Epcot’s World Showcase Vintage Photos

epcot 1982 4 Chareen Stevenson


Although World Showcase has been part of EPCOT Center since that pivotal day when models for two separate parks were pushed together to form what we know today (or at least so the story goes), World Showcase has changed over the years. It has changed a lot less than Future World, and much of what you can see today within World Showcase could also be seen by guests who entered EPCOT Center in 1982. Still, there have been additions and changes over the years.

I think it’s interesting to look at old World Showcase photos to see how much has changed, but at the same time how the fundamental elements have mostly stayed the same. With the exception of Morocco and Norway, which opened in 1984 and 1988, respectively, the rest of the pavilions in World Showcase all existed on EPCOT Center’s opening day.

Since these pavilions are short on actual rides, not much has changed on that front. Mexico’s boat ride El Rio del Tiempo became the Gran Fiesta Tour in 2007, and some of the films have been updated in the countries, but World Showcase has not seen a fundamental paradigm shift like Future World has seen.

For most people, the more interesting aspect of World Showcase’s history is the unbuilt pavilions. Disney has developed a reputation for building incomplete theme parks following EPCOT Center due to the financial strain it put on the Company in the early 1980s (though in fairness, The Walt Disney Company was not nearly as strong then as it is today), and the Disney-MGM Studios, Disney’s California Adventure, Disney’s Animal Kingdom–basically every park except Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea–are all examples of this thinking. But the mentality was around even during EPCOT Center’s construction, as World Showcase opened incomplete, with several countries slated to open shortly following the opening of the park.

There’s a lot about this in Beard’s 240-page book, Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow. There are three versions of this book, two of which are 240 pages. Make sure you get one of those. One was released pre-opening and one was released post-opening, with the only difference being that concept art in the pre-opening version was replaced by photos in the post-opening version. (There’s also a 127 page book from 1982 by a similar name–don’t get this version.) At the time this book was written, it was still believed that these pavilions were coming to the park, so the books spends time discussing them. It’s fascinating and a bit eerie–plans were strong enough at the time that Disney wasn’t concerned about placing them in a book. It’s even more eerie to watch Danny Kaye speak with Alex Haley, author of Roots, about the Equatorial Africa pavilion, which would be opening in “about a year” as they stood over a detailed model of the pavilion at its future site in the video below.

Other pavilions, including Spain and Israel, were also planned, as were attractions for existing World Showcase countries. The most fascinating of these to me is the Rhine River Cruise, which is described in detail in the Beard Epcot book above, and even had its entrance in Germany built! Another interesting one is the Japan Bullet Train Ride, although it sounds like that one might not have made it beyond the Blue Sky stage. For a more comprehensive look at EPCOT Center history, check out The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia

These unbuilt World Showcase countries and attractions are really fascinating to me, especially since it so much of it was greenlit and almost came to fruition. I wonder how much was actually fabricated (was the movie hosted by Alex Haley for the Africa pavilion actually filmed?), but never installed in EPCOT Center. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to have photos of these unbuilt things, so you’ll have to settle for the photos below of things that were built!

As EPCOT Center fans continue to celebrate the park’s 30th Anniversary until October 1, 2013, we will continue to share these vintage reader-submitted EPCOT Center photos from time to time. If you have EPCOT Center photos you’d like to share with our readers, please click here for details on submitting them!

For photographer attribution and other information, hover your cursor over each photo. Also, be sure to check out our photo credits page. If you haven’t caught the other installments in this EPCOT30 tribute series, check them out here

001 - 96 - Julie Zanolla

003 - 96 - Julie Zanolla

07 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

08 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

09 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

10 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

11 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

12 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

13 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

14 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

15 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

16 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

18 WDW Epcot Center - Brian Hubbard

46 a

59

71 Tapestry of Nations Parade

86 - Am Adv - Ben West

86 - Skyleidoscope - Ben West

88 - Norway construction - Ben West

88 - World Showcase bus - Ben West

1982 11 03 DW Norway Scan1672 - Lynne

- Katie Bray

230485_38167237d01889_15942702ed02_n - Kayla Edwards

230485_38167237018d89_1594270202_n - Kayla Edwards

230485_381672370188asd9_1594270202_n - Kayla Edwards

230485_3816723701889_15942702ed02_n - Kayla Edwards

201103100073-L - Heather Harvey

Announcing Norway - Patricia Brown

Au Petit Cafe 2 in 3-87 - Patricia Brown

Au Petit Cafe 10-85 - Patricia Brown

bdisneymagic - WS

bdisneymagic - WS2

bdisneymagic - WS3

Canada Character 3-83 - Patricia Brown

China- Johnny Kunzer

China Promenade - Johnny Kunzer

Chris Gardiner - epcot0001

Disney2000-3

El Rio del Tiempo - Johnny Kunzer

Epcot - American Pavalion - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - China 1- 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - China 2- 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - Germany - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - Italy - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - Japan - 3-24-1985  - Chad Erickson

