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Just as the World Showcase pavilions were intended to be, the China pavilion is a very detailed representation of Chinese, art, architecture, culture, and tradition. And considering the country is definitely in the realm of ancient, there is a lot of history represented by the details. Imagineers worked with China to create a realistic experience and immerse visitors in the Chinese culture and history.
Starting at the pavilion's waterfront where there are three large boulders, each unique in their shape and each filled with several small holes; in a word interesting. And interesting is exactly why the rocks are there. Ancient tradition holds that contemplation of large, unusual boulders such as these brought peace and serenity to a person. Ancient rulers would go so far as to send men out scouting for unusual rocks to bring back to the palace.
At the main entrance to the pavilion stands the Gate of the Golden Sun--Zhao Yan Men. The gate is a close replication of the gate found at Summer Palace just outside Beijing. Summer Palace was akin to a royal summer house--today the Summer Palace's lake, gardens, halls, and temples are open to the public and are popular tourist destination. Just inside the gate guests can find the Dragon Legends Acrobats performing through out the day--a very entertaining and amazing performance.
Through the gate is bridge across the pavilion's lotus pool. And beyond the lotus pool guests can see the Chinese garden--a free flowing garden (as opposed to one with specific lines and rows of plants) just as a garden found in China would be. The garden is filled with many native plants--a Mulberry tree to represent the place where silk worms live, camellia plants which are sometimes used for to make tea and have colorful blossoms. Guests will also find zoysia grass and bamboo.
Beyond the bridge is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest which is a 1/2 scale replica of the temple found in China's Temple of Heaven area outside of Beijing. The original was built in the early 1400's of wood held together without nails. This temple is where the emperor came to pray for a good harvest in the coming year. The temple features colors--red for royalty and the blue circular roof for the sky and heaven--and symbols--mainly the 5 clawed dragon that specifically represents the power of the emperor and the phoenix which represents peace and prosperity, when paired together they represent marriage. Disney Imagineers careful recreated the temples outer architecture and decoration by silk screening identical dragon and phoenix symbols on to the temples individual tiles. The temple also has many details on the inside . Here visitors can see that there are 12 columns holding up the building, representing the 12 months of the Chinese calendar's twelve year cycle. Inside the circle from there, there are 4 columns, representing the four seasons. The four columns hold up 4 beams arranged in a square; with the square symbolizing earth, above which there is a circular beam symbolizing heaven. While you are inside the circle try this: talk while standing in the center of the circle and you will be talking to yourself--why do you hear yourself here and not anywhere else in the room? Because of the acoustics created by the dome.
Through the temple is the waiting area for the Circlevision film Reflections of China--the second Circlevision film about China to play in the theater, it is very similar to the original Wonders of China film but with some updated footage especially of the quickly growing city Shanghai.
Guests exit the Circlevision theater into a shop called Good Fortune Gifts, where there are many beautiful items for sale. Exiting out to the pavilion's 'street'--Street of Good Fortune--is yet another immersion into Chinese life. The street is intentionally narrow to recreate the feeling of a crowded Chinese street. The street is also filled with several types of architecture--from Pagoda's with lions to modern European style buildings with some Chinese flair.
One last area of the China pavilion to explore the history exhibits inside is the House of the Whispering Willows gallery. Of note, there is miniature model of the famous terracotta warriors titled Tomb Warriors: Guardian Spirits of Ancient China.
Pics: Upper Left--Gate of the Golden Sun, Upper Left--Chinese Garden, Middle Left--Terracotta Warriors exhibit, Middle Right--Drogn Legend Acrobats, Bottom--Ceiling of Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest with the 5 clawed dragon and the phoenix featured in the center crest.