A visit to the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot is an inspiring, 108,000-square-foot patriotic experience. As you approach the building, the red brick architecture is like a marriage of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Faneuil Hall in Boston – putting you right into the American Revolutionary spirit. If the countries around World Showcase lagoon formed a clock, the American Adventure would sit squarely at noon – directly across from the Epcot Ball. ‘Merica!
The “American Adventure” refers both to the pavilion itself and to the audio-animatronic show inside. To reach the one-thousand-seat theater, you descend escalators or stairs through a Hall of Flags. Here you’ll see 44 flags that have at some point flown over what is now the United States – foreign flags that once laid claim as well as Colonial and Revolutionary period designs.
The 30-minute stage show, hosted by audio-animatronic Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain (perched atop Lady Liberty’s torch), brings United States history to life. Ten different sets are lifted smoothly into and out of view, thanks to complicated technological American ingenuity! The story, told by 35 audio-animatronic figures, includes the Pilgrims and the Mayflower; the Boston Tea Party; the writing of the Declaration of Independence; Valley Forge and the Revolutionary War; slavery and the Civil War; the suffering of Native Americans; the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition; Teddy Roosevelt and the founding of the National Parks system; World Wars I and II; and images depicting more recent historical events. The photo montage and swelling of the Golden Dream theme song at the end may bring a tear to your eye.
Don’t rush out of the theater when the show is over, but stop to enjoy twelve life-sized marble statues of the “Spirits of America” that had been featured during the show. Can you spot:
- A seaman at his wheel – the Spirit of Adventure
- A nineteenth century woman doctor – the Spirit of Compassion
- A mountain man – the Spirit of Discovery
- A pilgrim – the Spirit of Freedom
- A Native American woman – the Spirit of Heritage
- A Colonial soldier – the Spirit of Independence
- A cowboy with saddle and lariat – the Spirit of Individualism
- A scientist holding a test tube – the Spirit of Innovation
- A teacher – the Spirit of Knowledge An aviator – the Spirit of Pioneering
- A farmer – the Spirit of Self-Reliance
- A mother holding her baby – The Spirit of Tomorrow
Back upstairs, the main building features inspiring quotations (including one from Walt Disney) and memorable paintings. A hidden Mickey is waiting to be found in the painting of a wagon train heading westward. (Hint: check out the area near the leg of the front ox!)
On the main floor of the pavilion, you’ll find an exhibit representing four hundred years of African-American art and literary achievement called “Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection.” This collection has previously been exhibited in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and elsewhere throughout the United States. The displays are interactive and immersive with touch screens and touch-activated lanterns that will draw in guests both young and old and bring history to life. Narration is by Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer, Kerry Washington, and others.
The rotunda of the pavilion provides an acoustic sweet spot for the Voices of Liberty as they entertain guests with a cappella renditions of patriotic favorites such as ““America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” or “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” The outstandingly talented singers are dressed in Victorian-era finery which changes with the season. Get a position under the dome for the best experience. If you weren’t already feeling patriotic after the “Golden Dream” song in the stage show, you will be after listening to the Voices of Liberty. You can now enjoy additional performances of the Voices of Liberty outside on the stage at the American Gardens Theater, opposite the pavilion hall, along the lagoon.
This waterfront amphitheater is the home of the a cappella American Music Machine live performances throughout the day featuring top-40 hits and harmonies from today and yesterday. Consult the times guide for specific show times. The America Gardens Theater also plays host to a series of very popular seasonal concerts: Flower Power Concerts during the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring; Sounds Like Summer (with tribute bands); Eat to the Beat Concerts during the Food and Wine Festival in the autumn; and the wildly popular Candlelight Processional during the holiday season.
By now, inspired by music and enriched with history, you’ll have worked up an appetite! The American Adventure’s Liberty Inn provides the largest indoor seating area of the counter service restaurants in World Showcase. It’s a big, bright space with tall windows and an indoor fountain. With metal chairs scraping on the stone floors and busting guests all around, it’s not exactly a relaxing spot, but it is cool and comfortable – and you can rest your feet after all that World Showcase walking. (At many of the other pavilions, you’ll have a hard time finding a place to sit down to enjoy your counter service meal.) As you might expect, American fare rules the menu here — choose burgers with Vermont cheddar, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, New York strip steak, fried shrimp, or Red, White, and Blue Salad (field greens, grilled chicken, pecans, apples, blue cheese and sherry vinaigrette). Wash down the tasty sweet potato tortilla chips with some Samuel Adams beer, SweetWater IPA, or Anchor Liberty Ale. Be sure to leave room for the Rocky Road Mousse Brownie or peach cobbler. You could also get a funnel cake from the kiosk on the Promenade outside and bring it indoors to eat in air conditioned comfort!
Be Filled with Holiday Spirit
The American Adventure contributes to Epcot’s Holidays from Around the World with storytellers sharing tales of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in the rotunda. Santa Claus can be found here, too, along with gingerbread models of the United States Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.
The Sugar and Spice shop on the Promenade offers gingerbread cookies and peppermint bark. You can pick up an eggnog with Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon or a hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps, and head into the Candlelight Processional well warmed!