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.
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.
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.
Also, 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.