Disney · Omnibus · Trivia

WDW for the Single Guy: an experiment, Part 9 (Epcot Pt II)

World-Showcase-Epcot-Center-Walt-Disney-Resort

[DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. My comments are listed in [ ] – anything in ( ) are all Jerry’s words. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously some things have definitely changed since 2009, [*ahem* Norway *ahem*] and should be used for comparative purposes only, as many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor]

WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment

EPCOT (Part II – World Showcase)

A 1.2 mile promenade around a picturesque 40-acre lagoon, this area of Epcot is more for the adults, as there are only two rides, three short films, amazing and sometimes expensive and sometimes gourmet cuisine, ALCOHOL from different countries live performances from amazing performers, and shopping for things other than Disney souvenirs. Each country is sponsored by the government of its real namesake, and is built to look like an actual piece of the nation with amazing and thorough attention to detail. In my touring plans, I always suggest you get here when it opens at 11AM and stay til at least 3 or 4PM – then it gets crowded, so it’s up to you if you would like to stay or visit Future World again. I’d stay.

The countries portrayed are: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The “American” Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, the U.K., and Canada. Disney has been negotiating with Russia, Australia, and Spain – hopefully they will be added one day. There are stops for kids at each Pavilion called “KidCot For Stops”, but you don’t care about that. Or do you? Well, a game the CMs and frequent visitors of World Showcase, as well as Eppyphiles play is called:

DRINKING AROUND THE WORLD

A favorite of many, it’s fun to get alcohol native to each land, drink while you’re touring that country and then keep going. It works out very well, and the mixing of alcohol gets you buzzed by your 3rd or 4th country. If you make all 11, you win! What do you win? Nothing. But it’s fuckin’ fun, so don’t be a goddamned pussy! As I go through each country, I will also mention the best alcohol to get for Drinking Around the World. How do your friends know you didn’t cheat? You use the Kidcot Passports to ask the alcohol server to sign it for you with a little note. If they are reluctant or confused, get it from a different CM – just tell them what you are doing. Most of them LOVE IT! 🙂 See you in Canada Will you remember who I am? HAHA. Tip: Ask the girl you are with to play along with you. By the end of the night, you will be inside her! If you’re not with someone, you will be at some point. Bring about $100 or so for drinks, including wine, beer, and cocktails.

(All Pavilions are rated A+ – food, entertainment, and shopping are separately rated)

epcot-map-2

Mexico Pavilion

As you walk clockwise around the World Showcase, you will begin to see the large Mayan-esque pyramids that create the landscape of Mexico. You will see topieries of the Three Caballeros (Donald, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles). Around the main pyramid there is a small backyard garden that once housed actual parrots. Now it’s just a plant-life filled walkway. Sometimes you can meet the Caballeros here, including Donald in his Caballero outfit. Inside the pyramid, you will be whisked away to a strange “outdoor” nightlife area that is more like Mexico now. In here is a marketplace with a variety of stands that is reminiscent of a small village.There’s a restaurant, a ride, and many photo ops (although it is dark), as well as hands-on exhibits of Mexico’s food, culture, and geography. Plus you can send a video of yourself “cliff diving” and more from one of the video kiosks.

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (C+)

Once called El Rio Del Tiempo, or The River of Time, (also known as The Racist Mexican Boat Ride), it was ripe with stereotypes and characterizations. In 2006, they changed it to the name above and now has a random storyline where Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles are off to perform a concert in Mexico. Donald, obsessed with the sights and sounds, gets lost, and the others look all over Mexico. It’s a little less racist, but still quite funny. Take this 5 minute boat ride around a beautiful volcano, through the Day of the Dead Festival, into Acapulco to watch cliff divers, and more. It’s definitely worth a look-see, but hardly a huge priority. You used to be able to take drinks on the ride with you, but they have changed the rules since then. Just to let you know, since Jose is from Brazil, and Donald is from Burbank, Panchito is the only Mexican one, so it makes no sense. But sit on the left side if you want a better view. There’s more happening there. Some people called this a shorter and Mexican Small World, but only one part has dancing/singing dolls, so that’s stupid. This is a nice place to take a chick.
When To Go: At 11AM when the World Showcase opens (you can go in the evening too).

Some of the better Shopping Areas:
Animales Fantásicos: Spirits in Wood – sells hand-carved, hand-painted animal sculptures in bright colors. You can watch someone paint and sand the individual creations right in front of you. Even if you don’t buy anything, you have to check out the amazing artwork and the time that goes into this.
Plaza de los Amigos – the inside of the pyramid, filled with blankets, sombreros, paper flowers, cookbooks, spices, alcohol, tambourines, and other fun Mexican things. There’s also piñatas and stuff. Prizes aren’t terrible.
La Princesa Cristal – sells crystal figures as well as its next door neighbor, who sells wallets, handbags, and jewelry. You and your chick should browse here. She’ll love it.

Entertainment In Mexico
El Mariachi (B+) – the singers are awesome, the music is fun, and the shows are plentiful.

Dining and Snacks
Cantina de San Angel (Food: C+; Service: A; Price: a little too expensive) (Mexican counter-service)
This place is located outside. It’s a standard Mexican-American combination – where you can get tacos, burritos, quesedillas, wet burritos, draft beer, margaritas, refried beans, and salsa. Not to mention churros! Don’t forget to at least get a churro from here at some point. They are great! And they go well with an ice-cold frozen margarita! The food is alright, but you can get better.
The Margarita Cart (Drink: A+; Service: A+; Price: not bad at all) (alcohol + snacks)
There are four different kinds: Lime; Mango; Papaya; or a combination of all 3 (The Fiesta Margarita). Get the combo, because you’re in Mexico! Have a Fiesta!!
San Angel Inn (Food: A-; Service: A+; Price: pretty expensive – much higher than NY) (Mexican)
Right in front of the big volcano near the Gran Fiesta Tour and smack in the middle of the pyramid (looks like you’re eating outside on a beautiful night in the heart of a Mexican village), this restaurant serves a few commodities that are hard to find in the United States. A very romantic spot for your and your girl, they serve mole poblano (chicken w/ an exotic sauce made from different peppers and unsweetened chocolate) as well as nachos, ceviche, and regional fish dishes such as the grilled mahi mahi. Also, the grilled beef tenderloin is good. You may be able to catch El Mariachi right nearby as you eat and can convince them to play something for you and your girl. The place is pretty good, but then again, most of World Showcase food is pretty fucking great!
The Best Snack And Drink: Fiesta Margarita and a churro!
P.S. Mexico: Don’t forget to check out the video screens hidden in some stores where you can send your family pics and videos of you hanging out!

