Think you know all about Disney World Epcot. We’re digging into the little-known facts, hidden secrets in otherwise weird history behind this Disney World part.
Disney World Epcot has a pretty storied history. But I bet there are some current things you didn’t know about the parkas. Well, we’re diving deep to bring you facts from the past and the future of this park. Along with some little-known activities. That you should take advantage of next time you’re in the park.
Ray Bradbury helped design spaceship earth
First up a little history for you. Did you know that Ray Bradbury helped design spaceship earth? Yep, Ray Bradbury author of Fahrenheit 451 helped design the geodesic sphere. That would house spaceship earth and he helped to write the original narration of the attraction.
Bradbury met and became friends with Walt Disney in the 1960s and both men made contributions to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. With library writing, an 18-minute script was counting the history of America for the U.S. Pavilion. When the Walt Disney Company was designing Disney World Epcot Bradbury was hired to develop a framework for the theme of the ride. His first draft overview of the history of communication topped 14 pages.
Stay dry under Spaceship Earth in the rain!
Speaking of spaceship earth? Did you know you stayed dry under spaceship earth in the rain? Here’s why? Spaceship earth had a lot of careful design go into its massive structure. The main pillars holding up spaceship earth are driven around 160 feet into the ground. This holds up the ride system as well as both halves of the sphere. Built into that sphere is a hidden drainage system.
So, under each of spaceship Earth’s eleven thousand three hundred and twenty-four shiny metal panels as a system of trenches and gutters. That funnel rainwater under the panel’s preventing drips on gaps below. The rainwater is channeled underground from spaceship earth back to the World Showcase lagoon. Next time it rains try standing under spaceship earth and check out this cool architectural feat in action.
One of the England pub bartenders used to wrestle gators
Now we’re going to head over to the world’s showcase. Because I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite cast members in all of Disney World Epcot. Did you know that one of the English Pub bartenders used to wrestle Gators? Yep, Carl, the bartender has been an iconic part of rose and crown pub for decades. But when he first came to the U.S., he was a gator wrestler. Want to see for yourself?
Head over to the pub when Carl is working and you may just be able to show you a few photos of himself as a youngster doing his best Crocodile Dundee impressions. And don’t forget to have him show you his dime trick. It’s super fun and you’ll never figure out how it works. He actually can balance a pint of Guinness on a dime. It’s unbelievable.
Disney World Epcot Guinness World Records!
Speaking of Guinness. The land in Epcot holds a few Guinness World Records. Some of that food grown in the land has been in the record books. From May 2005 to April 2006 they set a world record for most tomatoes harvested from one plant. Thirty-two thousand one hundred and ninety-four. They also set the same record with cucumbers for March to July 2006.
They harvested 2563 cucumbers from one plan. Setting the still unbeaten record. 2006 must’ve been a big year for record-breaking plants. Because they also set the record for the largest single cucumber plant. One plant was on a large rectangular trellis and measured 20 by 30 feet.
Plants in each pavilion are specific to that country
At another great surprise what I’ve caught plants and each pavilion are specific to that country. So, if you take a look around the World Showcase. You’ll notice that the plants change in each country to represent more of what you might find there. In New Mexico pavilion you’ll find lots of lush greenery inspired by rainforests. You’ll find a moss-covered roof in Norway. That cast members cliff by the way. You’ll see water lilies in China and Japan has more traditional Japanese gardens and bonsai trees.
Kids activities in Disney World Epcot
Another fun surprise in Disney World Epcot is the world showcase is that there are a whole bunch of kid’s activities. Now I know that Everett has the stereotype of being a park more for grown-ups. But there is plenty for little ones to do. Kid cop fun stops can be found all around World Showcase and allow kids to create some arts and crafts and learn about different cultures.
The SEAS pavilion just got a brand-new scavenger hunt. So, pick it up on the first floor and solve puzzles to collect stickers and DuckTales world showcase adventure will soon be on the way. This is an interactive scavenger hunt. You’ll be able to play right in the play parks app. There’s also scavenger during every festival. Those have an extra cost. But you do get a prize at the end.
