Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Details

When I talk to people about the Disney World Theme Parks and Resorts, one thing they notice is how emphatic I am about noticing the little details.  It’s the thing that I most enjoy about the parks and resorts and what keeps me coming back for more because every time you look at something you’re bound to see something new.  While most details are bold and grand, like the colors of the castle or the immense look of Tower of Terror, there are millions of subtle ones.  What I find fascinating about these is that to the casual observer they are often overlooked.  But, I wonder if your mind would notice if they weren’t there?!?  

Let me give you an example.  I’m going to take you over to Epcot’s Japan pavilion for this one.  Along the shore of the the World Showcase in front of the Japanese pavilion stands a red torii gate.  A torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine.  This particular one is a replica of the torii of the Itsukushima Shrine, often called “floating shrine” because it sits in the water just off the island of Itsukushima in the city Hatsukaichi, Japan.  This shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government has designated it as a National Treasure.  The details and significance of this freature to the Japanese pavilion is fairly obvious.  What is not so obvious is what is found at the bottom of the torii.  Take a look...

What do you see?  Barnacles and the appearance of high and low tide water marks.  Hmmm...that’s odd, as the World Showcase lagoon is a freshwater lagoon with no tidal influence.  EXACTLY what I mean!!!  As a causal observer you don’t notice that, but if the torii stood freshly painted, at the water’s edge, would you notice the missing detail?  Probably not, but it’s those little details that make the place seem so much more read and vivid to the imagination.  
What overlooked details have you seen the parks or resorts recently?  

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Koutoubia Minaret
of Marrakesh
Quite unassuming on the outside, the Morocco pavilion at World Showcase in Epcot is often passed by for more familiar countries by many guests.  Morocco doesn’t have an attraction, so most people don’t bother with it and that is a shame.  Just inside the walled city, lies an amazing architecture, adorned with beautiful tile work and impeccable craftsmanship.  A walk through the local bazaar (or market place) reveals delightful treasures.  It’s a truly unique shopping experience.

The Morocco Pavilion was the first expansion pavilion to be added to the World Showcase, opening in 1984.  The pavilion is the only one designed with the named government’s aid.  King Hassan II sent Moroccan artisans to design and create the many mosaics and buildings you’ll see in the pavilion.  Due to Islamic beliefs on the content of art, the mosaics contain no representations of people.  To this day, the Moroccan government continues to sponsor the pavilion, while corporations hold sponsoring rights to the other World Showcase pavilions.  

Bab Boujouloud gate
Three cities of this northern African country are represented here:  Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakesh.  Guarding the entrance to the pavilion is a reproduction of the Koutoubia Minaret of Marrakesh.  This intricately carved tower was built by native craftsmen.  As you delve deeper into the pavilion, you’ll see more exquisite craftsmanship in the gate to the Medina (or old city) in a replica of the Bab Boujouloud gate.  Through the gate, you’ll find the bustling bazaar.  All the shops are interconnected to give you the feel of being in a real outside shopping bazaar and it’s easy to get lost in these shops!  The bazaar is a wonderful place to find unique gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person in your family.  Doesn’t your Cousin Tim need a Fez?  How about a belly dancing video for your Aunt Helen? 

Enter the Fez House to see a representation of a typical Moroccan home.  The tile and word work is amazing.  If it’s quiet, I’m certain you can hear children playing in the distance!

One of many
A flower filled courtyard is surrounded by native plants -- citrus and olive trees, date palms, banana trees, and a fountain.  Some of the gardens are irrigated by an ancient working waterwheel.  

Since these buildings were designed and sponsored by the country of Morocco, they hold great religious significant.  As a result the pavilion is the only one not lit up during the nightly Illuminations performance.  

Lunch at Tangerine Cafe

A final fact about the Morocco pavilion you may not know - The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios is seen at an angle from the Moroccan pavilion.  The top of the Tower of Terror is designed so it blends in with the Moroccan architecture.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014