A former Disney Imagineer’s guide to Epcot’s World Showcase – Orange County Register
One of Walt Disney’s dreams for Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was to promote worldwide understanding and communications between the world’s countries.
When Disney’s Imagineers began developing concepts for the park, originally named EPCOT Center at the Walt Disney World Resort when it opened in 1982, they devoted a major section to a place where countries could have a showplace.
It would have two areas: Future World, where companies would be able to sponsor pavilions with broad themes and present their technology to solve the world’s issues. The second area would be the World Showcase.
A picturesque setting along the waterfront of the World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot in the Walt Disney World Resort. There are 11 countries represented in this area. They are: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States of America, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The ship in the World Showcase Lagoon sits on the waterfront in front of the Norway Pavilion. A 1/10 scale of the Eiffel Tower that is part of the France Pavilion can also be seen in this photo taken in the World Showcase area of Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
A small shopping kiosk in an area that was originally supposed to represent Central Africa in the World Showcase area of Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
A view across the World Showcase Lagoon of the seemingly far away American Adventure Pavilion that is in the World Showcase area of Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. The lagoon is as big as opening day Disneyland, and visitors must walk around the lagoon to visit the area’s 11 countries represented there, though there is a water taxi service that will take people across the lagoon too. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
It was here that each country would have a pavilion to showcase their lands, culture, technology and food.
The Imagineers also adopted a way to staff each country through the World Fellowship program, where citizens of each country would come over to work there and develop a fellowship with the people of the other countries.
There was a struggle to get countries to participate, but Disney went ahead and on opening day, October 1, 1982, nine countries were placed around the World Showcase Lagoon.