While all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks are special in their own way, Epcot might be the most fascinating one. As many fans know, Epcot stands for “Experimental prototype community of tomorrow” — or “every person comes out tired,” depending on who you ask. Walt Disney’s original vision for the park was for it to be a real community where people could live, play, and work, but ultimately, it became something else entirely.
At Epcot, there’s not much that guests can’t do. Want to explore under the sea? You can do that. Want to eat a croissant in Paris, France? You can do that, too. You can even travel through space with the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy, and this is all happening in the same theme park.
With so much going on in the glow of Spaceship Earth, of course there are plenty of behind-the-scenes facts about what makes Epcot so unique that you might not know, so keep reading for secrets of Epcot.
1. The Seas features one of the biggest aquariums worldwide.
The aquarium at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, called SeaBase, is one of the largest – and most unique – in the United States. Thousands of sea animals can be found here, and you can check them out without riding the Finding Nemo-inspired attraction — just walk in! During certain times of the day, you can even watch caretakers feed and train some of the creatures.
2. Some of the animatronics on Spaceship Earth may look familiar.
Disney is known for making use of props, animatronics, and designs in new ways after they’ve been removed from rides getting a makeover, and Spaceship Earth is no exception! If some of the ones you see on the ride look familiar to you, that’s because they are. Johannes Gutenberg’s animatronic was actually based on President James Buchanan’s figure, and in the same scene, you may recognize Andrew Jackson working at the printing press!
Other presidents you may recognize in Spaceship Earth include Zachary Taylor and Teddy Roosevelt in the Rome scene.
3. The Morocco pavilion is hiding one of Disney’s tallest attractions.
To create a truly immersive experience, Disney Imagineers always go the extra mile to make sure that the guests’ line of vision isn’t disturbed by anything that would take them out of the environment they happen to be in at that moment. Knowing that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ would be visible from the World Showcase, it was designed and painted to blend in with the Morocco pavilion so it wouldn’t stick out.
4. World Showcase has the potential to expand someday.
While it may seem like Epcot is bursting to full at times, there’s actually room for expansion — particularly when it comes to adding new countries to the World Showcase. While Disney hasn’t confirmed an exact amount of how much space there is left (and different blogs have their own speculation on this subject), it seems that there’s plenty of space for at least a few more countries to be added.
So if you’ve been dreaming of exploring places like Brazil or Australia while visiting Epcot, all hope isn’t lost — it could definitely still happen someday!
5. You can go behind the scenes of Living With the Land.
While some people may walk right by Living With the Land on their way to Soarin’ Around the World, many loyal fans would never skip a boat ride around Disney’s greenhouse. But that’s not the only way you can experience this side of Disney. Epcot offers the Behind the Seeds Tour, an inside look at agriculture at the park that is both fascinating and surprisingly reasonably priced.
6. The distance all the way around the World Showcase is more than a mile.
Epcot is a huge park, and if you’re doing it all in one day — or even making multiple laps around the World Showcase during a festival — it’s easy to hit your step goal early! Just know that your feet are tired for a reason, because the distance around the World Showcase Lagoon is about 1.2 miles. Make sure you’re stopping for snacks (and hydration) along the way!
7. The grass on the roof in Norway is real.
Here’s another example of Disney Imagineers going all-in on authenticity, including the little details. The grass on the roof of the covered outdoor seating area next door to Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe is a traditional feature in Norway called a turf roof, since that extra layer can help keep in warmth and protect the roof underneath from damage. That carries over into the Norway pavilion, and believe it or not, it’s real zoysia grass, which stays green all year long.
Since it’s real, the grass still grows, which presents a bit of a maintenance problem. After all, you can’t exactly cut grass on a roof with an actual lawnmower. Instead, some people believe that Disney’s horticulture team actually clips the grass by hand with shears.
8. You can score free soft drinks here.
Disney World can be a very expensive place, but there are a few free souvenirs and other treats you can collect while at the parks. One of these is found at Club Cool at Epcot, which is part Coca-Cola store, part tasting experience. Here, you can sample different soft drinks from around the world totally for free (just watch out for the Beverly).
9. The American Adventure Uses Show Space Creatively
Considering the fact that 35 audio-animatronics are used in The American Adventure, the show featured in the America pavilion, it’s no surprise that Disney had to get a bit creative about storing them between scenes. Under the sloped seating in the theater is where the sets and audio-animatronics live when they aren’t being used, and they’re swapped out using a machine called the War Wagon.
Curious about what secrets the other parks hold? Check out our other posts!
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