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Orange Bird Photo Hunt



Entries in Epcot (28)


EPCOT City Model [Part 1]

We bring you a behind-the-scenes preview of a unique little side project. We show you how this 16” model of Walt’s EPCOT got started.

The fan community excitedly awaits the 30th Anniversary of EPCOT Center this October. Today we go back some 46 years just before Walt Disney’s death when he shared his dream for EPCOT the city. It was to be an extremely efficient city with futuristic modes of transportation. It was to be built in the center of the Walt Disney World property.

Join me in this “making-of” video as I begin creating a scale replica of the city layout Walt presented in 1966:

The model-making process.

Purchase extra fine floral foam and a 16” round piece of wood from the local craft store.

Cut the foam to nicely fit on top of the round wood.

Draw the EPCOT roads in Adobe Illustrator or any vector-based drawing program. Send vector files to someone with a small to medium flat bed laser cutter. Cut design in 1/8” acrylic.

Gently press the delicate acrylic cutout into the surface of the foam.

Remove the acrylic cutout and paint the surface of the foam. Sprinkle fine green static grass flock onto fresh paint.

After paint dries, pour off excess grass and blow out the grooves using a drinking straw.

Prime and paint acrylic cutout.

Use scrap foam as test blocks.

Glue cutout into place. Landscape the rest of the model before adding architecure. Here we see the unfinished city center with pieces loosely placed.

A couple of Peoplemover tracks extend to the residential rings of the city. Monorail tracks will soon be placed.

You might remember the little robot standing in the background. 

The process continues with lots of little trees and bushes, walkways, and ponds. After that, parks, schools, churches, city buildings, and little tiny mid-century ranch-stlye houses!

To be continued.....


Related posts:

A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now
Buena Vista Street Model
Mars and Beyond Robot
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
EPCOT Construction from the Air


Rhine River Cruise Mysteries

Plans for a boat ride called Rhine River Cruise in EPCOT Center’s Germany Pavilion were shelved sometime shortly after the park opened in 1982. Few details about the ride have ever surfaced. Let’s dive in and see what we can find.

What we know.

"The future River Ride promises to be as enjoyable as it is informative. An early concept has guests boarding a "cruise boat" for a simulated ride down the Rhine and other rivers, the trip affording a visual impression in miniature of the cultural heritage of Germany's past and highlights of its present. Among the detailed models envision are scenes in the Black Forest, the Oktoberfest, Heidelberg, the industrial Ruhr Valley... the possibilities are limited only by the planners' imaginations." –"Walt Disney's EPCOT Center" by Richard Beard

According to the Walt Disney Company's 1976 annual report, the Rhine River Cruise was to be "... a cruise down Germany's most famous rivers– the Rhine, the Tauber, the Ruhr and the Isar. Detailed miniatures of famous landmarks will also be seen, including one of the Cologne Cathedral."

Other accounts claim that the ride would have also feature the country’s more modern achievements much like Norway’s Maelstrom boat ride includes that country’s more recent industrial efforts. These most likely would have stood in the Ruhr Valley portion of the ride.

How much of the ride was built?

For years I was under the understanding that the show building for the river ride was built. It’s widely mentioned online and in at least one book that the the full show building was built and still stands today.

As it turns out, this is false. Or at least partially false. But how can this be? I’ve walked through the show building a number of times. A piece of the show building, attached to the rest of the pavilion, was built and still stands today. But the majority of the show building was never constructed. You’ll notice on our map above that the load area and the unload area are all that could have fit in the existing building.

It is often pointed out that the large castle-like building behind the clock tower is the Rhine River Cruise show building. The tallest, most prominent castle architecture you see to the left is, however, the Biergarten restaurant building. Shorter castle architecture to the right is the queue/load building.

Claims have been made that trenches were built into the foundation of these parts of the building. If true, they’ve since been filled.

Was the rest of the show building built then torn down? It was not. Let’s look at these EPCOT Center construction photos. We see that the rest of the show building was never built. (Additional World Showcase construction photos here.)


What remains today?

In the early 80’s large wooden doors stood at what was to be the entrance to the Rhine River Cruise queue. They were later covered with a wall and this mural. 

Photo from fan of the blog, Varsenik Wilson.

Photo from fan of the blog, Todd Shirley.

Photo from fan of the blog, Varsenik Wilson.

I am guessing the doors were removed and the mural went in within the first five years. It could have went in much earlier. The inside of the Germany Pavilion archways tend to show up very dark in old photos and video footage. We know by 1987 (at the latest) the doors were gone and the mural was up. This is based on a souvenir book published in 1987 with a clear view of the mural.

Were the wooden doors placed right where the mural is today? Were there additional doors in the archway? Was the whole foyer area west of the Biergarten entrance blocked off? We see from this early early photo (most likely from a pre-opening preview day) that a wooden door or wall appears. It’s difficult to determine if its under the archway itself or further back against the wall.

My guess: This wooden door/wall was up against the archway. Let’s compare it to the left archway in the same photo It appears that nothing as far back as the back wall would be visible in this photo.

Why would the “wooden door” matter?

It was evidence of the unbuilt attraction visible to guests. Could concept art or some sort of “coming soon” signage have appeared on or near the door? If so, such a sign most likely would have been seen by guests for a very short time. The company stopped mentioning the Rhine River Cruise in1982 at some point. Perhaps before a single guest entered EPCOT Centers’ gates.

