It's a Small World of Flavors

Where we left off last, oh, whenever that was, it’s been too long for me to keep track.

As a part of reinventing Epcot, Plan Alpha, we’re taking it as read that Soarin’ Over the World exists, but has shifted it’s entrance from The Land, where it does not belong, into World Showcase.  Given it’s world-spanning nature, it serves as a fantastic “introduction” to World Showcase.  We’ve started to discuss idea of creating a new, large pavilion in World Showcase, themed to the 1964 NY Worlds Fair.  The new pavilion would add a permanent festival space (to be addressed later), and added a year-round attraction to the space by moving Carousel of Progress (and reverting it back to it’s Worlds Fair version, complete with Sherman Brothers song).  I then teased something about It’s a Small World, and promptly disappeared for a couple weeks. 

Before I get fully into the Small World portion of today’s post, I need to address something that is tangentially related and a major shift in my initial plans for this pavilion.  One that might impact any poor colored pencil drawings I may subject you to in the coming few posts. 

You see, my original plan for the central point of the new Worlds Fair pavilion was going to be a slightly bigger globe / Illuminations barge.  The Illuminations barge was obviously taken directly from the NY World’s Fair, and it made sense in my strange little mind that since they both look so identical, why not make them one and the same. 

Why couldn’t the Illuminations globe spend it’s days as a centerpiece for this pavilion, but as night approaches, in some form of grand(ish) ceremony, a drawbridge is raised and the globe makes it’s way out of the pavilion and out to the center of the lagoon in preparation for the show. 

It seemed like such a cool mental visual, and one that tied the World’s Fair pavilion as an integral part of World Showcase, a common anchor point, giving focus to the one-unified viewpoint of humanity’s need to act together as a single world.

Problem(s), first I spoke to Someone Who Knows Things™ and asked if there was any reason that the globe is moved at all, why it didn’t spend the day mid-lagoon.  He responded with a short answer, one that contained such an obvious issue with this that I nearly smacked my forehead for not thinking about it in the first place.  The barge is moved because each day it must be reloaded with pyrotechnics, and doing so “on stage” is seen both as hazardous and “bad show”.  Well, I’d guess loading it full of pyrotechnics in the middle of an active pavilion probably would take both of those as well.  Moving it out mid-day to load it elsewhere would likely ruin the whole point of the thing being there in the first place.

Second problem.  It’s an absurdly costly and complicated thing to do for something that would likely turn out to be more of an annoyance to the general public than it would be special.  Ensuring that the drawbridge in this portion was big enough to allow passage of the globe, fitting the globe so it could be driven out nightly (even if on a track), and the whole fact that you’re moving this thing out day in and day out, leaving a hole in the middle of the pavilion.  It just turned out to be an idea that was so stupid that I couldn’t believe I ever liked it in the first place.  I mean, I’m asking to move an entire attraction over here, so it’s not like I’m being reasonable from the get go, but this seemed a bridge to far.

So, that means if I attach any sketches of this area I’ve (poorly) done, it’ll either have a hole in the middle, or the globe, and this is not the idea I’d like to go forward with.

Still, the area is large enough with enough I’m proposing that it needs a good centerpiece.  Good thing the answer was staring me in the face the whole time, and I’d even included it as a side piece, a cap to a merch stand.  I give you the Tower of the Four Winds.

It has everything a pavilion centerpiece needs.  

It has everything a pavilion centerpiece needs.  

Designed by famed Imagineer Rolly Crump for the ’64 Worlds Fair, it would serve as the perfect centerpiece, giving kinetic motion, architecture, and whimsy to the entire pavilion.  It serves as a meeting point between Disney history and Epcot present/future.  It’s just so obvious and I blew right by it originally for a much more complicated solution.  From here on out, I need to really put some thoughts into simplifying things.

Ha!  Who am I kidding?!?  This is just the one of the sure-to-follow million ideas that could be solved simply for which I give an overblown answer to.   I mean, did you read my post on fully off the grid Epcot?

So now we’ve got a centerpiece for the pavilion.  One that serves as a mini-hub in a semi-circle-esque pavilion.  In the SouthEast corner we have the Carousel of Progress spinning it’s yarn.  What sits next to it? 

