon as well as a clock tower with a glockenspiel that chimes on the hour.  The rest of the Pavilion is made up of small shops and the Biergarten restaurant, all of which are immaculately detailed.

Attraction Info: There isn’t much to do in Germany other than shop, eat, and drink beer.  It could be worse.  Otherwise, check out the working model train and village scene on the left hand side as you walk towards the United States Pavilion.

Dining Options: Biergarten is a popular World Showcase buffet that offers a variety of authentic German food as well as a delightful music show featuring traditional German folk music.  Sommerfest, Germany’s counter service, serves tasty bratwurst and the best pretzels in Disney World.  Also check the German kiosk for a variety of beers and non-alcoholic drniks.

Drink Around the World: Radeberger and Altenmunster have taken over the beer choices at the Germany Pavilion, replacing the (superior) Spaten Optimator and Franziskaner.  I recommend the Altenmunster Oktoberfest, which is rarer to find in stores than the Radeberger Pilsner.

Character Sightings: Snow White greets guests at the Wishing Well on the left side as you arrive at Germany from China and the Africa Outpost.

Shopping Opportunities: Other than eating and drinking, shopping is the main attraction at the German Pavilion.  Expect a great variety of expensive hand-made goods as well as cheaper merchandise for the masses.  There are hand-painted eggs, Hummel figurines, beer steins, Steiff bears, cuckoo clocks, Swarovski jewelry, and plenty more for your browsing pleasure.  This is one of the more popular places to shop with a lot of fun and unique items, so I would recommend taking some time to check it out.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 7/10

Attractions: 3/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 7/10

Shopping: 8/10

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Italy

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The focal point of the Italy Pavilion is the 105-foot tall functioning replica of St Mark’s Campanile, the bell tower that looks out over the World Showcase Lagoon.  Also prominently featured is a replica of the Doge’s Palace, originally built by the Venetians in the early 14th century.  You may also recognize a replica of the Sistine Chapel’s exterior in the Il Bel Cristallo and the Neptune fountain, modeled after the beautiful Trevi fountain.  The entire Pavilion is meticulously detailed.

Attraction Info: Like Japan, the United Kingdom, and others, Italy does not feature a main attraction or ride.  Instead, Sergio and The Ziti Sisters entertain guests throughout the day.  Check your Times Guide for show times.  They usually perform one after the other from 12pm to 6pm.  Sergio is a fun comedian/mime/juggler and the Ziti Sisters are a quartet of zany women.  Neither show is a “must see,” but both are entertaining if you’re in the area.

Dining Options: Italy has two table service restaurants and a wine bar attached to Tutto Italia.  Tutto Italia serves a variety of classic Italian dishes, including spaghetti and lasagna.  It reopened in May with a less expensive menu overall, including a lunch menu with most entrees in the $15-$25 range.  Via Napoli is the newer table service pizzeria, serving some of the best pizza in Disney World.  While the pizzas are undeniably expensive, one of the $40 pies easily serves four people, making the cost per person less than most other table service restaurants.  Tutto Gusto opened on May 1st, 2012.  It serves over 200 wines, a healthy number of cocktails, and features several beers on tap in an informal setting (no reservations).  Excellent appetizer-portion food is served alongside more hearty items like paninis and pasta salads.   It’s recommended as well, particularly from 11:30am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 5pm when its less busy.

Drink Around the World: The Italian drink cart features the extravagant Peach Bellini ($10), a variety of wines by the glass ($6-$11 or so), and a bottle of Birra Moretti beer for $6.50.

Character Sightings: Characters do not usually appear in Italy.  Double check your Times Guide.

