It’s Over My Head – Part Three – Epcot

Jack Spence Masthead

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.

Imagination Pavilion

Ugly Ceiling

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.)

Spaceship Earth

Space Finale

Now let’s move to “The Seas with Nemo and Friends.”

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.)

Overhead Rowboat

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.

Seabase Alpha

Seabase Alpha

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.

Land Pavilion

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.

Land Pavilion

Land Pavilion

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.

Innoventions Skylight

Club Cool

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.

Mexico Pavilion

Mexico Pavilion Sky

Mexico Pavilion Sky

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.”

Mexico Pavilion Fireworks

Most of the ceilings in the Norway Pavilion feature simple timbered construction. But one shop adds a beautiful hand-painted design to the crossbeams.

Norway Pavilion

Norway Pavilion Ceiling

Norway Pavilion Ceiling

The China Pavilion is full of interesting ceilings. In the Nine Dragons Restaurant you’ll find ancient designs comingling with modern motifs.

China Pavilion

Nine Dragons Ceiling

Nine Dragons Ceiling

The House of Good Fortune features several ceilings of note.

House of Good Fortune Ceiling

House of Good Fortune Ceiling

House of Good Fortune Ceiling

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 blasé of guests.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests Ceiling

“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.

Village Traders

Village Traders Ceiling

The Germany Pavilion offers a nice collection of ceilings. Here are just two of the many overhead delights.

Germany Pavilion

Germany Pavilion Ceiling

Germany Pavilion Ceiling

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.

Italy Pavilion

Italy Pavilion Ceiling

Italy Pavilion Ceiling

Italy Pavilion Ceiling

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.

American Adventure

American Adventure Dome

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.

Japan Pavilion

Japan Pavilion Ceiling

Japan Pavilion Ceiling

The Morocco Pavilion has a diverse collection of ceilings. Every building offers a unique overhead experience.

Morocco Pavilion

Morocco Pavilion Ceiling

Morocco Pavilion Ceiling

Morocco Pavilion Ceiling

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.

Marketplace in the Medina

In Chef’s de France Restaurant located in the France Pavilion, a collection of paintings can be found perched overhead.

France Pavilion

Chef's de France Restaurant

Chef's de France Restaurant

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.

Les Halles

Overhead in the Plume et Palette is a stunning Art Nouveau stained glass ceiling.

Plume et Palette

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.

United Kingdom Pavilion

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

United Kingdom Pavilion Ceiling

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.

Canada Pavilion

Canada Pavilion Ceiling

Canada Pavilion Ceiling

In the Maple Leaf Mine, mighty timbers hold back massive boulders.

Maple Leaf Mine

In the Le Cellier Restaurant we find more wooden beams. But this time, they take on a more refined look.

Le Cellier Restaurant

That’s it for the ceilings of Epcot. Check back tomorrow for the ceilings of the Animal Kingdom.

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9 Replies to “It’s Over My Head – Part Three – Epcot”

  1. Hi I am new to your posts but wanted to write and say thanks! I’m always blown away by the time and care Imagineers put into every detail and so thankful you have taken time to point them out to us!

    Must dash – need to read the rest of your blogs 🙂

    Take care

    Amanda

  2. Hey Jack,

    Epcot is my favorite park (JUST edging out MK) but I never realized how many wonderful details there are! I know you’ve talked about each of the world pavillions before, but I just love reading about the architectual influences and details in the showcase. Anytime you want to blog about them, I’m happy to tune in! Thanks for all you do!

  3. I have a question about the original Seas pavillon. Did the hydrolators actually serve as an elevator to take visitors from one floor to another, or was this just a bit of imagery?

    Jack’s Answer:

    The Hydrolators dropped guests a whopping 3 inches. This small distance was needed to allow the guests the sensation of the floor jiggling and coming to a “dropping” stop when you reached Sea Base Alpha.

  4. Hi Jack!

    Another fantastic job! This series is just one more example as to why I have enjoyed reading your blogs so much. I love learning about all of the interesting details that you have shared about the Disney Parks. My family and I are heading to Disney World in a little over a month and I can’t wait to see some of these details with my own eyes! Thank you for all you do and I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    All the best!
    Stacy Hines

  5. Wonderful continuation of ther series. Very detailed and interesting.

    When you commented on the ugly ceilings I thought for sure you were going to mention Maelstrom in Norway. I’ve seen pictures of a not very nice back ceiling tile scenario in serious need of repair. Did you happen to notice that?

    Looking forward to Animal Kingdom – which, being the newest park and already incredibly detailed, ought to be a real treat.

    Your Friend,

    Dan

  6. Hi Jack,

    I have been eagerly waiting all week for your next installment and have now thoroughly enjoyed reading about my personal favorite park. Most people don’t usually consider Epcot to have as much “detail” as the other parks, but I feel it has just as much as the others.
    And thanks to you this morning I learned something about the Moroccon Pavillion: in all these years strolling around W. Showcase it never once dawned on me that the open-air bazaar was actually enclosed! I always just assumed that they covered the merchandise with tarps when it rained…. A Big “Duhhh!” for me.

    You know, I still haven’t been inside the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar? Without a doubt I must get to see it next time I’m over by Italy.

    Thanks for another great job and I’m eagerly awaiting part 4.
    PS: I just happened to snap some pics this past Wed. of the ceiling on the screened-in porch at Pizzafari. The view there while eating your lunch is eye-opening, to say the least, but I won’t say any more for fear of being a “spoiler” to all the other readers of next weeks installment.

    Take Care,

    Johnny

  7. Wow, EPCOT has some pretty amazing ceilings, especially in World Showcase. Great job getting photos of all the interesting designs in each country. Some of the Future World ones aren’t so exciting, but that doesn’t surprise me in pavilions like Imagination that have gone so far downhill.

  8. hey Jack
    Epcot has some of the best ceilings around when it comes to detail, especially in World Showcase. I especially like the rustic look of the ceilings in the Canadian pavilion. can’t wait for Animal Kingdom tomorrow and as always keep up the great work.

  9. I definitely plan to “look up” the next time I’m at Disney World and appreciate the ceilings a little more. I noticed that you did not address the pavillions in the other side of Future World at Epcot. Any particular reason?

    Jack’s Answer:

    Epcot is the largest of the four WDW parks. This section of my four-part series was already too long so the east side of Future World was omitted. But this lets you discover it for yourself.