Norway Pavilion

[Time to discuss the elephant in the room. So, in 2013, Frozen happened. And due to its enormous success, Norway has tuned into Arendelle. For posterity’s sake, here is Jerry’s thoughts of Norway pre-2013. To hear his thoughts about Norway now, check out his podcasts.]

There are no fjords here, but there is a lot of Scandinavian architecture, including the  Akershus Castle, a wooden stave church, cottages, replicas of historic buildings, and a boat ride/film. There is also a big ship that you used to be able to climb on, but not anymore for whatever reason. But I have pictures of me as a kid in the damn viking ship.

Maelstrom (B-) {FP}

This boat ride through the fabled rivers of Norway is quite fun, but very short. The scenes are very dark and dreary and are connected with Viking history and legends, including a whole bunch of special effects, gorges, polar bears, a couple of waterfalls, and trolls. It’s a pretty cool ride – but back in 1988, the longboats used to have a seam running down the center, which caused your feet to get a bit wet, adding to the excitement. Now, of course, there are new boats, so that stinks. The ride is only about 4-5 minutes, and does have some very fun moments. Do me a favor and don’t go after a showing of the close by Reflections of China. If you do, there will be a long line. When a big show exits, it’s very common that they file into the closest attraction. Ride it at night too, because there will be a new experience.
When To Go: Right after Gran Fiesta at 11:10 AM. Fastpass here is useless, even though the lines get crazy later on. The only reason to use it is if you want to go more than once in a day, or you got to the park late.

The Spirit of Norway (F (last time I saw it))

At the end of Maelstrom, you empty into this theatre. If you sit down, you’ll have to watch an extremely boring movie about Norway. It seems like they put no thought into this! Walk straight through and exit into the Puffin’s Roost Store, or you will be forced to sit through this horrific disaster. The doors close and you’re screwed. So smile at the Cast Member and exit through the doors promptly!!!
When To Go: NEVER!!!

Shopping 
The Puffin’s Roost – It’s the only store in this country. They have lots of imports, such as trolls, ornaments, and even imported body lotions and perfume! Just as with most other countries, a lot of these things cannot be found anywhere else in the USA. There’s also clothing and silly souvenirs like Viking hats (with or w/o blond braids!) There’s also jewelry. Don’t miss (cos you can’t) the psychotically giant troll, which is a great photo-op. Oh! And you can get Norwegian candy here as well. Mmmm!
Spellman’s Gedje (C+) – They are a large folk band w/ fun sing-a-long and dance songs. They are good, but there’s much better live entertainment around World Showcase.

Dining and Snacks
Kringla Bakeri og Kafé (Food: A+; Service: A+; Price: expensive, but worth it) (Norwegian bakery w/ snacks, pastries, and drinks)
This is a wonderful Norwegian bakery with various different foods. My girlfriend swears by the skööl bread and loves the lefse as well! Lefse is like a potato bread rolled up with butter in it. They have great open-faced sandwiches (smoked ham, turkey, or salmon), sweet pretzels with raisins and almonds, cinnamon rolls, waffles with fruit toppings, chocolate mousse, and many other pastries. It’s also the only counter-service in Norway, so if you want alcohol, they have wine and imported beer. (Carlsberg beer [was] $7). I highly recommend this nice little eatery.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Food: A; Service: A+; Price: very expensive) (Norwegian buffet or Family style)
This table service buffet/family style meal is home to the Princess Storybook Breakfasts and lunches. Characters such as Belle, Ariel, Mulan, Snow White, Aurora, Aliza, Jasmine, or Pocahontas (and sometimes Mary Poppins) come table to table at this all-you-can-eat banquet. This is also known as the “alternative” to Cinderella’s Royal Table, but frankly, I like this better. Yes, the atmosphere is more wonderous ar CRT, but the characters are here too and the food is way better… well, for breakfast at least. The breakfast is fairly standard, but they have fresh fruit, which makes you feel very relaxed and refreshed – not to mention healthy. For lunch, the Koldbord (cold buffet) offers salads, and there’s also braised lamb and cabbage, venison stew, baked salmon, sweet rutabaga mash, and of course, Carlsberg beer on tap. You can order from the menu, but it’s still one set price. The food is very good, so be adventurous! The breakfast and lunch come with a princess photo – the prices are very high because of this, but dinner is reasonable enough. Besides, you’re on vacation. Your woman will love it here, especially if she’s a fan of princesses.

Other Things
The Stave Church – Located next to Kringla, this small church houses some artifacts and small legends of infamous Vikings. Definitely worth checking out.
The Best Snack And Drink: Carlsberg beer and the skool bread, letse, or sweet pretzel.
P.S. Norway: Check out the topieries all around. The trolls are pretty cool!

China Pavilion

China pavilion

WAH!!! Herro! Here is China! A half-sized replica of the Temple of Heaven is portrayed and identifies this pavilion. You know that big real arch thing! This place is beautiful. With its reflecting ponds and intricate gardens, this pavilion stands out as one of the best looking – revaling that China is one of the most attractive countries. There’s a film, a full-service restaurant, a counter service establishment, a very elaborate shop, and art gallery with lotus blossom gates / formal saddle roof line, and the best entertainment in World Showcase. This pavilion constantly updates exhibits on Chinese history, culture, or trendsetting developments.