Shopping Opportunities: There are a number of small shops in Italy.  Much of it is expensive and hand-made, including Venetian masks, San Lorenzo glass jewelry, and fine leather goods.  More popular and less expensive items include food, wine, chocolates, perfume, and clothing.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 8/10

Attractions: 2/10

Dining: 9/10

Drinking: 6/10

Shopping: 7/10

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Japan

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The red torii gate and the 85 foot tall Goju-no-to pagoda are the two structures you’ll instantly notice as you enter the Japan Pavilion.  These and other buildings are surrounded by beautiful gardens made up of native Japanese plants, bamboo, and evergreen, maple, and monkey puzzle trees.  The large courtyard in the middle of the Pavilion makes Japan feel more open, relaxed, and less cluttered than other Pavilions.  Be sure to cross the bridge leading to the White Heron Castle and check out the koi fish below.

Attraction Info: Although adding a ride has been talked about since the Pavilion originally opened in 1982, Japan still does not have a major attraction.  Instead, there is an art gallery inside of the castle with exhibits that change periodically.  The current exhibit features anime artwork and explains how it mirrors traditional Japanese culture.  In addition, Japan features Matsuriza, which is a group of traditional Taiko drummers.  This is an exciting show in which the drummers play the large drums in an acrobatic style.  Another interesting show is performed by Miyuki, who is the only woman to ever be taught the craft of candy artistry.  By molding soft rice dough, she’s able to create a variety of shapes, animals, and objects.  It’s mesmerizing work and probably most people’s only opportunity to see it in person.  Check your Times Guide for show times.

Dining Options: Japan features two great World Showcase restaurants in the form of Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo.  Teppan Edo features teppanyaki style Japanese cooking similar to Benihana.  Tokyo Dining features sushi and other traditional items in a more formal setting.  The Yakitori House is also a good stop if you’re in the mood for quick service sushi or teriyaki.  Click the highlighted links for detailed reviews.  The Kabuki Cafe stand also serves a snow-cone-like treat, called a kaki gori, for about $3.50 that is a terrific cold snack.  They also serve a few other snacks like miso soup and edamame along with teas, smoothies, beer, and other drinks.  I highly recommend a kaki gori if you’re looking to cool off a bit.

Drink Around the World: The Mitsukoshi Department Store sells a variety of sakes at an informal tasting bar.  In addition, Kabuki Cafe serves sake ($6.00), plum wine ($6.00), and a 20-ounce Kirin beer for about $8.  Finally, there is a small bar directly across from the Mitsukoshi Department store that sells sake, mixed sake cocktails, frozen beverages, beer, and plum wine.

Character Sightings: Characters don’t usually appear in the Japan Pavilion.

Shopping Opportunities: The Mitsukoshi Department Store is far and away the most popular shopping location at the World Showcase.  At more than 10,000 square feet, it’s also the largest.  Mitsukoshi has something for every person and every budget.  The candy and food items are probably the most popular, but you’ll also find kimonos, Samurai swords, Bonsai trees, chopstick sets, calligraphy brushes, toys, and everything in between.  If you’re only going to visit one store at the World Showcase then this has to be it.  Plan to spend a while in here because there’s a lot to see.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 9/10

Attractions: 5/10

Dining: 9/10

Drinking: 8/10

Shopping: 10/10

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Mexico

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The Mexico Pavilion is styled to look like an ancient Temple in Tenochtitlan, the capital of what was once the vast Aztec Empire.  The structure is immense and the rich details are worth taking a moment to appreciate.  Unlike the other World Showcase Pavilions, most of the attractions, shops, and restaurants are located inside one air-conditioned building.  Coupled with the perpetual nighttime atmosphere, Mexico is one of the most relaxing and comfortable Pavilions to enjoy.  Pay special attention to the Temple’s interior backdrop, a spectacular Mayan Temple and smoldering volcano surrounded by a rich Yucatan jungle.

Attraction Info: Mexico features the “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros” which is similar to “It’s A Small World” at the Magic Kingdom.  The ride vehicles slowly meander around the river surrounding the interior of the Pavilion with the Three Caballeros intermittently showing up to play songs or cause mischief.  The ride lasts about five minutes and is best experienced when there is only a short line.  If the line exceeds 15 minutes, you may want to check back later after you circle the World Showcase.  It’s a ride worth experiencing, but once should be enough and you won’t be missing much if you aren’t able to squeeze it in.

