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To My Dearest Friends At Disney…

There’s a rumor going around that you’re doing guest surveys in EPCOT as to what countries guests would potentially like to see be added to World Showcase. Countries like Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Russia or “Other”.

I have no idea if this is true or not. I really don’t. But if in fact this is something that even in your wildest dreams you’re contemplating, let me help you out with some free market research.

Please, please, please, please, please do it.

It has been twenty-two years since Norway: Gateway to Scandinavia opened in 1988. Twenty-two years. Think of that. In that time, we’ve seen two of World Showcase’s films replaced – in China and Canada – and a minimal facelift for the Mexican boat ride. But that’s it.

For the love of school bread, it’s time to add something to World Showcase. Stop fuffing about and do something.

Incidentally, the rumor also states that the poll asks guests which pavilion they’d mind the least having removed from Showcase. I take it you’re digging for something here, as the idea that you’d ever cast a nation out of EPCOT seems just a bit too odd. Perhaps you’re trying to find out which pavilion is the least popular, and thus needs expansion the most?

That’s easy – Italy. Italy is by far the worst of the pavilions, but it’s also a nation so well-known to Americans that you couldn’t possibly kick it out of Showcase. The least-known nation of the eleven, at least in America, is probably Morocco. But that’s the most lavish and beautiful of the pavilions, and no way you’re going to phone up the King and tell him you’re throwing him out of the pavilion he built on his own dime.

So what are you up to, friend Disney? What indeed.

At least the whole thing really takes me back to the days of the EPCOT Poll in the Future Choice Theater, and that’s always a good thing.

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13 comments to To My Dearest Friends At Disney…

  • FigmentJedi

    Just destroy the Outpost for a new pavilion. Problem solved.

  • Ken Storey

    Because of the fact that they are so well known, because they seem to cover some of the same content, and they do not show a modern view of life in the countries I would hope if we had to have a country disappear it would be one of the middle/southern European nations (ie. Germany, Italy, France, or the UK). Canada could also be included in the list for some the same reasons.

    It may be an Asian country though since this is now covered in Animal Kingdom.

    FigmentJedi is right though that the outpost is the best location for a new country since this was the location of the never to be built African land. I suspect that we will see a new country that still seems exotic but is trying to improve its PR. This list in my opinion includes many smaller island nations, South Korea, UAE, Russia (they could just dust off the old plans), and Brazil. A southern hemisphere nation would do good in Epcot since this market has had little marketing to it. I doubt they would build a UAE land since Disney has been holding off moving into this nation. Brazil would seem odd since so many tourist from there visit Epcot already, but of course the same could be said about Japan and the UK.

    If the road surrounding Epcot was needed to be in place which from my understanding it does for fire safety reasons we could see a land fit into the map at the African Outpost, the old Millennium tent between Canada and the UK, or a new land between Germany and Italy or Japan and Morocco with part of it stretching behind Morocco.

    Wherever this new country may go I fully expect a E-ticket ride to be included in the land for the sole purpose of crowd flow. I also would expect a new high scale restaurant and a large interactive exhibit of some sort.

  • Gary

    Interesting news. I will allow a minor twinge of excitement in the back of my brain, but I’ve been excited about these kinds of rumors too often before.

    You mention in your post the EPCOT Poll, and I recall a time sitting in that glorious, little theater when they polled us about adding Switzerland and a possible Matterhorn attraction to World Showcase. I got really excited then. But as can clearly be seen in the World Showcase skyline, there are no mountains (unless you count the mountains of ugliness that are the Swan and Dolphin).

    So I’ll hold on to hope, but until I hear something more tangible I’ll continue to doubt.

    And as for the other question, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were to demolish one country to make room for another, or simply re-purpose the existing structures to save on construction. Just look to Future World for examples.

  • Robin

    Hope they don’t knock down the UK pavilion – I like to wander round imagining what the UK used to be like, before concrete happened.

    That and laugh at the hideous inaccuracies like “Yorkshire County”.

    Also if its a Friday I can buy an (overpriced) Crunchie chocolate bar (its like an edible version of Butterfingers) as is the tradition in the UK.

  • Figment: No need to knock down the Outpost, although I wouldn’t object. There are several unused expansion pads in World Showcase!

    Ken: You’re right that the western European nations (Italy, Germany, UK) actually have the least to offer. But as these are the nations most familiar to WDW visitors, I can’t imagine them leaving. They’re “core” countries.

    I think countries in Asia, South America, or Africa would be most likely. I agree that it’ll probably be a more exotic nation looking to get a PR boost, which would fit those countries listed. While I still really want to see Russia at EPCOT, I think it would make the most sense to add Brazil since there aren’t any South American nations represented in Showcase and it’s a country that would provide a lot of potential fodder for attractions, shows and restaurants. Also, I think the number of Brazilian visitors to WDW would only help increase interest in such a pavilion.

    Gary: I remember getting those questions in the Poll too. It was so exciting… Russia, Spain, Switzerland… I thought for sure we’d see them built. I had no idea things would just stay as they were.

  • Robin

    I think I personally would welcome a Switzerland pavilion if it included a “mountain” coaster – but even the might of Disney theming wouldn’t topple any European addition that Europa Park in Germany has already;

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arepeejee/220302818/in/set-72157594244598391/
    Thats their Switzerland – it even has gradients and running water down the centre of the village street.

    For people interested in the World Showcase I can heartily recommend a trip out to Europa Park in Germany, it really does put the World Showcase to shame – as much as I love it.

