The Walt Disney World theme parks have some of the most devoted and knowledgable fan bases in the world, with books, websites, and Twitter accounts dedicated to seemingly everything one can imagine about them.
However, even with all of that, there are still a litany of Disney secrets hiding in plain sight. Today, we’ll be looking at the hidden secrets of EPCOT.
Spaceship Earth’s Structural Secrets
Spaceship Earth is not only the icon of EPCOT, it’s also one of the most architecturally impressive structures in the world. The 180-foot-high geodesic sphere is one of the largest structures of its type in the world. However, it’s appearance is also a bit of architectural trick: Instead of being one monolithic sphere, the structure is actually two domes built on top of each other and connected by a massive steel box-shaped ring.
Spaceship Earth’s outer shell is covered in 11,324 silver facets, with 954 partial or full flat triangular panels covering its surface. There are 1-inch gaps between the panels, which allow rainwater to flow through them, and drain into a gutter system built into the structure’s six legs, meaning no water pours off the sphere when it rains.
The Massive Living Seas
The pavilion now known as The Seas with Nemo and Friends contains one of the largest aquariums in the world. It holds 5.7 million gallons of saltwater. At the time of its opening it was the largest in the world, and remains 7th on the list nearly 40 years later.
Man on the Moon…
While Mission Space is one of the more… controversial EPCOT attractions to many, it’s undeniable how well the pavilion pays tribute to the history of space exploration. Case in point, the large replica of the moon outside the attraction’s entrance features 26 gold markers on its surface, each representing the location of the manned and unmanned moon landings the U.S. and Soviet Union respectively launched between 1959 and 1979.
Around the World Showcase
Let’s begin our trip around the World Showcase with the only correct place to start: Mexico. The Mexican pavilion holds the distinction of being the only World Showcase pavilion to be located completely inside a show building, allowing it to eternally be a beautiful moonlit night inside. The entire pavilion is housed inside the facade of a 36-foot-tall Pre-Columbian pyramid, modeled after the Aztec Temple of the Feathered Serpent located in the ancient holy city of Teotihuacán – AKA the “City of the Gods” near Mexico City.
The Norway Pavilion is one of the most deceptively detailed in the whole World Showcase, with numerous touches added by Imagineers. These include that one of the first visible buildings had a roof made of sod, which was common in Scandinavian countries.
Norway also has examples of both real Norwegian history and the EPCOT pavilion’s history on display for those who know where to look. The former can be found inside the Stave Church, where one can find a museum of Norwegian artifacts including a 1000-year-old sword. The latter can be found on a series of Imagineer-created rune-stones that depict scenes from the dearly departed Maelstrom attraction.
EPCOT’s China Pavilion is separated from the World Showcase promenade by a massive ceremonial gate based on the real Yunhui Yuyu Archway (loosely translated to Glowing Clouds and Holy Land Archway) at Beijing’s vaunted Summer Palace and gardens.
EPCOT’s Germany Pavilion’s best-kept secrets are little things, sometimes literally. The first is the large model train set-up next to the entrance. While most guests have likely seen this, there are many small hidden details in the sprawling model for those who take the time to closely examine it, including festive holiday decorations on the miniature buildings at the appropriate times of year.
When venturing into the pavilion, guests can find numerous little secrets hidden in the shops. These include luxury Steiff plushes on sale, and the pickle tree. What is the pickle tree you ask? Well, there’s allegedly a tradition in German culture (some claim this is more an American invention) that says that a pickle hung on one’s Christmas Tree will bring luck. So, the Christmas shop in EPCOT’s Germany features a tree decorated with nothing but pickle ornaments.
While these little secrets are certainly worth finding, the biggest hidden secret of the German Pavilion is what’s not there. As we’ve discussed in the past, the pavilion was originally scheduled to contain a dark ride, a river cruise down the Rhine that was described in the 1976 Disney Annual Report as “… a cruise down Germany’s most famous rivers — the Rhine, the Tauber, the Ruhr, and the Isar. Detailed miniatures of famous landmarks will also be seen, including one of the Cologne Cathedral.” In fact, the attraction was scheduled for inclusion for so long that a show building and its entrance were constructed before it was scratched, and both lay dormant to this day.