Make sure to check out the hand-carved wood artwork right inside of the Temple’s entrance.  Many visitors overlook it in their hurry to get inside, but it’s some of the most interesting and creative examples of native artistry you’ll find in the World Showcase.  Near the entrance to the Three Caballeros ride, there is a mockup of a modern Mexican home and a variety of fun activities for kids.  There is also an interactive machine here where you can act out a short scene and send a free video postcard of it to yourself and friends or family back home.  Finally, check your Times Guide to see when and where the traveling Mariachi band will be playing.  There’s a lot to see and do in Mexico and many visitors don’t realize how much time they’ve spent inside of the Temple because they’re enjoying themselves so much.

Dining Options: La Cantina de San Angel is the outdoor quick service location with seating that overlooks World Showcase Lagoon.  The food is fresh, but portions are on the small side.  The nachos are recommended, but the other items aren’t enough food for the money.  La Hacienda de San Angel is the relatively new table service restaurant.  The menu is limited, but many tables inside offer an outstanding view of IllumiNations.  I recommend an 8pm reservation so you can enjoy IllumiNations with your meal.  Finally, San Angel Inn is the restaurant inside of the pyramid that overlooks the Three Caballeros boat ride.  Request one of the tables that overlooks the water.  San Angel Inn has improved quite a bit over the years and is now a recommended restaurant.  The one downside is that tables are close together and you’ll most likely feel like you’re dining with whoever is at the table next to you.

Drink Around the World: Mexico is most people’s favorite drinking destination, both at Epcot and in the “real world.”  La Cava del Tequila, located inside the pyramid, seats about 30 people and offers more than 70 tequilas ranging in price from about $8 to more than $50.  The menu includes a great number of margaritas, all of which are blended with fresh fruit and rimmed with exotic flavored salts.  You’re not going to find a fresher tasting drink in the World Showcase, though they are expensive at $12 – $15.  Outside, La Cantina de San Angel offers a 20 ounce Dos Equis ($7.75) as well as a number of frozen margaritas ($9.38).  There’s also a dedicated margarita kiosk that sells the same frozen margaritas along with several “premium” margaritas and beer.  I would recommend visiting La Cava to quench your thirst and request a to-go cup if you plan to take your drink with you.  La Cava’s margaritas are far superior to what you’ll get at La Cantina or the margarita kiosk.

Character Sightings: Donald in a sombrero meets guests to the right of the pyramid.

Shopping Opportunities: There are a variety of shops and street carts in Mexico providing visitors with plenty of unique and mass produced merchandise.  Piñatas, hand-crafted silver and jade jewelry, sombreros, and worry-dolls are all favorite items you won’t find anywhere else at Disney World.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 9/10

Attractions: 7/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 10/10

Shopping: 8/10

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Morocco

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: Morocco is represented by architecture and monuments from three famous Moroccan cities – Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakesh.  Koutoubia Minaret, the focal point of the Pavilion, is a replica of the 12th century Marrakesh prayer tower that looks out over the World Showcase.  Morocco is the only state-sponsored World Showcase Pavilion and the country played an integral part in the design and construction of the buildings, gardens, and Bab Boujeloud arch.  The King of Morocco actually sent his personal craftsmen to construct and lay tile in much of the Pavilion, making this one of the most authentic areas in Epcot.  Because of the religious significance of many of Morocco’s buildings, lights are not shined on the Pavilion during Illuminations.

Attraction Info: Morocco does not feature a ride or a film.  Fortunately, there is still plenty to see and do.  The “Treasures of Morocco” is a 45-minute walking tour of the Pavilion.  Your guide will explain the history and culture of Morocco as well as go into detail about how Morocco’s master craftsmen built the Pavilion.  It’s an excellent and informative tour to do if you have time and interest.  In addition, The Fez House is a replica of a typical Moroccan home, with beautiful tile work and authentic artifacts.  Be sure to also check out the “Gallery of Arts and History” and “Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment” museums for a variety of authentic displays of Moroccan history, technology, and accomplishment.  All three of these exhibits can be casually experienced in about 15 minutes, so I would recommend checking them out as each is exceptionally well done.  Finally, check your Times Guide for “MoRockin,” which features live Moroccan music and the belly dancer from Restaurant Marrakesh.   They perform for free in the Pavilion throughout the day. 

