There are days when I visit Epcot’s World Showcase and complete the full wrap-around jaunt through the countries in no time flat (a rare thing, yes, but when there is an ominous thundercloud lurking overhead it’ll put a little pep in your step). There are also days when I take my time, methodically exploring each country and appreciating all the cultural details and rich information stored within each international pavilion. One of my favorite World Showcase pavilions is China and it’s not just because I’ve been known to wolf down a pint of pork fried rice like nobody’s business. I love the China pavilion because of what they offer—unique and varied cuisine, dynamic and awe-inducing entertainment, spot-on architectural excellence, and so much more. Here are 9 things you can’t miss in World Showcase’s China!
Fun Fact: The number nine is considered to be of great significance in China—a sacred and lucky number that has been historically connected to Emperors, dragons, architectural representations, important dates and associated with harmony. This number can be seen represented in many aspects of life in China.
The exquisite beauty and the precision of the architecture and surrounding tranquil gardens are not something to be missed. Entering the China pavilion, guests will walk through a traditional arched gate, this structure known as the Paifang Gate. Beyond that a magnificent replica stands just past the pond bridge known as the Temple of Heaven, modeled after the 800-year old original from Beijing. This is a one-half scale reproduction of the original, the three-tiered circular structure still very much dominating the area and grabbing the eyes of passing guests with its bright colors and commanding presence. Inside this air-conditioned structure is the Hall of Prayer and the entrance to the film, Reflections of China. With all the painted tiles, carvings and exact attention to detail, this building definitely deserves a close look with an appreciative eye. And as night falls on Epcot and the lights go on, this building becomes one of the most picturesque places on property.
8. Nine Dragons Restaurant
I’ve dined at this table-service restaurant a few times and though never blown away, I’ve enjoyed the meals I’ve ordered and the overall dining experience. With reasonably set prices and a vast array of well-known Chinese fare, this restaurant is a fun stop in your Epcot restaurant rotation. Their appetizer dumplings and Kung Pao Chicken entree tend to be some of the more popular menu choices, but you can also expect to find dishes like the honey-sesame chicken, peppery shrimp or fried rice. The atmosphere alone is worth experiencing—Chinese lanterns, ornate wood carvings, and exquisite glass artwork decorating the dimly lit interiors. And if you have room for dessert, the unique flavored ice cream (strawberry red bean or caramel ginger), coconut rice pudding and Chinese ginger cake all make valid choices for a memorably sweet tasting.
7. Lotus Blossom Café
Have a hankering for Chinese food, but don’t feel like stretching the lunch or dinner hour too long? The Lotus Blossom Café is the answer, a quick-service food stop that satisfies your Chinese craving and leaves your belly happy and full. Located behind Nine Dragons, you’ll find egg rolls, pot stickers, vegetable curry dishes, fried rice, sesame chicken and a whole lot more here. It’s very affordable (considering the typical Disney prices), impressively plentiful, and wholly satisfying!
6. Character Meet and Greets
She’s made a huge impression on the hearts of many who admire her for her noble courage and she can be found here at the China pavilion, ready and waiting to snap a pic or two with you, sign autographs and encourage you to stay true to your heart. Who am I referring to? Mulan, of course, the determined Chinese heroine and woman warrior from Disney’s animated classic of the same name.
5. Tomb Warriors
Inside the House of the Whispering Willows you’ll find the exhibit, “Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China.” These are a small-scale reproduction of the famed Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, buried with the Qin Dynasty emperor in 209–210 BC to keep him protected from the evil spirits of the underworld. Row after row of soldiers—197 to be exact—stand with unique facial expressions and differing details, making no two exactly alike. The real clay warriors are life-sized—averaging 6 feet tall—and were accidentally discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well. As you peruse this room, read the plaques and study the displays, you’ll see just how heavily documented the real excavation has been. Come visit this exhibit and learn some of the fascinating history in Chinese heritage.
Want to see a dynamic, nail-biting routine richly steeped in Chinese culture? You must check out the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats! This acrobatic troupe from China will astound you with their strength, agility and balance, wowing you with the seemingly effortless and fluid nature of their act. Performing multiple times daily, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fit them into your park day schedule.
Guests can pop into one of the largest merchandise stores on Epcot property—The House of Good Fortune—or peruse the open-air outdoor shopping stand—Good Fortune Gifts. Both locations offer fun souvenirs and authentic Chinese merchandise. You’ll find Chinese lanterns, straw hats, wine, jewelry, clothing, Chinaware, Buddha statues, silk robes and so much more! In the outdoor market in the front of the pavilion there are beautiful Chinese parasols on display that can be personalized, marionette animal puppets and a Chinese juggling stick game (known as “devil sticks” or “flower sticks”) that, no joke, carved an hour out of my husband’s day because he simply had to master them. One can truly get lost in the sea of souvenirs to browse through in the China pavilion and many of them make for excellent gifts!
2. Reflections of China
This 13-minute film, housed inside the Temple of Heaven complex, is a stunning circle-vision 360-degree cinematography experience. It gives guests who have never experienced this country first-hand just a taste and a glimpse of the enchanting wonder of it all—from the landscape to the bustling cities—immersing them in the sights and sounds of ancient and modern China.
1. Joy of Tea
This free-standing food/drink stop is always—I repeat, ALWAYS—a must-do in Epcot for me. Crazy enough, I’m not even a big tea person, but with the variety of drinks and snacks they offer here, I always find something to please my palate. Let’s start with the food choices—three, not a ton—but those three food options are all pretty stellar in my book. You can choose between the BBQ Chinese Pork Buns, Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls, and the Curry Chicken Pockets (my fave) or simply order the Lucky Combo for a taste of all three with the addition of a soft drink AND an ice cream. They have plenty to offer in terms of beverages here—everything from hot flavored teas to tea slushies. There are also tasty alcoholic beverages to order such as the plum wine, Mango Gingerita, Tsing Tao Beer and the Canto-Loopy (a vodka and cantaloupe juice concoction). Make a pit stop here on your next Epcot visit and see why so many love this place!
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