Why would a door blocking traffic through the archway be important? Could this foyer area have been designed to incorporate the first Rhine River Cruise scenery? Blueprints don’t indicate a separation between the Rhine River side and Biergarten side of the foyer but could a separation have been planned? A queue/load area like the one in this concept art might require some of the foyer real-estate.

Starboard-facing passengers.

It is my conclusion that passengers aboard the boats were to sit facing out the starboard (right) side of the boats. This is based on the layout of the water flume and what we can see in the above artwork. The water loop does not appear to accommodate show scenery on both sides of the water.

If passengers faced one direction, all show scenes would appear directly in front of the passengers and a dark wall would stand behind them. This increases visibly, show designers ensure that their audience sees what they intend them to see, and space is saved. This is much like the Disneyland Railroad benches facing right, toward the inside of the park.

Here we see a rendering of the load area and a boat much wider than they were planned to really be. Isn't the atmosphere is oh so nice?

An exit with a view.

Blueprints show an area between the unload are and the exit called “Viewing Area”. This box-shaped area faces the Biergarten stage. Today this area is used for buffet service. I reckon guests leaving the ride would have been able to step off the exit path onto a porch for a view of the restaurant and its live entertainment. The smells of German food might have enticed them to dine at the pavilion. Unlike in the Mexico Pavilion, boat passenger and restaurant guests would not have had a great view of what the others were doing. This viewing area would have at least connected the two in a small way.

Added bonus.

Does it not look like there's a little piece of a boat in the archway of this Germany Pavilion logo?


Other info needed.

If you have other information about the Rhine River Cruise plans, please let us know.

Special thanks to:

Foxxfur from Passport to Dreams.
Michael Crawford from Progress City, U.S.A
Hoot Gibson from Mesa Verde Times
Mike Lee from Widen Your World 
Epcot Explorium
Epcot Encyclopedia
Varsenik Wilson and Todd Shirley for the mural photos.
Various printed resources from The Walt Disney Company.


Related posts:

EPCOT Construction from the Air
THEN AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 1]
Mural-Removin' Season at Disney
EPCOT Center Graphics
Disneyland Meets EPCOT Center
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
Carolwood Pacific and Other Backyard Railroads
Frito Kid Mysteries Continue



Let’s take a look at Figment and long-lost Dreamfinder at their original EPCOT Center home.

We’ve recreated the track layout of the original Journey Into Imagination and compared it to the layout of the current attraction. You’ll notice it was originally much longer. And wait... Is the current load are on top of what used to be that grand turn-table show scene?? Hmm. For an overview of the Journey Into Imagination ride visit our friends at LOST EPCOT.


The following photos were submitted to us as part of our recent Photo Hunt (unless stated otherwise).

The beautiful, shiny, (and clean) glass pyramids. Notice the wonderful plant life. It’s as if it’s spilling into the pavilion from The Land next door. This photo is from Ryan R.

Shapes! EPCOT Center Future World was a wonderland of interesting shapes. The upward flowing waterfall is so imaginative. The next two photos are from Brett of WDW Fan Boys.

Nice matching socks, guys.

Dreamfinder and Figment

They were such a big hit together. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in the meetings where they decided to get rid of them. 

Karate Kid, is that you? Look at those shirts. A Future World t-shirt? Fantastic.

Figment topiary.

These next two photos were from a different photo hunt. In preparation for a certain Epcot celebration Cast Members submitted old photos. These are from Gregory. Has there ever been such a unique meet-and-greet? Didn’t the duo seem so lifelike?

Leap Frog Fountains

As a kid I was MESMERIZED by these. I couldn’t believe water could act in such a way. I believe this was second thing I told my friends in California after returning from my first EPCOT Center trip. The very first thing was "we got to ride the ride inside the big ball from the commercials".

The next four photos are from Shaun Ortolano.

I love the lamp posts in the next photo. And the coloring in the photo is super pretty. This is from David of Futureprobe.


As a kid I never knew there were five of these vehicles. In fact there were five identical Dreamcatcher scenes altogether. Each set of ride vehicles attached itself to a large turn table with one fifth of the table and one of the five show scenes visible. This way riders could view the 2+ minute scene without backing up ride vehicles behind them. It was a brilliant thing.

While working at Epcot I would occasionally find my way to the backside of the old turn table. It was clear the thing was welded in place once it was no longer used (starting in 1998). It was pointed out to me that the table slowly “screwed itself into the ground over the years”. I wish I had photos. I imagine the whole mechanism would have to be completely thrown out if they ever wanted to resurrect this scene again.

Thank you Katherine A. for this great close-up shot of the Dreamcatcher.

And Shaun Ortolano for this one.

You can read my little story of how I obtained a piece of the Dreamcatcher blimp here.

Shaun also sent in this beauty. The use of white set work and colored lights in the original attraction was so fresh and fanciful.


Here Figment appears in a gift shop display in the great CentoriumAnyone else miss the Centorium?? As a kid that was the ultimate in theme park gift shops in my opinion. And figment had a great presence there. Photos from Shaun.


Related posts:

Surviving Pieces of Journey Into Imagination
EPCOT Construction from the Air
EPCOT Center Construction Photos: Future World
Disneyland Meets EPCOT Center
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
HORIZONS the way you wish you knew it.
THEN AND NOW: Epcot Future World [Part 1]
Daredevil Circus Spectacular