Today, let’s go to EPCOT, Walt Disney World’s second park!
The park opened in 1982 and has been a fan-favorite ever since, with the amazing technology and rides of Future World and the exquisite culture of World Showcase. EPCOT is currently undergoing a massive transformation (particularly focused on Future World), and we can’t wait to see what the park becomes! To celebrate and share our love for this wonderful Disney park, we’re talking about all 25 hidden secrets in EPCOT that you may not know!
The Train Village in Germany
In the Germany Pavilion in World Showcase, you’ll find a miniature train village! Nestled amongst the rockwork are little buildings with a tiny railroad — complete with working model trains from Lehmann Gross Bahn. If you take a close look at this little town, you’ll notice that they’re mighty festive.
They decorate for the holidays as well as each EPCOT festival (take notice of the itty bitty festival banners)!
Hidden Animatronics in Spaceship Earth
Have you noticed that some faces on Spaceship Earth look a little familiar? Well, that’s because Disney reused some animatronic skins! President Andrew Jackson can be found in the printing press scene, and the mandolin player is either Dwight Eisenhower or John from the Carousel of Progress. (There’s some debate on that one.)
Next time you ride, glance around to see who else you can spot!
A Part of Maelstrom Lives On
In the final scene of Frozen Ever After, take a closer look at the puffins. They’re the same puffins that were used in Frozen Ever After’s predecessor, Maelstrom! Maelstrom actually has another not-so-hidden reference at the nearby Royal Sommerhus. In the queue, you pass by a few woven tapestries. One features the famous “Disappear, disappear!” trolls seen on the old ride!
A Nod to the Original Figment Ride
When riding Journey Into Imagination With Figment, make sure to read the doors to the offices that you pass. One of the doors is labeled “Dean Finder” which is a nod to the Dreamfinder from the original version of the ride!
SO MANY Hidden Mickeys
EPCOT has SEVERAL hidden Mickeys around the park! You’ll find two different ones on Soarin’ — one in the scene with the hot air balloons and one when the fireworks explode behind Spaceship Earth. There’s a not-so-hidden Mickey made of rocks in the aquarium in the Seas Pavilion (you can also see it towards the end of The Seas with Nemo and Friends).
When riding Journey into Imagination with Figment, look up when you enter Figment’s bathroom because the dots on his rug make a hidden Mickey with the toilet seat. Finally, make sure you keep your eyes peeled when riding Living With the Land — this one’s full of hidden Mickeys, and sometimes Minnies!
Not to mention they grow pumpkins here SHAPED like Mickeys, so you’re bound to find something cool on this fun boat ride.
Cross-Park Imagineering Details
If you look across the World Showcase Lagoon at the Morocco Pavilion, you may not notice that there’s an “extra” building in the background — it’s Tower of Terror!
When building Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Imagineers knew that the Tower of Terror would be seen from EPCOT, so they colored and designed it to match the other buildings in Morocco when viewed from a distance.
Forced Perspective in the American Adventure
The main building in the American Adventure Pavilion is actually about 5 stories tall to house everything inside. Traditionally, colonial buildings weren’t taller than 2 or 3 stories, so Imagineers used forced perspective to make this building appear shorter than it actually is.
We typically see them using forced perspective to make things taller, like Cinderella Castle! This is a rare case where they wanted something big to seem small!
When you enter World Showcase from Future World, you’ll notice that the first countries you come to are Canada and Mexico. The reason for this is that these two countries are the ones found on either side of the U.S. — hey neighbors!
Room For More!
There is currently room for 6 more countries in World Showcase! When the park first opened, there were 9 countries with spots for 10 more. Morrocco and Norway were later added to make 11 countries total.
With expansions in the Norway and France pavilions, there are currently 6 spots left to add more countries or expand current ones!
Currently, EPCOT has several pop-up character meet and greets that you can find around the park. (Socially distanced, of course!) You’ll see Winnie the Pooh and Joy in the grassy area near the Imagination Pavilion, and you may spot Alice or Mary Poppins in the U.K.
We’ve also seen Anna and Elsa in front of Royal Sommerhus from time to time, so be on the lookout for your favorite Disney friends!
Several of the countries in the World Showcase have exhibits that showcase various aspects of their culture, and these exhibits are often overlooked or not noticed by guests. There’s a colorful Kawaii exhibit in the Japan pavilion, an exhibit on Norse gods in Norway’s stave church, a showcase of French theater in France, and several others in the various pavilions.
Next time you’re looking for something to do, take a closer look at the buildings in each country, and you just may discover something new!
The Sword in the Waterfall
Also in the Norway pavilion, you’ll find a waterfall next to the entrance of Frozen Ever After. Back in Maelstrom days, it was fun to watch as boats in the ride drifted up to the hole at the top (now filled in!) and seem like they’d fall out! Well, this waterfall has another secret. Behind the waterfall is a sword stuck into the rocks.
It’s very difficult to see unless the water is turned off, but maybe you’ll be able to spot it next time!