The countries are NOT sponsored by the countries they represent
Now the countries and World Showcase are not sponsored by the countries they represent. This is something that a lot of people don’t realize. With one notable exception, the countries and world showcase are sponsored by companies. Walt’s vision for World Showcase was to be more like World’s Fairs.
At the time where countries would be willing to spend the money to build sections representing their countries out of pride for their homelands. This didn’t ever really happen in Epcot though. Companies in many countries came forward to sponsor the original pavilions versus the government themselves.
When the Park first opened in 82 American adventure was sponsored by Coca-Cola and American Express for instance. Japan is and was sponsored by Mitsukoshi incorporated who runs all the restaurants and stores in the pavilion. Mexico was sponsored by San and Hilton. The restaurant inside is the sister to the original San and Hilton in the real Mexico and Montezuma brewery.
A few countries China and Canada, for example, had no sponsors and were built and funded by Disney. Norway wouldn’t exist of a bunch of Norwegian investors and from the pavilion themselves. These eleven investors formed a company called Knorr show that funded the pavilion and received a portion of food and merch sales to recoup their costs.
The Norwegian government provided a small portion of funding as well as a loan to nourish Oh to complete the project. And Morocco was the only country to be fully funded by the country it represented. The Kingdom of Morocco led then by ruler king Hassan ii. Sent Moroccan artists and builders to construct an authentic representation of their country.
Plenty of behind-the-scenes tours
If rides and attractions aren’t enough for you there are plenty of behind-the-scenes tours in Epcot. Behind-the-scenes tours at Disney aren’t all about making your way into the famous utility oars underneath the Magic Kingdom. You can take a look inside the greenhouses at living with the land. Get a look at the history of the future world and learn about Walt’s original vision for the park. Or take a guided tour around the world showcase to learn about the cultures at each of the pavilions.
There’re spots for six more countries
Speaking of those pavilions did you know there are spots for six more countries and World Showcase. So, when World Showcase first opened it had nine countries with room for 10 more. Two countries were added after the opened in 82. Morocco opened in 84. And Norway opened in 88, Norway expanded with the addition of the royal summer house in 2016.
And France expanded with the new edition of Remy’s ratatouille adventure opening this summer. Both of these took up additional country space. There’s space left for six more countries to join World Showcase though. One of these pieces is actually where the refreshment outpost currently lives. This space was originally designed to represent Equatorial Africa. But plans fell through. Spain and Israel were also originally planned for World Showcase and were included in lots of promotional materials for Epcot before it open. Both of these never happened either.
One of the largest aquariums in the world
Now did you know Disney World Epcot has one of the largest aquariums in the world? The aquarium inside the seas Pavilion is also one of the ten largest aquariums in the world. It holds 5.7 million gallons of water and is home to 3,000 fish and other sea creatures.
The tank also features a unique diver lockout chamber. That divers can enter have filled with water from the main tank. Then open into the tank. So that they can swim into the tank in front of guests. And other aquariums divers enter the water from the surface level. This is actually how divers into the water on a submarine.
The greenhouses grow a lot of foods
Now we talked earlier about those giant plants will the greenhouses and Disney World Epcot grow a lot of the food served in Epcot. We’ve mentioned on the channel before that Disney World grows its food. But the amount of food is pretty spectacular. Each year the land pavilion grows nearly 30 tons of fruits and vegetables.
That is served at restaurants around the resort. Just outside the living with the land attraction, you can taste the food grown there in both sunshine seasons and guard and grill. Not only are fruit and vegetables grown and served, but the seafood grown in the attraction is also served.
The Land Mosaic
Another fun surprise about the land the mosaic outside was designed by a German World War 2 interrogator. Now I’m sure you’ve seen that amazing mosaics a hundred and twenty feet long and it’s located on both sides as you enter. This was designed by a former World War 2 Nazi interrogator. He interrogated U.S. Pilots.
Hans sharp came to the US and the ’40s to testify in his trial. And after he was later asked to work for the US teaching him geisha techniques, he picked up the art of mosaics. He was hired along with his daughter-in-law to do the mosaic work inside Cinderella Castle.
A few years later they were called on to do the land mosaic, designed by a Disney animator. It fittingly represents the layers of the earth. Now a problem was when they built the walls, they were three feet too short for the mosaic. Ever looked at the mosaic and wondered why it curves onto the floor. This was a sharp solution to keep the missing three feet of the murals in the finished product.
