Saturday September 16, 2000
Woke up early yet again. This time we headed over to EPCOT to take the Hidden Treasures of the World Showcase tour. Our tour guide, Myrna, from Puerto Rico greeted us. She works for the Disney Institute teaching children and occasionally leading tours. Were we’re lucky because the tour started at 9am and the World Showcase was not open to the public until 11. This gave us a great opportunity to see the details of the pavilions without the crowds and get some good photos.
We started in Canada where she told us about forced perspective and gave us details about how the Rocky Mountains were built. She took us backstage to give us a view of how it was done. We were then off around the Showcase. I had been through the Showcase several times and she managed to surprise me with some details that I had completely missed. For instance, the hedge maze in the back of the UK pavilion. I had never made it back that far and thought it was way cool.
In France, she took us backstage to see how they had to remodel the backstage areas of the pavilion to hide it from the guests at the Swan, Dolphin, and Boardwalk resorts. She also pointed out that the Paris restaurant used to be open air, just like the ones in the real Paris, but guests complained of the weather so EPCOT converted them into covered restaurants. Myrna then took us into the Morocco pavilion where she showed us how the King of Morocco sent his best craftsmen to help build it. She also let us glance at the letter written to the King, thanking him for recognizing the US as a country before anyone else.
It was then off to Japan. We discussed how sometimes Chinese and Japanese customs are linked. She mentioned ponds and their differences between the countries (Chinese stagnant, Japanese running water with fish). She also told us why the two samurai statues were facing different directions in the area leading to the Shogun castle. Despite some creative answers from the peanut gallery, Myrna explained that Disney made a mistake and cast both statues from the same mold instead of mirror molds. They solved the problem by rotating the statue. From Japan it was time to head to the American Adventure.
The American pavilion is the only one that does not go by the name of the country. It is also one of the few buildings that uses reverse forced perspective. Instead of making a 3 story building look like 10 as in Canada, they use it to make the 6 story American building appear to be only 3. Also, the building was built in the same space as most of the other pavilions, except it was placed farther back and the front was opened up to give the appearance of a bigger setting.
We then crossed the Atlantic and headed to Italy. At this point the love bugs started swarming and the humidity soared. Myrna discussed the origins of Alfredo sauce and the fact that it is the same Alfredo family that oversees the restaurant at the Italian pavilion. Germany was next, but there was not too much to talk about save for the explanation of the buildings. Some of the pavilions of the World Showcase contain several different architectures that represent parts of the country. Some are just one distinct style (like the American Adventure). Germany’s outside is Bavarian, but each building is a different Bavarian house. In Italy it is mostly Venice with a sprinkle of Rome. Between Germany and China, Myrna paused to tell the story of the Equatorial African pavilion that never came to be due to the squabbling of the governments involved. In China came the biggest secret of them all. The detail work of the pavilion is not painted, but rather wallpaper developed by the Imagineers. There was no way to tell but it was fascinating to see people’s reactions to the news.
In Norway it was off to church as we went into a little known part of the pavilion that is a replica of an authentic Norwegian church from the 900’s. Most churches like this have been torn down due to a law passed in the 1800’s that require communities to provide adequate church facilities. Only 28 of 1500 remain. Also tucked away from view, a Viking ship replica sits in the back utilized as a play set for kids. Most people focus on the boat ride and overlook the small details of Norway. By this time the weather began to cool dramatically and the bugs started to leave. We were all puzzled but apparently a hurricane is approaching our part of the world (and I mean Florida, not Norway). By the time we were inside the Mexico pavilion it started to pour outside. Myrna wrapped up the talk by telling us that today is Mexican Independence Day, and they were celebrating all day long. She also pointed out that the pyramid that is Mexico is actually a combination of three styles – Inca, Mayan, and Toltecan – all melted into one. She also pointed out strategically placed artwork that prevents people from climbing to the top and getting hurt. It was then time to say goodbye to Myrna. She was a great tour guide and provided ample insight and a new perspective into the World Showcase.
Roger and I decided it was time for lunch. After scouting out several pavilions (and me being my usual picky self) we ended up hiking over to the Land in Future World. After lunch, we bummed around Future World hitting Spaceship Earth one last time. It was fitting that our last ride at EPCOT was the first one that we rode over a week ago. By now the rain had thinned out to sprinkles, so we headed back to the hotel. We were both tired from the extensive walking and the early start, so we opted for a two-hour nap.
Revitalized, we headed out for an evening at the Magic Kingdom which was open late. Also, there were fireworks and the Main Street Electrical Parade to look forward to. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to ride any more attractions. We spent our few hours eating and then waiting for the parade to start. Now, Roger is a big fan of the parade, and I am the sort of person who sees parades as a chance to get on rides with shorter lines. However, I must confess to having a Disney moment as the music started and the first floats began to appear. Sure the floats are tacky and dated, but gosh darn it was fun. It was then that I said to myself that this was a perfect ending to the trip. Seeing Disneyland’s old parade tied it all together for me.
After the parade it was time for the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks. While not as sophisticated as the Believe show, they certainly were ten times louder. You could hear the booms echo through the entire place. It must be nice not having to worry about the city of Anaheim and the residents around you. One can only imagine what our shows would be like (something I alluded to with Fantasmic). It was then time to head back to the hotel and get some sleep. Of course, we had to wait a good hour because of the sheer mass of humanity that was trying to leave at the same time. The Magic Kingdom has a bigger capacity and therefore creates huge log jams at the boats and monorails to the hotels and parking, and even bigger headaches with the busses to the other resorts. I expect Disneyland will be having the same problems when the new park opens and everyone is trying to get to the trams to the garage. We managed to save some time by getting on the Port Orleans bus. We intended to hoof it back to Dixie Landings from Port Orleans, but they picked up Dixie Landings people as well so we got dropped off in our usual spot.
That brings to a close this day at Walt Disney World. Tomorrow we will try and hit as much as we can before checking out at 11 and getting the shuttle to the airport at 3. I am not sure if we can pull off a four-park day, but it is worth a try (I’d settle for a three). This actually is a tradition I started my first time here by visiting all the gated attractions on my last day. I didn’t have a chance to get to it today, so I will try and carry on the tradition as much as I can tomorrow.