What is the point of World Showcase

I was reflecting on some hilarious banter we all enjoyed on the forums a few days ago relating to the horror, or otherwise, of British citizens being subject to a monarchy.

It reminded me of my view that world peace is more likely to be achieved if people visit other countries and try to understand the people and their culture.

Is this, I wondered, the point of World Showcase? And, if it is, how effective is it?

Being British, I can speak to the realism of the United Kingdom pavilion. It demonstrates a range of architectural styles, all of which can be found in the UK. So it definitely looks the part. I haven’t eaten at either the Rose and Crown or the Yorkshire County Fish Shop (why would I? I actually live in the county of Yorkshire) but I’m willing to believe the food might be representative of the style and quality of that here in the UK.

Where I begin to wonder is this:

No-one in the UK dresses like this. I’m not sure they ever have. It’s at best a stereotype and, frankly, a ridiculous one. It’s not even our national dress.

The French pavilion does a decent job. There are places in France that look like that. The food — certainly at Monsieur Paul — is characteristically French. And the wait staff are exactly right — impossibly good looking and snooty. Impressions de France does an excellent job of showcasing the incredible beauty of France — I was almost in tears watching it, while remembering the idiot minority of the UK population who voted to drag us away from it.

What of the rest? What do you think is the point of World Showcase? Does it achieve its goals?

6 Likes

I personally love it and think it does a good job exposing those who don’t travel to aspects of other cultures. Even as someone like me who is well travelled, I still think it does a decent job showcasing food and architecture. It does serve as an education as well which may help get kids out of school so they can write a report on the countries “visited”.

4 Likes

As a Canadian I thought the Canada pavilion was hilarious. The lumberjack stereotype was cranked up to delirious level and there was little to no actual cultural or historical information.

Having visited several of the other countries represented, I thought there was some architectural value (France, Germany, UK, Italy in particular) but not much else.

Also, it seemed to me that the purpose was to make the visitor ‘‘travel the world’’ and so I thought the point of having a US pavilion there was difficult to make LOL

Anyway, I think it’s just meant to be fun and pretty ? I think it’s definitely pretty and sort of fun (and a bit silly).

I don’t know if there is any actual pretention of being educational by Disney ? If so, it is a failure in my opinion…

I’ve only ever toured it seriously once. I plan on doing so again this summer. The first time it seemed its primary function was to sell stuff.

4 Likes

It’s a Small World on steroids?

5 Likes

Yeah I toured it only once too. Actually only been to Epcot once as we thought it was not that great a park. My wife and I enjoyed just walking through the pavilions. Our son was 4 at the time and he fell asleep in his stroller just before we got to WS and he slept through the entire visit. We just walked around slowly and looked at the different buildings, got a beer and a sausage in Germany, a gelato in Italy, sat on a bench and relaxed in France…So even without buying much we had a nice time but I definitely see what you mean…

1 Like

:rofl::rofl::rofl:

1 Like

Well, yes.

Problem is, the original intent/hope for Epcot’s World Showcase never really came to fruition. That is, Disney had wanted the countries themselves to “buy into” the pavilions. That never happened. (Well, initially…I believe Morocco was the first pavilion where the country itself had any financial ties.)

So, as a result, it became something to visually evoke the country…and then sell stuff. :slight_smile:

ETA: I should point that that the bigger goal of Epcot was, originally, supposed to be a kind of “permanent World’s Fair”. Futureworld was supposed to display the on-going future-looking technologies, and the World Showcase was to be the cultural side of things.

3 Likes

There are films, at least the last time I went, in the China & Norway pavilions about those countries. Plus, before FEA, Maelstrom was supposed to be about Norway’s link to trolls - like Ireland to leprecahuns. Even the Grand Fiesta Tour, though outdated, shows scenes about life in Mexico. Japan & Morocco have exhibits.

There are shows outside each land doing cultural demonstrations. If you really explore each land you can find master trades people, from their respective countries, doing their art / craft.

It may not look like much on the surface, but if you spend the day exploring the pavilions you can meet some great people and learn about these places.

5 Likes

I think i read somewhere that the King (is that right? ) of Morocco sent the craftsman who worked on buildings for the monarchy to Florida to do the detail work on that pavilion so it would be accurate.

3 Likes

Really! All my life I thought that is how the brits dressed. That and GOT clothing.

3 Likes

That is correct.

I love the World Showcase. Though I can’t speak to the authenticity, I love trying the different food and drinks “around the world”. I love the scenery in the UK, France, Japan, and Morocco. I love the acrobats in China, the Vikings in Norway, the acapela singers in the US (though otherwise, the US is my least favorite pavilion). There is a polka band in Germany, drummers in Japan, belly dancers in Morocco (and a band, I believe), a Mariachi group in Mexico, films in China, Canada, France. There is so much to do. I don’t know what the point of it is, though I imagine it was originally supposed to be educational. The pavilions are too small to really do the individual countries justice, but I have a lot of fun there. I do agree that the shops (and drinking, though I’m guilty here) have somewhat taken over.

1 Like

That is how they dress, @mousematt Just doesn’t understand fashion!

5 Likes

I’ve seen Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns. I think I have a firm grasp on British fashion now.

7 Likes

I love the World Showcase. Sure, it’s not really representative of most of the countries - at least not the ones I’ve been to (still need to do Norway and Morocco IRL) - but I do enjoy wandering the pavilions and taking in the performances. I try to avoid buying anything now but that’s fairly standard regardless of where I travel. More experiences, less stuff!

Um. Disney isn’t about experiences. It is about getting Fast Passes. :wink:

9 Likes

Not at EPCOT in 2019! Maybe once all the new stuff opens. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Also, responsibly enjoyed adult beverages. I forgot about those too.

Well, yes. Disney has seen the error of their ways. That was why they put Frozen into Norway (for the FP opportunity) and why they are putting Ratatouille in France (for the FP opportunity).

Not quite sure about the “responsibly” part, but that is true otherwise, it seems!

1 Like

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.

12 Likes

Interesting how people’s opinions can differ - Epcot is my family’s favorite park, and we love World Showcase.

If you think about the theme of Epcot itself, especially early Epcot, it is about the promise of tomorrow (hence the song that plays after Illuminations…). Future world is supposed to be about the promise of new technologies and what they can mean for us in the future, while world Showcase is about the promise of better communication and understanding between Nations. U.S. is there as the host nation.

I found this article particularly insightful, which has thoughts from a former Disney Imagineer on the subject.

4 Likes