There are times when I worry that my ranting and raving here may come off as a bit of a Debbie Downer. Hopefully what comes across is my passion. I’m a fan of Disney, a fan of Epcot, and one who has been ultimately affected deeply by that park as a whole who is unhappy with the current trajectory that the park has had in the past 10-15 years. I criticize because I love. Wow, how many Thanksgivings has a line like that from a parent or family member likely ruined?
So given the fact that we’re coming up on Thanksgiving, I’m in DC visiting family and bathing in the thankfulness that the holiday represents, I figure I should be in the headspace to list the things I’m still thankful for at Epcot. I’ve really not thought this through other than the theme and title, so let’s see what comes out if I just sit down and start jamming and see what comes up.
Things I’m thankful for at Epcot:
· The Behind the Seeds tour -- The best valued tour on property. As a kid I would have died to set foot inside the greenhouse in The Land, and now I can. I’d pay disgusting amounts of money for an overnight “campout” in the greenhouse.
· The Art of Disney – One of my favorite, and most dangerous, things to do at WDW is to look through the Art of Disney at Epcot and see the things that make me wish I won the lottery. Ohh, this will be interesting to count how many things I am thankful for at Epcot are food/dining/merch related. Spending extra money instead of enjoying an attraction. Extra Money - 1
· Bill Nye – Currently the only saving grace of the Energy pavilion is Bill Nye, Alex Trebek, and some of Ellen’s jokes. That’s it. Still, gotta respect The Science Guy!
· The Vafler with Gjetost at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafé – As a kid I always loved the Vafler with the strawberries. That is before I discovered the wonders of the Norwegian brown cheese. Now it’s all cheese all the time. Keep your pretzels and school bread, gimmie some waffle with cheese! Extra Money - 2
· The Coral Reef – Not because I really love the food there, or even eat there with any regularity. I’m just glad it still exists and hasn’t been turned into a character dining option. Since this isn’t something I eat at much, I’m not counting this as an extra money attraction. I’m just happy it exists.
· “Behold, The majesty of the Sistine Chapel” – I’ve talked about it at length, but the ascent in Spaceship Earth is still a phenomenal attraction. My favorite moment from the Cronkite narration isn’t exactly the same with the Dench version, but still, it’s my favorite part of the current ride.
· Circlevision – For whatever reason, my father loved circlevision movies more than just about anything, and he passed that love on to me. Currently I prefer the China film to Canada, but that shot of Banff might be my favorite thing in either. Gotta love some circlevision films.
· This place in Morocco --
· Biergarten – Disney has turned me into someone who loves it when an inside area is themed to make it look outside. I’d not given Biergarten a thought for years, but about 8 years ago or so I went in there and before I knew it, I was drinking a litre of beer (Franziskaner) while swaying back and forth to the polka music and eating many sausages. Since then it’s nearly a must-do, and my deep down hidden German heritage comes busting out when I come within 10 yards of the place. Extra money – 3
· Listen to the Land – Sure, it’s missing the boss original song, and the live narrator, but it’s still one of the few remaining attractions that have that original Epcot Center feel. I couldn’t make a list like this without one of the last remaining vestiges of the original park.
· The Bijutsu-kan Gallery in Japan. This is such a hidden gem of an attraction. I always love spending some time in here looking at the exhibits. It’s always quiet, pretty empty, and a nice place to enjoy a few moments of learning before heading to:
· Mitsukoshi Department Store – One of the more unique stores on property, capturing many different aspects of Japanese culture, from pop culture to ancient and traditional. Extra Money – 4
· All the other unique shops in World Showcase – Let’s just lump them all together instead of calling them all out one by one. Anywhere that carries unique merchandise that is from the host country is excellent. Did you know, according to my Walt Disney’s Epcot book, originally all merchandise sold in World Showcase came from their host countries? Nothing generic or Disney Parks was supposed to be in World Showcase. That is what Mousegears was for. World Showcase was supposed to surround you in world culture. Extra money – 5
· The German train set – What can I say, I am a sucker for train sets.
· The Teracotta Army exhibit in the House of the Whispering Willows – I’ve always been fascinated with the Teracotta Army in China, so getting a little taste of it is fantastic.
· Last but certainly far, far from least: The American Adventure – Just about the perfect attraction. A masterpiece. From the peace and quiet of the rotunda, to Voices of Liberty, to the show itself, and Golden Dream. For those that have not, buy “Building a Better Mouse” off of Amazon and read about the creation of this show from the electrical engineers charged with creating this intricate show. It’s still just as moving as it was back in the day. I’m moved to tears during the show every time. The pavilion itself is perfection, the show is perfection, and as a complete side-note, you’ve not lived until you’ve drunkenly danced at 2am to a Brazilian drumline and carnival dancers in the American Adventure Rotunda…