Two Myths about World Showcase at Epcot

Written by Werner Weiss. Posted in Disney History, Epcot, Werner Weiss

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Published on July 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm with 17 Comments

Disney hasn’t added any countries to World Showcase at Epcot since Norway in 1988—that was 25 years ago. On the Internet, two reasons are mentioned over and over. What’s the real story? This is an enhanced version of a Yesterland article originally published in June 2010.

Read the full YESTERLAND article HERE: Two Myths about World Showcase at Epcot.

 
When you are done reading, please leave your comments below.
 

About Werner Weiss

Werner is the curator of Yesterland.com, the ultimate collection of Disney theme park past attractions. You'll find his handiwork featured here every Friday.

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17 Comments

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  1. In my former life as a Marketing Exec for a Tampa-based architecture-engineering firm, that did a lot of work for Disney and Universal, I read a proposal we did for a rather grand table-service restaurant for The American Adventure. So, it’s clear that Disney wanted to expand that plot at sometime. Maybe they’ll get around to it again.

    • “A rather grand table-service restaurant for The American Adventure” seems like a concept that would be a money-maker and would give guests another good reason to visit Epcot and walk around World Showcase Lagoon. I wonder if the concept is still alive?

      The Patina Group made a big investment in restaurants for the Italy. Those restaurants seem to be doing very well. I assume Disney and Patina are both making a lot of money from them, while guests are getting better dining experiences than with the old Alfredo’s.

      Perhaps Patina Group would like to invest in a grand restaurant for The American Adventure! (Please?)

      • Obviously I’m in the minority on this one, but I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would go to the American Adventure when you’re already in America and you have all of those amazing pavilions around you from other countries that you are not currently in. So I’ll never be eating there when I can go to Italy and get a pizza made by a real Italian chef, or the steak from Canada, or even occasionally some fish & chips from England.

  2. Although I’d love to see more World Showcase countries, I’m hesitant for them to just fill in all the empty gaps.

    Case in point, the rather abrupt and ugly section between China and Norway.

    I do enjoy the green spaces between countries – it gives my stomach time to digest the food & drink from the previous country!

    • The transition between two adjacent World Showcase pavilions could be handled better than the straight access road to the big gate between China and Norway. World Showcase could have adjacent pavilions with a “cast member only” access road curving behind a clump of trees, hiding a gate.

  3. It’s sad to note just how long it’s been since they added a new country. I’m keeping my sights low. I’d love to see even one new country with even just a restaurant and great theming. I think Disney underestimates how guests would go crazy about a new country. Like we’ve seen with California Adventure and Harry Potter, new attractions draw crowds. If they really marketed the new country well and did a good job, it would be a huge hit.

    • I agree. World Showcase could draw increased attendance to Epcot with a new, compelling additions. However, although countries such as Brazil, Russia, and India would be very appealing to many of us, I doubt they could match Cars Land or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in pulling in guests.

  4. Maybe they could sill add a large cheap indoor showcase of a bunch of countries like they originally planned. I’m sure countries could donate/loan exhibits.

    I wish WDW had focused on building up its 2 original parks into multi day experiences rather than building those budget 3rd and 4th half day parks you have to take busses to get to. The Moroccan pavilion was money well spent by the government. Amazing craftsmanship and culture. 10-20 years before when world expos were still popular, the idea for large investments from governments might have worked.

    Still shocked at them building hotels so close to the World Showcase. It dominates and distracts from the whole experience. I can forgive Paradise pier Hotel at DCA only because it was build before the park.

  5. The Africa pavillion had three problems and will probably never happen now. An African tribal chief, which Disney hired through recommendations by Africa’s Chief Designer Ken Anderson was to help with promotions. This was after Alex Haley (author of the 1976 book Rootes) was unsuccessful and left. Alex had made several presentations with the UCLA Black Caucus for their feedback and support. The Black Caucus rejected all of Alex Haley’s attempts. The Chief as well was very frustrated and finally reported to Disney, that “no matter what you do they will never be happy with your interpretations of them” basically. Of course this irritated management and they didn’t have any paying sponsors, and didn’t want to pay for a Pavillion after the feedback they had gotten. Finally Disney Legend John Hench after reviewing at least 3 models of it’s iconic Tree, by Disney Legend Ken Anderson, on the overall World Showcase model, said that the tree just out scaled everything else on the model, and needed it’s own park. Animal Kingdom became that park with a giant tree icon, Africa’s rockwork, and much of it’s African village transferred over to it. There are still aspects of the Africa pavillion which have not been tapped, but many have also influenced other Disney projects. Over 100 different synthetic fragrances(smells) were developed by Special Effects at WED for the Tree House viewing window of the watering hole. One was like “rhinos in heat”, (Ken Anderson liked that one), or the smell of a pack of Tigers etc.. These would have been misted at you, as you heard the sounds of those animals approach below you, through recorded actual sounds. Film footage was shot in Africa for the watering holes giant rear projection screen which formed the back of it’s theater. This could still be utilized by Animal Kingdom. I don’t know what happened to the Tree House’s giant modular tree support framework that had been started. Perhaps it was utilized in the Tree of Life.

