Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lost Imagineering: Russia

We are going to continue this week's imaginary stroll around the World Showcase that never was and drop in on the fabled Russian pavilion.

An EPCOT Outreach fact sheet from January of 1991 mentioned briefly a USSR-themed pavilion:

Soviet Union Showcase; A USSR showcase is the addition most requested by EPCOT Center visitors. Its towering onion-domed spires and bold architecture will add a breathtaking new silhouette to the World Showcase skyline by the end of 1999.

An internal Disney Team publication from 1992 reflected the dramatic world events of the prior year--the showcase was now referred to as the Russia pavilion, and a much more detailed description of its attractions was provided:

Imagineering has recenty completed "blue sky" concept work on a Russia Pavilion for World Showcase. Marqueed by the spectacular onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, it will feature the spellbinding attraction, Russia - The Bells of Change. This innovative theatrical experience will combine Audio-Animatronics® characters, animated sets, film, and a live actor to surround guests with the personalities, achievements and volatile history of this vast land. Also planned for this new pavilion is a ride-through attraction inspired by one of Russia's best loved folk tales, Ivan and the Magic Pike.


Keith Huffman said...

Will they ever build this place? I would love for them too because Epcot needs something new in there World Showcase since all of the focus has been on The modern stuff.

DisneyDave said...

I would have loved to see a Russian pavilion built.

I am glad to hear they are updating the restaurant at the Canadian exhibit and also the film, which was outdated even when I worked there in 1987.

The biggest complaint I heard from Canadians was how Canadians were protrayed - lumberjack outfits for castmembers and raccoon tail keychains in teh "trading post" - ugh!

My favorite exhibit was the American Adventure - the Audio-Animatronics, the story, the architecture - loved it!

I really enjoyed my one year working at World Showcase - it allowed me to make many friends from around the world, (our 20th anniversary get together is this year).

I was able to strike-up a friendship with artist Harry Holt who did the "drawings" for guests over on main street. Harry started at Disney's in the mid-30's and eventually worked with Blaine Gibson sculpting architectural features and ride elements for various attractions. I interviewed him and he lent me some neat photos which I made copies of.

And because I was an employee, I had free reign to go just about anywhere on the property, which, being the Disney nut I am, was incredible.

I would have liked to have seen what they were going to do with the proposed "African" exhibit...but I guess now they have Animal Kingdonm there is no need.

Anonymous said...

This would have been great. I remember those old signs around WS- "Future Honme of Spain", "Future Home of Israel", etc.

Its too bad, these never came about. Same thing with the old idea for a Costa Rica pavillon.

Anonymous said...

Recently the corporation was set up in Florida by a group of russian businessmen willing to create and finance the Russia pavilion in EPCOT. I am participating in this effort. Any ideas on how to revitalize the project based on existing Imagineering's concepts? Any names to speak to? Please advice. George Bright @ 954-600-5877