Epcot - Japan 2 - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - Mexico - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot - UK - 3-24-1985

Epcot - Walking Towards France Chad Erickson

Epcot - Walking Towards Morocco - 3-24-1985 - Chad Erickson

Epcot 2 - Caitlin Corsello

Epcot 3 - Caitlin Corsello

Epcot 4 - Caitlin Corsello

Epcot 5 - Caitlin Corsello

epcot 1982 2 Chareen Stevenson

epcot 1982 4 Chareen Stevenson

epcot 1982 5 Chareen Stevenson

epcot 1982 6 Chareen Stevenson

Epcot 1986

EPCOT 1989_IsaB - Isabelle Boivin

EPCOT 1989_IsaB (1) - Isabelle Boivin

EPCOT 1989_IsaB (2) - Isabelle Boivin

EPCOT 1989_IsaB (5) - Isabelle Boivin

Epcot 2001

Epcot 19820001

Epcot 19820002

Epcot 19820003

Epcot 19820004

Epcot China - 3-24-1985  - Chad Erickson

epcot restroom - Sue Berringer

epcot

Epcot_feb86_03 - Nora Martinez

Epcot_may86_03 - Nora Martinez

Epcot_may86_04 - Nora Martinez

Epcot_may86_05 - Nora Martinez

Epcot2 - Adrienne Spratford

epcot3

epcot7

epcot9

Fife & Drum- Johnny Kunzer

Flamingos in Epcot - Nora Martinez

Flamingos- Johnny Kunzer (2)

Flamingos- Johnny Kunzer

france - Sue Berringer

friendship boat - Sue Berringer

germany - Sue Berringer

Germany- Johnny Kunzer

i-4wBkL2H-L - Heather Harvey

i-G9856x5-L - Heather Harvey

i-KNbpvrR-L - Heather Harvey

Image (48) - Katie Bray

Image (49) - Katie Bray

Image (51) - Katie Bray

Image (60) - Katie Bray

Image (121) - Katie Bray

Image (128) - Katie Bray

Image (132) - Katie Bray

Image (133) - Katie Bray

Image (143) - Katie Bray

Image (144) - Katie Bray

Image (145) - Katie Bray

Image (147) - Katie Bray

image1 - Ben Stitzer

img_0008 - Ron Duphily

img002 -- Sarah Vineyard

i-t3P8rJC-L - Heather Harvey

Italy 1- Johnny Kunzer

Italy 2- Johnny Kunzer

JJ's Archived Disney pics - Jennifer Hyland

Kim Hammons - EP1.1

Kim Hammons - EP10

Kim Hammons - EP96-10

Kim Hammons -EP3

Kim Hammons -EP11

Kim Hammons -EP14

Kim Hammons -EP96-9

Lagoon 2- Johnny Kunzer

Mexican Plaza- Johnny Kunzer

Mexican Temple- Johnny Kunzer

mexico - Sue Berringer

Mexico Characters 3-83 - Patricia Brown

Mickey's Express 10-85 - Patricia Brown

Morgan Ditta - PC210202

Morgan Ditta - PC210217

Moroccan Character 3-83 - Patricia Brown

Morocco under Construction - Patricia Brown

Norway- Johnny Kunzer

Norway under construction - Elizabeth McCoy

Old Epcot Signs - Nora Martinez

Omnibus in UK - Elizabeth McCoy

Open Stage American Adventure - Nora Martinez

Page 9 Amber Johnson

Page 11 Amber Johnson

photo 2 Amy Walker

photo2

scan 27 - Jeff Lipack

scan 28 - Jeff Lipack

scan0004 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0006 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0007 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0008 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0009 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0010 - Michelle DeStefano

scan0252 - Katie Bray

sharonmickey1986 - Sharon Blickensderfer

sharonminniejapan19862 - Sharon Blickensderfer

uk - Sue Berringer

ws1 - Sue Berringer

ws2 - Sue Berringer

Xmas Tree & Bus- Johnny Kunzer

Your Thoughts…

What extinct aspect of World Showcase do you miss most? I know I’d love for the creepy dolls to make a reappearance! Share your thoughts on this post in the comments.

17 Responses to “Epcot’s World Showcase Vintage Photos”
  1. mitch March 8, 2013
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