    • Another event that eliminates the possibility of the Equatorial Africa pavilion, as it was envisioned in the 1980s, is that Disney gave away the Tishman collection of African art. Disney acquired the world class art collection in 1984 with the intension of giving it a permanent home at Epcot. After holding onto the art for two decades, Disney donated the entire collection to National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. It’s now called the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. For more details, read http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/africanvision/index2.html

      I would have enjoyed seeing this magnificent collection on display at Epcot. Sure, some guests would ignore it, but others would consider it a great attraction. It could have increased interest in African art by reaching guests who don’t visit art museums with African art.

      As far as the “smell of a pack of Tigers” for the Equatorial Africa pavilion is concerned, perhaps it was the smell of a pride of lions. Tigers are Asian animals, not African animals.

      • Disney Legend Ken Anderson acquired quite a large collection of African artifacts of his own with the help of interiors on his many trips to Africa for research. After the Africa pavillion failed to become his reality, a large number of those artifacts were used in the Explorers Club in Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island. With the clubs closing, a lot of those Ken Anderson artifacts then moved to Hong Kong’s new Mystic Manor. I remember talking to Ken Anderson about former Astronaut Gordon Cooper who was a VP at WED during the Space Mountain window of 1975 and 1977. Gordon had a pet project he hoped Disney might be interested in and brought in about 3 prototypes to view. They were actually arcade viewing machines which require a coin to operate. I remember the best one of the group he had me look at. I put in my coin with my eyes to the viewing portal. The light turned on and I heard some middle east music playing, and a belly dancer started performing on the back stage. As she came closer to you, shimmying and shivering and pushing her navel to the window, the arcade machine would mist you with some of her strong perfume. As she backed away the aroma would dissipate. In the end WED was not really interested in Gordons Arcade machines, but possibly that spark of a scent accompanied by visuals found it’s way to the Africa Pavilion. Sorry about the Tigers. I guess the last Tigers in Africa of the Saber Tooth variety, died out a million years ago according to fossils found there. I wonder if the swampy scent will show up in the Blue Bayou with the Fireflies?

  6. Epcot was a failure from day one. It despite it’s size was no match ever for the magic kingdom, because it had no compelling concept that might create magic.
    It was named after a concept Disney wholly believed in, and when pitching the concept
    he would start with the disclaimer this will not be just another world’s fair.
    But it didn’t even turn out that well, as most of the foreign pavilions weren’t even sponsered
    by the actual country!
    Future World doesn’t seem at all relevant anymore, and if you’ve been to any of the countries represented, you might agree with me that they don’t seem particularly authentic.
    I saw the park early on, but when I return to O town, I will stay at Uni and throw in a day at the magic kd.

  7. Maybe it’s because I grew up around Disneyland, but Epcot (and Main street Electrical Parade) would be the reason for a return trip.

  8. The World Showcase is a strange add on to Future World. The whole as a concept just doesn’t work at all. As a park on itself it does. At the moment it’s a glorified open mall with many restaurants and shops and just a few rides. The rest of the attractions are movies, mostly old movies. If they would add rides to each country, fill in the lake and expend with even more countries and rides this could be an amazing place to visit. Keep it open from 10 to 10 and add more quality live entertainment. Not the bands they have now covering Lynyrd Skynyrd but the real thing that Universal is doing. This park will still be and grow as a great place to have corporate events and private parties and be a fifth gate with at least 3 E-ticket rides.
    Leaves the Future World to be revamped in a complete new park, something like Disney Sea, or Adventure Park or a park dedicated to Hero’s and Villains with lands envisioning Marvel (they need to buy that license), Star Wars, Disney Villains, etc. reusing what is there.

  9. Most likely, the next pavilion to be added to World Showcase will go between Japan and Germany, if only because this is by far the largest relatively empty lot available and the next pavilion will probably come with an E-Ticket, in order to boost/maintain Epcot attendance in the face of competition in the future.

    I forget if this is where Switzerland and its Matterhorn was supposed to go, but I think Russia is in the lead for the next pavilion. It’s a large country with a long history, and some of the design work has already been done. Russia is also intriguing, before the cold war there was an iron curtain, and now Americans can visit this country, something which wasn’t possible decades ago.

    In terms of an E-Ticket ride, a thrill ride with snow would be one place to go.

  10. Opps . . . meant Germany and China.

  11. I just wonder how it is that Disney isn’t actively able to recruit new countries. Do they not care? It would seem a great way to expose one’s country to potential tourists who might choose to vacation in their country rather than make another visit to Disney World. If I had a country I’d be like Morocco — I’d want to partner with the Mouse!