On the side butting up against China, here we have our answer, and of course I’ve already mentioned the general theme.   I thought that the pavilion could use a restaurant.  I mean, it’s Epcot, I think every new pavilion needs to, by Disney Law, have a way to sell food and drinks.  I have an idea for a small quick serve snack shop also in the pavilion that’ll likely come in a subsequent post, but let’s get a real restaurant built here.  

Wait, first, will it fit? 

Glad you asked.  Here’s a photoshop job I did a while ago just to estimate size. 

See, look at that dumb idea of the globe  in the middle!  Who does that???

See, look at that dumb idea of the globe  in the middle!  Who does that???

You’ll see a few things in there, one for future discussion, one as a holding slot.  You’ll also see the dumb dumb idea of the globe and waterway.  Obviously I’m not moving Wonders of Life over here, but I wanted to convince myself that there was room for festival space with the other things I’m proposing.  You’ll notice Carousel of Progress here as well, and to it’s side, I’ve placed Odyssey into the picture.  You could have an eating establishment the size of Odyssey easily fit. 

The next part started as a joke with a friend who for some reason can’t stand It’s a Small World (I know, how can I be friends with someone like that, right?).  I was joking that we needed a Small World restaurant here where the theme song played nonstop on a loop, specifically to drive him insane.

Then it hit me.  It was perfect.  Well, not the looped theme song.  We’d have to be cognizant of making sure we didn’t drive away customers through aural-torture.  I love Small World, but admit I’m one of the few people who likely could hear it looped for 24 hours without being driven completely insane.

The concept of Small World could be easily brought into this pavilion without bringing the attraction over from Magic Kingdom.  A restaurant would be a simple way to

a)      Maintain historical ties

b)      Acknowledge the importance of the Worlds Fair in Disney lore

c)      Make lots of paper y’all

In my mind, I’ve begun to call this establishment “It’s a Small World of Flavors”. 

The outside of the building would be built to mirror the building as it existed in the Worlds Fair.  Not the non-descript version in Magic Kingdom or the over-the-top one in Disneyland, but one that keeps the mid-century feel of the Worlds Fair.

Minus the Pepsi balloon of course, unless they want to sponsor this pavilion!

Minus the Pepsi balloon of course, unless they want to sponsor this pavilion!

The food served I think would be a great opportunity to bring in a Tapas (small plates) style dining experience.  Small, lower priced plates of food, sourced from all over the world, intended to be mixed and matched, shared among the table, and lead up to a global dining experience.  Think Food and Wine, boiled down to some Greatest Hits, all available year-round without having to walk the whole loop of the World Showcase.  Does this somehow take away some of the special feeling of Food and Wine?  Maybe.  Maybe it gives opportunities for the countries that are represented to produce new food products.  Maybe it opens up new countries to have pavilions.  Maybe it does have a small impact on Food and Wine’s exclusive* (for a festival that runs likely this year for ¼ of the calendar year) nature, ramping down the insanity that is F&W a tiny amount. 

I still think the benefits outweigh the potential negative impact here. 

The interior should be themed based on some of the Mary Blair concept art. 

Author’s Note, I love the Mary Blair artwork for this.  My 2nd daughter’s room was decorated in this style, with a huge print of this piece hanging on the wall, which now is part of my daughters shared bedroom.

A very old picture from an apartment we just finally moved out of

A very old picture from an apartment we just finally moved out of

The servers could be represented by cast members from all countries represented (and those that are not) in World Showcase, with their country of origin highlighted by subtle (not glaring) changes in their uniform.  I’m not asking for a server of Indian descent to come to the table in full on It’s a Small World stereotypical garb, but some subtle nodding to the server’s culture of origin would be nice.

Not this.  Don't go all out like this.  Think subtle.  Less of everything.

Not this.  Don't go all out like this.  Think subtle.  Less of everything.

A rotating wine and beer menu, along with specialty drinks (alcoholic and non) representing countries around the world should be included as well.

So, there we go.  Now we’ve got a dining establishment added to our pavilion.  We have an attraction (Carousel of Progress), a centerpiece (Tower of the Four Winds) and a small-plates globally focused eatery.  I think that right there would make one hell of a pavilion. 

Wait, wasn’t this whole thing supposed to address adding festival space to World Showcase?  When are you ever going to get around to talking about that you spaz?

Next time.