16 October 2015

Dining in the Kasbah

Plans for a Morocco pavilion predate the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982. While the pavilion wouldn’t be open to guests until September of 1984, it would still have a presence within the park. The restrooms of the Morocco pavilion were there to welcome guests on opening day, a welcome outpost between the bathrooms of The American Adventure and the United Kingdom. As nice as they are, we’re not here today to admire the pavilion’s waterworks, but they are the stepping stone to what would become one of the most authentic pavilions in World Showcase.

Dining was always going to be a central draw of the pavilion dedicated to Morocco. In its earliest incarnation, the main dining would have been a unique offering, with guests being whisked away to a kasbah in the middle of the desert.

The detailed archways, gorgeous lamps, and tile patterns didn’t vary much from this representation, but there are a quite a number of differences. The geometric patterns of the dining circles change how the room flows from what would come to be known as Restaurant Marrakesh. This arrangement, however, does allow for all guests to have a better vantage point for the dinner show. The backless cushion chairs also help with that I imagine. However, I’m sure someone with an eye towards safety insisted that the chairs be given backs, regardless of how much authenticity these chairs would lend to the ambiance.

Moving back to the dinner show, take note of the background. Is that a mural being utilized as a backdrop or video? Either way, it is certainly being utilized to supplement the dancing, storytelling, conveyance of history and culture taking place in the foreground of the performance.

Morocco has always been a rarity in World Showcase. From the national funding to the maalems who ensured the pavilion’s genuineness, the care taken in how the pavilion is presented during IllumiNations, and right on down to the plants and dishes served, Morocco has always found a way to reward those willing to give it a second, third, and fourth look. Even in its conceptual days, it is still inspiring.

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