Reflections of China (A)

This is a Circle-Vision 360 film, which was once called ???? of China [Jerry left it blank, so I guess he forgot. No worries.] Circle-Vision is a style of filmmaking invented by the Disney Company, in which 9 cameras are attached to one base and run in unison with each other. This gives a full 360° view of the action around you. When you walk through the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, you will be amazed as dead poet Li Bai takes you through different areas of China, where you can bathe in the natural beauty and city life. You have to stand the whole time, but it’s worth it to be able to see the Chinese world moving all around you. Some people like to go back four [three more] times, each time facing a different direction (N, S, E, W). Some people will stand in the very back of the theatre so they get a 270° view and catch most [¾] of the film. I like to stand directly in the middle, constantly turning when the action starts getting good. But that’s just me. Everyone’s preference is different. This is a very nice film to see with a date. This 14 minute film is used to be a tad “politically incorrect,” showing mostly the stereotypical Chinese, but since they changed it to “Reflections” in 2003, it has been updated to contain ALL kinds of Chinese culture.
When To Go: Anytime is fine. You should tour World Showcase at YOUR leisure, with a few very important suggestions when it comes to live entertainment.

Shopping
Yong Feng Shangdian – One of the best shops in all of World Showcase. Set up like a wild department store, it features everything from cheap silk fans, to $4,000 jade sculptures, to antique furniture, to real kimonos. Like walking through a Chinatown that only sells things unique to China, this store has it all. Whether you want authentic handbags, silk dresses / robes, sculptures + fountains, rugs, hand-woven silk carpets, or replicas of your favorite Buddhist deities, or Chinese traditional characters, you can find it all right here. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, go and browse. It’s quite amazing what you’ll find. (Personalization is here too – they can beautifully write your name in Chinese characters on nearly anything.)

Entertainment In China
Dragon Legend Acrobats (A+++++) – This group of young Chinese kids is freakin’ insane. Probably the best show in all of World Showcase, they do everything from: A) forming themselves into a human hoop and having others leap through them doing backflips and apparently “flying” through the air; B) riding an 8 foot unicycle while balancing delicate china on their heads, nose, and arms; C) doing crazy jump rope tricks that involve some extensive air time; and D) flipping over, around, and under each other in outstanding feats of impossibility. This show is a must-see… not to be missed… no matter what! Each show is different (sometimes the afternoon kids will do a different show than the evening kids. It starts at 2:30 PM (after school, I guess) and ends at about 8:30 PM. It’s usually once or twice an hour and runs about 15 minutes. Check your schedule, but try to go either right before you see Reflections of China or towards the end of your day – – however it gets very crowded, so secure a spot at least 5-10 minutes early. If you didn’t see this show, then the obvious slave-drivers who run it will find you and force you to do acrobatics. (yes, the slave rumor is false, duh).
Drum This (C+) There’s a drum show too, but it is overshadowed by the acrobats.

Dining And Snacks
Joy of Tea (Food/Drink: A+; Service: A+; Price: reasonable) (outdoor tea bar)
You can buy your many kinds of Chinese tea and specialty drinks here. They also have Tsingtao Beer and Chinese wine (which is yummy). They are also extremely nice here, so you should stop by to get your caffeine (or alcohol) fix.
Lotus Blossom Cafe (Food: D; Service: A; Price: not really worth it) (Fast food Chinese counter service)
Think of the quality of Wok N Roll fast food, and that’s about what this is. You have tasted this before and there’s no reason to try again. They have egg rolls, pot stickers, Mongolian BBQ beef, orange chicken, veggie stir fry, and some chicken salad. The food is okay, but at the prices they are at, I suggest you skip it. Very, very mediocre.
Nine Dragons Restaurant (Food: B-/C+; Service: A; Price: Ouch) (Chinese cuisine)
As of fall, 2006, this restaurant has been renovated. I’ve heard good things, but still – it’s a Chinese restaurant that is not authentic. If you live in New York like me [us], you should skip this one. There are so many great Chinese places here that Dragons pales in comparison. Plus, the food is American-Chinese, meaning it’s the same old Kung Pao, General Tso’s, beef + broccoli fare as you will get anywhere in the U.S. For authentic Chinese food, hit up any Chinatown in your home state. (May I recommend 8th Ave in Brooklyn [Main Street in Flushing, Queens]?) If you have eaten anywhere in World Showcase and would like to try it here, they have a great duck and some good dumplings! Otherwise, it’s nothing special. Plus, you’ll paying through the nose. The new menu may change things a bit.
The Best Snack And Drink: Plum Wine is sweet and tastes Really good. They used to call it Chinese wine. You get a little cup of it – and it’s Grrr-eat! (The mango smoothie at the Lotus Blossom is so good, it tastes like mangoes that were just harvested! VERY GOOD!)

The Outpost – – formally Something Pavilion
This was built as extra space when Tarzan was being released in 1999. Who knows why? It was supposed to be like a random jungle area, but Africa in Animal Kingdom covers this way better. It used to house Tarzan characters; now it’s just an advertisement for Coke. Also, a 7-person drum circle named Orisirisi would play, but they got fired in 2009 because of the economic crisis. There’s only these crates — if you open them… something special happens. You have to see it for yourself. It’s funny. Also, there’s one snack stand and a little shopping area. That’s it. Mainly, it’s just a bridge from China to Germany.
Village Traders – sells African wood carvings – very strange – also has some regular Disney merch and some rare character plush (country-oriented) that are not in their designated countries. There’s an artist that carves creations in front of your eyes – you can request stuff, but you have to buy it before he makes it in that case.
Refreshment Outpost (Food: B; Service: B+; Price: normal) (ice cream/snack shop)
Here, you can get gourmet ice cream, fresh fruit, frozen sodas/slushes, or other drinks, including Michelob beer. The food is mainly prepackaged. It is what it is.

Germany Pavilion

Germany pavilion

This large area is covered in German architecture – from a clock tower, to a fountain depicting St. George’s victory over a dragon, to a miniature train station. Using the common wood like structural architecture, the plaza (they call it platz, but I think that sounds like a Yiddish word for “shit.”) is filled with different shops, two restaurants, and lots of visuals. There was once going to be an attraction here, (a ride around the Rhine River taking you around recreations of many famous tourist spots.) The building was even built – it is still there… empty. Now they use it as rehearsal space for bands/choirs (see my rants on shirts.) No attractions here, nor live entertainment, unless you go to the buffet (see restaurants) – but there is a lot to see.

