EPCOT: The American Adventure

Happy Fourth of July, my friends! I hope you are enjoying a day full of all things Americana–I know I’ll be relishing our sweet freedom all day, munching on chocolate chip cookies and savoring vanilla ice cream with red, white, and blue sprinkles. Throw in some patriotic songs and you have yourself a gloriously patriotic day.

I just love this country.

I’m here today to advocate for my favorite pavilion in all of Epcot. The American pavilion, home to a completely underrated show and the most beautiful entertainment in all of Walt Disney World, is a real gem and a tribute to the American people and the adventurous, innovative, and diligent spirit of this great country. I never leave the American pavilion without feeling inspired to do my part in propelling America forward into the future–the message of this entire pavilion is one of hope and pride, and I honestly can’t get enough.

There are three main activities to do at the American pavilion. First: The American Adventure is a wonderful thirty-minute show detailing events in America’s history that makes America uniquely…American. I love this show so, so much. It’s narrated by Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin, and it’s delightfully Disney-fied. Expect charming animatronics, moving video clips and montages, and an inspiring soundtrack.

Goodness. I get chills just thinking about it. The shows run all day, and it’s a wonderful way to take a break from the stifling Florida heat. We skipped this show on our first trip (ignorance and first-time energy and excitement can do that to you), but now it’s an Epcot must-do. So. good.

The second (and my favorite) activity to do at this pavilion? Listening to the marvelous musical workings of the Voices of Liberty.

THE VOICES OF LIBERTY MIGHT BE MY VERY FAVORITE THING IN ALL OF EPCOT. YES, ALL CAPS IS COMPLETELY NECESSARY IN THIS DECLARATION OF MY LOVE.

The Voices of Liberty perform before almost every show of  The American Adventure, but check your times guide or with a cast member to receive an exact show schedule. There is also usually a board with times listed outside of the attraction.

THIS IS A MUST-DO. I REPEAT. THIS IS A MUST-DO. Make time to do this. Please. I love it so much.

They perform under the “dome” of The American Adventure’s beautiful building (see picture of building below…it’s hard to miss), and guests are invited to sit on the floor under the dome to experience their voices to the fullest. They are an acapella group that sings Americana, folk, and other songs, and I just love them with all of my heart. They are also known to sing a few classic Disney tunes, but literally every show is different. The last time I watched the show, they sang a “flag” medley, the state song of Tennessee, an old cowboy love song, and “America The Beautiful.” I’ve seen many shows, and no show is exactly the same.

Please see this. Camp out and see it. Take a break from the heat, and be prepared to be moved to tears. I often am, and it’s embarrassing but totally viable. The group is so incredibly talented, and the combination of incredible singing and patriotism can do something to you. Again, ask a cast member or pick up a times guide so you don’t miss this incredible Disney gem.

The last thing to see at this pavilion? The building itself has so many things to look at–art, quotes from famous American leaders (including the guy that drew that mouse that one time), and an entire special exhibit. The current exhibit discusses the struggles and the triumphs of African Americans, and it’s so cool. My usual routine involves experiencing the exhibit, watching the Voices of Liberty, and finishing with a showing of The American Adventure. It’s about an hour’s worth of sweet, sweet air conditioning.

I hope you take the time to experience this pavilion the next time you are exploring Epcot. It’s seriously my favorite–I didn’t even mention the food, and it’s delicious, too–and it deserves your attention and appreciation.

I might be biased. I do love America a whole lot.

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“Tomorrow’s Just a Dream Away”

Disney’s new theme-park-inspired movie Tomorrowland was inspiring. No better way to put it.

This movie was a surprise from the start–I had no idea what I was getting into as the first shots of George Clooney’s face, directly addressing the camera, and, in turn, the audience, encompassed the movie screen. It came across rather odd at first, but as the minutes ticked by (much like the countdown you are introduced to from the start) things start to unfold and make more and more sense. In truth, I can’t recall the exact plot that developed, but the themes that Tomorrowland emphasizes are wonderful. I wanted to walk out of the theatre and truly make a difference in this world; I wanted to be among the dreamers that are handpicked by Tomorrowland‘s legions of kid robots.

Yes, it sounds weird. But don’t knock it till you try it.

I especially loved the Disney easter eggs placed throughout the movie: the song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from Carousel of Progress, the presence of Space Mountain blended into the skyline of Tomorrowland, and “It’s a Small World” at its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair all make an appearance. I was looking incredibly close at the skyline of Tomorrowland in hopes of catching a glimpse of the famed “EPCOT golf ball,” Spaceship Earth. There might be a chance that it’s there (spherical architecture is popular in the future, you see), but I can’t confirm.

What I ultimately loved about the movie was the unabashed optimism of our heroine, Casey Newton–is her name a coincidence? I think not. There’s a perfect moment at the very beginning of the movie where little toddler Casey is examining the stars. Her mother (who isn’t in the rest of the movie…typical Disney) asks the starry-eyed little girl–pun intended–if she’s going to visit the stars someday. She says yes, and her father asks, “What if there’s nothing up there?” Little Casey looks at her father as if he’s asked the stupidest question. She retorts:

“But daddy! What if there’s everything up there?”

Her hope and her optimism continue throughout the movie, and she makes me wish that there were more “Casey-s” in this world.

That’s another great thing about Tomorrowland: the movie asserts that we all can be the “Casey-s,” the dreamers. We only have to decide to do so. Our fate–and the fate of our future–rests in the decision to try.

This movie was an excellent departure from the fairy tales I love so much; it perfectly captures the hope for the future and the promise of possibility that you can tangibly feel when you enter EPCOT or Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Let’s all decide to be the dreamers of the world, to inspire others with our optimism and can-do spirit. We can change things for the better, no matter how dim the future might seem. It only takes the decision to try and the will to follow through.

“Dreamers have to stick together.” Let’s stick together, my friends, and start creating a future we can be proud of.