From Screen to Theme
Where in the World

Trivia of the Day

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Day 22 - September 23, 2012   

There are 196 countries found throughout the world and each of them has their own unique culture and story to share. So how on Earth did Disney narrow that many countries down to 11 (with only 9 on opening day)? A few of the pavilions were obvious choices. Going in, Disney knew that they wanted America to be the star attraction with Mexico and Canada flanking both sides. This way all members of North America would be represented on opening day.

From there six other countries were chosen based on what Disney believed guests needs would be. The United Kingdom came in since it was the United States' mother country, Japan and China were included for their exotic locations, Italy was chosen due to its art and food and influence on modern day society, while Germany and France became members of World Showcase due to the prior knowledge most guests already had with those countries.

Eventually Morocco and Norway joined due to their governments actually having an interest in showcasing their countries culture in Central Florida in hopes to bring more tourism to their countries. By the late 80s, World Showcase had received it's eleven countries which we all know and love today, but there are several countries which were considered that never made it into the park.

Throughout the years other countries have made it to the drawing board in hopes of getting some real estate on World Showcase Lagoon. Sweden and Finland were going to be included in the Norway pavilion, but when Norway found out they decided to help fund the project by making it solely based on Norway. Due to the fact that some of the largest European countries that most people are familiar with (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France) have a home here, Spain was discussed for quite some time, but the ideas never truly seemed to flow for that.

One thing that each country needs is some sort of familiarity that guests will almost instantly recognize, but at the same time that familiarity needs to encompass the entire country. Russia was being planned, but some were worried that a country of such magnitude in size would be a difficult project due to some Russians from the East may be upset if all architecture and storyline focused on the West or visa versa. The Middle East has almost come several times in the form of United Arab Emirates and at one point Afghanistan was considered.

South America has had a lot of consideration over the years with Venezuela being a top contender for quite some time. After The Emperor's New Groove was released there was even some discussion of a possible Peru pavilion which would even feature an attraction based off the film.

Then there was the big pavilion: Africa. Disney began to focus on creating an entire pavilion around the entire continent, but there was a problem: which part of the continent do you theme it around? The ideas began to become more concrete when Disney added The Outpost, a little refreshment area in between China and Germany. However, the focus on an entire continent just seemed to be overbearing. While the discussions continued to come back from time to time and the plans became more elaborate, it wasn't until the 1990s when Africa got some serious consideration.

When Disney's Animal Kingdom was being built, the Africa ideas that were left on the drawing room table for World Showcase were resurrected. Harambe, the town found in Disney's Animal Kingdom which represents Africa, doesn't focus on a specific trait, but is a sort of melting pot of different ideas found throughout the continent. With the new pavilion, Disney no longer had to focus solely on facts, but they could create their own town which in turn wouldn't make too many guests upset since their was no favoritism on one specific country.

The land in World Showcase is still waiting to grow. While it's been 24 years since a new World Showcase pavilion was added, there is still enough room to add 11 more pavilions. The big question is, will Disney ever use this room to grow and if they do, which country will become number 12?

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