WORLD SHOWCASE – CHINA

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WORLD SHOWCASE – CHINA

Epcot is a park in two parts, the main attraction area and the wonderful World Showcase, where eleven countries are represented in pavilions along the shores of the beautiful World Showcase Lagoon. Comprising Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, the UK and Canada, it offers a very different experience from roller coasters and scary rides. The third country you will reach as you stroll around the lake in a clockwise direction is China.

The China Pavilion is entered through a triple arched ceremonial gate based on the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is a wonderfully peaceful area with footbridges, small waterfalls, little ponds and bamboo groves, so it is the perfect place to get away from the crowds. The intricate carvings on the buildings are beautiful, as are the various garden areas which include one essential element - water. With lilies and lotuses complementing the water gardens they are an oasis of calm. Chinese gardens are not formally laid out but are loosely structured – for example, the zoysia grass is not cut but left alone to grow as it would in its native China.

Look out for the beautiful weeping mulberry tree, at the entrance to the Nine Dragons Restaurant, which is over 100 years old, and actually came from New Jersey, although the tree is native to China. Another fascinating traditional Chinese tree is the tallow tree, which has waxy fruit traditionally used to make candles. Fruit trees can also be seen, including pomegranate, orange and plum. The whole area is full of fascinating detail and hidden vistas.

The Temple of Heaven in Bejing is reproduced here to one half scale, and is a three tiered circular Hall of Prayer for the Good Harvest. The intricate tile work patterns of the original building were screen printed to reproduce the detailed patterns onto each tile. It is a stunningly beautiful building, especially when lit up against the night sky. Inside, the hall the roof is supported by 12 outer columns each representing the months of the year and the 12 year cycle of the Chinese calendar. Near to the centre of the room are four columns representing the seasons. These columns support a beam which represents the Earth, and this is topped off by a round beam signifying Heaven. There is also a small museum of Chinese artefacts.

Every half hour the CircleVision 360 movie presentation, ‘Reflections of China’ is shown each day. This standing attraction is well worth seeing, but do try to stand near the back of the room in order to see most of the film as it can make you feel a little dizzy. The film was quite tricky to make and the crew and 40 labourers had to carry the three hundred pound camera and various other bits of equipment to the top of Huangshan Mountain, which is over a mile high. The film took 2 months to film, and 7 Chinese cities were included, as well as new shots of landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Tian’anmen Square.

There are two eateries – the full service 250 seat Nine Dragons Restaurant which serves typical Chinese cuisine at lunch and dinner, and the Lotus Blossom Cafe which offers eggrolls, stir fry and daily specials via a counter service.

One of our favourite attractions is the Dragon Legend Acrobats who perform energetically each day. The acrobats themselves are actually young students from the Pu Yang Academy of Acrobatics in China, and they perform with great agility, strength and balance. This is always a popular attraction, especially when the children perform.

If shopping is your forte then don’t miss out on the Yong Feng Shangdian Department Store which features rugs, kitchenware, lacquer and mother of pearl inlayed furniture, clothing, paper fans, silk purses, carved Jade elephants, Jingdezhen Chinaware, Chinese lanterns, oriental carpets, slippers, silk and jewellery with enamel inlay (cloisonné) as well as coral, jade and crystal. Outside there are several kiosks where you can buy other Chinese articles such as parasols.

This fascinating pavilion is one not to miss.

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