When you are leaving Future World and heading into World Showcase you know that you have to go either left or right. To the left are our friends to the south of us, Mexico and to the right is Canada. I for one prefer to go right and make my way counter-clockwise, so this month my article is going to be on Canada. I think that the landscaping that is done by Disney is superior to all the other pavilions in the World Showcase. From the waterfalls to the gardens with the occasional baby ducks, it is definitely the most picturesque pavilion in my opinion.
When Disney was planning for the construction of the Canada pavilion they originally wanted the Canadian government to help support the pavilion financially. Disney offered in exchange for the government to have input with the design and layout, but the Canadians didn’t like the direction Disney was going in. The Canadian government felt Disney was pushing for a more stereotypical Canada with the likes of lumberjacks and such, so they ultimately refused in the funding the pavilion. In return Disney then threatened to pull the pavilion from the layout of World Showcase but in the end decided against it. During the planning stages the pavilion was to be divided into two sections. One section was to represent French Canada and the other English Canada. A main street with shops and restaurants would divide the two sections.
Upon entering the pavilion one of the first things that usually catches the eye is the distinctive Victorian styled “Hotel du Canada”. This building was modeled after the historic hotel in Ottawa, the Chateau Laurier. After you have admired and taken several pictures of the “Hotel du Canada”, you’ll probably want to take plenty more over in the largest garden in the World Showcase. These gardens were inspired by the Butchart Gardens located in British Columbia that were built and designed by Jenny Butchart. Throughout the year, landscapers plant 154 rose bushes in these gardens and they spend more than 400 hours removing the dropped blooms. In the winter months they plant mainly white flowers to represent the Canadian snowfall.
When walking up the pathway to the Maple Leaf Mine, you’ll come to a mountain canyon that is modeled after the majestic Canadian Rockies complete with a 30-foot waterfall cascading into a rushing stream of water. Once you enter the Maple Leaf Mine you’ll be inside of the theatre to the film “O Canada”. The Circle-Vision 360 degree film was filmed in 1979 in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Niagara Falls. Disney updated it in 2007 after much lobbying by the Canadian Tourism Committee who wanted a lot of the dated stereotypes of Canadian life in it removed. With the update Disney brought in comedian Martin Short to act as a new host and the Canadian Idol winner Eva Avila to sing the theme song, “Canada (You’re a Lifetime Journey)”. Although the film is still dated, it does offer a spectacular visual tour of Canada. You’ll get the chance to fly with snow geese near the St. Lawrence River, experience the thrills of leading a dog sled team and even see the changing of the guard at Parliament. The film is only 17 minutes long and worth viewing.
After you finish your journey across Canada, head over to one of the most popular restaurants in all of EPCOT, Le Cellier. This extremely popular restaurant has some of the best steaks and seafood in the area. It’s located in a chateau wine cellar and celebrates the Canadian provinces and territories. It also has a wide variety of Niagara wines and Canadian beers.
The pavilion introduces guest to traditions, culture and the atmosphere of Canada. Also helping accomplish this are the castmembers. Like all of the pavilions the castmembers are from their native country so while in the pavilion you will see real Canadians! (Astonishing isn’t it?) They are brought in for one-year increments and replaced each year with a new batch of castmembers. The surroundings also help with the authenticity of a Canadian feel, like the 30-foot totem poles and a trading post that carries out the Northwood theming. In the Northwest Mercantile shop you can find Canadian handmade ornaments, Hatley clothing, Deauville perfume and other items native to Canada. If a sweet tooth is your thing The Trading Post may be more your speed. Here you can get all kinds of maple products like syrup, candies, tea and cookies.
When the pavilion opened in 1982 the “Caledonian Pipe Band” was the musical talent for the pavilion. Ron Rodriguez who was the talent coordinator for Walt Disney World recruited them. But later on one of the most popular acts in EPCOT was brought in. Off Kilter is a kilt wearing Celtic band that continues to rock the Canadian house. They play traditional favorites with a twist and are definitely a show worth watching.
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