Canada Pavilion – Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead

Thanks for checking back for Part Two of my Canada Pavilion article. I will continue with the discussion about Hôtel du Canada, the icon of this World Showcase country.

Hôtel du Canada

In 1987, La Boutique des Provinces opened within the Hôtel du Canada. This store carried a more upscale line of merchandise than Northwest Mercantile or the Trading Post. Here you could purchase decorative leather masks, hand crafted Christmas ornaments, quality fragrances, prints, jewelry, ceramics, Anne of Green Gables items, and other articles befitting of an elegant boutique. It was nice to have a selection of quality goods that complimented the more “rugged” items sold in the other shops. In addition, the Kidcot station was located here. Unfortunately, this shop closed sometime after the millennium in an effort to save money.

La Boutique des Provinces

La Boutique des Provinces

La Boutique des Provinces

I was very sad to see La Boutique des Provinces close. Now this upper area of the Canada Pavilion has very little to capture your interest. Surely the Imagineers could come up with something profitable to fill this space – if not a merchandise shop, then perhaps a quick-service restaurant. There must be some Canadian treats that would entice guests to part with a few bucks. Anything up here would be an improvement to what it is now.

Also on the upper level is a classic red telephone box (“booth” to us Americans). Although we associate these with the United Kingdom, they were exported to many of the current and/or former British colonies around the world.

Red Telephone Box

The last point of interest on the upper level of the Canada Pavilion is an observation deck. “Pull-outs” like these are common on mountain roads in the U.S. and Canada and provide travelers with a way to “slow down and smell the roses.” At the Canada Pavilion, this observation deck provides guests with a panoramic view of Disney’s version of the Rocky Mountains and Salmon Island.

Observation Deck

Rocky Mountains

Salmon Island

It’s interesting to note, the waterfall’s intensity varies from day to day and season to season. The Imagineers would tell you it depends on the snow melt, but the truth is, Disney is concerned with your comfort. When the falls are at peak capacity, guests will get damp as mist and droplets splash them as they pass by. This is all and good during most of the year in Florida. But we do have some cooler times and when the temperatures drop, so does the water flow, greatly decreasing the residual spray. This next picture shows the falls during a brisk morning.

Minimal Waterfall

The upper level of the Canada Pavilion is accessible to wheelchairs and ECVs, but only in one direction. Ambulatory guests can continue on to the O’Canada movie from the upper level by descending nearby stairs. However, those on wheels who wish to see the movie must turn around and retrace their route. From the entrance of the pavilion, they must travel through Victoria Gardens and find a wooden bridge/walkway that leads through a gorge. Although the scenery is lovely along this walkway, and missed by many, it is extremely narrow and not well suited for wheelchairs.

Wooden Walkway

Wooden Walkway

Wooden Walkway

On Salmon Island guests enter Maple Leaf Mine, previously Moosehead Mine. This is the preshow area for the O’Canada movie. Inside the mine you’ll find the remains of the Klondike era. Picks and shovels line the walls and old timbers hold back rock and earth.

Moosehead Mine

O'Canada Sign

Moosehead Mine

Moosehead Mine

Just inside the entrance of the mine is a time indicator, letting you know how many minutes before the next show. If it’s more than ten, go back outside and enjoy the scenery for a few moments. The theater will not fill up and you won’t miss the next show if you arrive at the last minute.

Count-down Clock

Before the show starts, one of the cast members will take the podium and introduce themselves. After giving a brief description of the movie, they very often will quiz the audience on Canadian trivia. This is always good for a laugh and it’s surprising how much Americans don’t know about their neighbor to the north.

Canadian Cast Member

Theater Entrance

The Canada Pavilion is currently showing its second version of O’Canada, but I’d like to visit the previous iteration first.

The Imagineers knew that a one-screen presentation of the Canada landscape would not do the country justice. The nation is just too vast and majestic to be limited to a traditional theater presentation. The Imagineers didn’t want the experience to be passive. They wanted to immerse Epcot visitors in the panorama that is Canada — and the Disney developed CircleVision was just the ticket. This technique was pioneered and refined by the Disney Company for Disneyland in the 1950’s. This method requires nine cameras be mounted on a platform facing outwards in a circle to capture 360 degrees of scenery. This apparatus is then positioned atop some sort of a moving vehicle or suspended from a plane or helicopter.

