Around the World in Eight Hours: Walt Disney World

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The China Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World. Photo by Janna Graber
The China Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World. Photo by Janna Graber

I’m a travel junkie. While some may consider travel a luxury, for me it’s an essential part of life. Regardless of whether I travel in my own backyard or across the globe, I thrive on exploring new places, meeting different people and learning more about the world.

Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget to feed this love of travel. Who does? But that doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. You just have to be more creative. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can let the world come to you.

Take the Epcot World Showcase, for example. Epcot, one of the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, was created to entertain, inform and inspire.

When Epcot opened in 1982, E. Cardon Walker, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walt Disney Productions, stated the company’s hopes for the park: “May it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.”

And today, it does just that.

Shopping in Germany at Walt Disney Worlds Epcot theme park. Photo by Janna Graber
Shopping in Germany at Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park. Photo by Janna Graber

World Showcase at Epcot Theme Park

The 305-acre park has two distinct areas: Future World explores the latest innovative technology, while the World Showcase celebrates 11 nations in different villages lining the park’s 40-acre lagoon.

The World Showcase is what makes Epcot truly unique, and my favorite Disney theme park. Why? Because walking through the different “nations” is like taking a little trip around the globe. Here in Epcot I can have breakfast in Norway, buy dishware in Japan, see a movie in China and then enjoy a scrumptious dinner in France. Not bad for a day’s journey.

During this whirlwind adventure, I re-discover some of the things I love these far-flung destinations, as well as learn about places I have not yet been – all without having to go through customs or check any baggage.

Eleven different nations are represented in the showcase, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, Mexico and the USA. Each national pavilion was created with careful attention to detail. It’s unbelievably canny how well the streets, gardens, buildings and monuments in each village provide an authentic visual representation of that nation.

A Norwegian pastry at Kringla, the bakery in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. Photo by Janna Graber
A Norwegian pastry at Kringla, the bakery in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. Photo by Janna Graber

Norway, for example, has a stunning replica of a stave church, while the United Kingdom delights with its carefully manicured English gardens. The French village reflects Paris between 1870 and 1910, and the Morocco pavilion has the Koutoubia Minaret (a replica of a famous prayer tower).

The Norway Pavilion has an added attraction as well – Frozen Ever After. This all-new boat-ride features Anna, Elsa, and Olaf as you sail aboard an ancient Norwegian vessel.

For many people – and especially children – Epcot is the first introduction to some of these faraway lands. Indeed, it was for me. I was thirteen the first time I stepped foot in Epcot, and it felt like I had landed on the moon. Foreign words surrounded me while I explored shops filled with exotic things I had never seen before, and tasted cuisine that was new to my tongue. I was absolutely thrilled.

Fast forward all these years later (I’m not telling how many), and the theme park still captures my attention and imagination.

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