Monday, May 2, 2016

World Showcase Bazaar: EPCOT's Japan Influence

By EPCOT Explorer

Early in the planning stages for Tokyo Disneyland, WED was a flurry of creativity, simultaneously guiding Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom though its first few years and attempting to broaden the Vacation Kingdom with EPCOT-inspired initiatives. Most notable of the EPCOT projects was the Walt Disney World Showcase, an international exhibition. Learn how an EPCOT inspired World Showcase almost made it to Tokyo Disneyland’s entrance corridor in today's new article by EPCOT Explorer...

In 1974, discussions reached the point in which Japanese real estate companies wanted to move forward on what was dubbed “The Tokyo Bay Project” and Disney began to conceptualize what the American entertainment company would build in Japan. What Disney (mostly the work of Imagineers John Hench and Claude Coats) came up with is an amalgamation of WED’s most recent and ongoing projects.

John Hench and Claude Coats exam concept art for Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo’s Magic Kingdom would have had the traditional Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and Frontierland (dubbed Westernland for Eastern audiences) but would have been prefaced by an EPCOT inspired Main Street: International Land featuring a World Bazar.

Marty Sklar, John Hench and Claude Coats exam plans for World Showcase

World Showcase concept art

World Showcase concept art

If built, the street would have been a massive, climate controlled atrium, but instead of housing the traditional Victorian facades of Midwestern America, a sleek and space age showplace would have dominated the landscape with exhibits and pavilions from countries around the world.

Concept art of Tokyo Disneyland’s entrance corridor featuring a massive, climate controlled atrium with a sleek, space age showplace instead of a the current traditional Victorian facades

Essentially, a World Showcase would have been dropped down in Tokyo Disneyland’s entrance corridor bringing a bit of EPCOT to a bold, new theme park in Asia. These plans bare a remarkable resemblance to the plans for one of the earliest iterations of World Showcase planned for Walt Disney World, which would have sat just south of the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Concept art of a World Showcase planned for Walt Disney World, which would have sat just south of the Ticket and Transportation Center

Sadly, the plans for an international showcase never materialized in Tokyo, and the plans for Florida’s World Showcase soon evolved out of a singular building and into a concept with individual pavilions, as spearheaded by Harper Goff. The name stuck, though, and a Victorian World Bazaar greets guests in Tokyo Disneyland today, atrium and all.

A very early concept for Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland concept art showing its current World Bazaar, Tokyo Disneyland’s answer to Main Street


EPCOT Explorer has been visiting the Walt Disney World Resort since he was 2 years old and has recently just made his first visit to Disneyland. EPCOT Explorer's first ‘Disney’ interest is the history of EPCOT Center of his youth and the brand of optimism, futurism, and culture that was originally found in the park. Other interests include the thematic interplay of design elements in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdoms that make these theme parks repositories of culture and Americana. EPCOT Explorer is also interested in the World’s Fairs for their connections to EPCOT and tiki culture, since the return of the Enchanted Tiki Room to Walt Disney World in 2011. EE’s writings often focus on the minutia of Disney’s enterprises and attempt to uncover how and why the parks function in the manner that they do. EPCOT Explorer is currently a graduate student and Teaching Assistant in History at Florida International University. EPCOTEXPLORER.TUMBLR.COM  

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