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From The Model Shop…

EPCOT Center’s Equatorial Africa Pavilion, as seen from World Showcase Lagoon in this Imagineering model

One of the seldom-heralded benefits to the theme park history nerd that the internet provides are the many, many artist portfolios that have appeared online over the years. Disney is notoriously stingy about releasing Imagineering art, especially that of a historical nature, so a nice back-window into the Imagineering process comes when ex-Imagineers are out looking for jobs and post samples of their previous work. Lots of treasures can be found that way.

Recently someone was kind enough to point out the online portfolio of artist Jon Seisa, which includes quite a bit of art, illustration and model work. Of interest to us is the work Seisa showcases from the old WED Enterprises model shop, featuring some fantastic model work for EPCOT Center. You can find a lot more on Seisa’s site, but here are a few highlights.

Another shot of the Equatorial Africa model, this picture shows the treehouse from which guests would look out over a moonlit African watering hole. Via rear projection and dimensional sets, animals would appear to emerge from the jungle to sip at a pool.

This photo of the Equatorial Africa model shows part of the interior courtyard. The structure on the right was meant to be a shop. Through the giant tusks to the left, guests would enter a “sound safari” which would re-create a jungle trek using audio tricks and directional sound.

Here’s a model we’ve seen before; World Showcase circa 1978.

At last – something that did actually get built. This model shows one of many humorous scenes from General Motors’ World of Motion

Finally, here’s another “Lost Epcot” classic. Tony Baxter’s original vision for a “Land” pavilion. This fascinating concept of a series of glass-enclosed biomes containing several attractions was eventually abandoned when Kraft signed on as sponsor and a more food-oriented pavilion was designed.

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6 comments to From The Model Shop…

  • Pete

    Fantastic stuff! I wish the photos had information with them, however.

  • Seve

    I think that after they spend all that money at fantasyland, they need to invest in putting some new into EPCOT, that park is seriously lacking new attraction. I would love to see additional countries, not just expansion on existing ones.

  • Baxter’s early “Land” concepts make me drool. I remember learning about biodomes in in elementary school and wanting so badly to visit such an environment. The Equatorial Africa watering hole effects (from what I’ve read) would have been extremely cool and very unique. This area could have been one of the great World Showcase “hangout” places of all time.

  • Professional Dreamer

    Luckily much of Equatorial Africa’s concept and architecture was transferred to Animal Kingdom except for the Tree House, which still could be. The Tree of Life replaced it as the center Icon. Disney Legend Ward Kimbal’s World of Motion scenes are one of my favorites that did get built. I always wonder about Disney Legend Harper Goff’s Iran Pavillion model that was sent to the Shaw never to return to WED. Heard his kids enjoyed playing with it so much was the reason and of course the Shaw and family soon departed the country after receiving it. It would be great if the model turned out to be one of the pieces of artwork recently shown in the underground bunkers over there housing great artistic treasures. PD

  • Yes, luckily much of these ideas wound up in Animal Kingdom. Including a riff on the “sound safari” tucked away at Raffiki’s Planet Watch. There is a series of small booths with headphones that play an amazing sound show of the rain forest using remarkable spatial stereo techniques. Easily missed but well worth the train ride!

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