Another cool secret built into the mosaic
Another cool secret built into the mosaic look between the land sign and the doors on the right-hand side about halfway up. There’s a mysterious lone green tile they’re. Sharp added it but no one was ever able to confirm why? Many theories suggest it was his way of making both sides not the same. A personal signature to the piece. Or even signifying someone’s birthstone. Either way, look for this special tile next time you’re on your way to Sauron.
NASA astronauts approved Mission Space
Now, this little tidbit I love NASA astronauts approved a mission to space. Mission space isn’t just any old space launch simulator. NASA scientists and astronauts had input into the attraction to make sure things were just right. Along with a team of over 650 Imagineers it took nearly five years to develop the attraction. And all of it is approved by actual astronauts.
There’s a nod to Horizons inside Mission Space
Speaking of mission space there’s a nod to its predecessor inside. Horizons occupied the space until 1999 when it was demolished to make way for Mission space. This ride was beloved by many. So Disney found a subtle way to leave a nod to the ride in the new attraction. Look at the large spinning wheel once you enter the key on the right. Look closely at the center of the wheel, that logo it’s the original logo for horizons.
The test track is the fastest ride in any Disney park
Now I loved horizons one of my favorite original rides in Disney World Epcot was a world of motion and test track was its replacement. Did you that test track is the fastest ride in any Disney park? Sure, it doesn’t go upside down or even resembles a traditional coaster. What we’d expect to be the fastest ride? The test track is the fastest ride in a Disney park. It beats out rock and roller coaster which tops out at 57 miles per hour and the Tron coaster at 60 miles per hour. By clocking in at 64 miles per hour.
The original plans for Disney World Epcot included a climate-controlled dome
Now back to some more history the original plans for Disney World Epcot included a climate-controlled dome. Now yes, it is a myth that Disney has a climate-controlled dome over the top and they can control the weather. But Walt did want to have something a lot like that in Epcot originally?
Disney World Epcot, of course, was intended to be a complex for 20,000 people would live and work and it would serve as a blueprint for the most modern urban concepts. It was the experimental prototype community of tomorrow. Now, this included a climate-controlled dome that would cover the center of the city where the main shopping and dining area was. Surprisingly these plans for a dome weren’t in any Epcot artwork or press releases.
But it was often long rumored. Oddly enough it was actor Kurt Russell who confirmed that there was supposed to be a dome over much of the center of Epcot. Walt Disney had a huge affinity for Kurt Russel. Back when Russell was a child actor. He recalled meeting with Mr. Disney and Walt showing him plans for a domed City. He pointed out that would be the center of Disney World Epcot.
He even said they had plans for how they can make it rain inside the dome. So, no Epcot wasn’t going to be entirely encased in a glass dome. And no Disney World doesn’t have a climate-controlled dome that they can roll out when the weather gets bad. But maybe this is where that myth started.
Disney World Created its own government to build the park
Even though they can’t control the weather Disney did accomplish a major feat to build Disney World Epcot. They created their government to build the park. The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created by the state of Florida in 1967. And gave Disney control over services like power, water, sewage, garbage collection, road construction and mate environmental testing and monitoring as well as fire protection and emergency medical services.
All of this was done to reduce the red tape and have more control over the building of a futuristic city like Epcot. Once the original plans for Disney World Epcot were scrapped Disney had to go to court to maintain the rights to uphold the RC ID. They won and still maintain control over their municipality today.
The World Key System
Another super fun surprise that I remember fondly from when I was a kid the world key system at Epcot. These were some of the first touch screens that people ever used. Imagine a world long before advanced dining reservations of World War payphones still exist in same-day reservations were the norm.
That was Epcot in the 80s, my friends. Epcot was all about pioneering technology and shortly after the park opened in 82. It debuted a new way of making dining reservations that world key system.
Think of it like my Disney experience before the internet or cell phones were a real thing. The system was most people’s first experience ever with a touchscreen. This was a Bay of computer screens that let users walk up and with a few touches of their fingers. They could learn about the attractions and pavilions at Epcot as well as make there seemed a dining reservation.