The Best Manicured Lawn in the World (Showcase)
If you look up at the tops of the buildings in Norway, you’ll notice that some of them have grass on the roof. This is actually a popular type of roof in Scandinavia — the sod roofs are heavy and provide insulation in the frigid winters.
While many older Norwegian sod roofs are left to grow wild, EPCOT’s grass roof needs some manicuring. Since you can’t get a lawnmower up on the roof, Cast Members in charge of landscaping this area have to trim the grass with scissors!
The Secret Behind the Mural
In the back of the Germany pavilion next to Biergarten, you’ll find a mural on the wall. If you knock on this mural, you’ll discover that the area behind it is hollow.
Supposedly, this area was going to be home to a German boat ride that was never built, and the ride area was covered with the mural wall.
Walt Disney’s Childhood Bedroom
While riding Living With the Land, you’ll pass a scene with a farmhouse. Upstairs in that farmhouse is a bedroom, which is supposed to be decorated as a recreation of Walt Disney’s childhood bedroom! Looking into the window, you’ll notice a lamp. Like Walt Disney’s Disneyland apartment, the lamp is always left on in this room in honor of his memory.
(You can get a better view of this bedroom while dining at Garden Grill!)
Stay Dry in the Rain
If you stand underneath Spaceship Earth when it’s raining, you won’t get wet! This is because there is a giant drainage system built into the park icon.
Underneath each panel on Spaceship Earth is a system of trenches and gutters that funnel the rainwater down through drains into World Showcase Lagoon.
Even the Plants Are Accurate!
Next time you’re strolling around World Showcase, take notice of the foliage — it changes with each pavilion.
Imagineers chose plants for each pavilion based on what you’d likely see in that area of the world. Even cooler — when festivals are going on, especially Flower and Garden, you’ll often find plants growing around booths where you can sample the same foods!
Gone But Not Forgotten
When entering the queue for Mission: SPACE, look at the large spinning wheel on your right. In the center of the wheel, you’ll notice a logo. It’s the logo for Horizons, which occupied this space until 1999.
The “Eiffel” Tower
Another great example of Disney’s use of forced perspective is the Eiffel Tower in the France Pavilion. It’s actually quite small (only 103ft tall compared to the original’s 1063ft tall), but forced perspective makes it look larger.
If a bird were to ever land on top of the tower, it would ruin the whole illusion. Because of this, Disney uses natural bird repellents in this area.
The Park is Bigger Than it Seems
You may not realize it until the end of the day when your feet ache from walking, but EPCOT is a HUGE park! The World Showcase promenade spans 1.2 miles and the World Showcase Lagoon covers 40 acres.
The entire park is about 300 acres, nearly double the size of Hollywood Studios. In fact, you could fit both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure into EPCOT!
A MASSIVE Aquarium
And speaking of large, let’s talk about the aquarium at The Seas! It’s one of the 10 largest aquariums in the world, holds 5.7 million gallons of water, and is home to 3000 fish and sea creatures.
The aquarium is so large that Spaceship Earth could fit inside with room to spare!
The greenhouses at EPCOT grow A LOT of the park’s food. Each year, the Land Pavilion grows nearly 30 tons of fruit and vegetables that are served at restaurants around Walt Disney World Resort.
If you want to taste some of this food, as well as some of the seafood grown, then stop by Garden Grill and Sunshine Seasons, right outside of Living With the Land!
A Mosaic With a Backstory
When visiting The Land Pavilion, you can’t miss the giant mosaics on the wall as you walk in. They were designed by a former WWII Nazi Interrogator, Hans Scharff. He and his daughter-in-law were hired to do the mosaic work on Cinderella Castle, then were called back to add this mosaic to The Land. If you’ll notice, the mosaic’s design curves into the ground — that’s because the walls were built 3 ft too short for the original design!
Next time you’re walking into The Land, look to the righthand side near the big sign over the mosaic (near the picture above). Look closely and you’ll spot one lone green tile. Nothing has been confirmed of this, but it’s rumored to be a special sneaky tile placed by Scharff on purpose.
Building the Park Meant…Creating a Government?
In 1967, the Reedy Creek Improvement District was created to give Disney more control over services like power, water, road construction, fire protection, and more. This was all done to reduce the red tape so that Disney would more easily be able to build a futuristic city like EPCOT.
Once the original plans for EPCOT to be a fully contained city were scrapped and it became a theme park instead, Disney fought for the right to keep control of RCID in court, and they won!
There’s a Restaurant With a Dress Code
Takumi-Tei in EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion is one of two EPCOT restaurants to require “business-casual” attire. At Takumi-Tei, you’ll find fine Japanese cuisine, including an omakase menu that comes in at $130 per person!
The other spot you’ll need to dress up is Monsieur Paul in the France Pavilion.
Those are some of our favorite hidden secrets, Imagineering details, and fun facts about EPCOT! How many did you know? Stay tuned to DFB for more information on the Disney parks, including all the latest Disney news!
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Did you know all of these secrets? Let us know in the comments!