Epcot: Two hours in France (this is not a drive by)

Countless hours of my life have been spent in Epcot.  This fabulous, one-of-a-kind theme park came into being the same year I did: 1982.  I feel a special kinship with it.  I also feel a sadness when I see most guests simply walk from one “country” to the next in World Showcase, without taking the time to experience each pavilion thoroughly.  Last Friday afternoon presented a delightful opportunity for me to head into the park alone, with the freedom to do whatever I pleased.  I decided to save the world, enjoy a glass of French wine, and go on a audio-visual tour de France.

The afternoon began in International Gateway, the “back door” to the park.  IG is an entrance to the park that is in between the United Kingdom pavilion and the France pavilion.  Most guests that use this entrance are staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk, and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Resort.  On a whim I decided to test out the newly revamped Agent P: World Showcase Adventure.

Epcot, France paviljon, Orlando, May 2005

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure in Germany

I spent the next thirty minutes using a Samsung phone specially programmed for this attraction.  It uses GPS technology to figure out where you are in the park, and then where you are in the assigned pavilion.  Based on the “mission” at hand different little special effects will happen using well themed props and the Samsung phone itself.  For example, one of my first missions was to go specific spot in front of one of the restaurants in the France pavilion.  Once I reached that spot I had to press ‘ok’ on the phone, look up towards the Eiffel tower (a smaller version of course), and say formage!  Within seconds a picture of myself appeared on the phone.  It features the characters of “Phineas & Ferb” (the hit Disney channel cartoon series).  To call this attraction interactive is to call the sky blue.  It’s prior incarnation featured Kim Possible, but now that her show has not been on the air for years it was time for a make over.

This attraction is obviously designed for kids and their parents, but for someone visiting the park solo it is a great way to be entertained.  And just like the show it is based on, there are fun little puns that only adults will appreciate.  The only downside is the volume on the phone….. it is so LOUD!  For anyone wanting to simply soak up the atmosphere of the park it will take a lot of work to drown out the sounds of the dozens of Samsung phones being used by all the pint sized special agents participating in the missions.  To complete the entire mission took about thirty minutes, just enough time in my opinion.  After which time I ducked into the French wine shop craving a French rose wine.  Sadly, the only rose available by the glass was a sparkling one.  However, its light, fruity sparkle dazzled and I slowly sipped while pa-rousing the shop.  The smell of the herbs whisked my imagination away.  For a moment, I could believe I was there.

After a few minutes of wishing I had fatter pockets and thus the ability to go on a French shopping spree I decided to watch the classically beautiful film “Impressions de France”.  This 20 minute film was specially made for Epcot and is presented on a 220 degree projection screen, which wraps around and fills your peripheral vision.

Impressions de France at Epcot

I have seen it maybe 5 or 6 times, and every time I am easily spotted in the audience.  I’m the one with the silly little grin on her face, chin wresting on palm, with the occasional sign escaping my chest.  For those 20 minutes I am lost in a daydream, admiring the beauty and the culture.  And just when I long to be there, it hits me.  How lucky am I?  On any given evening or weekend, I can come here to Epcot, or any of the other Disney and Orlando theme parks and escape.

Share your thoughts…

If you have been to Epcot before, do you take the time to soak up the culture of each pavilion?  If not will you consider doing so next time? Do you have a favorite pavilion from World Showcase? If you haven’t been to Epcot before, are you hoping to go someday?  Is there anything you want to know about Epcot?

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5 thoughts on “Epcot: Two hours in France (this is not a drive by)

  1. I went to Disney World twice. Once when I was 12 and once when I was 16. When I was 12, I didn’t understand or appreciate the awesomeness that is Epcot. When I was 16, I had gone with the marching band and for some reason, the band director thought Epcot wasn’t as cool, so we got 1/2 a day (really just a few hours) in Animal Kingdom and 1/2 a day (again, a few hours really) in Epcot. It was super disappointing. I hope to go back someday and just soak it all up. It’s probably the neatest park in my opinion. So much culture and excitement all in one place. 😀

    • Yeah…. it is always interesting to see the perception. Generally, those that do not visit as frequently prefer Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). But those that spend more time in the parks appreciate the details of Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Here’s hoping you will get the chance to visit again soon.

      • If I move to the Tampa Bay Area, I will definitely make the trek to Orlando to finally take my time and enjoy Epcot 🙂

  2. You are so right! I’m always with other people and it is hard to get people to stop and enjoy. We’re from South Florida and so usually only have one day to do everything we want. I’d love the chance to just sit and absorb where we are instead of just walking through the shops.

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