While all of the countries featured in Epcot®’s World Showcase are beautiful in their own right, one of my favorites is China. From gorgeous architecture to bright festive colors, this pavilion allows guests to feel as though they have left Central Florida the second they enter into it. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the China Pavilion so beautiful and interesting.
Guests enter into the pavilion via the Zhao Yang Men or Gate of the Golden Sun which is modeled after a similar one located at the emperor’s palace near Beijing. Once through the gate, the pavilion showcases architecture inspired by ancient China including the Temple of Heaven Park and the Imperial City. Ever present on all buildings are the colors red and yellow which represent happiness and the emperor respectively. In addition to color and architecture, there are numerous examples of Chinese cultural touches including statues and symbols. Be sure to look all around while walking through the pavilion.
The largest building present in China is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest which is based upon an imperial prayer temple where they emperor would visit. The original hall this building is based upon was constructed using the technique of interlocking wood, thus utilizing no nails or connective materials. The four columns at the entrance of the hall represent the four seasons and the twelve exterior columns stand for the twelve months of the year and the twelve year cycle that the Chinese culture uses. On the top of the hall is a medallion bearing a dragon and phoenix. In traditional Chinese culture the dragon represents power (or if it has five claws, the emperor) and the phoenix stands for peace and prosperity. Together, the two symbolize a balanced marriage. Once inside the temple, there are concentric circles moving inwards towards the middle in clusters of three. The room itself is acoustically perfect, so go ahead and stand in the middle to test out the neat echo!
Located in the Temple of Heaven is the pavilion’s attraction film, Reflections of China. In 2003 the film replaced an earlier version, Wonders of China, which screened from 1983. Both films are Circle Vision and utilize a three hundred and sixty degree camera and offer sweeping views of the beauty that China has to offer. Narrated by Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai, the film is definitely worth seeing on your next visit. If you feel a little cramped while passing through the film’s exit corridor, don’t worry- you should. The Xing Fu Jie, or Street of Good Fortune, was designed by Imagineers to be slightly too small in order to give guests the feelings of the overcrowded urban streets of China.
In addition to the breathtaking hall, there is also the House of the Whispering Willows Gallery which is home the exhibit Tomb Warriors: Guardians of Ancient China. The exhibit features small replicas of the famous Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang which were buried with the emperor in 210 BC to protect him from the evil spirits in the underworld. The real Terracotta Warriors were discovered in 1974 and are six feet tall. They were painted bright colors in ancient times but lost most of their pigments after being unearthed. As excavation continued, the statues are now treated immediately in order to preserve their original coloring. Honoring their original colors, look throughout the exhibit’s warriors for one who is painted in honor of their true appearance.
The China Pavilion is also home to Good Fortune Gifts and the House of Good Fortune as well as the Lotus Blossom Café and Nine Dragons Restaurant. On the roof of Nine Dragons is a statue of a man riding a chicken. This is Prince Min of the State of Qi who was hung from the temple’s roof in 238 BC. Chinese tradition calls for a statue of him on a roof to protect the building from evil spirits. Located behind Prince Min are also numerous animal statues which provide additional protection for those inside.
If you time your touring of the China Pavilion correctly, you can also take in a show from the Dragon Legend Acrobats. They perform some pretty amazing routines throughout the day and are very entertaining. Be sure to catch them on your next visit!
From beautiful examples of authentic atmosphere to a sweeping film to delicious dining options, China offers a mini international vacation without leaving Epcot®. It is one of my favorite pavilions, and I love to take my time strolling through the buildings and shops. If you haven’t take the time to explore China before, be sure to spend some time just getting lost in its atmosphere next time you are in Epcot®!
(Photos are from the author’s personal collection.)
What is your favorite part of the China Pavilion? Ever eaten in Nine Dragons? Love Reflections of China? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.