CircleVision Camera

After much research, the filmmakers set out to capture Canada. They filmed for almost two years in all twelve (at that time) provinces and territories. This lengthy time period allowed them to capture seasonal events and various weather conditions found in this sprawling nation. In some cases, the temperatures were so low, the cameras needed to be warmed with electrical heaters between scenes. In all, more than a quarter of a million feet of film was shot and was edited into an 18 minute movie that delighted guests. O’Canada was an opening day attraction at Epcot.

But time marched on and as the years progressed, the film no longer reflected some of the modern aspects the pavilion’s sponsor, the Canadian Tourism Commission, wished to be portrayed. After a bit of lobbying, a new movie was created using a combination of old and new footage. It debuted on August 31, 2007 and gave Epcot visitors a fresh look at Canada. But the biggest change to the movie came with the addition of Canadian comedian Martin Short who now humorously narrates the movie. In addition, the ever popular song, “Canada – You’re a Lifetime Journey” was rerecorded by Canadian Idol winner Eva Avila. The new movie is 14 minutes in length.

Martin Short

Eva Avila

As guests exit the O’Canada movie, they pass by a Kidcot Station. This is the place to get their World Showcase Passport stamped. The theme of “the great outdoors” is also continued in this area with the inclusion of a canoe under construction.

Kidcot Station

Epcot Passport

Canoe

As you continue your journey, you come to Victoria Gardens. This lovely area was inspired by Butchart Gardens found in British Columbia.

In 1888, Robert Butchart began manufacturing Portland cement in Ontario. He was successful and eventually moved to British Columbia, attracted by the rich limestone deposits found in this area. In 1904, he put down roots here and opened a new factory.

As the years passed, the pit near his home grew deeper and deeper and eventually the deposits of limestone were depleted, leaving an ugly eyesore. However, his wife Jennie, conceived a plan for resurrecting this bleak pit. From farmlands nearby, she requisitioned tons of top soil and had it hauled by horse and cart to the pit. Once the wasteland was covered with nutritious earth, she began to plant an array of trees, shrubberies, and flowers and bit by bit transformed this hole-in-the-ground into the lush garden it is today.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Although Disney’s Victoria Gardens can’t compete in size with the original Butchart Gardens, they are stunningly beautiful. Flowers are always in bloom and the grass is always verdant green. The Imagineers even included Canada’s national symbol, the maple tree. A stand has been planted adjacent to the gardens. And here’s an interesting fact for you. The snowy winters of British Columbia haven’t been forgotten. During the colder months of the year (by Florida standards), the Disney horticulturist plant white flowers and white-leaved shrubberies to suggest snow. As spring approaches, these white patches are scaled back to the shaded areas beneath the trees to suggest lingering snow. You can see an example of this in the fifth and sixth picture.

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

Off of Victoria Gardens and on the lowest level of Hôtel du Canada is the most popular eatery at Epcot, Le Cellier Steakhouse. Without exaggeration, this restaurant books up within days of reservations being available. “Walkups” are sometimes offered for off times, but one must never count on last minute reservations if they have any hopes of eating here. But this wasn’t always the case.

Le Cellier Steakhouse

In the early years of Epcot, Le Cellier was a buffeteria style restaurant. As you might deduce from the name, buffeteria combines the elements of a cafeteria with a buffet. Disneyland had used this style of service at the Plaza Pavilion, Plaza Inn, and the French Market restaurants for years with great success and thought a buffeteria would be a perfect match for the Canada Pavilion’s restaurant. Since most Americans are unfamiliar with Canadian specialties, a buffeteria would give guests the opportunity to see the tasty delights before ordering them. However, things didn’t work out as planned. Whether it was the style of service (which has never caught on at Disney World) or the dishes offered, guests were not interested in eating at Le Cellier. Something needed to be done.

In late 1996, Le Cellier closed for a makeover. When it reopened on July 20, 1997, it had been renamed Le Cellier Steakhouse and featured an all new menu, focusing on beef. In addition, gone was the buffeteria style service to be replaced with a wait-staff. The restaurant was an instant success and good word-of-mouth only added to the eatery’s popularity. Now, reservations are so in demand that Disney requires a credit card when booking a table and $10 per person will be charged if you fail to show up.

