The World Showcase pavilions are the crowning jewel in EPCOT. The Imagineers have, in re-creating the native lands that the pavilions represent, have gone beyond what anyone could hope for. All the pavilions have such astounding detail and accuracy, anyone who has visited any of the countries in the showcase will think they are back on vacation. Each of the pavilions represents actual buildings, architecture and areas of the countries portrayed. In addition, there are so many visual and audio references, that a sharp-eyed and eared guest can spend the whole day in a country and never get bored seeking out these clues.
The United Kingdom Pavilion is no exception. It contains rich detail and amazing scaled down buildings. The pavilion comprises four main streets…Tudor Lane, High Street, Upper Regency and Lower Regency. These streets contain the pavilions shops… the Sportsman Shoppe and Historical Research Center, the Crown and Crest, the Toy Soldier, Queen’s Table, the Magic of Wales, The Rose and Crown Pub and the Tea Caddy. All of the architecture represents different periods in English construction, and the streets are modeled after the real ones in Jolly old England, along with the shops and wares they contain. You’ll find the countries first mailboxes, the iconic British red phone booths and the town square, modeled after Britannia Square in Worchester England. But in order to enjoy this slice of Great Britain, let’s take a walk through the pavilion, looking at each of the historic buildings and the shops and merchandise they sell. First up as we approach from the Canadian pavilion, we see the Rose and Crown Pub on the left (More on this building later); and the Sportsman Shoppe and HRC (Historical research Center). This stately edifice apes the Hampton Court Palace, which was a home to King Henry VIII and the architecture is Tudor.
The inside of the shoppe is of the Elizabethan period, but toward the rear, the interior is modeled after a castle design of the Gothic revival architecture. The sportsman shop sells Beatles memorabilia, Tee shirts and other sports articles. Inside the castle, which is the Crown and Crest shop, you will find pendants, flags and all sorts of medieval armor and weapons adorning the walls, as in a real castle. Look over the fireplace and you will see the crest of the Kings of England. And take note of the high vaulted ceiling. Very impressive. In addition to the handbags, football clothing, chess sets and such, you can obtain a very unique item. Your families “Crest” or coat of arms and the history of your name. These “Coats of Arm” or crests were originally used for identification of families and armies in battle. In the shoppe, I decided to see if my name was available. My name Iadonisi was originally Idonisi. Upon looking up the former, nothing came up, but the latter, a magnificent coat of arms from Italy came up with a bit of history on the family name. It’s a great souvenir and it comes beautifully framed.
Coming from High Street and turning the corner onto Tudor Lane, you will notice how seamlessly the architecture changes from the Hampton Court Tudor style to a
smooth stone manor of the late 1500’s. Much of this is modeled after Abbotsford Manor in Scotland. You’ll notice the upper floors are wider and larger than the ground floors, because buildings were taxed on the size of the ground floor. Building a smaller footprint and larger areas above, meant less tax for a bigger living area. Next to the Crown and Crest is the town gate, which is a copy of one, found in the city of York. These gates were part of extensive wall systems common in the middle ages to keep invaders out.
From inside this gate, you can enter the next shop, the Toy Soldier. In here you can buy Winnie the Pooh merchandise, Thomas and Friends toys, die cast soldiers, Paddington Bears and Harry Potter books. At the end of the shop is the Kidcot fun stop. The facade for this shop, which turns into Upper Regency Street, showcases four row houses, which progress from Victorian to Georgian styles of architecture. Upper Regency and Lower Regency are streets that represent the exclusive area of Chelsea in London. From Transitional and Tudor, these row houses are parallel images of each other and were mirrored after homes found in Bedford and Belgrave squares in London. It’s interesting to note that Row Houses, now common in America were initiated in England. The small park that the row houses face is a diminutive version of Hyde Park in London, which is famous for its speakers Corner. And to the left is a small hedge maze for the kids to meander through. (Don’t worry; the hedges are only about 2 feet high!) And the gazebo adjacent to it is where the British revolution rock band plays some of the greatest music of British Artists.