EPCOT’s Italian Pavilion features elements of several of the country’s grand cities folded into its design. The overall design is reminiscent of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, complete with the massive entrance columns, one topped with a winged lion and the other with St. Theodore, both important symbols in Venetian history. However, the pavilion’s massive Neptune Fountain is meant to evoke the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
Even Italy’s restaurant features references to Italian Landmarks, with the Via Napoli pizza ovens named Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvio, each after one of Italy’s well-known volcanoes.
The American Adventure
The massive show building at the heart of The American Adventure – and at the center of the entire World Showcase – is actually 5 stories tall. However though the magic of forced perspective, it’s disguised as being just 3 stories tall, so as not to overwhelm guests and the other pavilions.
As guests approach EPCOT’s Japan pavilion, they’re greeted by two massive architectural structures, each of which is symbolically important. The massive pagoda at the front of the pavilion features five stories, which represent the five elements many Buddhists believe make up the building blocks of all life: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Sky. Just across the promenade from the pagoda, a red Torri gate sits in the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon. These structures are common in both the religions of Shinto and Buddhism.
A less spiritual, but equally fascinating to explore hidden gem of the Japan Pavilion can be in the Mitsukoshi Department Store. First off, the store itself is the only of its brand in the United States, and carries a litany of Japanese products and pop culture souvenirs unavailable anywhere else on this side of the world. Furthermore, located within is the popular and recently returned pick-a-pearl ceremony, which allows guests to pay a small fee to choose a clam which in-turn may feature a pearl of varying size. The store is also connected to the Bijutsu-Kan Gallery, which features a museum exhibition dedicated to kawaii culture and merchandise.
Due to its lack of attraction or well-known restaurant, the Morocco Pavilion tends to be ignored by some EPCOT guests, which is a shame as it’s full of tiny hidden treasures. For example, there are numerous beautiful mosaics, each of which features a cracked or flawed tile on purpose, as only Allah could create perfection. Why was this element of Moroccan culture so closely adhered to? Because the whole pavilion was paid by the Moroccan government, who sent a team of designers to oversee its construction.
There’s allegedly a much larger hidden secret to the Moroccan World Showcase pavilion. According to some sources, the backside of Hollywood Studios’ Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction, which is visible behind the Morocco Pavilian in the distance, is painted and ornamented to blend with the pavilion.
For starters, the most visible and recognizable hidden secret of the France Pavilion ties into its version of the Eiffel Tower, which only stands 1/10th the size of the original.
World Showcase’s France Pavilion features numerous secrets and Easter eggs tied to the recently opened Remi’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction. These include manhole covers, iron railings, park benches, and a fountain adorned with rats, and wine bottles adorned with the dates 2007 (the release of the original film) and 2014 and 2021 (the opening dates of the Walt Disney Studios Paris and EPCOT versions of the attraction, respectively).
Beyond its newest attraction, the France Pavilion also holds the distinction of being the only area of World Showcase open prior to its posted 11:00 a.m. opening time, thanks to Les Halles serving breakfast.
The first UK Easter egg can be found when traveling from France to the United Kingdom, when guests cross over a bridge meant to represent crossing the English Channel between the two countries in real life.
Further into the pavilion, you will find the Rose & Crown Pub, whose name stems from a survey of the British Isles which found that the most common words used in pub names across the region were “rose” and “crown.”
The Canada Pavilion’s biggest hidden secrets are behind two of its most recognizable landmarks. The large totem pole located at the pavilion’s entrance was carved by a renowned Tsimshian Indian carver, David Boxley. Its three stories feature the story of a Raven tricking the Chief of the Skies to release the sun, moon, and stars.
Canada’s massive waterfall contains its own hidden, yet much less secret meaning. It exists to hide the appearance and noise of a huge generator situated directly behind it.
Hidden Secrets of Magic Kingdom
Want to Learn More About EPCOT’s MASSIVE Transformation? We Can Help!
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- Learn About the NEW Areas Coming to EPCOT’s World Celebration
- Get a Look at the New Walt Disney Statue Coming to EPCOT
- FIRST LOOK at the NEW Fireworks Show Coming to EPCOT
- Details Shared About a NEW Character Meet-and-Greet Spot Coming to EPCOT
- A Figment Meet-and-Greet Has Been Announced for EPCOT
- EVERYTHING You Need to Know About the BIG Changes Coming to EPCOT
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Which of these hidden EPCOT secrets was most surmising to you? Let us know in the comments below.
One Reply to “Hidden Secrets of EPCOT”
Currently there is not a separate opening time. All areas of the oak open at the sane time