In Part 1 of our series of unrealized attractions in Epcot’s World Showcase, we discussed how the First Lady of the Philippines shot down that pavilion due to budget constraints. Today we look at another gem of Epcot: The Mexico pavilion.
Before you say how Mexico has served as an anchor for World Showcase since opening day in 1982, hear me out. The pavilion has definitely seen some changes since early concept phases.
You may recognize this Olmec stone head from El Rio Del Tiempo (the original name of the boat ride in the Mexican pavilion), but in this version it served as the entrance of the queue. It would have had speakers embedded in the foliage below and would tell stories of ancient Mexico history and heritage.
In this version of El Rio del Tiempo, your boat would not have been a standard Disney boat you can also find in other attractions like small world or Pirates. Instead, you would have boarded a flowered boat inspired by Xochimilco, known for their colorful boats. Which, by the way, can be seen via movie screen in the new version of the Epcot ride: Gran Fiesta Tour. Here is a run down of what this version of the ride would have been like from the press release:
Once onboard their boats, guests head off into a lagoon featuring a number of islands, each offering vignettes each highlighting the contributions of the Olmecs, the Mayans and the Toltecs.
Entering the pyramid, the boats take guests back to the time of the Aztecs, showcasing this ancient civilization’s many cultures which had such an effect on North America.
Gliding through a passageway of beautifully detailed frescos, the boats enter the beginning of the Colonial period of Mexico’s history. Traced are the events leading to freedom from Spain as well as the country’s most important revolutions. And here, visitors will meet such famous heroes as Father Hidalgo, Benito Juarez, Pancho Villa and Emeliano Zapata.
Another passageway will lead guests into a final scene which focuses on modern Mexico. Here guests will disembark into a fascinating exhibit and shop area.
While this may not have been the version that ended up opening in 1982, you can definitely see glimpses into pieces Imagineers held onto from this early phase and those that were left on the cutting room floor.
Things like the above “water tree” inside the pavilion get cut due to budget, scale and size. However, the fountain at the bottom of the ramp in the Mexico pavilion today still serves as a small water feature used in the final design. Come back to Theme Park University, as I still have plenty of stories to share on Unrealized World Showcase!
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