Epcot: A World Fair

22 03 2008

Epcot’s other major area is the World Showcase, which is comprised of 11 country-specific pavilions surrounding a lagoon. Each pavilion contains representative stores and restaurants from that specific country and is staffed by citizens from that country. The countries in the World Showcase include Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

View of Japan Pavilion


There are just two rides in the World Showcase, the Three Caballeros ride through Mexico and the Viking ride in Norway. One other notable fact about Epcot is that, unlike the Magic Kingdom, Epcot serves representative alcohol from the different countries. Another coworker I know actually has a bar hopping night tradition with friends through Epcot every other year.

Epcot - Germany

The Germany pavilion has beer.

Food Stand at Epcot

Only at Epcot are the food stands so meticulously pretty.

There is also a crepe stand by the French pavilion area. Sorry I don’t have a picture.

What makes the World Showcase particularly interesting to me is its similarities to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 (aka the World Columbian Exposition), one of Walt’s inspirations for Disney World. Walt’s father was a builder for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. While I’m no expert on the subject, I don’t think it’s a stretch to draw comparisons between Epcot and the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893.

As a Chicagoan and University of Chicago alumna, I have always had a fascination with the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893. This event had such a significant impact on Chicago and the United States that its effects can still be felt today. Not only did this fair introduce the world to the Ferris Wheel, but it also marked the beginning of several household names and ideas, including Aunt Jemina pancake mix, Cracker Jack, Cream of Wheat, Quaker Oats, Elongated Coins, Juicy Fruit gum, and Shredded Wheat. Today, the Museum of Science and Industry is the only physical reminder of the famous “White City” on the Midway.

The website for the World Columbian Exposition Project has a nice overview of the event with photos and context.

Chicago World's Fair

Chicago World's Fair

Note: All photographs of the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893 from Shepp’s World’s Fair Photographed, Chicago and Philadelphia, 1893, Glimpses of the World’s Fair Through a Camera, Chicago, 1893 and Google Images. Source: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/1893fair.html and Wikipedia Images.

Side by Side Comparisons of Epcot versus the Chicago World’s Fair:


Chicago World's Fair - Japan

Above: The Japanese pavilion at Jackson Park, Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Epcot - Japan

Above: Japan pavilion from Epcot theme park in 2008.


Chicago World's Fair - UK

Above: The Great Britain pavilion at Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Epcot - UK

Above: United Kingdom pavilion from Epcot theme park in 2008.

Epcot - Mary Poppins

Above: An English garden at Epcot. It’s not Disney without your favorite characters Poppin’ up!


Chicago World's Fair - Aztec

Above: Aztec Temple in the Ethnography section of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Epcot - Mexico

Above: The Aztec temple at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Photo by Benjamin D. Esham. Image is released under the Creative Commons cc-by-sa-3.0 license.


Chicago World's Fair - Midway Plaisance

Above: The Moorish Palace on the Midway Plaisance at Chicago World’s Fair 1893.

Epcot - Morocco

Above: The Morocco pavilion at Epcot in 2008.

Although there are obvious differences between Epcot and the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, I like to think that this is the closest you can get to experiencing the concept of the 1893 World’s Fair in today’s world.




10 responses

23 03 2008
Benjamin Esham

Hi Sandy! I’m glad you found my image useful. I’d appreciate it if you could provide a link to the original image page and a note that the image is released under the Creative Commons cc-by-sa-3.0 license. Thanks!

23 03 2008

Hi Benjamin! Thanks for posting and for the use of the image. I hope I did the citation correctly. I’m still pretty new at all of this!

23 03 2008

that’s so cool! i love the comparisons! 😀

1 10 2008
Lisa Cassettari

Hi Sandy,
My friend purchased a bar in Mass. On one level, there is the most beautiful bar; hand carved with gorgeous marble and mirror detail. The bar came from the 1893 Chicago World Fair. The original owner died fifteen years ago in her eighties……
There is a rumor that Walt Disney himself made quite generous offer in the 70’s to buy it, but she refused. Any idea on how I might be able to get more info on the bar and in what building it may have been housed?

12 10 2008

Hi Lisa,

I do not know where the bar may have been housed, but I would start with the library. They might have some books that show photos of the Chicago World’s Fair. Sounds like a beautiful bar though!

– Sandy

10 05 2009

I finally found your site because I am reading a realy good book about the forming of Chicago world fair.
so I am not within your “group” I was just looking for pictures

6 03 2010

I love this website! Thank you so much… It has helped me so much in my project! I am doing the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and you have just helped me thank you

8 08 2010

Wow ! Thanks for posting and for the use of the images I feel like I have been there.

8 08 2010

Being in the building business ,it just make me think how wonderful disney is to build such beautiful building from other parts of the world in there parks.

8 08 2010

Beautiful photos. Thanks for your post. Need somone to carry your bags for the next trip? I’m ready… LOL

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