Dining Options: The Tangierine Café is one of the best values on the Disney Dining Plan and serves tasty, authentic Moroccan fare.  Restaurant Marrakesh offers freshly prepared Moroccan cuisine and entertainment including a belly dancer and live band.  In addition, the Moorish Café and Pastry Shop serves a variety of pastries, coffees, teas, and other light snacks.

Drink Around the World: The Moroccan refreshment stand serves a variety of slushie-style drinks.  The options are similar to what you’ll find at the Mexico Pavilion and include a margarita-type drink as well as a pina colada and daiquiri.  They are more sugary than alcoholic.  The Tangierine Cafe also serves Casa Beer, brewed by Brasseries Du Maroc in Morocco ($6.99).  Casa Beer is a light-bodied American Lager that most people should enjoy, especially on hot days, though it’s similar to most generic macro lagers.

Character Sightings: Aladdin and Jasmine greet guests out on the promenade throughout the day.

Shopping Opportunities: Morocco offers six or so small shops with a great variety of unique merchandise and gifts.  Much of it is expensive, but it’s still fun to see the many handmade items and get a better sense of Moroccan style and culture.  The Fez hat is probably the most popular item and many visitors get a kick out of wearing them around the World.  I would highly recommend taking a few minutes to check out the craftsmanship of the items, even if you don’t have intent to purchase.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 9/10

Attractions: 5/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 4/10

Shopping: 7/10

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Pavilion Setting: The Norway Pavilion is themed like a Viking-era village.  It features a replica of the 14th century Akershus Fortress, which the Norwegians originally built to protect Oslo from attack.  There is also a richly detailed Stave church, which houses authentic Viking weapons and artifacts.  It is estimated that at one time there were more than 1,000 of these medieval wooden churches scattered throughout Norway.  The rest of the buildings are themed in a variety of styles, including Setesdal, Bergen, Oslo, and Ålesund.

Maelstrom

Attraction Info: Norway houses the only “real ride” in the World Showcase – Maelstrom.

Opened: July 5th, 1988

Extra Magic Hours: Evening

FASTPASS: Yes, but not usually necessary.  FASTPASS return times are almost always just 40 minutes in the future, making it easy to collect FASTPASSes for because there’s so much to see and do in Norway and surrounding Mexico and China.

Type: Dark ride

Similar To: Pirates of the Caribbean

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  There’s nothing here that should frighten anyone over the age of ten.  The ride is dark, trolls are bountiful, and there is a small backwards drop, but the ride is over before anyone should have a chance to be scared.  Still, it may startle unadventurous kids.  If your child had trouble with Pirates of the Caribbean or any other Disney ride then you may want to think twice about this one.  Maelstrom is also a good indicator of how well your child will deal with other, more thrilling rides.

When To Go: Earlier is better, but it’s not worth making a special trip out to Norway in order to ride it at 11am, so any time should be fine.  If the wait is longer than 20 minutes then grab a Fastpass and enjoy the Pavilions until your time comes up.  Or, you could visit during Extra Magic Hours and probably ride over and over without any wait.

Expect to Wait: Actual wait times are usually ten minutes or less from 11am – 12:30pm.  Posted waits of 10 to 20 minutes are common after that.

Length: 5 minutes

What to Expect: Maelstrom is a slightly faster Norwegian version of Pirates of the Caribbean.  It’s also more than 20 years old and hasn’t been updated or refurbished since 1988.  Nonetheless, it’s a nostalgic ride that most guests enjoy.  After the ride ends and you exit your vehicle (if you make it past the trolls), you’ll be led to a small area where a five minute film is shown.  You can choose to stay and watch it or leave before it starts.  I would recommend staying for it if you haven’t seen it because it’s about 25 years old and hilarious.  There are no (intentional) jokes or comedy or anything, but I think most people will get a kick out of it.

