Travel The World Without A Passport In EPCOT World Showcase!

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Fantasyland, Adventureland, and Hollywood aren’t the only places you’ll be transported to at Walt Disney World. As an avid traveler, one of my favorite parts of Walt Disney World Resort is exploring World Showcase at EPCOT theme Park. When EPCOT opened in 1982, the plan for the Park was to merge original concepts drafted by Walt Disney to create an installation similar to the World’s Fair to educate and inspire Guests while they learn about science, space, the human body, and cultures worldwide.

walt disney epcot
Credit: Disney

What Is World Showcase?

World Showcases is composed of 11 different pavilions around the EPCOT loop. Serious Walt Disney World fans playfully joke about the right way to travel around these countries, either you are team Mexico to Canada or team Canada to Mexico. Which way do you walk at EPCOT World Showcase?

A piece of chocolate cake on a plate
Credit: Disney

The pavilions you will find include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States of America, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Each of these pavilions promotes the country’s culture, represented through architecture, art installations, rides, shows, shopping, food, and, most importantly, Cast Members from that country that work in each pavilion.

Things To Do In World Showcase

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure in EPCOT
Credit: Krysten Swensen

One of my favorite things about a Disney theme Park vacation is that you can lean into the details you enjoy most. If you want to stick to meeting your favorite Disney Characters in their home country or just want to listen to awesome music in the United Kingdom Pavilion, that is a great idea. If you want to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in the France Pavilion at EPCOT, you can. If you want to move even slower and hang out in pavilions, chat with Cast Members, and sample quick service dining, that is another excellent way to enjoy the Park.

Related: Mouthwatering Tokyo Disneyland Snacks We Wish Were at a Park Near Us!

While you won’t find a Disney Princess pavilion in World Showcase, you can meet Anna and Elsa right outside Frozen Ever After ride in the Norway pavilion. You can meet Princess Jasmine and Aladdin at the Morocco Pavilion, Belle at the France Pavilion, Mulan at the China Pavilion in EPCOT, Donald Duck at the Mexico Pavilion, and the original Disney Princess Snow White at the Germany Pavilion.

princess aurora epcot
Credit: Disney

You’ll find storybook rides in  Mexico, Norway, and France. But in addition to Disney Character-themed attractions and delicious food, you can learn quite a bit about countries worldwide just by visiting the pavilions in World Showcase. The serious and seasoned world travelers will probably laugh at me, implying that the cultural representative in places like the EPCOT Italian Pavilion, the Canada Pavilion at EPCOT, or the Japan Pavilion at EPCOT, could convey meaningful information about their home from an American theme Park.

Earlier today, it was announced that upon EPCOT's July 15 reopening, the World Showcase pavilions will no longer be staffed by international Cast Members.  The news broke on FOX 35 Orlando and was confirmed on a Disney Cast Member Union call. The union representative acknowledged that international Cast Members will not, in fact, be present at Walt Disney World Resort during its initial reopening phase.  He stated: “There are not going to be any international college program students any time soon staffing Frozen’s ride at EPCOT or the Ratatouille ride in France, or the Mexican boat ride. Any of those things will all be run by domestic attractions workers when they open.” Now, however, there is good news for Guests who enjoy conversing with Disney World Cast Members from around the world and for international citizens who have always dreamed of working at WDW.  The Mexico Cultural Representative Program, Norway Cultural Representative Program, and Germany Cultural Representative Program have all begun accepting online applications for 2021.  As per the job descriptions on the Disney Careers website, the positions will have start dates between August 2020 and November 2020. This indicates that the Walt Disney Company may be intending to resume their college programs sooner than later.  Disney outlines the year-long Cultural Representative Program on each job listing:
Credit: Chloe Rice/Disney

Still, I think speaking to Cast Members around World Showcase, asking questions about their culture, and watching the informational Disney films in pavilions are valuable learning experiences.

If you want to learn more about culture, do not miss the attractions below.

Top EPCOT Experiences For Learning and Culture

Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 – You may be ready to book a trip north after experiencing the beauty of the wild Canadian country and metropolitan cities in 360 circle vision at EPCOT.

Credit: ITM

Reflections of China – Take in the sights of this vast and beautiful country, from the great wall and bustling cities to the mountains and farmland. This film is always my favorite.

The American Adventure – Nothing beats when history comes to life. This show tells some of the American story using animatronics and film. Do not miss this World Showcase show in the American Pavilion in EPCOT.

american-adventure
Credit: Disney

Awesome Planet – This show is technically an honorable mention because it is located in World Nature and showcases breathtaking world scenes. That said, you’ll get some incredible glimpses of international habitats and sights that put it on this list.

Awesome Planet EPCOT
Credit: Disney

Soarin Around the World – Sure, you may not learn much from this ride, but it does a lot to encourage travel and cultural exploration. Seeing Neuschwanstein Castle, The Great Wall of China, and Serengeti National Park from a hang glider in the span of a few minutes is always one of my favorite attractions of the day.

@aroundthemagic

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♬ The Nations Of The World 1980s – ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀

Does World Showcase Inspire Travel?

Castle setup at Shanghai Disney
Credit: Disney

If your trip around the world needs some Disney magic, don’t forget that international Disney Parks are a fun option to visit. Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disney Resort, and Disneyland Hong Kong are all fun spots to experience the Disney vacation vibe when you are not in the United States. Mixing international culture with a day at Disney is so much fun. Disney fanatics that enjoy visits to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort in California will enjoy seeing the differences in attractions and cultural differences in an international theme Park.

La Crêperie de Paris
Credit: Disney

The cultural representation of EPCOT World Showcase may be mocked by non-Disney fans, but I disagree entirely. I think a trip around World Showcase can go a long way to help Guests and future international travelers develop an interest in seeing the world. Who knows, Maybe an EPCOT Guest will be inspired to book that dream vacation to Paris after eating crepes at Crêpes À Emporter by La Crêperie de Paris in World Showcase, or will book a vacation to see the real Trevi Fountain in Rome after posing for a photo with the model of it in the Italian Pavilion in World Showcase.

epcot italy dining
Credit: Disney

While no experience will perfectly substitute for a passport stamp and a plane ticket abroad, I think it’s important to pay homage to the education that does happen about international cultures at EPCOT World Showcase. Guests that have never left North America and those who are United States natives could do with learning even more about American history. This theme Park experience does double duty to entertain and educate.

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