The atmosphere at Le Cellier Steakhouse is captivating. Designed to resemble a wine cellar, the dining rooms are incased within stone walls and low ceilings. The lighting is dim and the mood sedate. Yet the friendly Canadian cast members bring a lighthearted air to the service that relaxes the ambiance. Note, the next two pictures were taken with a flash so I could adequately show you the restaurant. Things are much darker in person.

Le Cellier Steakhouse

Le Cellier Steakhouse

The various sections of the restaurant are named after one of the thirteen Canadian provinces or territories. Each has its own emblem. Here are a few of them.

Province & Territoriy Emplems

Province & Territoriy Emplems

Province & Territoriy Emplems

If you have reservations for 11:30am or shortly thereafter, be sure to arrive in time to watch the wait staff sing “O Canada,” the country’s national anthem. Because this inspiring moment takes place in the restaurant’s very small lobby, only a handful of guests get to see it.

Cast Members Singing O Canada

Back on the promenade we find several street vendors. The first sells more Canadian souvenirs, including personalized wrist bands. The second offers Coke products along with Moosehead, Moosehead Light, or Labatt Blue beer.

Souvenir Stand

Beer Cart

The Canada Pavilion is a handsome member of the World Showcase of nations. Its scenery is unsurpassed, its architecture varied, its food sumptuous, and its CircleVision film moving and humorous. Be sure to visit this gem of a pavilion on your next visit to Epcot. Take a stroll through Victoria Gardens so you can slow down and smell the roses.

As always, I have created a video of the Canada Pavilion. Enjoy.

34 Replies to “Canada Pavilion – Part Two”

  1. Always loved the “buffeteria” — best kept secret at Epcot. Best food, best prices and wide open spaces. I guess I should have known it couldn’t last. I was disappointed with the new film. I had so wanted my children to be in the middle of a hockey game, an igloo, the Musical Ride and the Carnivale sled ride beside the Chateau Frontenac. The new one is all about stereotypes. I can’t believe the Canadian Tourist Commission fell back onto the “these are Canadians you know” cliche. It’s bad enough that we expats go there at the drop of a hat every chance we get. Not as evocative as the original, but evocative still.

  2. Always loved the “buffeteria” — best kept secret at Epcot. Best food, best prices and wide open spaces. I guess I should have known it couldn’t last. I was disappointed with the new film. I had so wanted my children to be in the middle of a hockey game, an igloo, the Musical Ride and the Carnivale sled ride beside the Chateau Frontenac. The new one is all about stereotypes. I can’t believe the CTB fell back onto the “these are Canadians you know” cliche. it’s bad enough that we expats go there at the drop of a hat every chance we get. Not as evocative as the original, but evocative still.

  3. I have taken several photos of the boots in the falls, But over several years of searching I have yet to discover the official story…It also disappeared for a few months this past year, but it has reappeared and now the lower boot is easy to spot.

  4. Thank you for a wonderful post. My family and I have been to Epcot several times and have always glazed over this area in a rush to get to more “exotic” locations (of course, pausing to listen to Off Kilter if they’re playing – wonderful entertainment!!) We’re going back in June and this Pavilion will now be my first stop in Epcot!

  5. Thank you for another great article! It is always nice to see your photo contrasts of the “original view” and the Disney view of a scene.

    I too wish La Boutique des Provinces would open again and that the plaza up there would be better utilized. I miss the original Canada movie, loved the Stan Rogers music.

  6. Hi Jack,

    On Monday I took my dad over to Epcot for a belated birthday celebration. I made the reservations at Le Cellier on the Annual Passholder website the previous Friday. I was fortunate enough to grab the last reservation. As you know, on the website they ask if this is a special occasion, so I put down that it was my father’s 87th birthday.

    Our reservation was for 11:45, and we arrived in time to hear the cast members sing “O Canada.” This was a little treat we hadn’t counted on.

    After our meal, our server brought out a Birthday Card signed by many cast members, and where they are from. It was so neat. Also the Canadian Cheddar Soup is down right decadent! I feel like we could hear our arteries clogging, but we both had salmon to offset all that fat. LOL!

    I have also had the pleasure of visiting The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C.. I thought the imagineers and landscapers paid a great homage to this wonderful botanical garden when designing the Canada Showcase.

    I have always enjoyed the Canada Showcase for its beauty. I do miss the upscale shop inside the Hôtel du Canada building representation. Unfortunately, all this “dollar per retail square foot” mentality at the parks has destroyed so much of the shopping “magic” that once was. I really DO wish they would do something useful with the building. It’s so majestic a building to simply be a “prop” in the Showcase.

