Friday, October 9, 2009

Apparently, Hypno-Hustler > World Showcase

I haven’t talked much about the Disney/Marvel deal because lots of other people already have. However, I’d like to focus on two aspects of the deal:

1. Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel . . .

2. . . .which gives them access to all 5,000 Marvel characters; not just Spider-Man and Wolverine, but also virtually unknown ones like Dazzler, Typeface, and Hypno-Hustler. This is important, because Disney obviously had no marketable characters of their own.

Now, consider this fact: EPCOT’s World Showcase has the lowest attractions-to-acreage ratio of ANY theme park ANYWHERE. Why? Because putting more attractions in there would just cost too darned much money. Not only that, but the space that was originally set aside for new pavilions or additions to existing ones  has probably been gobbled up by backstage areas, right?

Take a look at this:


It’s an aerial view of the Japan pavilion.  Guess what that highlighted yellow area is? It’s a show building! You see, back when the Japan pavilion was originally conceived by WED, it was supposed to be more than just a restaurant and some shops; it was going to have an attraction. They even built a building for it. However, EPCOT was seriously behind schedule, and in order to make the October 1, 1982 opening date some projects had to be shelved and saved for later. Then Michael Eisner took over in 1984, and “later” got changed to “never”. Hence the unused show building. Japan isn’t the only World Showcase country with a story like this, though. There’s also the country on the left side of this next photo:


I know it’s hard to tell, but the backwards-F-shaped structure on the left side of this picture is the German pavilion’s show building. As you can see, it’s easily larger than the entire guest-accessible German area. The big empty area on the right side of the picture is World Showcase’s most famous might-have-been. If you’d walked by that plot of land in the early ‘80s, you would have seen a Coming Soon sign for the Africa pavilion. Plans for the African pavilion may have been scrapped long ago, but the land set aside for it was obviously never used. To this day, it’s just sitting empty.

So, what does this little photographic tour of the hidden World Showcase tell us? That Disney can afford to pay $4 billion for the rights to Stryfe, U-Go-Girl, Spider-Man’s Aunt May, and a character named Doop, but installing attractions into empty buildings that were constructed for that very purpose? Impossibly expensive. For today’s Walt Disney Company this:


Is more important than this:


And that’s just sad.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I realize that Disney management is pumping money into the parks in a way that we haven’t seen in years. And that John Lasseter is supposed to be the king of awesome, a kind of Walt Disney/Chuck Norris hybrid. Overall, I’m honestly optimistic about where things are headed. I just like to make fun of lame, disco-inspired comic book characters. Plus, there’s no excuse for leaving those show buildings empty for twenty years, especially if you turn around and drop $4 billion for a comic book company. (Note: I love comic books)


  1. I suppose it all comes down to some sort of analysis that suggests they're going to make more than 4 billion from the acquisition of the Marvel characters but won't earn more from putting some love into EPCOT. It's disappointing that they've chosen to not finish the park and make it even better. Maybe if attendance declines...or if people stop saying that even as imperfect as it is, it's still their favorite park, or...

  2. The Japanese show building was supposed to house a real attraction, but was built to the wrong specifications. It was supposed to hold "Meet the World," and this show was even built and developed but ended up in Tokyo Disneyland after it was seen that it couldn't fit in the EPCOT show building.

    Germany's Rhine River Cruise, however, was a terrible victim of budget cutting. And I'm surprised you didn't mention the second phase of the Italian pavilion that is now 27 years late.

  3. I've mentioned the never-built Italian attraction before, but I didn't talk about it here because the site it would have occupied is not completely empty. However, the blog Progress City USA has an excellent post on the Italian attraction.

    I didn't know about the "Meet the World" show, but Disney could have come up with something else to put in there if they really wanted to. Of course, given all the vacant EPCOT buildings that are sitting in plain sight, I suppose it's a little much to expect them to utilize one that most people don't even realize is there.

  4. Wow -- I had honestly not even seen your latest blog update before I wrote my piece at Epcot Central, inspired by my most recent trip to Epcot. Funny how that sort of "serendipity"/coincidence works. Just wanted to say you've written a terrific item with fantastic images!


Thanks for taking the time to comment!