Welcome back to our World Showcase Tour Series! In our first installment, we guided you on a journey through the Canada Pavilion and all of its wonders. (Concerned that you missed it, eh? Not to worry, you can read part one right HERE.) Continuing on around the World Showcase Lagoon, our next stop is the United Kingdom. Much like England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales (the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom,) the United Kingdom Pavilion is full of history, culture, and wonderfully unique experiences, people, goods, and cuisine. I have to confess I had a bit of a hard time choosing only five experiences to highlight, because the UK pavilion truly has so many to offer. That said, here are the five that I found to be most unique, worthwhile, or just plain fun:
1. The Rose and Crown Pub
With its eclectic staff and clientele, authentic pub fare, lively atmosphere, and sometimes even live piano accompaniment, the Rose and Crown is more than just the only full service pub in Epcot- it’s an experience not to be missed. Often rowdy, and frequently packed with enthusiastic adult visitors on their, ahem, “liquid journey” around the World Showcase, the bar area in the front of the pub is an extremely fun and distinctly “grown-up” watering hole with a great bar atmosphere, especially later on in the afternoon and evening. It’s a great place to strike up interesting conversations with other patrons from all over the globe, and lots of fun to run into your new friends at other Pavilions throughout the day.
Traveling with children? No fear! The restaurant area in the back of the pub has a great family atmosphere, a wonderful menu, and from many tables, a beautiful view of the lagoon. The fish and chips are delicious! The restaurant tends to get busy, especially in the evening right before Illuminations, so reservations are usually a good idea.
2. World Showcase Players
Having enjoyed them on nearly every Disney trip for as long as I can remember, the Renaissance style World Showcase players are one of my absolute favorite street performance troupes. While their shows are comically mangled (extremely) loose interpretations of classic British literature (“Romeo and Edna,” for example) where they really shine is through their guerilla style audience involvement, and excellent improvisational skills. Whether your party’s average age is 2 or 102, it’s equally hilarious to watch these talented performers at work on stage (which they establish in the middle of the street!), often with one of your friends or family members as a co-star. They perform short shows several times a day, and are definitely worth stopping to watch if you happen to wander upon them.
3. Historical Research Centre
Located inside the picturesque shops across the street from the Rose and Crown, the Historical Research Centre is one of the unique hidden gems in Epcot. With the click of a button, or the flip of a few pages, visitors are able to search through over a million surnames, to find one’s family crest, coat of arms, surname origin and history, and more. Once you’ve located your family’s name and symbols, you can purchase them on a variety of canvasses, ranging from plaques and t-shirts, to coffee mugs and spoons. The database is not just limited to names of English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish descent either- my friends and family had a blast researching their Italian rooted names during one of our last visits. There’s no guarantee that every single name can be researched and found in the database, but with over a million names and counting, your odds are quite good.
4. Children’s Hedge Maze
Similar to the American tradition of corn (or maize) mazes, hedge mazes are a longstanding tradition in the United Kingdom dating back to the mid-16th century. The traditional hedge maze is shaped out of very tall hedges, creating a fun and often challenging path for visitors to navigate their way through. However, in true Disney style, this maze is scaled way down, to less than two feet high, to be safe and manageable for even Mickey’s smallest friends, all while staying in sight of Mom and Dad. In what can seem like the sometimes rather passive World Showcase area, the maze is a great place for antsy children to have fun and burn off some pent up energy. As an added bonus, not too far away is the British Butterfly Garden, where you and your youngest guests can enjoy an array of live butterflies in a beautiful garden setting during most seasons.
5. Alice and Mary Poppins
While there are ample opportunities to meet various Disney characters throughout all four of the theme parks, the United Kingdom Pavilion is home to two of my very favorites. Alice and Mary Poppins make several appearances a day in the garden, and by the International Gateway entrance, respectively. Situated in rather unsuspecting locations, and in lower demand than some of the newest characters, the lines to meet Alice and Mary Poppins are also often among the shortest in the parks. I highly recommend stopping by for a picture and an autograph while passing through.
Like all of the countries in the World Showcase, the United Kingdom has so many fun, exciting, and unique experiences to offer to visitors of all ages. I’ve offered a few here to get you started, but I hope you’ll use my suggestions as a jumping off point to discover some new favorites of your own. Stay tuned for our next installment, where we’ll highlight some of the many adventures the France Pavilion boasts. Ooh la la!