A History Nerd’s Dream of Expanding the Epcot’s World Showcase
By Megan Valentine
Everyone loves getting pastries at Les Halles Boulangerie et Patisserie in France, margaritas at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico, or enjoying the exhibitions in the American Heritage Gallery. (Okay, maybe it’s just museum geeks like me, but you can at least enjoy the Voices of Liberty!) But as I’m sure many who cherish EPCOT as their favorite park at Walt Disney World have done, I have spent a possibly unreasonable amount of time thinking up new pavilions for the World Showcase.
Beyond the well known and wonderful countries presented, I, as a history nerd have come up with an expansion idea that tops the others. Rather than just adding countries with current influence on the world, EPCOT should add a section within the World Showcase that ventures into ancient worlds that influenced much of our history. Branching off of the China Pavilion by the African Outpost, there is space for two more pavilions. My proposition is that these pavilions can connect to both the African Outpost and China to create a subgroup within the World Showcase of the ancient world. Imagine walking through the World Showcase and, after looking at much of the contemporary Chinese culture and information, a short passage takes you from modern day China to an additional section of the pavilion featuring its ancient ancestors. From this, you can journey into my two proposed new pavilions: Greece and Egypt.
Imagine journeying back in time to an ancient Greek agora, the Parthenon, or seeing the famed statue of Zeus at Olympia. Disney has the perfect film connection if they desire in Hercules, offering opportunities for attractions connected with the film. Perhaps you could fly on a pegasus or go on a journey that showcases all of the mythical creatures within Greek mythology and the film. The culture, history, and influence of ancient Greece offers a great variety of opportunities for storytelling and education (or edutainment), including exhibitions within a new gallery. And of course there’s plenty of opportunity for food to enjoy as well! (Imagine a variety of gyros, spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, Greek coffee, and all the olives and olive oil you could want!)
The cherry on top of the ancient worlds section (at least in my only slightly biased opinion) would be the Egypt pavilion. If you’re thinking, “We’ve already got a pyramid in Mexico, why do we need another?” That’s a valid argument, but I can also propose the temple of Karnak with its great Hypostyle Hall, the lighthouse of Alexandria, the Great Sphinx, Abu Simbel, or any of a plethora of iconic ancient Egyptian sites that could be the cornerstone of the pavilion. There is no film with which the pavilion can currently connect, but ancient Egyptian mythology, being as visual and descriptive as it is, offers the perfect boat ride opportunity, journeying through the underworld, experiencing the process that the ancient Egyptians believed the soul went through after death to achieve the afterlife and experiencing the many gods of the Egyptian canon. Again, this pavilion would ideally be accompanied by a gallery in which you can learn more details about a variety of aspects of Egyptian civilization, opportunities for learning hieroglyphs or Egyptian art, and more. There’s even potential for opportunities such as beer making like the Egyptians, storytelling and myths, and Egyptian food (maybe a combination of ancient and modern!)
While this is obviously a complete fabrication for World Showcase expansion ideas, it would allow for further opportunities for advancement and enrichment of the World Showcase within EPCOT. Placing these pavilions in the larger open space by China and connecting them to the African Outpost and China pavilions, you can make a more cohesive offshoot and offer further “edutainment” to the many park visitors who love ancient history (and maybe even make teachers happier when their kids have already learned some Greek and Egyptian history during their vacation!) The idea of a new country to visit within the World Showcase is always attractive, so why not an ancient world section?!
My name is Megan Valentine. I'm a travel junkie, a lifelong Disney fan, and a museum curator & registrar. My granddad was born in 1928, just like Mickey Mouse, so he has worked to instill a love of all things Disney in his kids and grandkids. He and my grandmother took me to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was four years old, and I have been addicted ever since. I have now been to WDW seven times and can't get enough! I am the planner for all of my family's Disney trips and consultant for any friends with questions since I am always reading about Disney, listening to podcasts, or watching the movies. In addition to my Disney travels, I love to explore a variety of destinations with an ever-growing list of places to visit. As a museum professional and art historian, I often seek out fascinating new museum exhibits when I can, particularly if it has anything to do with my other major obsession, Egypt!