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  1. #1

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    June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Disney hasn’t added any countries to World Showcase at Epcot since Norway in 1988—that was 22 years ago. On the Internet, two reasons are mentioned over and over. What’s the real story?


    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Werner, this article is exactly why I love your site. Absolutely great! Thanks.
    Mark

    Disney parks and art, movies, music, more... Over 1, 000 Posts!
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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Great article as always, Werner.

    Just to add a little additional information to what you wrote, I attended a presentation that Marty Sklar gave during the "Epcot 25" celebration in 2007 and he explained why no country (save one) directly sponsors a pavilion.

    According to Marty, while trying to gain sponsorship in the 1970's, Disney quickly discovered that the Bureau International des Expositions (the Bureau of International Expositions, or BIE), the organization that oversees world fairs, has a clause in its rules which states:

    "Their duration may not be less than six weeks nor more than six months"

    Thus, countries that were signatories to the BIE were barred from sponsoring permanent pavilions at Epcot. Only one man, King Hassan II of Morocco, was willing to thumb his nose at the BIE and sponsor a pavilion. Oddly enough, the BIE has taken no action against Morocco and it remains a member of the BIE.

    Businesses are not signatories to the BIE and are free to sponsor pavilions in Epcot if they wish, which is why World Showcase has the sponsorship it does today.
    *Brian*

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    You can't blame Disney for not adding new countries.
    The capital costs for adding a new country would be VERY large and frankly, that capital NEEDS to be spent elsewhere.
    World Showcase is probably the last place that NEEDS something new. Future World is always having trouble staying "in the future", DHS is a half day park at best, Animal Kingdom has struggled and needs more to do and the Magic Kingdom has been negleted FAR longer than World Showcase.
    If YOU were Disney management and had LIMITED funds, where would YOU spend the money?? At DHS, AK, MK, Future World or World Showcase??
    I suspect that sometime in the future (10 yrs from now?) when DHS and AK are more built out, THEN Disney management will revisit the World Showcase expansion idea.

  5. #5

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian_WDW74 View Post
    Thus, countries that were signatories to the BIE were barred from sponsoring permanent pavilions at Epcot. Only one man, King Hassan II of Morocco, was willing to thumb his nose at the BIE and sponsor a pavilion. Oddly enough, the BIE has taken no action against Morocco and it remains a member of the BIE.

    Businesses are not signatories to the BIE and are free to sponsor pavilions in Epcot if they wish, which is why World Showcase has the sponsorship it does today.
    I think the BIE issue is both a legitimate reason and an excuse. Let me explain...

    Because of pressure from the BIE, many foreign governments stayed away from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, which was not authorized by the BIE. So, yes, the BIE has power.

    And EPCOT Center clearly could not be an official, BIE-authorized World's Fair.

    On the other hand, countries can decide how they promote their economic interests and international image. Whether it's the Voice of America, cultural exchange programs, or traveling exhibits, countries reach out across their borders. In the case of the New York World's Fair, some countries used their national tourism or economic development agencies to offer pavilions anyway.

    My guess is that Disney wanted a lot of money and wanted ultimate control of the content. At Expo '67 in Montreal, the USSR pavilion had a message about how wonderful their economic system and government was for their people. The USSR controlled the content. I can't imagine Disney allowing Soviet propaganda, and I can't imagine the USSR wanting to give Disney a lot of money to present something that would have ignored their international agenda.

    It's interesting that the participants that World Showcase eventually got were often not major corporations, but businesses like the Debler family of the San Angel Inn of Mexico City.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Quote Originally Posted by jedited View Post
    If YOU were Disney management and had LIMITED funds, where would YOU spend the money?? At DHS, AK, MK, Future World or World Showcase??
    If I were a Disney executive and I were given a business case for a new World Showcase pavilion that pays for itself over time (and adds to the bottom line), I would be interested.

    Consider France. It has a high volume lunch-and-dinner restaurant, a second, higher-end dinner restaurant, a very successful bakery, retail space (selling wine, perfume, and gifts), booths that sell wine and crepes, and a movie that requires minimal staffing. The restaurants are run by an outside company, and much of the retail space also involves "participants."