Shopping
Das Kaufhaus: Adidas sportswear and stuff — the stupidest store here.
Volkskunst: Very interesting handcrafts, such as glassware, beer steins, cuckoo clocks, and more! There’s also silly toys and yummy candy. Some steins are in the higher 3 digit range. Yikes!
Der Teddybär: Ranging from cheap plush, to Steiff (the most expensive plush out there, made from real animal fur — they sold it at FAO Schwarz as well), they have stuff for kids and/or collectors. At least check it out to see what Steiff is. Girls love it!
Kunstarbeit in Kristall: Glassware, pins, and crystal. They have $37,500 replica of Cinderella’s Castle on display. There’s only one and has yet to be sold. There are over 20,000 crystals in it.
Weinkellar: A ridiculous amount of German wines to buy. Bring it back to the hotel, get sloshed, and fuck until the sun comes up! There’s almost 300 varieties here.
Die Weinnachts Ecke: Christmas stuff from Germany, like nutcrackers and ornaments.
Glas Und Porzellan: VERY expensive glass + porcelain things. You can find Goebel and Hummel objects here (very expensive imported figures), and an artist from Germany paints some of them right in front of you. Take your girl here too, but don’t let her touch if she’s clumsy!!

Dining And Snacks
Süssigkeiten: (Food: A; Service: A+; Price: all right – not awful for the taste) (German candy/bakery items)
You can get fresh fudge, cookies, and other baked items here as well as imported candy you can only get in WDW or Germany! Step by to get some. Some of the candy is priced extremely reasonably. Some is not. You be the judge, get some fudge!
Sommerfest: (Food: B; Service: A; Price: normal-esque) (German counter service)
If you are into German food, you;ll LOVE it. If you are just tasting, you’ll like it. Nothing is elaborate here – nothing too out of the ordinary. They have bratwurst and frankfurter “sandwiches” with kraut, thick soft pretzels, apple strudel, and Black Forest cake – also wine and beer of course. It is kinda hidden — go towards Beirgarten – it’s under the entrance – you won’t miss it once you’re there. The food is good, but the desserts are better. They used to have schnitzel, but it’s gone. Very limited seating.
Biergarten: (Food: A-; Service: A+; Price: A++ very reasonable) (German buffet w/entertainment)
Do you like to eat? Good! Then come here! This is a great place to eat lunch. It’s a buffet at only $20. (Dinner is $27.) Basically you are seated at a large table, or medium-sized table with others you may have never met before (possibly good to scope out cute women) – then you give your order – if you don’t order a 32 ounce beer for yourself, then you’re a fuckin’ pussy. This oompah band comes on every hour for a half hour, so try to get ADRs (reservations, remember?) for about 15 minutes prior. Grab your first helping of food and get your beer before they go on, then party with them. After every song, they scream, “Siggy Saky, Siggy Saky, hoi! Hoi! Hoi!” and you must down your beer. It’s fuckin’ fun! (They were doing this before “The Man Show.”) You can get schnitzel, spaetzle, rotkraut, sauerkraut, German potato salad, a variety of wursts, yummy gravy, regular rotisserie chicken (again, if you’re a pussy), pig knuckles, stuffed cabbage, roast pork, and MUCH more (including desserts) which is all set up on wooden barrels in this low lit area designed as if you were at an outdoor village town square. There’s also a dance floor, so this is the perfect opportunity to make a fool of yourself + impress the girl. Plus, the band is wearing liederhosen! You can choose Beck’s beer if you like, but the dark beer, which I’m not sure how to spell is much better. Drink up motherfucker, it’s a party!
Beer Cart: (Food: A+; Service: A+; Price: A+) Buy beer out here.
The Best Food and Drink: Black Forest Cake and Apple strudel are great! Get whichever you want or both from Sommerfest. But don’t forget the dark beer! German beer is great, so don’t miss out on this, damn it!

Italy Pavilion

Italy pavilion

Designed very much like Venice with a large bell tower and 14th Century Doge’s Palace, the Pavilion’s very much more than beautiful, with plenty of empty space to roam around and rest if your legs are a bit tired. It’s a very pleasant place to just sit and stare at the beauty around you. The streets and courtyards are said to be the most realistic in World Showcase. You will really feel like you’re in Italy. Check out the Neptune fountain and the glamorous waterfront on the lagoon where the gondolas are tied up. There are no attractions here, but a couple of fun live entertainment spectacles and some shops as well as a full-service restaurant.

Shopping
Il Bel Crisallo – This very large shop has figurines imported from Florence, Christmas decorations, Puma sportswear, and of course, perfumes (Bulgari + Ferragamo fragrances).
Enoteca Castello – Here’s where you can drink up. They have a small wine room with tastings, very, very good – as well as “Perugina” candies (imported from Italy), very elaborate Venetian masks, and glass sculptures – along with books and other interesting things.

Entertainment In Italy
Living Statues: You’ve seen this in New York, but this guy’s professional… eh, who cares?
World Showcase Players: Italy: Directly from the UK Pavilion, these Monty Python-esque improv actors put on Romeo and Juliet… kind of. They’ll throw you into the mess, including you into the story, humiliating you along the way. Always a gas. 🙂 This show is funny and fun, but the UK show is better. Pick that one if you can choose only one.

Dining And Snacks
The Gelato Stand (Food: A); (Service: A; Price: normal) (Gelato, dammit)
It’s gelato, why are you reading this? Just get some, it’s awesome!
Tutto Italia (Food: C; Service: A+; Price: off-the-wall-horrific) (Italian full-service)
Here’s the history. The place before this (L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante) had to close up in 2007. Apparently, medics blamed that restaurant because of oversized portions + heavy cream sauce for a large number of guests keeling over while walking around World Showcase. This place promises “lighter fare,” and EMTs think that will now be fewer heart attacks. Of course, you and I know that their logic is bullshit, and now we’re stuck with mediocre “authentic” Italian cuisine for a ridiculously huge price. The good thing is that the decor is beautiful and very elegant. But it’s LOUD, so request to sit on the piazza [but not on Mike Piazza, because that’s creepy]. Their best dishes are a lasagna w/meat sauce, penne w/tomato + basil, and the YUMMY copetta sotto bosco (this very creamy gelato w/berries + chocolate sauce dessert, obviously). The price, however, is WAY too expensive, even for lunch — lunch, however, is better. The reason I gave the food a “C” is because if you’re from NYC (same as China), you will be eating low-grade pseudo-Italian food. You come from Kansas? It’s the best meal you’ve ever had. But this is only “authentic” if you consider New York a city in Italy. Go here only if you NEED Italian food bad… and if you have free dining. I think you may have to use 2 meals here.
The Best Snack And Drink: Pick your favorite Italian wine, or do the triple taste test (you’ll see), or just ask what they recommend. Then get gelato! If you’re at Tutto Italia, then get the copetta sotto bosco – but otherwise, the gelato cart is waiting for you!

