While the World Showcase at Walt Disney World’s Epcot is meant to expose its visitors to a wealth of cultural experiences and information, many of its most exciting details go unappreciated. In each immersive little pocket of the Showcase, there are some real treasures that go overlooked. Even if you’re a frequent visitor, this list may provide you with some new elements to explore.
9. Rear Entrance
Okay, so this may not be much of a secret unless you’re a first-time visitor, but it’s still invaluable information! Entering the park from the rear can be far less crowded and wonderfully convenient, especially if you’re staying at any of the resorts located on the Boardwalk. To top it off, the rear entrance will lead you directly into the World Showcase, saving you some valuable energy for the trek ahead.
8. Christopher Robin’s Room
Meander into the back of England’s pavilion, and you’ll find a hedge maze and gazebo where nightly musical performances rock the cobblestones! Bypass all of that excitement, and you’ll notice a green awning with the number 30 written upon it. This used to be the queue for a Winne and Tigger meet-and-greet. Enter the attached gift shop and you’ll see a quaint stained-glass door to your left: the exit for said meet-and-greet. Further inspection reveals Christopher Robin’s bedroom behind that lovely door! While not currently accessible due to an unusually high number of heffalumps, it’s still a fun spot to spy if you know where to find it.
7. Alternative Route to O Canada
Did you realize that there are two routes to choose from if you’d like to get to the O Canada! Circle-Vision theatre? Consider it a choose-your-own-adventure scenario: You can stroll through the Victoria Gardens (a replica of the famed Butchart Gardens and a great place for Disney bunny-spotting), or you can also take the stairs! The latter option is something of a hike, starting at the base of the pavilion’s stairs, moving directly past the giftshop and further up, still. Once you’re reached the crest, you’ll make your way down through a maze of manmade rock formations, waterways, and falls. It’s a cool, shaded walk to the theatre from there, and arguably the most impressive manufactured landscape in the park!
Some secrets are simply hidden in plain sight. Upon entering the world showcase, from the park’s main entrance, you’ll see two freestanding gift shops: Disney Traders and Port of Entry. They’re filled with fun trinkets, but look beyond and you’ll find a brass telescope tucked behind the buildings. Peek through to find another telescope across the way, in the America pavilion. If you’re feeling spry, enlist a friend to make the excursion to the twin telescope so you can spy each other from across the waters of World Showcase Lagoon.
5. Lifting Bridge
If you’ve ever been to Epcot, chances are you’ve walked over this secret spot! Every evening, Illuminations lights up the World Showcase; but have you ever wondered how they get those huge globes out on the water? Waiting patiently by the bridge between China and Africa around 5:00pm will reveal the answer. The bridge will close to foot traffic, lift, and all of the set pieces that require a little extra headroom will make their way through to the lagoon. It’s a fun behind-the-scenes moment that may even be new to Disney veterans.
4. German Cuckoo
The Germany pavilion is sensory overload. There’s a sprawling buffet, oodles of retail, caramel treats, and lively entertainment all competing for your attention. Add into the equation a glass of beer or riesling, and there’s a good chance you may lose track of the time. Not to worry- Germany’s secret “spot” will keep you in check! Look up to find a giant cuckoo clock, which comes to life every hour, on the hour. Charming figures emerge to sound the bell. Due to German efficiency however, these figures disappear pretty quickly.
3. Japanese Balcony
There are many excellent spots to enjoy the nightly fireworks at Epcot, but one of our favorites is right above your head! Japan’s Teppan Edo provides the World Showcase with delicious hibachi dining and an excellent lookout for Illuminations. Walk out from the restaurant and around their deck, and you’ll find a spacious balcony that serves as the perfect perch, looking over the World Showcase Lagoon. There are also stairs up to this spot right next to the entrance for Mitsukoshi Department Store.
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2. Strait of Gibraltar
Most of us don’t think to look down while promenading the parks, but next time you’re in Epcot give it a try. Take a glance downward while in transition from Morocco to France and you’ll find a strip of pavement that’s dark and cobbled. This special stretch represents the Strait of Gibraltar: the body of water which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and separates Europe from Africa. Disney fanatics will appreciate the historical significance of this: Spain and Morocco border the strait, and originally in 1982 Disney stated its intent to add a Spain pavilion to the Showcase (along with Israel and Equatorial Africa)! There’s even space between France and Morocco where this could have happened, making the symbolic strait geographically accurate. Sadly, it never materialized, so we’ll only have this winding stretch of sidewalk to remind us.
1. Under the Bridge
Do the crowds overwhelm you? Would you like a spot to get away? Well, this is especially for you. As you cross from France over to England (or, vice versa) you’ll pass over a bridge. This bridge is known as the International Gateway Bridge. Halfway across you’ll see some stairs that lead down to a concrete landing, overlooking the lagoon. Turn left once you’re down the stairs and you’ll find a little niche below the bridge that is fabulously quiet. Well, unless a duck or two swim by.
With every World Showcase pavilion, the most important tip to finding exciting details is simply to explore. Make a point to walk as deep into the pavilion as possible. If you fail to do this, you could miss some of the best things! Many countries offer more than one tavern or bar, a number of cool places to sit, and of course a few secrets worth discovering.
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