WS has long been one of my favorite places in all of WDW. I remember it from when it first opened and it was a bit more “culturally-focused”, but I still think it maintains much of it’s original “mission”. In general, the design of the countries is to choose a few “landmark” buildings to serve as models for the typically smaller EP versions. These do a good job of showing “traditional” architecture, but do not necessarily represent every day living (how many Americans live in a building that looks like Independence Hall?)
For the record, ALL of the original WS countries were in part, if not completely, funded by the countries themselves. The reason there were (are) not more countries built is due to contract negotiation breakdowns. To the best of my knowledge, Norway is the only country that has completely cut ties with their respective pavilions. Had Norway continued as a sponsor, the Frozen overlay would probably never have occurred.
I’ve been to China, and although at a reduced scale, the architecture is very representative of “classical” Chinese architecture. The stuff for sale in the shops is the same “made for tourists” stuff you find in shops in China. Virtually no “ordinary person” in China buys things like this because they cannot afford them; the wealthy buy actual antiquities. “Chinese food” as we know it in America is mostly unheard of in China except for the places that all the tour buses go that serve what Westerners think is “Chinese” food. At best, it reflects modern Hong Kong cuisine - and Hong Kong might as well be a different country. And even the American-Chinese food that the Chinese feed to Americans is better than the “Chinese” food available in EP. Probably my least favorite food in WS. The film does an excellent job of showing some of the beauty of China.
I lived in Japan for 4 years, and the architecture is very representative of classic Japanese styles. I’ve been to Mitsukoshi stores in Japan, and the one in EP is a very close model (minus the day to day living items). The food at both TE and TD is very representative of “what the Japanese actually eat”. It will be interesting to see what the new signature restaurant will be like. “High end” dining in Japan is outrageously expensive, so I’m guessing that this may be one of the most expensive restaurants in EP - if not WDW. As an example, Miazaki beef typically runs $23-30 per ounce…
As for Canada, I’ve been to Buchart Gardens in Victoria, and the pavilion is a nice homage to them - although the actual gardens are about the size of all of WS. I’ve had steak in Montreal, and I suppose that Le Cel is a reasonable representation of it; but steak is kind of steak… The film is kind of fun, but truth be told, I liked the original better than the Martin Short version.
I’ve not spent much time in Mexico, but having lived in San Diego for years, I have an appreciation of the Mexican culture and food. The building capture the flavor of a Mexican pyramid, and the inside is beautiful. The architecture continues to be relatively accurate, and many of the crafts for sale are authentic (others are the typical cheap tourist stuff from Tijuana. Mexican food is very regional; nothing in WS is reflective of the coastal cuisine with which I am most familiar. SAI, to me, is no more than an “average” Mexican restaurant you can find in most American cities. The food at LH is markedly better, and features more “traditional” dishes vice your typical taco and burrito fare. La Cantina (the QS), on the other hand, would be improved if they just replaced it with Taco Bell. The only reason I would go there is for a frozen margarita on a hot day.
Germany is one of my favorites because of BG. My mother was first generation German American, and I grew up eating a lot of German food (not knowing that it was “German” at the time). Cooking is a hobby of mine, and I have “specialized” in German cooking. The food at BG is some of the best German food that I’ve eaten that hasn’t come out of my mother’s or my kitchen. When it first opened, the gift shops were filled with wonderful German items (Black Forest cuckoo clocks, wood carving from Seiffen, Hummels, crystal, etc.), but sadly it now most an example of what I call “tee shirt and shot glass” shops, with just a few remnants of what it used to be.
These are the only ones that I feel I can comment on based on any first-hand experience.