1. True or False: As you enter the China pavilion from the Norway pavilion, the three large stones on your right are purely decorative.
While beautiful and unique, the three large stones (almost bolder like in appearance) symbolize the ancient Chinese tradition of contemplative rock gardens. Used primarily as places of meditation, rock gardens were said to provoke deep thought into one’s own nature. In fact, Chinese emperors were known to have the largest and most beautiful stones transported to the palace gardens. Expeditions to find the most stunning rocks could take up to three years! History does speak of one type of stone prized above all others. This stone was called the taihu. The grouping of three stones in World Showcase are a representation of the taihu stones of China. Take note of the immense size, holes, and shapes of the various perforations.
2. What is the name of the large structure you walk underneath to enter the China pavilion?
- Gate of the Golden Sun – Also known as the Zhoa Yan Men, this decorated memorial archway is an almost exact reproduction of the one located at the Summer Palace in Beijing.
- Gate of the Emperor
- Gate of the Forbidden City
3. What is the name of the main walkway through the China pavilion?
- Street of History
- Street of Good Fortune – Inspired by the narrow roadways found in Beijing and Shanghai, the Street of Good Fortune is replete with interesting details. Many of these details are architectural and culturally significant in nature, so make sure to take your time to look up and around. For example, one of the things I find most fascinating is at the very end of the Street of Good Fortune. Here you will see an odd-numbered set of bells called bian zhong bells. These bells are normally struck with a mallet and played during important rituals and ceremonies. Another riveting details is found high above on the tile roofs of the buildings on either side of the street. Perched on the corner of the roofs you will find figures. These figures represent the tyrannical and much despised 3rd century ruler Prince Min. It is customary in China to install effigies on building to provide a warning on oppressive leadership. The animals behind Prince Min ensure he is unable to escape.
- Fortune Avenue of Culture
4. True or False: The name of the China pavilion’s main architectural centerpiece is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.
A true show stopper, this gabled building is much more than a colorful architectural masterpiece. Many guests know of the acoustic secret of the hall (stand in the middle and speak if you aren’t sure!) but what of the plethora of other details? In ancient Chinese culture, these temples were extremely important and represented a connection between heaven and Earth (the shape of a square represents Earth and the circular shape represented heaven). It was in these temples that Emperors would pray for a fruitful harvest. To create this scale replica in World Showcase, Imagineers used a building found in south central Beijing known as the Temple of Heaven. Imagineers ensured that much of the symbolic detail of the original building is captured in the Epcot‘s model. For example, the four main pillars inside the building represent the four seasons while the twelve outside pillars represent the Chinese calendar. Also, see if you can find the dragon and phoenix throughout the hall. The dragons have five claws representing the power of the emperor while the phoenix symbolizes peace and prosperity. These are only a few of the intricate details waiting to be explored!
5. When did the China pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase open?
- October 1, 1983
- October 1, 1982 – An opening day pavilion, the China pavilion looked nothing like we know today. Originally much smaller, the China pavilion featured the memorial archway, lotus blossom pools, and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The space that now houses Nine Dragons, Lotus Blossom Cafe, as well as many of the shopping building was originally manicured lawn – a holding place for a Denmark pavilion. It wasn’t long until the China pavilion expanded seeing it’s first new offerings in 1985 with the opening of the Lotus Blossom Cafe. The Nine Dragons followed closely, opening in October of 1985.
- October 1, 1985
(Photo from the personal collection of Kendall Foreman.)
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