A Trip Around The World: America

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Hello! And welcome to the halfway point on our tour around the world! Can you believe we’ve already visited Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, and Italy? Today we’re bringing you the best pavilion around the World Showcase Lagoon – the U.S.A! And what a lovely pavilion it is:

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When entering the USA from Italy, the first thing you will see is coffee and donuts. While I can’t start my day without a cup of joe, I have to point out the irony in this.

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Next is a really neat looking structure that unfortunately just sells DVC. There is a trend of really interesting buildings being built to house DVC and credit card kiosks in the parks. I really don’t care for it! Is it just me? Does anyone else feel they have no place in the parks?

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If you continue on Fife & Drum Tavern is next. One thing to note here is a recent menu change since we updated. If you’re looking for the Jalapeno Cheese Stuffed Pretzel you can find these just down the street at at the new Block & Hans beer stand (photo below). I found this out on New Year’s Eve after waiting in line for 20 minutes! I don’t want anyone else to suffer that fate while waiting for cheesy goodness.

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On the other side of the street you can see the America Gardens Theatre. It is so massive! In the other seasons the trees are lush and pretty- but you can see the structure better now that the leaves have fallen. This theater was so busy for Candlelight Processional that it’s nice to see it empty for a change!

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If you check out the very first photo you can see that America is one large building from the front. Over to the far left we start with the Liberty Inn. This is a counter service restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating.

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Check out this pretty courtyard out front. This is a great spot to sit an listen to the different concerts throughout the year. There is almost always room with no waiting and it isn’t as loud as being in the theater. Add a snack and drink and this is the perfect spot for me to “watch” those performances.

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Here is a quick look at the indoor dining room. As you can see, you do not gain more comfortable seats by choosing to sit indoors!

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The entry way to this restaurant is lined with flags from U.S. history. I did some quick Googling and didn’t come up with the details on these. I assume they are from the colonies? If anyone has information about these, would you share in the comments below? I’m sure everyone would be interested!

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In the center of the main U.S.A. building is the American Adventure. I will warn you before you continue that I did not include the show in this post. That is because I could go on for days about how much I love it. Would anyone like to see a separate post on the show and decor? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to do it for you!

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Just out front is this sign for the attraction. I almost walked right by but realized this was too beautiful not to share!

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When you first step into the building, this is the small room you will see first. The entire building is modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. If you don’t know what it looks like, you can click the link or just look on the back of a nickel, where it is pictured.

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Past this room you enter a huge area with a rotunda in the center. Inside this rotunda you can see The Voices of Liberty perform several times throughout the day. The room is huge and features art work from Disney Imagineers and quotes from famous figures throughout U.S. history.

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Here is a closer look down one of the walls lined with art and quotes. Considering that this is just one wall of the pavilion makes you appreciate just how large it is. The pavilion takes up 108,555 square feet, if you can believe it!

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Below is one of many quotes that are illuminated on the walls. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo above that between every painting is a quote like this mounted directly on the wall. The lighting is so harsh it doesn’t photograph well, but it is very moving when you see it in person.

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In hunting around the building I found the below panels. None of the cast members on duty were able to tell me anything about them. Does anyone know the history on these? I’ve hunted and can’t find anything. They are massive and beautiful, though!

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Remember the rotunda I mentioned earlier? Well.. I might have laid in the floor with my fisheye lens and tired to get the whole thing for you guys! It wasn’t quite wide enough but it gives you an idea what it looks like to walk under this impressive 45-foot tall ceiling! The floor under this area is lined with 50 stars to represent the states.

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Here is the beautiful arch you pass through to enter the American Adventure Theater. Once you enter there are escalators to the left to take you upstairs to the theater entrance.

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To the right of this entrance is the American Heritage Gallery, which is currently housing The Kinsey Collection. I know I’m a big nerd, but I actually went the weekend this opened last year. I was excited to see all the new additions from this private collection that celebrates the history of African American achievements and contributions.

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Here is a look down one of the walls inside the gallery. This section is “Belief.” Each of the themed areas is highly interactive, featuring touch panels and some really amazing displays.

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Below is a link to a video of one of the lanterns inside the museum. I apologize for the focus – the flame was tough for my camera to track. As the video goes on you can see words and images in the lantern. There are several of these inside this area – each with a different story to tell.

Stepping back outside you can catch a performance of the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. These guys march through the U.S.A. Pavilion, put on a show,and then stick around to take photos in front of American Adventure.

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Moving along, next door you will find Heritage Manor Gifts. Though this building looks huge, it is only the downstairs that contains the store. If you notice the little door to the left – it’s often used to allow guests upstairs for the Chase Lounge during festivals and events.

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Here is a quick look inside the gift shop. I would imagine now that Heritage House has closed over at the Magic Kingdom that some of that merchandise will be coming over here.

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Exiting the gift shop and moving along you’ll come to the Kidcot station for America. This one is huge! It seems like they could fit several more tables in here. While it was early in the day when I visited for photos, the demand is certainly there for more Kidcot seats later in the day!

