31 October 2011

Span the world

A simple dip of our toes into the pavilions that never were reveal brilliantly designed corners of the world not yet broached by World Showcase. While these pavilions would be amazing additions, what about the countries already represented along the promenade? World Showcase covers a lot of ground, both in terms of the actual path guests walk and in the sweeping slice of global life covered by the pavilions. Culture, food, shopping, horticulture, architecture, the list of ideas covered by even the lowliest of pavilions is astounding! So, what could be done to spruce up the pavilions we already have? That is the question of the day!

Roundtable Topic: You cannot add or remove a pavilion. Given those parameters, what single change would you make to a pavilion in World Showcase?
Roundtable Contributors: George Taylor (Imaginerding), Fiona (DF’82), Melissa Loflin (Makin’ Memories), AJ Wolfe (The Disney Food Blog), D.J. Jones (The World of Deej), Andy Jackson (Eating (and Drinking) around the World), and yours truly.
George – Gawsh, Mickey, er, uh, Ryan, this is interesting.

When I think about World Showcase, I ruminate on the Pavilions that have a special appeal. I love the indoor market of Mexico. Morocco is outstanding because you can get lost and truly feel like you are not at EPCOT. The bathrooms in Japan might be the best on property. The UK Pavilion meanders so well. Beyond that, World Showcase is for people who like to eat and shop.

After visiting Walt Disney World for a guys-only weekend, I realized that we spent most of our time in Future World due to the thrill rides. We passed into World Showcase after dark only to sample the beers from different countries.

World Showcase is in need of a thrill ride; something better than Maelstrom. Maybe it is time for a Ratatouille-style coaster in France or a fast-paced ride in Japan or Germany. I would push it to the pavilions on the far side of the lagoon, simply for the foot traffic. If you are forcing me to choose, then I would go with the often-discussed Mt Fuji roller coaster in Japan. I know there have been issues with Kodak being an integral sponsor at Walt Disney World, but this is a much needed addition to World Showcase. Or better yet--what about a ride similar to Toy Story Mania, but instead of breaking plates and popping balloons, you get to shoot Duffy the Bear as he makes his way across the Pacific to America.

Just a thought...

Fiona – As an ex-Cast Member of the UK Pavilion, my major change would be to almost completely overall the Pavilion to truly represent the United Kingdom as a whole. Most guests, when they visit, think it is the England or English Pavilion, which is understandable as all the buildings and facades reflect English building styles much more than British styles. If I couldn’t overhaul the outside of the buildings (as they do have a story behind them), I would introduce an attraction to the sadly lacking Pavilion. I would make a dark ride, which took you through the history of the United Kingdom, looking at the different representative countries. The dark ride would look at the different years, highlighting the Union of the countries that make up the United Kingdom, and finish by taking guests through what is a more modern-day UK. The main purpose of the attraction would be to highlight that this isn’t the English pavilion, which is a major bug-bear to us (who are not part of England) and also to educate exactly what the UK comprises of. In a way, bringing back the Education part of World Showcase which is slowly disappearing.Melissa – This month I found myself thinking with my stomach. Now I know some people will think that the last thing the World Showcase needs is another restaurant. But my stomach and appetite disagree. I love having so many options for dining in the various countries, but it came to me that America is the one pavilion around the World Showcase that does not have a table service restaurant. I think a restaurant that served dishes representative of the varying regional cuisines of our country would be a nice addition to this pavilion. While many visitors are from the host country, they aren’t from the same regions within America, and visitors from other countries would be able to get a taste of all that our country has to offer. The interior of the restaurant could be broken into the regions included on the menu and decorated to match. Regions could include New England with its shellfish, the South with its variety of barbecue, the Midwest being the “breadbasket of America”, the West with its wild game and wine country, the Pacific with authentic Hawaiian cuisine; the options could be endless! Diners could take a tour across America with one meal in the pavilion. After all, that is what the World Showcase is all about; taking guests into all of the countries and giving them a full experience of the culture within.

AJ – My answer to this is simple; it's something I've been wanting to see happen for a long time: more canals in Italy! How great would it be to have a series of canals winding through the pavilion with little bridges spanning the mini-rivers the way they do in Venice? I get that there IS a canal in front of Italy, but very few people notice it's there since it's on the other side of the World Showcase Promenade from the rest of Italy's offerings. And this canal is representative only; it's not very long, and it doesn't actually GO anywhere.

