Shanghai Expo Opens as World's Largest World's Fair

It's like Epcot Center on steroids and it cost the Chinese $58 billion. The Shanghai Expo is in full swing and China is determined to make it the biggest and best world's fair in history.

Jose Villareal is the general commissioner of the U.S. pavillion. He says it's like nothing he's ever seen before. "Every country on the face of the earth is here," Villareal told ABC News. "This is an epic event."

The site alone is twice the size of Monaco. Some 70 million people are expected to attend over the next six months, and 95 percent of them will be Chinese.

There are impressionist paintings from France, traditional dancers from the Emirates and giant, odd animatronic babies from Spain meant to symbolize future generations, but are also scaring some children.

Visitors can nibble on feta and olives at the Greek pavilion, sample an ostrich wrap at the Hakuna Matada African Culture restaurant or design their own Brazilian, using state of the art technology—an idea meant to illustrate Brazil's diversity.

The theme is "Better City, Better Life," but for many nations it's simply an opportunity to showcase their countries and their cultures to millions of upwardly mobile Chinese, many who have never left the country.

Critics argue that in this developing country, $58 billion could be better spent helping the country's poor.

America's organizers came to Shanghai late in the game, but hustled to get the corporate funding and now features long lines waiting to get into the pavilion.

The centerpiece is a film which focuses on the theme of community and giving back. The Chinese are particularly impressed with the 4D special effects featured in the production, including rain drops that appear to be falling on your head. And they love the celebrities, like Kobe Bryant, attempting to speak Mandarin.

The U.S. exhibitors are clearly trying to impress the Chinese consumer.

"This will be their first opportunity to get an impression of America and our people and culture and places," Villareal told ABC News.

At the U.S. pavilion, bilingual "student ambassadors" welcome Chinese guests, charming them with their Mandarin skills and posing for photo after photo after photo.

With China's open arms policy towards participants, there was bound to be some controversy. North Korea has opened its first pavilion at a World Expo. And it's right next door to Iran. The area has been nicknamed "the axis of evil."

Shanghai Expo Hopes to Wow the World

Chinese visitors smile and pose in front of the Iranian flag. And then smile and pose some more beneath North Korean propaganda posters.

Ultimately, the Expo is yet another platform for China to wow the world with its economic prowess and to inspire pride and patriotism in its citizens.

"I feel really excited and proud that our country has the resources to host such a major event," one young man told ABC News.

The event will go on for six months and organizers are still working out some kinks. People have complained that the lines are too long and the food is not very good. But for the most part, the Chinese are incredibly proud of what they have been able to pull off, and at a time when many countries are fighting to stay afloat.

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