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The "Worst" Pavilions at the World Showcase

Over the past year, I’ve chronicled the 11 pavilions that comprise the World Showcase at Epcot. During the course of this series, I’ve lovingly detailed all of the reasons why you should spend time at each one. The reality is that with so much to do at Walt Disney World, many theme park tourists never take the time to explore each pavilion. And I want to be clear about something. ALL of them are worth your time.

Everybody loves lists, though. To make a list that highlights the best of the World Showcase, you automatically create the corollary, the “worst” of the pavilions. To avoid ending the series on a down note, I’m going to start with this one. I stress that a “bad” World Showcase pavilion is still an amazing themed land. It’s just that some stand out even amongst a group of worthy peers. Thus, here are the five “worst” pavilions at the World Showcase (in alphabetical order).

Editor's Note: David's opinions in no way reflect those of Theme Park Tourist or its staff. 

Canada

The Canada Pavilion has amazing architecture and stunning totem poles. It also has some of my favorite themed merchandise, presumably because many of my dearest friends live in the Great White North. Curling and hockey apparel reminds me of them and the way that they’ve gently nudged me to try new things over the years.

I also love the Table Service restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse, so much that my wife and celebrated our tenth anniversary here. Also, for whatever reason, the Canada Pavilion offers some of the most unique shows at Epcot. I presume it has something to do with the location of the pavilion, which is close to the entrance of the World Showcase. Disney wants to entice guests to walk around the entire themed land, and an attention-grabbing concert is a great way to do that.

Despite the positives, Canada falls a bit short of the better pavilions for a couple of reasons. One is that its movie is probably the worst Circle-Vision 360° offering at the park. Yes, it’s a huge upgrade from the first one that was so shockingly stereotyped, but it’s still blah. Also, I’m not much of a beer drinker, which negates the appeal of ordering a Molson’s brew from the tap. Beer lovers will have a MUCH higher opinion of the pavilion; I totally understand that.

Overall, the Canada Pavilion is extremely enjoyable, but it’s not a place where I ever spend hours on end. I view that as the hallmark of the best pavilions.

China

Image: Disney

By the same criteria, the China Pavilion falls short. Honestly, were I ranking the pavilions here, this one would finish last while the next one came the closest to make the good list, meaning it’s the “best” of the “worst” pavilions.

What fascinates me about the China Pavilion is that I loved it the first time I visited. The majestic architecture hearkens back to the early days of civilization. Seeing the gate is a mind-blowing experience, and the interior of the Temple of Heaven is truly humbling. Imagineers did an amazing job in recreating not just the monuments but also demonstrating an understanding of the underlying philosophies that drove Chinese architecture over the centuries.

Image: DisneyAlso, the shows are among the finest at the World Showcase. I guess that by having Canada and China on this list, I’m revealing how little I value the shows compared to the exploration of the pavilions. I say that because these two countries are probably both in the top four for World Showcase entertainment. I’m most likely to stop at the China Pavilion when the aerobatic performers are demonstrating their dazzling balance.

The problem I have with this pavilion is its repeat value. After I walked through it once, I never really felt compelled to return. And since I don’t like Chinese food as a rule, the only reason we ever stop here is to see a show. After a few minutes, we’re ready to move along. This explains why I think of the China Pavilion as a speed bump on the way to better pavilions. The three closest ones are Norway, Mexico, and Germany, all of which will appear on the Best Pavilions list. Their proximity causes China to look worse by comparison.

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There are 3 comments.

Wow, I completely disagree with most of this list. I would say China, France, Canada, and American Adventure are all among the BEST of the World Showcase pavilions! - along with Mexico and Norway. (My list of the the 5 "worst" would be Italy and the 4 I didn't mention).

All WS pavilions have incredibly immersive architecture, ambiance, and music loops. All have shopping and dining. But what truly sets the better ones apart in my opinion is the presence of things like attractions, live entertainment, and art galleries. While some of the pavilions are sadly lacking in these areas, the 4 pavilions I listed above are among the WS better offerings for attractions, entertainment, and art galleries, making theme more educational, more entertaining, more repeatable, and more FUN than the ones lacking in these areas, IMO.

Lets look at China, for instance. Beyond the awesome architecture and tranquil garden, and shopping/dining, it has a fantastic film with gorgeous scenery and an equally sublime musical score, an excellent art gallery, and an amazing acrobat show. I miss the beautiful live music formerly found inside the temple (Si Xian), but even with this cut, China offers more than most of the pavilions.

The sublime Impressions de France film and the American Adventure show and Canada film likewise solidify the placements of those pavilions in the top tier, IMO.

I do agree strongly with your selection of Italy. As someone with part Italian heritage myself, it saddens me how underbuilt this pavilion is compared to the better WS offerings. All the great culture, art, scenery, and music from Italy would give them so much material to work with. Where is the film showcasing Italy's stunning beauty set to a sublime score featuring Puccini and others? An art gallery showcasing Italy's enormous contribution to the visual arts? A gondola-based dark ride? Even the live entertainment only gives us a mime.

I don't mean this post in a critical way - just as a polite difference of opinion. I really enjoy your articles!

David S, you said everything I was about to write. Spot on!

I echo the last poster- your articles are great and I am a big fan of the site. Regarding World Showcase countries, I also agree with you that they are all good in their own way, but as a proud Italian American, I agree that the imagineers missed the boat with the Italy pavilion. There HAS to be something more than just the food options (The shopping is limited in comparison to China, Germany, Japan etc. also). It will be interesting to see what happens with the planned pavilion for Brazil..

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