    Nobody can tell me that France doesn't make money for Disney and for the participants.

    I could see one or more new pavilions with similar economics. I remain surprised that nobody has been able to come up with a business case.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  7. #7

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Quote Originally Posted by Werner Weiss View Post
    I could see one or more new pavilions with similar economics. I remain surprised that nobody has been able to come up with a business case.
    I think the problem may be that sponsorships are sold like advertising and that most people do not leave a World Showcase pavilion recognizing the sponsors. A lot of these companies do not have much of a presence in the United States once you leave EPCOT Center.

    I bet if you polled many people they would not realize that Nestlé is a Swiss company. A sponsorship of a Switzerland Pavilion would probably just lead to people thinking of it as funny because its Switzerland and Nestlé sells hot cocoa (probably also making people think of ConAgra's Swiss Miss brand). The message of Nestlé being Swiss would have to be pushed, and that distracts from the Swiss experience and the Nestlé branding.

  8. #8

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Thanks for this awesome article, Werner. And you managed to include pictures of two of my favorite places in WS!

    Shame on Disney for not being proactive in updating the Showcase, I'd say.

    I think the Spain pavilion should go in at the International Gateway. I think I'll make an Armchair Imagineering thread about that soon.

    Here's a question for you:

    What would you rather see first: Updates/upgrades to existing pavilions, or a new pavilion?

    Maelstrom could use some TLC, I understand. Japan and Germany have both been left, disappointingly, without attractions. The Canada side of World Showcase is left without a single ride.

    Then again, there are a lot of great concepts for new pavilions.
    -Hale (wumbology)

    a.k.a. h2mc, omnimover.mousetalgia, omnimover, wumbology, hogbackmtn, hhmcsharry, Hale M., h2m, h2mc

    (I've never visited Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Resort Paris, nor Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, so don't be fooled when I pretend to know what I'm talking about. [But I'm pretty good with the information, if I do say so myself. And you can hit me all you want with Walt Disney World.])



  9. #9

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Thanks for a great article. It really answered a lot of questions for me.

    I feel that the real answer to why there is not a new international pavilion is that Disney does not have the WILL to make it happen.

    WDW has been under developed in the area of attractions and over developed in the area of hotel rooms. It takes money to build new hotels and DVC rooms. They just see more profit from those than expanding the reason people visit WDW.

    Disney management seems unwilling to spend anything more than the minimum to keep people coming. They shell out enough money for one attraction at one theme park every couple years. Just enough to draw a few more people.

    I only wish that there was a master plan to all the theme parks in which progress could be made when funds came available. Now it seems that only when Universal or some other local competitor creates something, then Disney opens up their check book.
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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    It sure is hard to imagine an Israel pavilion existing in World Showcase today. Even if you were to ignore all of its media controversies, many nations don't even recognize it as an actual country!

    Israel, independent since 1948, is currently not recognized by 20 UN members and one UN non-member, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, because of the Arab-Israeli conflict[40]. It is recognized by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which claims the right to set up a state in territory currently controlled by Israel.
    I imagine that would be a huge headache for Disney if it existed today.

    But 8 expansion plots... that's amazing! I had no idea there were so many. The possibilities are dizzying...


  11. #11

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkTwain View Post
    It sure is hard to imagine an Israel pavilion existing in World Showcase today.
    That's nothing new. There were also strong anti-Israel feelings in some corners of world back when World Showcase was first being planned.

    In the late 1970s, Disney's plans included not only an Israel pavilion, but also an Arab World pavilion (or, at some points, a United Arab Emerites pavilion). By the time EPCOT Center opened, the Arab World pavilion had disappeared, but an Israel pavilion was still supposed to be coming.

    Ideally, Disney would have presented environments that emphasized art, architecture, traditions, music, food, landscape, and so on, with an eye toward international friendship and understanding.

    A smart thing that did Disney did when designing the World Showcase pavilions was to de-emphasize governments.