United States Pavilion (The American Adventure)

Honestly, this is stupid. There’s a big building, a terrible shop, and fast food. Why do we need an American pavilion when we LIVE in America? Just go to Liberty Square in MK!! The best part of this pavilion is the live entertainment. There’s also a patriotic attraction, and a stage (The America Gardens) which houses the famous stage shows as celebrities show up for Eat to the Beat, Flower Power, and other celebrity festivals. This pavilion is quite large, and quite boring. So now, I bring to you: the pointless pavilion!!!!

The American Adventure (A+ if you love history/animatronics/your country – B if you think just the animatronics will interest you – but D if you think, ‘who fucking cares?’)

So, this is a 29-minute show, which is very sanitized, starring an audio-animatronic Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. Claim to fame? Franklin actually believably walks up a flight of stairs to reach Thomas Jefferson. It has the most animatronics of any attraction in WDW. There’s a large stage (the size of a football field) and a 28′ x 55′ rear projection screen (the largest ever used) when they interweave images + music to the action on stage. It’s really cool how it’s done, but when you are “not patriotic” then who fucking gives a fuck? Another Hall of Presidents, however, this one is better and more technically extreme. But it’s also overstated and boring. It’s nice to see once, and people cry during it, but I’d rather sleep. They gloss over the dark points of American history and cut out the audio of who bombed Pearl Harbor (Japan is next door to the US – LOL). Instead of a history lesson, they should do what they do in other countries! Focus on the natural beauty, the ethnic diversity, immigration, contributions to the world. This show sucks in my opinion, but the theme song, “Golden Dream” is fantastic! The theatre is so large, you should never have trouble finding a seat. Remember to show up early enough to catch the “pre-show.” (See Entertainment)
When To Go: If you choose to go, it’s least crowded between 1:30 – 3:30 PM, but since it’s easy to get in, do it when you have a free 45 minutes. (See Entertainment)

Shopping
Heritage Manor Gifts: Hand crafted souvenirs and lots of American flag stuff. The best is the bendy president action figures. I have some funny ones at home now.

Entertainment
Voices of Liberty: (A+) What an amazing group of singers. A very, very powerful group dressed in colonial garb singing songs a capella. They have been to the White House twice to sing for Bush (Doubleyah) and Obama. Just outstanding! They start about 20 minutes before each American Adventure show. They are a must-see if you like music. (Another group called “Epcot Vybe” used to be here singing a capella pop versions of Americana. There was a hot brunette too. But now they are gone,) Go see Voices of Liberty!
Fife + Drum Corps: Just what it says [on the tin]. Nothing special.

Dining and Snacks
Fife + Drum Tavern (Food: C; Service: B; Price: whatever) (snacks, turkey legs)
Yeah, get turkey legs if you will, but why? Don’t you want good food? There’s al;so hot dogs, pretzels, chips, ice cream… I’m boring myself with this inane selection of crap.
The Funnel Cake Cart (Food: A; Service: A; Price: good) (snacks, drinks)
So here’s your funnel cake and fried ice cream! Both very good. [Spin Spin] Sugar, Sugar, Sugar! This is the only thing America has to offer.
Liberty Inn (Food: C+; Service: B+; Price: not great) (American counter service)
The only place to get actual food in American pavilion. And all they have is bacon double cheeseburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chicken strips, or chicken Caesar salad. Also the nasty Kosher meal. Do me a favor and don’t eat here. Why would you eat “American food” when you are surrounded by amazing food? (Get beer here though) My idea: Why didn’t they have a sit down restaurant and serve food from different regions of America? The South, the Midwest, the Northeast, the Southwest, the Northwest, etc. They could have slow-cooked ribs, steaks, clam chowder, different kinds of pizza / hot dogs (NY/Chicago). WDW seems to be crapping out on this one.
The Best Food and Drink: Funnel cakes and fried ice cream, and Sam Adams beer. YUM!

Japan Pavilion

Japan Pavilion

Everyone wants to go to Japan! This is one of the best pavilions. The focus is the blue-roofed pagoda inspired by 17th Century Japanese architecture. Behind it is a hill garden with waterfalls, rocks, flowers, lanterns, small paths, and rustic bridges. Other buildings are modeled after the ceremonial / coronation halls  at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and many other peaceful areas in Japan. This is a biggie! There are four restaurants in total. A huge shopping center. Three live entertainment acts. One beautiful pavilion. There are rumors that an indoor recreation area may be included as well as a miniature Mount Fuji where a supposed-bullet train ride may be thrown in. At the time, this pavilion has no attraction.

Shopping
Mitsukoshi Department Store: This is just one branch of Japan’s actual 300-year-old department store. It takes up the entire side of the pavilion and carries not only kid-friendly merch like the usual Hello Kitty, Naruto, and Yu-Gi-Oh! (with Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, etc. merch thrown in), but also kimonos, slippers, handbags, and much more! They have an extensive culinary display with a sake tasting bar, chopsticks, rice bowls, and imported snacks! But that’s not all! In addition to books about martial arts and serenity, they also have stuff for the people who want to spend! Like pearls and other jewelry. Tourists line up for an oyster guaranteed to have a pearl in its shell (yes, pearls are polished for you there). This is a large, multi-roomed store with much to do.

Entertainment
Toy Museum: (B-) It shows different kinds of toys created by the Japanese. It’s small, but interesting. John Lasseter makes an appearance in a video at one point.
Miyuki: (A+++) The first (and for a long time only) woman to create candy sculptures of animals in Japan. She has come to WDW to do it almost every day. She can make ANY animal you ask for in just a few minutes. Then you can eat it. It’s not the best tasting, but it’s so awesome just to watch! Me and my g/f go back over and over. She’s witty, talented, and very kind. She mostly chooses kids to make the candy sculpture for, but she chooses at least one single guy/girl or couple every show. If you are a return visitor, she will remember you.
Teiko Drums: (B-) These crazy Japanese drummers. It’s cool to watch once, but after that… eh.
The Storyteller: (B-) She’s interesting, but her stories are for the younger crowd.

