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Neverworlds – EPCOT Center’s Lost Scandinavia Pavilion

"How Not To Be Seen: Bathroom Edition"

We’ve spoken at length – some might say disturbing length – about the fabled “Lost Danish Potties” of World Showcase. Essentially, what are now the bathrooms for EPCOT’s Norway pavilion (opened in 1988) were originally constructed as a stand-alone building in 1982. They were intended for a never-built Denmark pavilion, and even though the facilities were later annexed by the Norse, we’ve looked at how Disney repeatedly tried to bring Denmark into World Showcase afterward.

Before the Imagineers slotted Denmark into the site currently occupied by Norway, they considered other possible locations in World Showcase. One potential site was between the French and United Kingdom pavilions; another, show below from a 1979 rendering, was the area currently occupied by the China pavilion.

After the park opened, plans for a Denmark pavilion faded in favor of building a “Scandinavia” pavilion which would represent several nations in the region. This was, naturally, an issue of money; if a single nation couldn’t underwrite a pavilion, perhaps several could.

In the end, only Norwegian corporations (and the Norwegian government) came through with sponsorship cash, so “Scandinavia” became simply “Norway: Gateway to Scandinavia”. By billing the pavilion as such, it left the door open for future participation by other nations yet let Norway have the spotlight to themselves.

But what of this mystery “Scandinavia” pavilion, sandwiched (Handwiched?) historically between the Denmark and Norway pavilion concepts? Take a look…

EPCOT's Scandinavia, as seen from the promenade


A closer look at EPCOT's Scandinavia pavilion

These undated pieces of art show a pavilion much more similar to today’s Norway than to the original Denmark concepts. They also appear to depict a somewhat larger pavilion, which would make sense considering that it was to represent multiple nations.

In the end, only Norway came to pass, but we live in hope that someday the eleven nations of World Showcase will get some new company.

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14 comments to Neverworlds – EPCOT Center’s Lost Scandinavia Pavilion

  • RO93461

    It’s funny how thematically close it looks to Germany. There is a Tyrolian feel and there is a mix and match look to it. I wonder if it died in part because it’s not that unique or differentiated. Norway has a nice unique look.

    • That’s an interesting point – it is more vaguely Germanic than Norway is. I often wonder how fluid these designs were – it went from Denmark -> Scandinavia -> Norway so it could have been in flux the entire time. This design is far closer to Norway than the things I’ve seen for Denmark, though, which was much more wood-based than stone-based, and had a generally lighter, more pastel appearance. Some of the buildings here are actually echoed in the real Norway pavilion

      What’s interesting is that they were still pushing for Denmark even after Norway opened, so there would have been two pavilions from this region. Guess that LEGO money was really talking…

  • Hoot Gibson

    I liked that building. It was an oasis on the clockwise journey around World Showcase. You could get a drink of water, urinate, and change a diaper before moving on. One time I was sitting on the crapper there and the air conditioning was turned way down. I fell into a dreamlike state only to find my legs had fallen asleep! Good times.

    • This is the kind of texture you simply can’t find in conventional trip planning guides. You should write a book…

      Ironic, though, since the Norway bathrooms are now definitely behind the times! Not as nasty as the ones in Morocco, though…

      There needs to be an app for this.

  • Hoot Gibson

    I think I will, Micheal:)

  • Aloha Michael,

    I worked on the Denmark Pavilion in 1994 when LEGO was in-the-running on a sponsorship deal. I wish I saved some renderings of it. It was really well done!

    • Wow! Aloha to you!

      That’s very exciting – I wish you’d saved some renderings too :)

      Can you share any more information about the pavilion? The 1994 version is one about which little info is known. It’s so intriguing because Eisner was so up-front about announcing it (at the shareholder meeting!) but then it just kind of vanished…

  • At that time it was invisioned to have a show building that LEGO would design and fill, a gift shop, and a pastry shop. I remember an idea that was floating around was a lego version of Tivoli Gardens. After doing some conceptual schedules on it I was re-assigned to Spaceship Earth re-do. Thats all I really remember!

    • Thanks for the info! If you recall, was the Tivoli gardens a boat ride at that point? I always wondered what the extent of the LEGO-ization would be… what would be traditional World Showcase structures, and what would be LEGO-made.

  • Cant say one way or another about a ride or even if it was a walk-thru. The schedule I did was used in negotiations about proposed opening dates.

  • [...] Progress City, USA discusses the never-built Scandanavia pavilion. [...]

  • The scale model of the DENMARK PAVILLION was shown in the traveling “Architecture of Reassurance” WDI exhibit back in the late 1990’s. It did feature a outdoor boat ride and the entry arch to the attraction was very similar to Tivoli Gardens. In the model you could not tell what the miniature guests were seeing, but description plaques said they would see “miniature world landmarks” similar to what Walt Disney had originally planned for the first version of Disneyland’s Storybook Canal (Canals of the World). It would make sense that the miniatures would be of Lego.

  • Joe

    Who needs a Scandinavia pavilion when there’s Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch town in the middle of rural Japan that’s bigger than any Disney park!

    http://english.huistenbosch.co.jp/

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