So, create some gorgeous little canals throughout the Italy pavilion, let guests take a gondola ride or -- better yet -- create a boat ride attraction through the canals. Tuck a few little hideaways and shops -- perhaps an Italian bakery -- into the nooks and crannies around the pavilion. Italy can be more than just a big, useless square! Sigh...wouldn't it be marvelous?Daniel – If I could make one change to an Epcot pavilion, it would be in the United Kingdom. The Rose & Crown Pub is probably my favorite place in all of Walt Disney World, but I'm not exactly a trendsetter here. The place is always packed, which is partially why I love it, but I think Disney is missing a key money making opportunity. Everyone knows that there is a lot more profit in alcohol than there is in food. With that in mind, I think the entire Rose & Crown Restaurant should be gutted and converted strictly into a larger pub. Sure, throw a few tables here and there for those who want some Fish n Chips, but can you imagine how awesome Rose & Crown would be if it were say, three times the size? I can, but only in my dreams....

Andy – So what would I do to improve my Happy Place of World Showcase? What single change would I make to an existing pavilion? Okay, I’m warning you know I’m going to cheat and mention more than one...

If we’re talking a real Blue-Sky change, I’d take one of the originally proposed rides that was to be in the second phase of Epcot’s construction and put one of those in... the ride buildings are in place, so why not? Japan has a huge space that was to house the “Meet the World” attraction (or the bullet train ride... or behind the pavilion the Mt. Fuji roller coaster, or...). But the one I’d actually put in is in Germany: the Rhine River ride.

A boat ride through miniatures of famous locations along the German river would give us an attraction somewhat analogous to the Storybook Land Canal Boats in Disneyland (of which I have vivid memories from my long-past childhood), and with my model-building history I’m particularly fond of miniatures (one of the reasons I’m so fond of the model train layout in Germany).

Okay, that’s one (that probably won’t ever happen)...

For one that actually could happen... and, of course, it involves eating: Let’s fix the food in the American Adventure pavilion...

So what do the selections in the Liberty Inn say about American food? Nothing - and there is nothing there that really draws in any food-thinking person to eat there, other than the “safe” choices of a burger of chicken nuggets for the kids...

How about highlighting American regional fare? Cajun Gumbo or Red Beans and Rice, a New Mexico Green Chili Stew, Chicago-Style Pizza, a Salmon dish from the Pacific Northwest... the options are endless, and there are tons of dishes that would work well in a quick-service type eatery (and they have proven they can do good versions of many of these types of dishes before)... even better vary the offerings by season to highlight the items available throughout the country in different times of the year emphasizing fresh, regional ingredients... traditional holiday foods during the fall/winter months, outdoor grilling favorites highlighted during the summer - you get the idea... it could actually become quick-service-destination-dining... I can dream, can’t I?Ryan – There are so many unrealized attractions that I would love to see added to World Showcase. So many dining options I would love to tack on to the copious amounts of food and beverage already prevalent throughout the promenade. And yet, if given the choice to alter one thing about an existing pavilion, I would not hesitate to focus all of my energy on The American Adventure.

After each viewing of this show I tend to walk out of the theater just slightly taller than I did walking in, and with just a hint of redness around my eyes. Yet, inescapably, I am always just slightly perturbed by the fact that the more than two-hundred and thirty year history of our country cuts off in the 1940s and glosses over the next six decades with a video montage.

If given the chance, I would go back to the original concept which included three hosts. Who would I pick for the host of the 20th Century? Well, the compelling argument is Walt Disney, but I’d go with a slightly different Walt. With news changing as rapidly as any medium in the 1900s, transforming into a 24 hours news cycle, I would be proud for the last century to be recounted by Walter Cronkite.

While there is quite a bit of sadness to cover with the latter half of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, plenty of war and horrifying attacks, there is also a lot admire. Civil rights movement, the space race, and technological advancement are all ideas and moments that deserve their own moment in the spotlight.

There is a lot to be proud of as we look back across our American adventure as a people, and I only wish that more of those moments could find their way onto the stage of The American Adventure.

With so many pavilions that are underutilized, it is amazing that the majority of the Gazette Roundtable chose to focus in on either the United Kingdom or the American Adventure pavilions. With so much ground left to cover, the question is now in your hands, dedicated readers, what single change would you like to see come to life in World Showcase?

1 comment:

Ben in RI said...

Wow, Thank You all for your input that was fun to read. In my opinion I would like to see Africa expanded into a more legitimate section of the world showcase. I know that it is covered very well in Animal Kingdom, but I always find it odd to be walking through the World Showcase looking at all the beauty it offers and then to come upon the one hut of Africa.