Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Epcot's China

Even though the New Year is well underway here in America, for our Chinese friends, it hasn’t even yet begun. Soon, however, China’s most important traditional holiday will take place on January 26: the Chinese New Year. A festive holiday filled with lots of color, food, entertainment, and fun, the 2009 Chinese New Year celebrates the Year of the Ox, which according to the Chinese zodiac, symbolizes prosperity, self-assurance, inspiration, and leadership. And we can’t think of a better way to commemorate this major Chinese holiday than by paying a visit to Walt Disney World’s Epcot, where the China pavilion offers a little bit of the Asian country right here in Orlando, Florida.

A cultural area within Epcot where guests can experience the art, architecture, and traditions of China, the China Pavilion is the next best thing to hopping on a plane and flying to the country itself. This dedication one of the world’s oldest civilizations features the Temple of Heaven, serene gardens with tranquil reflecting ponds, and authentic tomb sculptures from Ancient China that date back 2,000 years. There’s even a miniature recreation of the tomb of China’s first emperor. A great way to take in a cultural summary of this Asian country, be sure to kick off your Chinese New Year’s celebrations by simply touring all of the pavilion’s wonders.

No Chinese New Year celebration is complete, however, without catching some traditional Chinese entertainment. Check out the Dragon Legend Acrobats, a 14-minute live show occurring several times throughout the day that features young Chinese acrobats performing gravity-defying feats. From the Pu Yang Academy of Acrobats in China, these young athletes fly through the air, leap through hoops, spin carpets on their feet, and contort their bodies into different shapes and sizes to the sounds of traditional Chinese music.

Next, be transported back to ancient Chinese times when you witness the Si Xian show, filled with harp-like music played on the Chinese zheng, a 2,000-year-old instrument. You’ll hear a gifted zheng musician weave an auditory journey as they evoke soothing natural sounds on this 25-stringed instrument. Si Xian is performed several times throughout the day; the schedule can be found on the Epcot Times Guide.

Also, don’t miss the artistic stylings of Miyuki, the first and only woman to receive training as a candy artist in Japan. Miyuki sculpts candy into elaborate animal shapes, a Japanese art form that goes back hundreds of years. For twenty minutes at various times throughout the day, you can catch her bring pieces of rice dough to life – you can even request an ox candy to keep as a lucky souvenir for the New Year.

Finally, round off your Chinese New Year celebrations by sampling authentic Chinese cuisine at the Nine Dragons Restaurant. Offering inventive Chinese dishes from five provinces, Nine Dragons offers specialties like Moo Goo Gai Pan, Sweet and Sour Pork, and of course, several varieties of Dim Sum. Or, for faster Chinese dining, grab a bite at the Lotus Blossom Café, which serves classic Chinese take-out favorites like egg rolls, fried rice, orange chicken, and beef noodle soup.

Since all the pavilions usually celebrate the major holidays of their country, you might also find a few surprises at the Chinese pavilion on January 26, including special activities for the kids. Ultimately, you’re sure to ring in the Chinese New Year in a forgettable way at Disney’s Epcot. Be sure to visit for Walt Disney World tickets to start planning your celebration.


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