    Even the names of the pavilions evolved to de-emphasize politics. Back in their 1978 Annual Report, Disney listed proposed pavilions such as the Italian Republic Pavilion and the United Mexican States Pavilion. There was the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) Pavilion, but not a Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) Pavilion. By the time EPCOT Center opened, the pavilions had simply become Italy, Mexico, and Germany.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 06-12-2010 at 01:32 PM.
    Werner Weiss
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  12. #12

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    it makes me crazy when I look at the orginal WED scale models of the World Showcase.

    There was Mt Fuji attraction soaring into the sky behind the big gates in "Japan" but Kodak (who carried so much weight) hated anyone being reminded of "Fuji" and thus being reminded of "Fuji Film"-- so they through their weight into Disney canceling the Fuji project. WED also had developed a "Carousel of Progress" style Japanese history AA attraction (which was in Tokyo Disneyland from '83 until just recently). But since it glossed over the WWII years, they thought all the retired Vets in Florida alone would raise such cane about it, they chickened out of that too.

    There was also another Mtn in the scale model: "the Matterhorn" rising up behind the never-built Switzerland pavillion.

    Germany had a huge planned boat river attraction that never materialized

    And I saw first hand the wonderful model for the Russian pavillion. It was shortly back on green light status in 2007 or so right before the economy went kerplunk.


  13. #13

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    This is torturous! I'd really like to see what today's Imagineers could bring to a World Showcase pavilion.
    -Hale (wumbology)

    a.k.a. h2mc, omnimover.mousetalgia, omnimover, wumbology, hogbackmtn, hhmcsharry, Hale M., h2m, h2mc

    (I've never visited Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Resort Paris, nor Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, so don't be fooled when I pretend to know what I'm talking about. [But I'm pretty good with the information, if I do say so myself. And you can hit me all you want with Walt Disney World.])



  14. #14

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    I would love to see more pavilions. My only concern is I dont wanna see these pavilions built completely neck and neck to each other. A little space between them is fine.

    That Showplace tent in Lot 8 can be easily moved to Lot 7 since the International Gateway is there and just use that Lot 7 for miscellanous World Showcase stuff. I'd rather see Lot 8 remain as a tree area cause that Showplace tent is so big, it clashes with the look and feel of the England and Canada pavilions it lies in between.

    You know Lot 2 would've actually made a better spot for the very tiny Italy pavilion than the current spot it's in now. They could've used that water way for a Gondola attraction.

    Greece and Russia seem like the most obvious choices for new pavilions that could easily fit into the World Showcase. But I can see all the financial hoopla with both countries.

    Still I'd hate to see new pavilions never happen. It's been so long since a new country was built...people can and WILL get excited for this and pay money to see it...especially if you put in some form of attraction.

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    Re: June 11, 2010: Two Myths about World Showcase

    Quote Originally Posted by toonaspie View Post
    Still I'd hate to see new pavilions never happen. It's been so long since a new country was built...people can and WILL get excited for this and pay money to see it...especially if you put in some form of attraction.
    I'd like to see Russia, India, Brazil, Greece, and Thailand added to World Showcase.

    I could argue that a Brazil pavilion featuring a large churrascaria could pay its own way just from the restaurant business. An outside restaurant company might even put up the money for the restaurant. Add something like an indoor rainforest boat ride, and I could argue that Epcot would generate more turnstile clicks.

    There doesn't have to be any sponsorship from a foreign company or foreign government, but sponsorship revenue would make a business case stronger.

    Alas, Disney appears unable to put together a compelling business case for any new pavilion at World Showcase.

    From being in corporate America for decades, I know that business cases are built on assumptions. If Disney's assumption going in is that Epcot is a mature park and any additions to World Showcase would just cannibalize existing pavilions, then any business case for a new pavilion is bound to fail.

    If the assumption is that fresh new pavilions will increase attendance and generate net new business (and existing restaurants like Le Cellier would still operate at 100% of capacity even if there were five new restaurants in the park), then a business case is likely to look much better.
    Werner Weiss
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