For many guests, the first two things that come to mind when they think of the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot‘s World Showcase is the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros and Margaritas. While searching for Donald Duck is fun and sipping on margaritas is relaxing, there may also be something “new” for the guests to discover in World Showcase’s country of Mexico.
When you first enter the building which is modeled after an Aztec Temple, you’ll see the Mexico Folk Art Gallery. The gallery includes a large number of pieces from the various periods in Mexican history including this large replica of a Mayan calendar.
Located around the perimeter of the room are glass cases that display many pieces of artwork and items used by the Mexican people. Underneath or beside each piece, there is a placard that gives a complete description, where the piece was found and the approximate age. The detailing on each and every artifact is amazing and we marveled over how they had withstood the sands of time.
One piece in particular stood out to us and that was the ball player sculpture. It never crossed my mind that there would be a sculpture like this as I hadn’t thought about ball being played so very long ago.
Also on display is the “Animalés Fantásticos: Spirits in Wood” exhibit which are Oaxacan wood carvings. “Animalés Fantásticos: Spirits in Wood” is an exhibit honoring Oaxacan wood carvers who believe that when they carve a figure, they are unleashing the spirit of each being from each piece of wood. Every figure is handmade from the soft wood of the copal tree, found in the hills surrounding the Oaxacan Valley of Southern Mexico, and blends the modern and traditional, the mundane and the mythical—but always with humor, movement, fantasy and color. (Excerpt from the Walt Disney World Website)
After looking at the gallery, you’ll want to wander deeper into the pavilion and enter the plaza area. The lighting changes and you immediately feel as if you have stepped into a festive Mexican marketplace complete with Mariachi music playing around you.
Situated in the corner of the marketplace and near the fountain are artists who create amazing works of art.
**DIStracted Tip: At times, the artists are set up just inside the entrance to the pavilion. If you do not see them there, go into the plaza area and find them as stated above.
The young woman at the table was working on a piece when we approached her but she was more than happy to answer our many questions. Her brother and father carved each of the pieces from the soft copal wood and she painted them all. We would point to a certain carving and ask how long it took her to paint that particular piece. Some took just hours or a day and others took up to a week to complete. Every single piece was hand painted down the very smallest of detail. There were tiny dots, swirls, stars and flowers. The artwork was truly incredible! When I asked where she had learned her skills, she said that her family had been doing this for many generations and they had taught her the technique.
Speaking with this cast member was one of the highlights of our trip and I regret that I did not purchase something from her. When we return to Walt Disney World later this month, I will be buying one of these works of art and it will be on display in our home.
**DIStracted Tip: While this is not one of the normal DIStracted tips, it is worth stating. Please keep in mind that, unlike the recreation of the Mayan calendar on display which can be touched by the guests, the pieces sold by the artists are, indeed, pieces of art. Please be respectful and try not to handle the pieces any more than you need to when trying to decide on what to purchase.
Also located in the marketplace is a small store which sells both small and large glass figurines and jewelry. If you are lucky, you may get to watch another craftsman at work. If you’ve ever wondered how the glass figures are made, you’ll want to stop and watch this artisan display his talent. Working behind a large window, the gentleman took colored sticks of glass, heated them with the torch and then used various tools to mold and manipulate them into the most amazing glass figures. It is the neatest thing to watch the whole process.
The Mexico pavilion is also home to the San Angel Inn Restaurante which serves up delicious Mexican cuisine and, yes, margaritas. While I know that this article is supposed to be about discovering something “new” in Mexico, it would be incomplete without mentioning La Cava del Tequila. For the shoppers, you’re sure to find something unique in the marketplace as they have a large variety of food stuffs, cookbooks, jewelry and more!
**DIStracted Tip: If you happen to visit the Mexico Pavilion when it’s raining, keep an eye out for spontaneous character meet and greets such as the one that we had with Donald Duck.
I hope that when you visit Epcot, you’ll take the time to discover something “new” in Mexico!