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

Epcot

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:

JAPAN

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.

UNITED KINGDOM

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!

MEXICO:

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.

NORTH AFRICA:

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.

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