Across the street is the Queens Table. The building is made up of three rooms… The Queen room, The Adams room and the Tudor Room. The building itself is a wonderful representation of Buckingham Palace with a four column center. Remember to keep a sharp lookout here! Details abound here in this pavilion. Look up at the lead windows, and observe the crests. The represent the four major colleges in England…Eton, Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge. In this shop, you can purchase Lulu Guiness ladies purses, beautiful china and other table accessories. The next shop we encounter is the beautiful white building housing the Lords and Ladies shop. Fragrances for men and women and clothing are sold here. On the right of this building on Lower Regency, you can walk a typical English garden path, going towards the town square. Originally gardens were for food, but as this became more plentiful, flowers, trees and hedges were planted in their stead. This pathway and the houses lining it were taken from a set of the movie Mary Poppins. As you exit the path, you’ll go under a trellis; in front of it the kids can meet and greet Mary Poppins and Alice from Wonderland. (Check the times board in front)
After exiting the path, turn left and see the Tea Caddy shop. This is a typical English cottage prevalent in the 1500’s and is similar to the home of Ann Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare. Inside its thatched roof and plaster walls you’ll find teas by Twinings along with biscuits, cookies and the like. The last iconic English establishment to check out is the Rose and Crown Pub. Pubs are an intricate part of British life. (Pub is short for Public House). Like Germany, the British people have been brewing and drinking beer for many centuries. Beginning in private homes where travelers could have a meal and a place to sleep, these Public Houses became commercial and required licensing from the town fathers. That is why you’ll see the “Fully Licensed” sign on the Rose and Crown. This pub represents 3 distinct types of architecture…Pubs from the Victorian era, with bubble glass, ornate wood paneling and beams. A waterfront Pub, with its stone walls and clay roofs, mainly for protection from the salt waters. (In the back of the Rose and Crown you can see a recreation of a lock that was found on the Grand Union canal) and on the right, a Country side Pub for the 17th and 18th centuries… Sand colored exterior, timbering around the doors and windows and slate roofs.
The Pub has two sections, the restaurant on the left and the pub itself. The main attraction of this eatery is the outside seating area by the canal. Diners here have one of the best views of Illuminations. When making reservations, you can request such a table, but they go so quickly, it’s a matter of timing. In addition to the tables by the canal, there is a beautiful tree-shaded area where you can also enjoy a brew and relax. But like the canal seating, these tables are sometimes gone hours before Illuminations. Next to the Pub is the last building we’ll explore… The Yorkshire County Fish Shop where another English food staple can be had; Fish and Chips. You can also get beer and soft drinks. The main difference between this and the real McCoy in England is the type of fish used here. Otherwise, it is the same as in England.
With most of the pavilion covered, I want to point out some interesting facts and trivia! The thatched roof on the Tea Caddy is made of plastic. Like the aluminum thatched roof on the Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom, it’s to resist fire and Hurricanes. The United Kingdom has no ride or attraction so to speak, but the band the British Revolution, which replaced the original group the British Invasion after 15yrs, will entertain you with music from the Troggs, Dave Clack Five, Beatles and more from the gazebo. Lookin the center of the Town Square. Instead of a statue, like in Germany you’ll find a tall stone column with a cube on top. Take a close look…It’s a sundial. There is a sign on the Rose and Crown. On the bottom it reads…”Otium Cum Dignitate” Latin for Leisure with Dignity. Look up at the roof of the Crown and Crest. Notice the ornate terra cotta faces of a man with a crown and a pipe coming out of his mouth. These are the drain spouts for the building.
Look atop the buildings, especially the Hampton Court Palace on High Street. All medieval buildings were rich in details, especially from France, Germany and
Italy, and the United Kingdom. Look at the chimneys. Very beautiful and ornate. The Imagineers even placed blackened soot on them so they appeared to be still working. Don’t forget to check out the classic English red phone booths next to the rest rooms. It’s interesting to note that these classic styled phone booths were the result of an architect’s competition. The first phone booth in Great Britain was not like these portrayed, so a contest was held to design the best one, and a Giles Gilbert Scott won with this now known design. Next to the phone booths you will see a red cylindrical cast iron mail box. This is a replica of the ones made in 1852. Another is at the end of Upper Regency Street. And finally, next to the restrooms and Phone booths, see the topiary of Mary Poppins in the small garden there.
As stated before, the pavilion has no ride, but in addition to the entertainment of the British Revolution, the World Showcase Players, who like the ancient troubadours of old, gather outside the Rose and Crown and put on impromptu shows and skits with many of the guests a part of the comedy. They are very funny! And inside the Rose and Crown, you can hear the piano music of Carol Stein. Sing along or request your favorite song, Carol’s show is always a hit. (Always check the show guides for times). She used to be the Hat Lady in the pub, but as of July of last year, her Hat show is no longer.
As you can see, the United Kingdom Pavilion is rich in detail, history and just a lot of fun. As with all of the Countries pavilions you visit, and in Walt Disney World in general, take the time to look around, listen and take in some of the amazing details that await you. Almost every number, sign, name or building or street, has some kind of a story! Take it a bit slower and you will be amazed at how much there is at Walt Disney World than just attractions!
Bill Iadonisi provided this gallery full of images from the United Kingdom Pavilion. Enjoy!