A few years ago, Norway would have been much higher on this list. It has everything you’d want in a pavilion — unique architecture, delicious food, and a fun attraction.
However, the renovation of the former Maelstrom attraction into Frozen Ever After has left Norway a bit confused in the aftermath. Disney’s hit film Frozen is not, in fact, set in Norway, but instead in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle. The attraction is excellent, and one of Disney’s best dark rides in years. However, it doesn’t bring to life the culture of the host country quite the same way as Maelstrom did.
The Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is certainly excellent, ain’t he Stave Church’s exhibits are excellent. But, the confusion over what is Norwegian and what is Arendellian muddies the waters a bit — and, the lack of a true high-end dining experience push Norway closer to the middle of the extremely-competitive pack.
If you were to distill World Showcase pavilions down to their most essential ingredients, you’d arrive at a list that looks like this: an attraction that captures the natural beauty of the country, one restaurant for quick regional bites, one restaurant with a more high-end experience, tons of shopping and architecture to explore, and some entertainment options on top.
China has all of these elements, mixed together in exactly the right way. Reflections of China is a fantastic and moving film about the incredible beauty of one of the world’s oldest societies. The food in China is outstanding, including in Nine Dragons — the sit-down restaurant. And the shopping provides just enough to explore so as to never get bored.
But, to top it all off, a stellar acrobatic show and gorgeous gardens to explore make China a signature pavilion of World Showcase — and a must-see.
4. United Kingdom
While China possesses all of the elements of a great World Showcase pavilion, the United Kingdom really only has one — but it’s so great and so special, it carries the entire pavilion to great heights.
I’m talking about, of course, the Rose and Crown Pub. It is in the conversation for the most quintessential experience on offer in World Showcase, giving guests the authentic vibe of an English Pub in Central Florida. The piano player livens up the pub, and its architecture — designed to reflect a different style of pub depending on how you look at it — makes it a show and attraction unto itself.
When you add the delicious Yorkshire County Fish Shop around the corner, and some fun shopping themed around music and soccer, you wind up with a charming pavilion that everyone wants to spend a fair amount of time in. But, the star will always be the Rose and Crown.