(NOTE: All photos below are from Walt Disney's EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow, published in 1982 by Harry N. Abrams Inc, NY for Walt Disney Productions)
Let's start with a look at a model for EPCOT Center. Notice the colorful Africa pavilion in the top left of the picture, next to the German pavilion.
For those having trouble getting their bearings with the model, this overhead photograph of the park, while less clear than the model, does label the original park pavilions (though not all were operating on opening day and Africa was never built).
The EPCOT Center book devotes several pages to the Africa pavilion.
Several other pavilions were rumored to be part of World Showcase in the early years of EPCOT Center, including Switzerland, which would have featured an east coast version of Disneyland's Matterhorn roller coaster, the Soviet Union, Israel, Spain, and Venezuela. I'll offer links at the end of the article to some descriptions and concept art of what those pavilions may have looked like. However, in addition to entire pavilions that were not built, there were attractions for some original countries that never made it off the drawing board.
The German pavilion was to have included a Rhine river boat ride (today you can walk through the archway that would have served as the entrance to that attraction, as the exterior of the ride building was built). EPCOT Center is a little short on details about the ride.
Perhaps more interesting is the Japan pavilion, which was to have featured not one, but two different attractions - at show titled Meet the World and a bullet train, as a sort of interactive movie/simulator ride through Japan. EPCOT Center discusses the show and I'll post a link with details about the ride below.
Now that I've given you a taste of what could have been, if you want to read more, then here are a couple online resources that cover the topic of Epcot attractions that could have been built in detail.
- This 2006 article from theme-park journalist Jim Hill features thoroughly-researched descriptions of proposed attractions, including some that were built a little differently than originally envisioned and Disney concept art of these attractions. Among those profiled are the Seas, Space, Life and Health, both Japan attractions, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela - Unrealized Epcot: Rides, shows & entire pavilions that never quite made it off the drawing board
- This article from Yesterland.com, published in 2010 and updated in 2011, shows room for expansion within World Showcase, then includes a 1982 brochure from EPCOT Center introducing the Equatorial Africa, Israel, and Spain pavilions. Concept art from the Venezuela pavilion is also included - Two Myths about World Showcase at Epcot
- Another article from Jim Hill, this one from 2008, focuses on the Russian or Soviet pavilion, including concept art from 1991 - The Russians are coming !! The Russians are coming !! ... to Epcot ?!
As we celebrate Epcot from the past and present, I hope everyone enjoys this look back at what could have been as we look forward to Epcot's future!