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Okay, I know, I included a photo of the bathrooms. But these are shiny, new bathrooms!! I’m sure folks will remember the gross ones at the opposite end of the pavilion? If you remember, then you should be very excited to see this photo!! :)

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Back on the main walkways around World Showcase Lagoon, you’ll find a pin cart that is also utilized for selling CDs of artists performing at the America Gardens Theatre. I mainly mention it because I’ve been told the Candlelight Processional CD is completely sold out and that Disney is producing a new version to be released this summer. This isn’t surprising since the current version is over 10 years old, but if you’ve always wanted it, now is a good time to track down a copy!

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Next is the new Block & Hans beer stand, the new home of soft pretzels! It also sells several different beers and a couple wines. I seem to recall at one point this was the DVC booth in America, but I’m just not sure. Does anyone remember for certain?

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The last stop leaving America is the Funnel Cake cart. How ironic, right? Donuts on the way in and Funnel Cakes on the way out! But maybe it’s a true measure of America because despite hanging out for 15 minutes (before lunch time), I couldn’t get a photo without someone at the window!

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In the photo above you can almost see Japan off in the distance calling us to keep going! I hope you’ll be joining me next time to explore the land of the rising sun. Did I miss anything in America? Did you see something you hadn’t before? I sure hope so! Plese let me know in the comments below and as always thanks for reading!

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Posted on January 17, 2014

12 Responses to “A Trip Around The World: America”

  • I am suprised you did not talk about the forced prespective at play here. Everyone always talks about the castle and how Disney made it look larger. Disney made the American pavilion look smaller. Colonial buildings only had 2 floors, but they need more room for the projector. So they spent a considerable effort to make a very large building look like it only has 2 floors.

    • Hey Julia – great observation! I honestly never looked at the building like it is 2 story. I’ve been to private events upstairs so I always knew the size of the building.. it never looked 2 story to me. Thanks for sharing!

  • I know about the Pine Tree Flag

    Washington’s Cruisers Flag 1775
    This flag was used by George Washington on a squadron of six schooners which he outfitted at his own expense in the fall of 1775. This flag was a variation of the New England Pine Tree flag. The Continental Navy, knowing they were up against the greatest naval power in the world, set sail flying a flag with an “APPEAL TO HEAVEN.” They needed all the help they could get.

    Washington’s Cruisers
    (Type 1) Washington’s Cruisers
    (Type 2) Washington’s Cruisers
    Unfortunately, there is controversy over the placement of the words, appearance of the trees and leaves, direction of branches, etc., and it “leaves” us with many possible versions of these flags.

    http://www.loeser.us/flags/revolution.html

    • Hey Jennifer! Thanks for sharing – you’re my hero. I looked through so many flags that they all started to look alike! I needed an expert. Thanks for sharing!!! :)

  • by daffystardust on January 18, 2014, at 9:10 am EDT

    Thanks so much for this continuing series!
    I’m finding myself wondering which part of the American pavilion is fashioned after Monticello, because I’ve been to Monticello a couple of times and apart from being Colonial style buildings, they don’t remind me of one another at all.
    The exterior of Monticello features the round top of the rotunda with no spire, two separate levels of different white fencing along the top, black shutters instead of green, and absolutely no “dormer” windows at all.
    While the interior of the American pavilion at Epcot does have a rotunda like Monticello does, the one at Monticello is housed in a single yellow room with a small round window at the top and does not reveal itself through several levels. The rest does not remind me of Monticello at all either. If you have been to Jefferson’s home then you know that the rooms are interconnected and small rather than sprawling and sunny.
    I’d be interested to know where this information came from.

  • by daffystardust on January 18, 2014, at 9:13 am EDT

    It looks a little like Mount Vernon maybe?

    • Hey Daffy! You know – I always ask around the pavilions to what information the CMs can offer me. In America everyone shrugged and pointed me towards one CM. He gave me the info on the 50 stars on the floor and the info about Monticello going as far as to quiz me on the 3rd president and pull a nickel out of his pocket. I would hope he knew what he was talking about as I wasn’t able to confirm online.

      If anyone has better information please share here!! Thanks in advance! :)

  • by daffystardust on January 18, 2014, at 10:37 am EDT

    Unfortunately because Disney is a huge company that covers a lot of ground information-wise and employs a lot of people who come into contact with a lot of customers, it is hard to make good info easy to come by.
    CMs are notorious for giving out incorrect answers to questions and stories. I actually read that a CM out at Disneyland had been telling tourists that Bugs Bunny started out as Oswald. It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge to poke holes in that story.
    Take a look at these pictures:
    First is one of Monticello

    then here is its “dome room”

    and here is Mount Vernon

    I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.

  • Thanks for the info regarding the Candlelight Processional CD! I think I’ll wait for the new version before purchasing. I saw the Processional for the first time in December 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • by rana freedman on March 5, 2014, at 1:24 pm EDT

    do you have a catalog of merchandise at the gift shop. I saw a neat hat that I regret not having bought.

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