Rating: 6/10

Norway Pavilion

Dining Options: Akershus Banquet Hall is one of the better princess character meals in Disney World, featuring a traditional plated main course along with a cold food buffet.  Kringla Bakeri og Kafe offers some of the best tasting treats in World Showcase, including the incredibly popular School Bread.  Kringla also serves a variety of heartier sandwiches along with salads and other items.

Drink Around the World: Kringla Bakeri og Kafe serves Carlsberg beer ($7.50) and alcohol infused coffee drinks.  Outside on the promenade, you can order a Linnie Aquavit shot ($8.25) or a Carlsberg Beer from a kiosk.

Character Sightings: Although five princesses are present inside Akershus for the buffet, no characters ordinarily appear outside in the Pavilion.

Shopping Opportunities: Norways’s “The Puffin’s Roost” is one of the larger shops in the World Showcase.  It offers a great variety of items, including hand-knit clothing, porcelain, troll dolls, Christmas ornaments, toys, perfume, food items, Viking helmets, and more.   Make sure to get a picture with the giant troll that watches over the store.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 7/10

Attractions: 7/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 4/10

Shopping: 7/10

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United Kingdom

by josh on April 15, 2010

Pavilion Setting: The United Kingdom Pavilion is one of the more architecturally diverse World Showcase Pavilions.  There are a variety of styles represented in the Hampton Court Palace, Anne Hathaway’s (William Shakespeare’s wife) thatched roof cottage, two castles, and a miniature version of Hyde Park.  You’ll see replicas of the red phone booths England is so famous for as well as a variety of beautiful garden areas.  There is a lot to see while strolling along the cobble-stoned walkways.  The more cynical amongst us will probably point out that there is very little to represent anything other than England.

Attraction Info: There is no main attraction at the UK Pavilion, but there are two shows worth seeing.  The first is “The British Revolution,” which is a cover band that plays popular songs by mostly English bands.  Expect to hear Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles, and similar bands.  They’re a lot of fun to watch and play 20 minute shows throughout the day.  The second features the World Showcase Players in a variety of skits and gags.  They encourage audience participation so make sure you get up front and make your presence known.  The show lasts about 20 minutes and occurs throughout the day.  Finally, The Hat Lady serenades guests inside the Rose & Crown Pub in the evening, usually with four sets that begin between 5:20pm and 8:20pm.  Check your Times Guide for show times.

Dining Options: The United Kingdom has two excellent dining choices – the Rose and Crown Dining Room Restaurant and Yorkshire County Fish Shop quick service.  Joffrey’s coffee also sells tea, coffee, snacks, and pastries across from the Pub.

Drink Around the World: The Rose and Crown has a pub where you can order a wide variety of drinks without a reservation.  It’s an excellent location to relax with other adults and enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but it is small and does get crowded.  I would recommend the Welsh Dragon, made with Peach schnapps, melon liqueur, crème de menthe, orange juice, and pineapple juice.  Of course, any of the scotches would also do.  Yorkshire Fish Shop serves pints of Bass Ale and Harp Lager for $7.50 and there is an additional kiosk next to the check-in area for Rose & Crown that also serves Guinness and other beer.

Character Sightings: Look for the Winnie the Pooh and Tigger inside the Toy Soldier store. Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins make appearances out on the promenade in between the United Kingdom Pavilion and the bridge over to the France Pavilion.

Shopping Opportunities: Shopping is the main activity in the United Kingdom Pavilion and there are a variety of stores to check out.  You’ll find clothing, football (soccer) jerseys, toys, books, tea sets, food items, perfume, jewelry, band memorabilia, t-shirts, and much, much more.

Overall Ratings:

Setting: 7/10

Attractions: 5/10

Dining: 8/10

Drinking: 9/10

Shopping: 6/10

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