Dining and Snacks
Yakitori House (Food: A+; Service: A-; Price: Not bad) (Japanese counter service)
You can easily get a small meal here. It’s one of the best counter service in World Showcase. They have beef and chicken teriyaki, veggies, rice, veggie tempura w/shrimp + udon noodles, side salad, sushi, miso soup, green tea, Kirin beer, saké, and plum wine – and for dessert, sponge cake w/ginger flavored frosting. But the best dish here is the Japanese beef curry. An interesting combo of flavors. If you want a lot of food, get the Shogun combo – it has both beef AND chicken teriyaki, veggies and rice. YUM! Only downfall is the lack of seating, but this place is great. If you’ve been to real Japanese places in a cultural city, it’s nothing new, but that doesn’t stop it from being excellent!
Tokyo Dining (Food: B+; Service: A+; Price: Decent for Japanese food) (Japanese table service)
This place used to be separated into two restaurants, but now half of that restaurant is Teppan Edo next war. This is what I call, the relaxing restaurant – not too much noise, not too many kids. Nice romantic spot. They, of course, offer tempura-battered deep-fried foods w/ six kinds of sake. They also have sushi and sashimi, grilled meats, and seafood. The emphasis here is the sushi and the tempura. The decor is very modern Asian, and the servers are constantly bowing to you as you ask for food, receive your food, pay the bill, ask where the bathroom is, say hello, ask for a happy ending massage, whatever. Just constant bowing. But the restaurant overlooks the World Showcase Lagoon. A great place for a date, ask for the window seats – you can even watch the fireworks from here (w/ no sound).
Teppan Edo (Food: A-; Service: A+; Price: Woh! There goes my wallet!) (Japanese teppan-style table service)
This is like an upscale Benihanas. Renovated in 2007, this place is very, very fun, but noisy! Most people stick to the teppen offerings (chicken, beef, shrimp, scallops, veggies) served up by the crazy knife-juggling Japanese chefs. But there’s also sushi, appetizers (spicy seaweed salad, edamane) and sides (squid steak, gyoza). You will be sitting with lots of other people, but that’s part of the fun. As I said before, it’s expensive! Check out the menus online at allears.net before you go. If you’re new to Teppan cooking – a bunch of people sit around a grill, (which is part of your table), and the chef circles around in the middle, serving up food constantly – while doing crazy tricks (juggling, making designs, flipping things in the air, etc.)It’s quite a treat!
The Best Snack And Drink: SAKÉ! (Your choice at the saké bar in Mitsukoshi). Their fried ice cream is great, but last time it wasn’t on the menu…. So… Miyuki’s candy! As I said, it doesn’t taste great, but it’s cool!!

Morocco Pavilion

The last one to come on board in the early 90’s, it is one of the best designed pavilions. As you walk through the bustling markets, winding streets, stuccoed archways, and sushi, you’ll feel like you just stepped into Aladdin! The attention to detail is phenomenal. Many times (especially on a hot day) you’ll feel like you’re actually walking through the desert markets of Morocco! There’s a museum, a whole bunch of shops (in the outdoor markets), two food establishments, some live entertainment, and a water wheel that provides irrigation to the flowerbeds opposite the pavilion (in the lagoon). This is cool to watch, ’cause it’s not like a regular water wheel. You’ll see. Oh, and you can get your caffeine fix right here as well. Here we go! (No attractions at all).

Shopping
Tangier Traders: Sells traditional Moroccan clothing, shoes, and fezzes. You will try one on at some point. Everyone does at some point. You just have to.
Marketplace in the Medina: They peddle straw bags, ceramic-tile furnitures, and yes, belly dancing kits.
The Brass Bazaar: Brass, ceramic, and wooden kitchenware.
Casablanca Carpets: A whole bunch of Moroccan rugs and decorative pieces, like strange-shaped lamps, sequined pillows, and incense holders.
Medina Arts: Pottery and ceramic sculptures.
Other Shops: Throughout, you can get incense, Aladdin merch, and a book called “What’s The Matter Habib?” (HA HA! It’s True!)

Entertainment
Mo’ Rockin’: (A-) Yup, it’s what you think. A Moroccan-style rock band. They are very good, but are off many days of the week. You should catch their show at least once.

Other Things: There is a really cool museum hidden inside one of the buildings – just find the door that opens, and voila! Open Sesame!

Dining and Snacks
Espresso Bar (Food/Drink: A+; Service: A+; Price: Nice) (Espresso, coffee pastures, and alcoholic drinks)
Get your caffeine fix, taste the wonders of a tangerine frozen alcoholic blast, or enjoy some Moroccan pastries. It’s a great place for drinks, more so. YUM YUM!
Tangierine Cafe (Food/Drink: B+; Service: A; Price: Decent) (Moroccan counter-service)
So here is the place everyone is scared of. If you want to try this without being stuck at a sit-down, this is the place to do it. Think of the Halal carts wherever you are from. It’s chicken + lamb shawarma, hummus, tabbouleh, lentil salad, chicken + couscous, chicken tabbouleh wraps, Moroccan wine/beer, and of course, baklava. The food is very close to authentic, so it’s definitely worth trying. Sit at the outdoor tables though, because it will feel like you are in Northern Africa. What a great place this is.
Restaurant Marrakesh (Food/Drink: B-; Service: A+ (especially the entertainment); Price: Decent) (Moroccan table service)
Again, people are scared to eat here because the food is different from what they normally eat, but the food is decent. It’s not great — in fact, they dumbed it down for American taste buds, so the authenticity fades. But there is a Belly Dancer! So how can you not go? The restaurant recreates a Moroccan palace with tile mosaics, brass chandeliers, and red carpets. Best food here is the bastilla (a minced-chicken pie sprinkled w/cinnamon sugar), the roast lamb, and the beef/chicken kabobs. They of course have couscous – and they do have combo platters. The authenticity wanes again because in Morocco, they dine on the floor and eat with their hands. You are at tables, and have utensils, so there you go. This is probably the only restaurant that EVER has walk-ins available (if you didn’t make a reservation) in World Showcase.
The Best Snack and Drink: You need the tangerine daiquiri, nothing beats it. And of course, a nice slice of baklava.