    Greg

  7. Hi, Jack: I love your blogs about the Pavilions at World Showcase. Just a point to make about your mention of Anne of Green Gables. It’s Ann with an “e.” Anne was very particular about that “e.”

  8. The Canadian pavillion has always been a favorite and one of the best at transforming the landscape so well that you actually feel like you are really there. The mountain waterfall is incredible and I always wondered about the flow rate and how it fluctuated. I too really wish Disney could come up with a use for the upper area the hotel is an incredible building and too nice not to use. But then again so was the Wonders of life pavillion and it still sits mostly empty.

  9. My family and I ate at Le Cellier for the first time on a chilly, rainy night a few years back. The Cheddar Cheese soup was just the thing to knock off the chill!! Truly one of the top 5 meals I’ve ever had. Great article! We always love taking a walk around Canada!

  10. Jack,

    I love reading your blogs! Canada pavillion is one of my favorites, it’s so pretty!

    On the waterfall, did you see the pair of boots? One is up highish in the middle, sitting on a ledge and the other is down below the platform floating in the water.

    It’s a detail that not many people see because the bottom of the boot faces outward and it’s almost the same color as the rock.

    Kelsi

  11. Second floor could = a bar serving Canadian craft beers and ice wine. La Cava and the Rose and Crown Pub are huge hits in World Showcase.

  12. Hey Jack,
    Great article about Cabnada! Although it has one of my favorite Disney eateries, Le Celleir,it is not one of my favorite countries at EPCOT. But, now I’ll look around a bit more, and spend more time there.

  13. Jack,

    Until I got your response to my reply on part 1, I didn’t realize there was ever a shop up top. They do need to something with that space – even a walk through exhibit, like the one in Norway, would be nice. I could also see the benches and the overlook up there being a wonderful place to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer from a drink stand that could be opened up there.

    I still need to get to Epcot’s best restaurant one of these days!

    Dan

  14. I loved reading your reports on World Showcase. I went to Disney World a couple years ago and can’t believe how much I missed because my parents weren’t interested in wandering. The only times we did wander was into the that store in Japan and my mom wanted to get out ASAP despite me wanting to look around, the stores in Mexico, and Germany. Norway I wouldn’t count because we rode Maelstrom and couldn’t get out of the store.
    Next time I go i’ll defiantly take time wandering the world.

  15. Thank you for the great post about the Canada pavilion. Also, I spotted my sister in your picture and video of the Le Cellier CMs singing O Canada (far left of picture). If you ever bump into her again, say Hello from Bubba Joe. She’ll know exactly who you’re talking about lol. I also second the movement to bring back the Beaver Tails!

  16. We enjoyed strolling in the lovely gardens during our trip last Dec. and hated that we didn’t have reservations for Le Cellier as it smelled so good! We have lunch reservations there for our next trip in Sept. Can’t wait!

  17. Sadly, we often pass up this pavilion but after seeing the gardens and such in your video- looks like a great place to take pictures! Will surely hit it in 2014 now! Thanks again for all your hard work!

  18. I just loved your video. Thank you so much for adding them to your articles. It was so well done and made me feel like I had taken a short vacation back to Epcot.

  19. Hi Jack! I loved your Canada blogs. I think the Canada Pavilion has some of the best photo ops in all of Epcot, especially outside of Le Cellier in the gardens, and in front of the waterfall. Speaking of Le Cellier, my family and I have dined here MANY times (for lunch and dinner), and has become one of our favorite restaurants on WDW property. And, you’re right reservations have to be made as far out as possible. But, dining here is well worth the planning. Thanks for another GREAT read…

  20. Jack, Great blog on Canada! Just a side note on Le Cellier, when EPCOT first opened, they had a prime rib dinner for $10,50, with veg starch and beverage. This was when it was buffeteria style and you could walk in ang get a gret meal for short money. I have yet to try the restaurant as it is today, but it was always a favorite!

  21. Hi Jack,

    I’ve got some great photos of the second and third floors of the hotel. When the store was open full time (it closed for good in December of 2005) the second floor was used as a cast member break area. The third floor is currently being used as one of the laser rooms for Illuminations.

