Next up in our details tour is a personal favorite of mine, EPCOT! (If you missed it, you can find the hidden details of Magic Kingdom here.)
EPCOT is about three times the size of Magic Kingdom, coming in at about 300 acres. The Imagineers had to use different creative muscles figuring out how to put this park together. Not only was the sheer size something new, but there were more cultures to consider (plus ALCOHOL!). With each country in the World Showcase came conversations with governments around the world.
Take a stroll around EPCOT with me as I point out a few of my favorite hidden details!
Original concepts for EPCOT on People mover
Before we get to the physical park of how we know EPCOT today, let’s talk about how EPCOT has a piece inside Magic Kingdom park. The Transit Authority PeopleMover showcases a model of Progress City. This model was built by Walt Disney himself and originated at Disneyland Park. It gave Guests an idea of the Progress City Walt dreamed up. What we see now is only one-third of the original model!
The First Hidden Mickey!
Did you know Hidden Mickeys started at EPCOT? When EPCOT Center was first being built, the Disney Company had decided they would not include any Disney characters. Can you imagine? No Mickey Mouse, Belle, or Snow White? The Imagineers took it upon themselves to include hidden Disney characters as they were designing the park. The wild popularity these touches had with the Guests caused Disney to include these hidden Mickeys (and other characters) in future projects.
Soarin’ Flight Number
As Patrick takes you through the safety briefing in the pre-show if Soarin’, we learn that our flight number is 5505. This is in honor of the opening date of Soarin’ – May, 5, 2005.
Universe of Energy Meets Guardians of the Galaxy
Loyalists can rest knowing that the new experience that replaced the classic attraction is honored a handful of times. This includes hearing the Universe of Energy theme song twice! The Guardians of the Galaxy are playing a rock version of this theme in the ship. It can be heard in the pre-show, as well as just before the launch!
In October 2014, the Norway we all grew up to know and love changed forever when Maelstrom closed to make way for two Arendelle sisters. The ride physically stayed the same, but it now has an overlay that takes you up to the famous Ice Palace. Just like any ride that has been retired to make room for more current stories, there are a few easter eggs for the Maelstrom stans out there.
Just before you enter the queue for Anna and Elsa’s meet and greet, look for a rock that has a tribute to the Maelstrom boats chiseled into it. Once you go inside the queue, look for a painting of a waterfall and spot a few angry-looking trolls surrounding it!
The Imagineers included a main thoroughfare that they named “Street of Good Fortune.” This was intentionally designed to be more narrow than other walkways, creating a more crowded-feeling experience, authentic to what is experienced in Chinese culture every day.
Rhine River Cruise Ride in Germany
Original renderings of the German pavilion show there was a river cruise attraction planned for this area. It was going to be a festive boat ride called the Rhine River Cruise, focusing on iconic German events and places.
The building for this ride was never built, but the planned entrance can still be found. When this pavilion opened there were wooden doors that would open up to the river cruise, that were later replaced with this mural when the project was scrapped.
Now instead of a Rhine River Cruise in the Germany Pavilion at EPCOT, you can go on a Rhine River Cruise with Adventures by Disney!
Mini Train Village
Have you ever walked through the train village in the German pavilion? They are working toy trains with a few different tracks. Look closely at the decor of this mini village the next time you are there. Depending on the season and the current festival, the decorations of the town change!
The American pavilion features 18th-century architecture, honoring the beginning of the country’s history. This building is five stories tall, simply due to how massive the attraction is. There were no five-story buildings in America at the time, so the Imagineers got creative. They used forced perspective to make the building look like it is only two stories.
The American Adventure is considered to be the “host” building of the World Showcase. It was originally planned to be at the very front of the world showcase to greet Guests as they entered. Because the building needed to be quite large, the team did not want it to block the view of the rest of the World Showcase. Thus it was moved to the back.
Japan Pavilion Statue
Inside the Japan pavilion lies a beautiful Japanese Samurai Sculpture. This was donated to the Disney Company by the Japanese government originally to celebrate the opening of Magic Kingdom Park. When EPCOT Center was being built, the sculpture was moved into the coming Japan pavilion.
This is one of only a few of the countries in the World Showcase that was actually funded by the country it represents. There are beautiful, intricate mosaic designs throughout the pavilion. If you look closely, each mosaic has at least one imperfect tile. This was intentional and religious based, because it is Muslim belief that only Allah can create something perfect.
Playing with forced perspective again, Disney Imagineers created a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower and placed it to make it look like it was far in the distance. In order to not throw off this illusion, they had to get creative with the materials. A special texture was added to the structure so birds are not tempted to land on it, ruining the perspective.
Have you noticed these details before? Keep your eyes out for even more the next time you are at EPCOT! See what else you can find!