Last week I began a discussion about the many wonderful details that can be found above our heads at the Disney parks. I talked about both the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Today I will continue my story with the ceilings and up-high details of Epcot.
Not all ceilings are beautiful or even tolerable. Some are downright ugly. Take for instance this ceiling found in the Image Works section of the Imagination Pavilion.
To be fair, I did use a flash when taking this picture. I wanted to graphically illustrate just how awful some Disney ceilings are. But what makes this “exposed” type of ceiling tolerable is that they are painted completely in black and in most cases, not noticed by the guests. They are like the stagehands in a kabuki performance. Since they are clothed entirely in black, the audience is able to pretend they are not there. The same is true with a black ceiling. It’s easy to ignore.
To see some interesting ceilings, let’s start with Spaceship Earth. Although most of the ceilings I’ll be discussing today are easily missed, this one is used to great advantage and is nearly impossible to disregard. I’m talking about the top of the geosphere which is used as a giant projection screen. When guests reach the apex of this ride, they are treated with a view of their home planet as seen from space. (The second photo is simulated as I have never been able to capture a decent picture of this stunning finale.)
Now let’s move to “The Seas with Nemo and Friends.”
The queue for the clamshell ride is dark – very dark. During a portion of the queue, you’re supposed to be underwater, beneath a pier. If you look up, you can see a small motorboat moored overhead. (Note, I took this picture with a flash so you could see the boat. I was all alone in the queue at that time so my flash did not disturb anyone.)
Before Nemo took over this pavilion, hydrolators transported guests beneath the sea and deposited them in Sea Base Alpha, an underwater research facility. The ceiling in this massive room looks like it could be the top section of a structure designed to hold back the ocean.
The ceiling in The Land Pavilion is more obvious than most. That’s because we enter on the second floor and view the intended decorations at eye level before descending to the first floor.
This next picture was taken shortly after Epcot opened. Notice the colorful mural on the back wall/ceiling. Years later, the mural was painted over and ribbons now grace this area.
In the southwest section of Innoventions, giant skylights illuminate a corridor. And at nearby Club Cool, banners and bangles distract our attention from the utilitarian black ceiling.
Let’s take a walk over to the countries of World Showcase. The Mexico Pavilion has perhaps the most boring of the eleven nation’s ceilings, yet it is the most appropriate. Inside the pyramid, guests find themselves in a plaza cloaked in perpetual nighttime. To achieve this effect, the ceiling here is flat and painted black. Overhead lanterns and accent lighting keep your eyes from dilating and seeing anything other than inky black.
Although the Mexico Pavilion has one of the most boring ceilings, it also has one of the most imaginative. With the use of fiber optics, fireworks are recreated over modern-day Mexico City as you ride “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.”
Most of the ceilings in the Norway Pavilion feature simple timbered construction. But one shop adds a beautiful hand-painted design to the crossbeams.
The China Pavilion is full of interesting ceilings. In the Nine Dragons Restaurant you’ll find ancient designs comingling with modern motifs.
The House of Good Fortune features several ceilings of note.
But perhaps the most celebrated China Pavilion ceiling can be found in its half-scale reproduction of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This work of art amazes even the most blasÃ© of guests.
“African” Outpost offers very little in the way of ceilings. But the one found inside Village Traders provides an interesting view of the underside of a thatched roof.
The Germany Pavilion offers a nice collection of ceilings. Here are just two of the many overhead delights.
The shops and restaurants of the Italy Pavilion sport a nice assortment of ceilings. I especially like the intimacy provided by the brick canopy found in the new Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar.
The most famous of all World Showcase ceilings can be found in the American Adventure. This breathtaking dome provides the perfect acoustics for the Voices of Liberty.
At the Japan Pavilion we see both old and new. At Katsura Grill we have the ancient construction of a thatched roof. Over at Mitsukoshi department store we find modern designs based on ageless traditions.
The Morocco Pavilion has a diverse collection of ceilings. Every building offers a unique overhead experience.
In Marketplace in the Medina, the Imagineers have played a trick on the guests. In what seems to be an open-air bazaar, a close observer will notice that the area is actually enclosed to protect them and merchandise from the elements. Take a look at this ceiling. Rafters, logs, and twigs hide the skylight above. The effect is very convincing.
In Chef’s de France Restaurant located in the France Pavilion, a collection of paintings can be found perched overhead.
Guests exiting the Impressions de France film find themselves in a covered marketplace inspired by the famous Les Halles. This iron and glass structure was designed to protect merchants and shoppers from the elements.
Overhead in the Plume et Palette is a stunning Art Nouveau stained glass ceiling.
I don’t like to promote one World Showcase nation over another. They are all wonderful in their own right. But when it comes to ceilings, I would have to give the prize to the United Kingdom Pavilion. This corner of Epcot has a most diverse and interesting collection of architectural art.
Last, but not least is the Canada Pavilion. As you would expect, the ceilings in the rustic buildings found here sport a roughhewn look. Logs and timbers are the building material du jour.
In the Maple Leaf Mine, mighty timbers hold back massive boulders.
In the Le Cellier Restaurant we find more wooden beams. But this time, they take on a more refined look.
That’s it for the ceilings of Epcot. Check back tomorrow for the ceilings of the Animal Kingdom.