    As well, do you know about the elevator that was planned to be installed in the hotel? The shaft was installed, but that’s it. Behind the podium in the entrance of Le Cellier, there is a wine celler. That is actually the bottom floor of the old elevator shaft! The elevator was planned to stop on each floor (except the 4th), the doors were installed but covered over.

    In addition, during Illuminations, take a look at the Chimney in the first brick house – there is an entertainment CM stationed there as a spotter for Illuminations(The “street” is named “Rue de St. Louis”).

    Finally, the name of the mine was changed to “Maple Leaf Mine” around the same time the movie was changed in 2007 (according to the show information guide; a part of the attraction OG).

  22. I never miss one of your blogs, Jack, but this one really brought memories back. Back in Dec 89 -> Feb 90, I was a culinary student with Johnson & Wales College in Providence and I spent one semester out on co-op as a cast member cooking in the old “buffeteria” style Le Cellier (yes I made cheddar cheese soup!). Even though times have changed…I will always have a special place in my memory for the Canadian Pavilion.

  23. hey jack
    First off great job on the movie. I love how you were able to show different parts of the film while the song was playing as well as the comedy behind the show. I absolutly love the new O’ Canada film. It brings a bit of comedy to the film to make it more entertaining while still showing the great aspects of Canada. As for Le Cellier, I have always tried to make resurvations for it but it was always booked. I also make sure I take some time to stroll through the garden. It is absolutly beautiful. Can’t wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

  24. So what exactly is in the upper “floors” of the Hôtel du Canada? If anything?

    Jack’s Answer:

    One of my other readers informs me that the third floor is the laser room for Illuminations. This makes sense. I have no knowledge of the second floor. It’s probably just sitting empty.

  25. The last picture of the territorial/provincial emblems, with the Arctic Poppy has a spelling mistake on it. The territories are called Nunavut not Munavut.

    Jack’s Comment:

    You’re absolutely right! I wonder if Disney is aware of this. Surely one of their cast members has brought it to management’s attention.

  26. I agree – I wish they would add more to the upper level. Also – buffeteria isn’t a Disney word. My grandma used to work in a buffeteria a long, long time ago.

    Jack’s Comment:

    I always thought Disney coined this word, but I could be incorrect — and I edited my blog accordingly. However, in reality, there is no such word as buffeteria. I looked it up in several dictionaries and could not find it.

  27. If you like the cheddar cheese soup, ask them for the recipe…my wife did, they gave her a pre-printed recipe card. She now has it down to a science and I can’t tell the difference between hers and the restaurant’s! They told us at the time to be sure and use Black Diamond brand cheese (Canadian, who’d have thought?) because other brands don’t taste quite “right”. It is not inexpensive and not easy to find, but well worth it. Excellent review as always!

  28. Le Cellier, is not just the best restaurant in Epcot, but it is maybe within the top 3 of all Disney property eateries. Unfortunately it is now a signature for us Dining Plan vacationers…

    Want to also mention something that I miss….On a small kiosk where you mention the “street vendors” there once sat a beer stand that sold some Canadian craft beers. About 5 or 6 of them and all were very tasty. You can only get them in Le Cellier now….

  29. Awesome blog as usual. I never noticed the white flowers representing snow before…I’ll have to keep my eyes open this winter.

    I hope Le Cellier lives up to the hype! 😉 I’ve got lunch reservations for my birthday this year. 🙂

  30. Great article. I think it would be an awesome (and profitable) to put in a counter service restaurant in the upper portion of the Canada pavilion. Maybe one selling Cheddar cheese soup, different breads, and sandwiches (like the shaved beef sandwiches). It may help ease the super high demand for Le Cellier and let lots of people experience the wonder that is Ceddar cheese soup!!

  31. Jack! No mention of Beaver Tails?! I feel the need to express my undying love for Beaver Tails. All of my trips going with friends in my teens started and ended with a maple Beaver Tail. I wish they would bring them back!

  32. Just a thought re: the upper level.. if I remember correctly, it’s not wheelchair accessible. probably why it closed??? Guests in wheelchairs enter the pavillion a different way. There is a ramp up to the Mercantile level, but stairs only to the upper level.

    Jack’s Comment:

    You’re on the right track, but not quite correct. There is a wheelchair ramp all the way to the upper level of the Canada Pavilion. However, if you want to proceed to the movie from this location, you must backtrack and enter through Victoria Gardens if you’re in a wheelchair. There are only stairs from the upper level down to Salmon Island.

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