France Pavilion

france-pavilion-at-epcot

With the Eiffel Tower at the center of the pavilion, this one os based on 19th Century France. No public restrooms here (same as Paris), but the small background streets and Parisian outdoor seating is very very reminiscent of the country it’s named after. With a film, two restaurants, a pastry shop, a dessert shop, a beautiful fountain and nooks and crannies hidden everywhere, this is quite a beautiful area. Bring your woman HERE (for shopping as well) if you want to get laid.

Impressions of France (C)

This is a 200° film on 5 screens – kinda like a film essay on French culture and landscapes. It is a beautiful film, but not a very interesting one. It’s 18-minutes long and you can actually sit and watch it. (The streets outside are small and become kind of congested when people are on line). I think it’s a snore-fest, but others like it for the soothing French classical music and quite beautiful scenery. The girl may love it, but mine finds it to be boring.

Shopping
Plume et Palette: The extremely popular perfume shop, carrying over 100 types of imported scents (including Dior, Chanel, and Givenchy). Be prepared to wait for someone to browse.
Guerlain Paris: A whole bunch of makeup and perfumes.
Les Vins de France: The wine room. Buy some French wine and drink up tonight back at the hotel room. You will find yourself causing a huge ruckus, [“can you describe the ruckus?”] But you’re on fucking vacation!
L’Espirit de le Provence: Attached to Les Vins, this has a small selection of goods from France (clothes, candy).
Souvenirs de France: Here’s your random T-shirts, Berets, Aristocats merchandise [not to be confused with The Aristocrats] and Eiffel Tower replicas.

Entertainment
The Juggler Dude: (A) This guy is hilarious. He juggles and stacks up chairs and calls on volunteers along with scolding the audience for not clapping [typical French move there]. A mime with no makeup and not as lame.

Dining and Snacks
Boulangerie Pâtisserie (Food: A; Service: A; Price: fine for what it is) (French pastry shop + bakery) This is one of the most popular area for snackage in WDW. It’s a little hidden, tucked away on the corner street in the back, but that makes it all the more French. You can get croissants, coffee, pastries, chocolate mousse, baguettes, sandwiches, cheese, quiche, as well as crème brûlée (the best dessert ever!) However, the crème brûlée is not very good here, surprisingly. It’s visibly burned and not caramelized correctly. (places with great crème brûlée: Sunshine Seasons has a great orange one, Tony’s in MK has a GREAT pistachio one, and Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavilion has an awesome maple /vanilla one. More on that soon). The pastry everyone loves is the Napoleon. It’s kinda like a mini-cake, with 3 crispy wafers with a delectable cream icing, plus a vanilla filling with a smidgen of lemon. It’s awesome. YUM!
Crêpes des Chefs des France (Food: B; Service: A; Price: eh… not bad) (French crêpe shop)
You can watch them make your snack. There’s chocolate, strawberry, marmalade, sugar + vanilla and chocolate ice cream. You can also get specialty Kronenbourg beer and espressos. The crêpes are okay, but I can make better ones. Still, it’s a nice snack – not bad at all.
Les Chefs de France (Food: C-; Service: D;  Price: Way too much) (French “cuisine”)
Let’s get the bed out of the way first. Most people say the food is premade, frozen, and disgusting. The women here are snotty, and the food is rarely heated correctly. They trick you into getting wine without telling you the price, and their potatoes taste like powdered mix. This is all from a restaurant created by Paul Bocuse, Gaston Le Notre, and Roger Vergé, three of France’s most famous chefs. They say that Bocuse regularly stops by, but I can’t imagine that’s true, due to the mediocrity of the food. The good news: It smells like buttery croissants and the decor is what we call “authentique.” The Onion soup w/Gruyère is awesome. And people fawn over the chicken crêpes. Don’t get the duck. It’s not good, and too expensive. The rest of the entrées are decent, but it’s not worth it when you can just go to…
Bistro de Paris (Food: A; Service: A;  Price: EXPENSIVE!)( French cuisine)
This one is more upscale. Above Les Chefs de France, this is the quieter, and actually decent, yet way more pricey French restaurant. The dining room seats just a bit over 100 and the servers are very attentive and personal. The beef tenderloin and the rack of lamb are very good – and many love the lobster. Get your fois gras terrine and finish off with crème brûlée. This is the better place to eat. I promise you.

Other Things: There is a library in here too – this is where you can find Belle hiding.

The Best Food and Drink: croissant, napoleon, and a glass of fine wine. If you’re not sure what kind of wine to get, ask them. They are protective over their wine, so they will definitely choose the best to your taste.

The United Kingdom Pavilion

Capturing Britain’s city, town, and rural atmosphere, this wonderful replica is very accurate. One street alone has a thatched roof cottage, a four-story wood + plaster building, a pre-Georgian plaster building, a formal Palladian exterior of dressed stone, and a city square w/ a Hyde Park bandstand!! There are no attractions, but lots of live entertainment, shopping, a pub, a restaurant, and alcohol galore!! The alcohol goes hand-in-hand with Canada’s next-door entertainment.

Shopping
The Toy Soldier: Costumes, books, plush + more, including English characters in film + fiction.
The Crown + Crest: You can look up you family name in the coat of arms book and they will create your family’s insignia in a frame of your choice. You can also get Beatles merch + memorabilia (CDs, T-shirts, calendars, mugs, etc.)
Sportsman’s Shoppe: Lots of sports apparel, books, and balls (huh-huh).
The Queen’s Table: Perfume and toiletries.
The Magic of Wales: Lambswool scarves and British/Irish souvenirs (mugs, chains, etc.) and also many items with the Rose + Crown Brand (that’s the pub here).
The Tea Caddy: Tea, tea, and more tea, but also biscuits and candy imported from the U.K.

Entertainment
The British Invasion: (B) (A+ if you LOVE the Beatles, yeah, yeah, yeah) Starting in the late afternoon, a Beatles cover band comes out and plays favorites – yes, they are also lookalikes!
World Showcase Players: UK (A+) The players are at it again – this time in their home, putting on the story of King Arthur and The Holy Grail. Again, they pull the audience members into the action and make up the story as they go along. If they ask you how the show is so far, shout, “RUBBISH!!!” This is a must-see!!

