West Center Street

Exploring the never-built Epcot


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — For years, there was a rumor that Walt Disney World officials wanted to add Switzerland to Epcot’s World Showcase.

The pavilion would feature the Matterhorn roller coaster — similar to the E Ticket attraction at Disneyland. In May 1989, The Orlando Sentinel reported that “construction of a 164-foot-high reproduction of the 14,700-foot-high Matterhorn is part of the Swiss government’s plan to build a pavilion at Epcot.”

Months later, the newspaper reported that a Swiss and a Soviet pavilion would be built as part of a plan to reinvent the resort.

“In the next 10 years, we’re going to do nothing less than reinvent the Disney theme park and resort experience,” The Orlando Sentinel in January 1990 quoted Michael Eisner, then-chairman and CEO, as saying.

However, neither the Swiss nor the Soviet pavilions ever opened. But, the countries are not alone – over the years, a number of additional countries have been proposed as additions to the World Showcase, including Australia, Brazil, Equatorial Africa, Israel, Spain, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates, according to various sources.

Some of the countries made guest appearances as part of the resort’s Millennium celebration.

As it stands now, there are 11 countries that have pavilions in the World Showcase. Norway is the most recent addition, opening in May 1988.

“Originally, the idea was to establish a Nordic Pavilion,” according to an article on Norway’s official U.S. website. Until 2002, the country paid $200,000 annually to fund the pavilion. “But after much deliberations from the three countries a group of Norwegian investors came up with the $30 million necessary to create a Norwegian pavilion.”

In addition to the never-built countries, a number of attractions have been proposed for the World Showcase, including a Bullet Train ride and a Mt. Fuji ride similar to the Matterhorn, both of which were planned for the Japanese pavilion. The German pavilion was to be home to a boat ride along the Rhine River — similar to “El Rio del Tiempo,” the former attraction in the Mexican pavilion. A ride building for the German attraction was built, and it is today used for storage.

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