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Walt Disney World Resort - Epcot, Part 4

World Showcase, Part 1


Epcot - World Showcase

World Showcase Concept Art
1975 Concept Art of World Showcase, across the Seven Seas Lagoon from Magic Kingdom. ©Disney...
Epcot Map As mentioned before, the basic idea of World Showcase dates back to 1972. Later concept art had World Showcase to be two almost complete, but connected circles, with a figure 8 courtyard in the center. Every pavilion would have the same size entrance facing this courtyard, but the different pavilions could extend outward as far as desired or needed.

Later concepts of Epcot Center had a single circle behind Future World, with no large central lagoon, but the possibility of a lake, merchandise and hotel area behind World Showcase. That sort of came true with the addition of the Crescent Lake hotels and The Boardwalk, but with nothing so large as Crescent Lake.

So why is there a big lagoon in the middle of World Showcase? Because, like the area that separates Future World from World Showcase, there's nothing there to build on. It was described as a five acre root mass, about four to five feet thick. Underneath it was nothing but "muck". (Disney has since become an expert on muck, and has learned how to stabilize such land, but it makes me wonder if the city of EPCOT could have been built as Walt planned it back in the 70's.)

WED's engineers talked with people in academia, and learned how to slurry the "muck" to a pumpable material. They put sand on the root mass, then slurried the muck underneath and pumped it out from below, letting the weight of the sand sink the root mass until the depression was formed. Then they took the sand away and lined the lagoon.

What did they do with "the muck"? It was pumped over to the Southeast, and filled in some big holes that were there, and is now the Caribbean Beach Resort. (The white sand at Caribbean Beach and other resorts was mined from Bay Lake. It's probably the same sand that created the World Showcase Lagoon.)

AA to SE
Taken from the Presidential Suite at American Adventure. Even though the lagoon is a little bit lopsided, Epcot was built with a defined North-South dividing line.
Early plans had American Adventure at the entrance to World Showcase. It was to be elevated, where guests went under the building to be greeted by all the countries on the other side. Dick Nunis nixed that idea, pointing to the large lagoon and said that the castle of World Showcase had to go to the back of the park to make the guests want to go there. (More in American Adventure.)

Today, there are 11 pavilions (Morocco, then Norway are the addition to the original 9), each with its own recognizable icon. There were preliminary agreements for eight more pavilions (Equatorial Africa, Costa Rica, Denmark, Iran, Israel, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela), but never went beyond the preliminary stages.

There's room for perhaps two more pavilions, and there are always rumors flying around of another country being sponsored.

The World Showcase Plaza

The plaza holds a couple of gift shops, boat docks to the pavilions on the other side of the lagoon, the Christmas tree during the holiday season, as well as welcoming the guest to World Showcase with topiaries and/or other special themeing during events like the Food and Wine and Flower and Garden shows...

World Showcase/Plaza
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Canada Pavilion
The Canada Pavilion
Epcot Map No matter which way you turn, the first pavilion you'll encounter is one of America's neighbors. Turn East, and you encounter Mexico. Turn West, and you'll find Canada. Well, no one said they were geographically correct...

Anyway, like most of the guests, we'll turn to the right as we enter World Showcase.

Other than an acclaimed steak house (Le Cellier) which I've never eaten at, the single attraction here is one of the last two Circlevision 360 movies at Disney World, O Canada. (Typical foreign propaganda, with your host, Martin Short. Heh.)

There's a very nice walk down a narrow rock canyon complete with waterfall. It's actual purpose is to hide the theater and Imagination Pavilion so nothing breaks the theme, but it's a nice, cool walkthrough on a hot day.

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Canada - Off Kilter

There is another attraction here, but only rates to be on the Times Guide, and not the official Epcot Map. It's the Celtic Rock band, Off Kilter. Of course, I have no idea what the Celts had to do with Canada, except maybe the basketball team is closer to the Canadian border than I am. That said, if you ever wanted to see guys rock out to a bag pipe, this is the place to be.

The stage Off Kilter uses, was originally an open air workshop, where the Totem Poles outside of the Canadian Pavilion were carved. The Totem Poles were completed and erected, then the workshop was turned into the stage we see today. It does explain the shallow but wide, open air building and how it's themed, though.

Off Kilter
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World Showplace

World Showplace
Note the facade. It's fake. (If you haven't seen this before, it's because World Showplace is usually behind closed gates.
Epcot Map In 1999, Disney opened the Millennium Village, a 60,000 square foot building, to house displays, exhibits and people from around the world. At least those not already represented around World Showcase.

It closed on December 31, 2000, at the end of the Millennial Celebration. It was said it would be used for future event space. Around 2010, this indeed became true, using the space for events such as Food and Wine, special character meet-and-greets and several D23 events. They had opened about 1/2 of the space when I attended D23's 2011 Magic and Merriment, and it completely swallowed the 200 attendees.

World Showplace
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United Kingdom

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom Pavilion
Epcot Map The United Kingdom pavilion is one of those pavilions that has excellent examples of English architecture and ambience, plus food service and gift shops. And Alice from Alice in Wonderland or Mary Poppins, depending on when you're there.

There isn't even an "Attraction" section for the UK on the Epcot Park Map.

But, it does have its saving graces, like pretty good food. The Fish and Chips from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop (counter service) is probably the best on property.

United Kingdom
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If you wander to the back of the pavilion, you'll see some more modern architecture, but otherwise it's a peaceful square where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy an adult beverage or savor your Fish and Chips. Be aware, if it's a hot day, this area feels even hotter...

To break the peacefulness, there's a pretty good British rock band named "British Revolution" who appears a few times a day, doing covers from Led Zeppelin to The Who to The Beatles. They're pretty good. If you ever see the show, watch the audience. It's amazing everybody from the kids to the grandparents know the music, and the one's who really get into it have graying hair. Just sayin'. (Yeah, I've heard the "Don't throw stones" thing...)

United Kingdom (in the back)
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International Gateway

Int Gateway
A Friendship Boat coming into Epcot from Crescent Lake
Epcot Map The International Gateway is the back-door to Epcot, built in 1990 as the Crescent Lake hotels ( Yacht and Beach Club, then The Boardwalk and Swan and Dolphin) started to open. It's a miniature version of the entrance, complete with a guest services and ticket booth, bathrooms, lockers, bag check, and of course, someplace to buy something. That last minute thing for Aunt Sally, donchaknow.

A canal (known as the English Channel because it flows between the UK and France, just like the real one) emerges from the World Showcase Lagoon here which quickly opens into Crescent Lake, a relatively large body of water, with the Boardwalk on one side, and The Yacht and Beach Clubs on the other. Another canal exists the far side of Crescent Lake that goes all the way to Disney's Hollywood Studios. You can catch a Friendship boat or walk from one end to the other.

You can read more about Crescent Lake in the Walt Disney World Onsite Resort section.

International Gateway
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End Epcot - Part 4.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

  • 05/09/2010 - Page Updated, pictures re-imaged, pictures added
  • 07/12/2012 - Complete replacement
  • 12/31/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2
  • 06/21/2015 - Rewrite and update