23 March 2009

The Romantic Road

Just along the border of the Germany Pavilion sits a little town, a village that is small in both size and stature. Cutting between the wooded countryside, the town-center, and the various railway lines is a footpath, set down to be World Showcase representation of the Romantic Road.

The true Romantic Road winds its way from Würzburg to Füssen in southern Germany, through countryside, villages, and a wealth of German history. In the Middle Ages, the route was used as a trade road. In the 1950s, however, the way became a tourist trail, highlighting areas that were considered to offer authentic German architecture, dining, vistas, and lodging.

Perhaps the most famous site along the Romantic Road is the Neuschwanstein Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle was built by Ludwig II of Bavaria, who hired a theatrical set designer rather than an architect to design the home. This would seem poetic since Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland owes much of its design to Neuschwanstein. Though the castle has not been miniaturized for World Showcase’s pathway, the interplay between the true Neuschwanstein and its location, Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, and Epcot’s Germany is just another example of creating cohesive stories throughout the theme parks.

The Romantic Road found alongside the German Pavilion is a wonderful piece of collaboration among the various fields (Imagineering, horticulture, WDW Design, etc.) that are required to complete any project in and around the Disney properties. While the miniature trains and village pay a high respect to the culture of Germany, it would not have been whole without the inclusion of the Romantic Road. Taking a few moments to pause here and listen to the trains rolling down the tracks, admire the diminutive flora, and take note of where you stand along the path generates offers a moment of calm and relaxation before you turn your attention to the feast of the Biergarten.

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