As I entered
the back gate of the park that
walking access to hotels the heavens opened up on me. It was the
of pouring, soaking rain that only Florida can produce with such random
efficiency. Being completely oblivious to the day’s weather
was without an umbrella or rain jacket and had no desire to spend the
day in a yellow Mickey Mouse poncho. Instead I ran for the
place where I could spend a few minutes until the storm passed.
Luckily, I was only a short sprint to the doors of the Rose and Crown,
a pub located in the United Kingdom Pavilion.
I have been a regular visitor to Walt Disney World
since my parents started bringing me there as a child. Even now,
firmly planted in adulthood, I still love the place and I go as often
as possible. A few years ago my wife was not able to stay for the
entire trip, and since my brother had his young family to introduce to
the world’s biggest Fantasyland, I spent some time on my own. One
afternoon while the rest of the clan was heading back to the hotel to
put the little ones down for a nap, I walked over to Epcot by myself
just to walk around and take some photos.
The Rose and Crown has
a wonderful restaurant
with a beautiful outdoor area situated over a lagoon. But the star is
the small yet alive pub. It is a place where there are no
barstools, as many people are only stopping in long enough to get their
pint in a plastic “to go” cup and continue on their way around the
park. There are, however, some terrifically adorned tables to sit
and relax, surrounded with interesting etched glass and perfectly
The Disney detail is
impeccable as usual
It wasn’t long before the weather outside
beside the point. What had started as a quick chance to obtain
shelter from the storm turned into an afternoon of pints and
conversations. I think the rain stopped somewhere when the
bartender and I were talking about Scottish Football. He was a
young twenty-something from Glasgow and a fellow supporter of the famed
Celtic Football Club from his home city. They were set to play
their archrival Rangers, also from Glasgow, in just a few days and he
was more than happy to tell me some of his favorite war stories from
past matches. He loved the opportunity to come to Epcot, but when
the Old Firm, the term used for Glasgow’s two big clubs, got together
for a game he felt a touch of homesickness. We talked about
Celtic’s great achievements, our favorite moments and which players we
wished the club would sign. Me being an American and he being so
far from home meant neither us get to talk soccer (I referred to it as
football as well) as much as we would like.
The sun came back out probably around the time I
met a man from
Manhattan, who was stopping in for just a few minutes for a quick pint
while his family stood online for a ride on the other side of the
park. It was 2004, and the Yankees collapse in the playoffs to
the Red Sox was only a few weeks past. We shared a beer and
consoled each other while trying to avoid the glee of the two
Bostonians standing only a few feet away. There is no television
to watch a game or fall under the hypnotic spell of a scrolling
scoreboard or new ticker, but you never even notice the time going by.
There is an infinitely inviting atmosphere to
this place. It has
a feeling that everyone is a friend and everyone who does stay for a
while is willing to have a chat. Unlike any other pub I have been
in, you are probably not going to find many locals, if any at
all. The patrons here are from all over the world and as a result
you will likely strike up a conversation you may not have
expected. Another reason such a bustling place is so inviting are
the employees. The people working behind the bar are mostly
exchange students, coming to Florida from Britain to work and have some
fun. They love to talk about their homes, their favorite football
teams, or what they think of our country. They are also equally
as interested in your story. You don’t often find the same
bartender twice, something also unusual for a great pub. But it
seems Disney has chosen these folks wisely.
OTIUM CUM DIGNITATE: "leisure with dignity"
One can almost smell the Thames.
Epcot may be a fiberglass constructed world of
make believe, and the
definite antithesis for the Anthony Bourdain crowd that feels they know
the secret to intelligent travel. But those who assume Disney
World is beneath them are missing the point. Epcot’s World
Showcase is not meant to be a substitute for going to these various
countries. Instead, it is meant to open people’s curiosity to
places they may never have considered for a vacation before. It
is meant to excite people about the idea of traveling the world, and
to some degree it accomplishes this goal.
Epcot's iconic structure, SPACESHIP EARTH
For me, the Rose and Crown is itself something of a Neverland. It
doesn’t need animated robots, 3D glasses or cartoon animals to make it
work. And no one needs to pretend they’ve crossed the pond and
stepped into one of Victorian London’s finest pubs. Just walking
through the doors of this welcoming watering hole and soaking in the
conversation and drink is enough.
The pub may be imagineered, but the
experience is true and the romance real.
for your pub or home bar.
PUB STUFF U.S.A.
587 Mill Creek Rd.
Manahawkin, NJ 08050
5828 HaLzelbrook Ave.
Lakewood, CA. 90712