EPCOT has kicked off a massive, historic, multi-year transformation. With strong rumours pointing to at least one new pavilion coming to the World Showcase section of the park, we thought it would be fun to share some top contenders for countries we would love to see Disney bring to the park.
By Phil Taylor
Disney World is back open for business after the global pandemic and there is already a discussion about further planning for one of the resorts. The Disney company has been on a high since they were able to open the new park in Shanghai in 2016 and all the parks around the world have been under some sort of update. The focus was on Paris, California Adventure and Hong Kong as Disney allegedly felt these parks were rushed and lacked a certain ‘Disney’ feel.
One of the areas that is on the radar for improvement is the world showcase at EPCOT. EPCOT is approaching its 50th year and with talk of new attractions being added to the park there is one big rumour that a new country will be added to Epcot. However, what country will it be?
What is Epcot?
EPCOT is a theme park at Disney World Florida that is like no other. Alongside the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, the theme parks create just part of the Disney resort.
Disney was an avid imagineer and wanted to create a utopia of the future; hence lands such as Tomorrow land.
Walt’s plans were in place many years before the development opened in 1982. EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and cost $800 million when it was first opened. When the park opened it was the second park in Florida and the first park away from the Magic Kingdom style with an educational feel.
EPCOT is a park full of different areas themed around different countries and is called the world showcase as Disney promote many different countries from around the world with customary traditions from that certain country. The areas include rides, attractions, restaurants and gift shops that all relate to the country it is in.
What countries are at Epcot’s world showcase?
In 1982, there were nine countries represented in Florida. These included Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. However, two more countries have been added since as the Morocco pavilion opened in 1984 and Norway in 1988.
In each of these countries you will still have a Disney experience, despite the theming being focused on countries traditions, as you will find characters from your favourite Disney films in each of these countries. For example, you may see Mulan in China, Alice in Wonderland in England or even Donald Duck donning a sombrero in Mexico!
EPCOT is an immersive experience and one you can get lost in very easily as you transition seamlessly from one pavilion to another. You could be having a beer and a bratwurst in Germany one minute and then the next you could have a pinot and a pizza in Italy. Epcot really does have everything.
What countries nearly got added?
A pavilion focusing on all things Africa with a 60-foot tree overlooking a watering hole. It would also include a live show of African dancers and music would have taken place in the outdoor amphitheatre. The “Heartbeat of Africa” was the live show spectacular that was going to grab the hearts of guests.
However, it ran into issues because a certain country could not be agreed upon and political issues surrounding the proposed funding from South Africa.
People were able to fully enjoy an African feel with Animal Kingdom being built in 1998.
In 1980, Israel agreed to become part of Epcot and to be part of designing and constructing the pavilion for $30-35 million. The pavilion would consist of a market style courtyard, classical and folk music would have been played at an amphitheatre.
Like the issues surrounding the Equatorial Africa area, Disney supposedly pulled the plug due to political issues and the fear of violence and acts of terrorism in the Disney parks if they were to have an Israel pavilion.
The Spanish pavilion would have been like stepping into the Spanish countryside as well as a marketplace featuring both new and old traditions of the country. The pavilion was never built as a sponsor was not found.
Millennium Village which was meant to celebrate the turn of the century was meant to have countries including Brazil, Chile, Easter Island, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and Sweden.
What countries could be added?
With the rumours two years ago suggesting that Disney were ready to spend $450 million on a new EPCOT pavilion, fans were expecting big announcements at the D23 event but nothing has fully come to fruition.
The countries that were being rumoured to be added to the park were Russia, India, Egypt, Spain, Brazil and Ireland. But Spain and Brazil were the favourites.
With Spain being the favoured pavilion, plans looked in place and the Disney company looked like they were able to have the pavilion they wanted since 1981. However, with the Pixar film Gigantic, the film that would be tied to the area, being delayed and then put on hold it has meant the Spanish pavilion has suffered the same fate.
Now Brazil looks set to become the favourite and plans were revealed for a 1.5 acre plot; a new area for a new pavilion. With hints coming from a survey that was sent out prior to the 2018 D23 event that included what restaurants park goers would like at EPCOT including tapas or a Brazilian steakhouse it looks likely that Disney will pursue the Brazilian theme as oppose to the Spanish theme.
If Disney were able to bring in a Brazil themed pavilion it would really add a carnival atmosphere and a lot more energy to the park. Something many theme park enthusiasts would be interested in.
Will the park be able to update?
With announcements made pre COVID-19 to improve areas such as United Kingdom and France it will be interesting to see what the Disney Company might do.
The popular ride from Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille, is close to completion in the French pavilion and will attract many people . However, the Mary Poppins attraction might be postponed or even cancelled if Disney feel like they do not have the funds to add the attraction to the UK pavilion.
Disney fans are expecting some big updates and it was announced over $2 billion would be spent on the park to improve the already fantastic park, but the global pandemic could seriously impact the progress Disney had been expected to make before 2021.