I LOVE hearing about the original EPCOT ideas. One well known plan that never came to be in the World Showcase is the African Nations AKA “Equatorial Africa” pavilion. This was to feature a “tree house in which visitors will overlook a jungle water hole in a simulated nighttime environment” and was fairly fall along in its plans for development.
Instead we got the African Outpost between China and Germany where kids bang on drums, get their faces painted and where you can buy an assortment of coca cola beverages. You can also re-visit the argument about whether or not your kid REALLY needs that Indiana Jones hat here too.
Reasons why this was never built range from dirty apartheid money from South Africa to EPCOT running out of money in a crappy economy and needing to invest in guaranteed crowd pleasers. We do have Africa to explore in Animal Kingdom but it doesn’t fill that hole in the World Showcase.
There are other countries that never came to be but what I don’t usually hear about are the original plans for Future World. This week Jim Hill shows us the original plans from the Disney 1977 Annual Report and I found The Land to be the most interesting. The Land of course is home to the legendary Living with the Land (formally Listen to the Land ’82-’93) along with the Behind the Seeds Tour. In addition its housed the following:
- Kitchen Kabaret ’82-’94
- Food Rocks ’94-’04
- Soarin’ 2005
- Symbiosis and The Circle of Life (movies that I have never watched)
Its sponsors have included Kraft ’82-’93, Nestle ’93-’09, and now Chiquita (at least for the Living with the Land portion).
What WED had originally wanted to do with “The Land” was construct this pavilion which was made up of seven massive crystalline structures. And each of these giant crystal-like chambers was to have housed a different habitat from the Earth. We’re talking snow-covered peaks, the burning desert, even the lush greenery of the rainforest.
This would have been an incredible undertaking but what a concept! It would have involved a balloon ride that follows the seasons and water flow (so THAT’S why they had all those balloons in there!). The original concept of the Land Pavilion would “graphically illustrate man’s role as the ‘protector’ of this finite resource, as well as his alternatives and choices in maintaining, and even enhancing, the delicate balance within the natural environment”.
This is similar to what was mentioned in the 1982 book EPCOT Center, Creating the New World of Tomorrow where it states “The story of the land and its potential partnership with man comes closest to the philosophy, purpose, and image of EPCOT .” Instead of a balloon ride in a crystalline structure we got a boat rode that ventures into the various climates of the world – rain, forest, desert, and prairie. Today when you go to the official EPCOT Land Website it simply says “Explore how we use the land, and what we can do to preserve it.” Not nearly as inspiring and for many its just the ramp you go up to get to Soarin’. I hope this doesn’t mean that once again Animal Kingdom will get all the glory in the “preserve our Earth” message via Avatarland. At the very least in Avatarland guests won’t be learning about sustainable agriculture…or maybe they will!