When Epcot opened in 1982, there were 9 pavilions in the World Showcase. These pavilions included Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. The Norway pavilion opened in 1984, and Morocco opened in 1988. However, on opening day Disney announced a plan for a “Phase II” of the World Showcase that would add five new pavilions.
Walt Disney World officials issued on November 10, 1981 saying:
… Venezuela has become the fifth South American country to join the community of nations in WDW Epcot Center with the signing of a Contract for Design of a Venezuelan pavilion for Phase II of the World Showcase.
The World Showcase is part of Epcot Center, a showplace for today’s nations and tomorrow’s technology. Epcot Center will open October 1, 1982 and will cost $800 million. Gustavo J. Vollmer, Chairman of Consorio Inversionista Mercantil J Agricola (CIMA) in Caracas and Card Walker, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive of Walt Disney Productions signed the preliminary participation agreement at Walt Disney World.
The Venezuelan pavilion joins a number of countries and areas of the world scheduled for addition to the eight inaugural World Showcase nations. They include: Mexico, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. Venezuela, the State of Israel and Equatorial Africa are among the Phase II pavilions planned.
Another press release from December of the same year said:
Spain (has joined) the growing list of countries in the community of nations at Epcot Center with the signing of a contract for the design of a Spain pavilion for Phase II of World Showcase. Spain joins Venezuela, the State of Israel, and Equatorial Africa in the Phase II development of World Showcase.
Disney began to advertise the new pavilions with signage around the park.
The Equatorial Africa pavilion would have embodied various cultures from African Countries. There would have been a huge, 60-foot treehouse where guests would be able to climb up and look down to a projected image of animals gathering at a waterhole at dusk. A live show featuring African musicians and dancers would have been hosted in an outdoor amphitheater. A show title “Heartbeat of Africa” would offer insights into the continent’s culture. When this pavilion was not built, many of the ideas were taken to the Africa land in Animal Kingdom.
The pavilion was intended to be located between China and Germany. However, this pavilion was never built. In its place opened the African Outpost. This was intended to be a temporary pavilion to give guests a “reminder” that the area was in the works, and to fill the gap between China and Germany.
Money was one of the reasons this pavilion wasn’t built. Many of the nations that were to be involved could not invest the capital into the pavilion. Additionally, there were high tensions about which country was to be the main highlight of the pavilion. Eventually Disney found a sponsor in South Africa, however with political issues in the country they decided not to accept the sponsorship.
Israel was another intended pavilion advertised on opening day. The ruins of an ancient minaret would have served as an information center at the entrance A central courtyard would have featured groups of market-style shops. Buildings surrounding the courtyard would have had a balance between old and new. An amphitheater would have had performances with classical and folk music.
In November 1980, the State of Israel actually signed a deal to officially become part of Epcot. Joseph Wollf, special officer to the Minister of Finance and president of the Tourist Industry Development Corporation signed an agreement that called for this Middle Eastern country to underwrite the design & construction of a World Showcase pavilion that was estimated to cost $30 – $35 million. The Israel Pavilion plans fell through in the mid 80s. Reportedly, many senior Disney Company officials believe that including Israel as part of Epcot would then turn this theme park into a possible target for terrorism or a potential protest focal point.
The Spain pavilion was highly anticipated for the Showcase. Many of the major European powers like France, Italy, and the UK already had pavilions, so Spain was an obvious addition. The country would have featured a journey through the countryside featuring the little-known Eden. There also would have been an additional attraction as well as shopping and dining experiences. The market place would have featured both the new and old of Spain. The pavilion was never built because Disney was not able to find a sponsor.
Efforts to sign on Spain has been tougher. When Baker went to Spain for the first time in 1981, he succeeded in getting the government to pay for the design of that country’s pavilion. (He declined to reveal the design costs of individual pavilions, but he said on average cost about $500,000.) But a new, young government took over in Spain. “When we came back to talk, we realized that we had no friends,” Baker said. “So consequently, we had to start over.”
Millennium Village was a celebration of the year 2000. The Millennium Village was located in the World Showplace. It included exhibits from a variety of countries that were considered for pavilion, but later fell through. The countries included Brazil, Chile, Easter Islands, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and Sweden.
World Showcase today
Today there is room in the World Showcase for 6 new pavilions. Previously, there were more spots but the expansion of the Norway Pavilion and the addition of the Ratatouille attraction used up two of the spaces.
- Spot 1 and 2 are currently occupied by the African Outpost.
- Spot 3 has a German train display.
- Spot 4 typically has various festival booths depending on the season.
- Spot 5 and 6 are occupied by the World Showplace which holds a variety of special events, including the Run Disney celebrations .