Dining and Snacks
Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Food: B-; Service: B; Price: What it is) (English fast-food counter)
You can get fish and chips at this walk up window attached to the Rose + Crown Pub. You can also get Bass Ale draft — that’s about it.
Rose + Crown Pub (Food/Drink: B-/A++; Service: A+; Price: expensive) (English pub food and drinks)
Here is where you get your Guinness, Harp, Bass, and other beers + ales (and spirits) as well as pub food such as fish-and-chips, a roast beef sandwich, and fruit-and-cheese platters.The atmosphere is great – you really get the feel of an English pub (too bad it’s not a punk dive), but the food is just all right. Get a Guinness and go!! The place is pretty cool.
Rose + Crown Dining Room (Food: A-; Service: A; Price: Not terrible)
This one, you need reservations for. It’s simple and rustic. This is a great place to eat (if you get outdoor seating) during the fireworks. They have bangers and mash, fish and chips, and tamarind-glazed pork loin, as well as potato leek soup, meat pies (not made from people), and shepherd’s pie. There’s also some good sticky toffee pudding. Just remember, most people are here for the pub. Grab that outdoor seat if you can! (Guinness, Harp, and Bass are sold here).

Other Things: There’s a stupid maze in the back near the stage. It’s very tiny, so you will not get lost. You should be sloshed by now, so this will be fun. Also, there’s a phone booth (English style). Get the number and keep calling it to see if people answer. Then say funny things to them. They’ll think it’s part of the show!! 🙂 [I recommend any Dr Who jokes, but since Jerry is not a Dr Who fan, he won’t get any TARDIS references].

The Best Snack and Drink: You can get a YARD of Guinness! Do that. Also, the toffee pudding is the closest thing to a snack here.

Canada Pavilion

WDW Epcot Canada pavilion

From the Native American villages to Niagara Falls, all of Canadian heritage is portrayed in this final pavilion. The natural, cultural and architectural diversity is reflected in a quite impressive manner. Totem poles, a château-style hotel, and rugged store buildings fill the upper and lower areas of the space. With a film, the best of all the live entertainment, the best restaurant, and a few shopping area, this is one of the countries that actually has a little bit of everything. The replica of Niagara Falls is beautiful, as is the surrounding scenery around.

O Canada! (A-)

Another CircleVision 360º film, this one was updated in 2007. It stars [Canadian] Martin Short and features clips and dialogue interspersed with some of the original film’s scenes. The song “Canada, My Canada” was redone by some pop singer and sucks now. [This is the country that gave us Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Carly Rae Jepsen, Snow, and Magic… so, please get Geddy Lee of Rush to cover it next time.] The show showcases Canada’s natural beauty and population diversity, as well as demonstrating Canadians odd excessive pride towards their country. There’s curling, ice hockey, and umm.. Mounties. This 18 minute film is a lot of fun, and you should use my Reflections of China notes to find the right spot. Oh, and when the Cast Members give you trivia: Canada’s capital = Ottawa; $1 coin is nicknamed the Loonie (after the bird engraved on it); and the $2 coin is the Toonie [not named after famous cartoon character Dudley Do-Right, and…] (not, unfortunately, called the Doubloonie).

Shopping
Northwest Mercantile: It has a big selection of merch, including maple syrup, stuff w/leaves on it, shorts, mugs, apron, PJs, and other edible souvenirs like Canadian candy and Maple cookies.
That Stand Outside: They has mugs and Off-Kilter CDs (see Entertainment).

Entertainment
Off-Kilter: (A+++) – The 2nd best live-entertainment spectacle in World Showcase, this band dressed from head-to-toe in Irish garb and busts out Celtic folk songs in a rock and roll style. Mixing between a classic rock band and Dropkick Murphys, these musicians featuring the Jerry O’Connell guy on pipes (lead singer too), the tall army-headed bassists (lead singer on other songs), the tiny guy who plays guitar, and the drummer. But never forget the Indian drummer named… Tony… lol. This band rocks! Sometimes their set list is mediocre (lots of instrumental), but most of the time it’s a lot of fun. So don your Flogging Molly T-shirt, grab a Guinness from the UK, and get ready to rock! Their best songs are: “Mary Mac”, “Run Run Away”, “Wild Rover”, and “Amazing Grace”. Plus much more! P.S.: Don’t be a pussy and not sing along. Have fun asshole! Same goes for your chick! Dance! Try to request a song – sometimes they’ll play it. (I suggest “Run Run Away”) – By the way, they have good originals too. Their CD are for sale at a random stand outside of the Northwest Mercantile as well. If you show up a lot and sit in front, they’ll probably remember you.

Dining and Snacks
Le Cellier Steakhouse (Food: A+++-; Service: A+++; Price: Not bad at all) (Steak + Canadian favorites)
This is the best restaurant in Epcot. Designed as a wine cellar, once you adjust to the dim lights, Le Cellier is very nice. The visible wine racks and wall sconces w/fat candle lamps add to the beautiful decor and makes this look a little more fancy. The servers here are all extremely caring and good at their jobs. They all also LOVE Canada (since that’s where they are from) and will talk to you if you ask. I don’t just recommend this restaurant, I require it if you are going to follow my advice. I agree with Mouse Planet editor Mike Scope when he says to get: The Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup (also known as Beer Cheese Soup), a salad, and the New York Strip Streak. This has come to be known as the Scope Special, however it has always been a staple of this place. Please get your steak either medium or medium-rare (preferably the latter [former]). That’s how they are meant to be eaten. You MUST get a steak if you are here. They always start you off with 3 breadsticks – a multigrain, a sourdough, and a delicious pretzel bread. You will want more of these as the night grows dark. Le Cellier is also the only restaurant outside of the real Canada to serve Moosehead Pale Ale in the WORLD. If you love ale, go for it. Otherwise, hit up some red wine to go w/your red meat and top off the meal with the maple crème brûlée. Please make your ADRs immediately after reading.
The Best Food and Drink: Maple crème brûlée and Canadian wine from the cellar (or Moosehead).

[Phew!! To be continued….]

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2 thoughts on “WDW for the Single Guy: an experiment, Part 9 (Epcot Pt II)

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