Guests could even opt to have a video chat on the spot with a guest relations cast member. I remember this so clearly it was so weird to think that that person could see me and talk with me. And those cast members could help answer questions or both dining for the guests. There’s a fantastic promotional video on the internet featuring William Shatner showing off how to use the system. So definitely check it out.
Costume Exhibit in France
Did you know there’s an incredible costume exhibit right now in Epcot France? Many countries around the World Showcase have small galleries. Highlighting unique things from that culture. Japan has the kawaii exhibit, Norway has an exhibit in the stave church on Norse gods.
The newest exhibit is in France. Bree finds costumes from Disney films and theater productions. The exhibit highlights French storytelling on and off-screen. And you’ll find costumes and props from the live-action Beauty and the Beast. So, if that’s one of your favorites go check that out.
There was going to be West Coast version
Did you know there was once going to be a West Coast version of Epcot? Makes sense, right? In the 90s there were a lot of Disney projects that never quite came to be. One of those was Westcott. This replica of Epcot was intended to include an even larger geodesic dome. The project got Nicks and differences with California Adventure instead.
The Eiffel Tower in France
They’re going back to France. This little surprise takes into account. One of Disney’s most famous Imagineering tricks forced perspective. So, take a look at the back of the France pavilion. And you’ll spot Latour I fell well sort of. This Eiffel Tower is a scale version inaccessible by guests.
The model uses forced perspective to trick your eye into thinking it’s much bigger than it is. Disney’s Eiffel is only a hundred and three feet tall where is the real one in Paris stands 1063 feet tall. In reality, if a bird landed on the top of the Eiffel Tower it would throw the scale off completely making the bird look giant.
To combat this Disney sprays natural bird deterrents on the Eiffel Tower to keep birds from perching on it during the day. So, if you ever do see a bird on the Eiffel Tower take a picture and send it to us. We’d love to see it.
Dine at a super high-end restaurant
Heading over to Epcot Japan we can’t ever pass up the opportunity to share about an amazing restaurant. Did you know that you can dine at a super high-end restaurant in Epcot? Now, of course, there are classic fancy favorites like with cell EI and monster Paul. But there’s now a restaurant that requires nearly four hours of your theme park time.
Takumi J opened in the Japan pavilion last summer and it’s one of two EPCOT restaurants to require business casual attire. This restaurant serves up fine Japanese cuisine and the Mikasa menu. That comes in at $130 per person. This is serious business you guys if you want to dine here it’s going to take up half your Epcot date. So be prepared and know that you’re in for an amazing experience.
The miniature train in Germany
This surprise is also one of my favorites. The miniature train in Germany was created for a festival. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the adorable mini train in the Germany pavilion, make sure you make time to do it on your next visit.
This Train Set features an entire mini-village that gets decorated for different holidays and festivals. And it was brought to the park as part of the very first Epcot Food and Wine Festival back in 1995.
Speaking of Germany, we love that there is a wine walk in Epcot. This is a fun activity that not a lot of people know about. And most people are surprised when we mention it. Of course, wine walk is $32 and you get a refillable glass and two six-ounce pours of wine at three locations around World Showcase Italy, Germany and France. You’ll get a little passport that gets stamped as you complete the tour and you can even complete it on different days. So, it’s okay if you don’t do it all in one day. Just don’t forget your passport.
Disney’s first revers launch coaster
Also, don’t forget this surprising fact Disney’s first reverse launch coaster. Is now being built guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind. Will open in 2021 in what will become known as world discovery. And it’s going to be Disney’s first reverse launch coaster. The coaster is using new tech that allows each coaster car to pivot 360 degrees. So, riders can see the action happening all around them and of course, those aren’t the only surprises we’re going to have on guardians of the galaxy cosmic rewind stay tuned.
Finally, don’t forget this surprising thing about Epcot it’s massive. Now animal kingdom might be the biggest Disney theme park in terms of space. Most of that’s reserved for the animals of course. But Epcot is huge in terms of guest space. World Showcase promenade stretches 1.2 miles and World Showcase Lagoon spans 40 acres. The entire park comprises 300 acres nearly double the next largest art Hollywood studios. You could comfortably fit all of Disney Land both California Adventure and the Disneyland Magic Kingdom into the space Epcot takes up.