    (They even have a Spaceship Earth..)

  • BK31

    Personally I think Australia would be kind of fun to have. Add an inverted (hanging) coaster named something like “boomerang” and I’d be happy. The biggest space for a new country with a E ticket attraction would have to be the Outpost area in my opinion, but if you were going to do something more of just a presence and a smaller dark ride there’s little built up on either side of Morocco. Honestly to me there is a need for some sort of number munching ride over in that area. There’s really no ride from Norway to Imagination unless you count the Friendship Ferry Boats.

    I wouldn’t mind Russia or Brazil either, I just feel Australia is more interesting to me because it is so very far away and a place I will probably never visit in my life, whereas I may eventually get to Russia or Brazil via other travels. Honestly I’d just love if there was some expansion / addition / or completion of some of the unrealized rides for some of the existing pavilions rather than see any one of them go.

  • Walter

    I’d actually be happy with no new countries, as long as they finished the pavilions already there. Surely the unoccupied German and Japanese show buildings could be expanded to hold new attractions, and Italy could always use something, though the new restaurant seems to have precluded an attraction in the back of the pavilion.

    I can’t see Disney removing any countries, as they do brisk international business and don’t want to destroy any markets. This is probably related to what new countries will be added; India, Russia, and Brazil are huge emerging markets for the company and so they may be added (I can see Disney making a deal for a park in India in exchange for national sponsorship of the Epcot pavilion).

    Switzerland does not really fill any holes in the World Showcase lineup, as Germany’s Bavarian pavilion is pretty similar architecturally to what we’d expect in a Switzerland, and besides France and Italy are huge a influence on Swiss culture and are also present. I’d prefer a countries like South Africa or Argentina, but even an Eastern European country (Poland and the Czech Republic are probably the strongest economically to sponsor one) is unique enough to be welcome. I can’t see Australia, as having a third direct descendant of the UK could be overkill, despite the uniqueness of that country (New Zealand could work I guess, though, and, yes, I know South Africa was once British, but it represents something much different than the Canadian or Australian British dominions or American colonies did.)

    Unfortunately, politics and economics will come to bear on any new country, and so don’t expect any Middle Eastern country (though non-Middle Eastern Muslim countries like Turkey or Indonesia would still work politically as Morocco does already), and the Spanish and Greek economic crises probably rules them out too. My money would thus be on Brazil or India, with an outside shot for Russia, and as a potential surprise from Disney an ultra-safe choice in the Netherlands.

  • Lori Abramson

    OK. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t I remember a few floats from Disney making their way down to Brazil. Coincidence? Maybe not especially siince very little Disney does is coincidence. They are known for nth degree planning. A lot may end up on the cutting room floor but it is all still very much planned.

  • On Thursday (April 1st) we’re seeing the supposed first Brazilian band to preform in a WDW parade. Hum, already building rapport?

    With Eike Batista focused on bringing tourism back to Rio I suspect he may have a part of this, if it is Brasil. What better way to advertise your Hotel Gloria than having a replica built at Disney World? Now this is a stretch in thinking but the Disney company lately has been in mode of adding hotels to new parks (Grand Californian, Hotel Miracosta and even the Royal Suite) so why not do this to Epcot? We already have hotels nearby that are of the same scale in service as Hotel Gloria.

    Brasil has much to offer in the way of possible attractions. From Rio to the Amazon there is numerous potential here (just please not another boat ride, 3 9or 4 if you count Friendship) in one park is enough!) and the country is trying to tell the world about that potential.

    I think the best tell-tell of who is willing to spend money on getting their country known is by looking at the Shanghai Expo. Which countries are spending the most money here? Maybe will we see an actual pavilion from the Expo transported to Epcot after the Expo ends, similar to what Sweden did with their infamous ‘eggs’ at the the Millennium Village display in Epcot.

    With this in mind we could lean towards Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Brazil, and Israel. 3 f which were featured in the Millennium Village at Epcot. At the M.V. Israel and Saudi Arabia both had rides in their displays. Brazil had a boring attempt at a game show. With this in mind Saudi Arabia would take the lead though I suspect that Brazil learned from this and could come back to Epcot with an even greater idea.

    As of now I’m placing my bets on Brazil and Saudi Arabia with a few chips placed upon Russia only because of their commitment to building a pavilion at this years Shanghai Expo, a bold move showcasing the country’s economic stability.

    My hope is in Brazil with a E-ticket ride, a dramatic show and an in-park hotel.

  • Brian

    Sadly, there’s not a SINGLE person at Disney — truly, not a single one, including Bob Iger — who has the ability or the gumption simply to say, “Hey, everyone, we’re going to build a Brazil pavilion, so get to work.” Everything has to be approved, re-approved, researched, sent for additional approval, re-researched, focus-grouped, rubber-stamped and approved one more time by the full committee before the simplest of decisions is made.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Disney fans were simply to be surprised by a big announcement that said, unexpectedly and unbeknownst to anyone, “Epcot will host two new pavilions in 2013, Brazil and Russia.” And that’s that?

    I even remember the days when Disney used to announce stuff, even if it didn’t come to fruition. At least that made the company feel exciting and progressive, not stuck in bureaucratic hell.

  • Dan

    Can you vote to have The Swan and Dolphin taken out of World Showcase?

  • LostMySpouseToTheMouse

    Just blow up Epcot and most of the world will be a happier place!

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