A Photo Essay at
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Walt Disney World Then and Now
World Showcase at Epcot, Part 3

Several months ago, I ran Part 1 and Part 2 of a three-part series comparing World Showcase in 1983 and 2011. Today, we’ll go from France to Canada, completing our circle around World Showcase Lagoon.

Keep in mind that Epcot Center is just over three months old in the photos from 1983. Epcot will be 30 years old in 2012.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, December 9, 2011


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France (1983 photo)

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France (2011 photo)

Bonjour! The 1983 photo of France at World Showcase shows a delightful Parisian street scene.

In the 2011 photo taken from the same angle, the canopy entrance to Les Chefs de France restaurant dominates the scene. The canopy accomplishes two things: It calls attention to the restaurant and it provides shade and protection to guests waiting for a table at the popular restaurant.

Also look at the building in the background. In the 1983 photo, there’s a railing atop the mansard roof. Now there’s vertical roofing right behind that railing. It’s there to hide retractable lights installed in 1999 to illuminate the Tapestry of Nations (later Tapestry of Dreams) parade. The roof looks less authentic now, but it would look worse if the lights were exposed when not in use.


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Fountain in France (1983 photo)

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Fountain in France (2011 photo)

At first glance, the two photos above are similar—except that guests are wearing rain ponchos and carrying umbrellas in the 1983 photo. The pavement at the front of photo is different, but that’s a minor change.

The big difference is much harder to see. In 1983, the “shed” at the side of Les Chefs de France was an open-air sidewalk café. With the addition of permanent glass windows, it’s now a fully enclosed dining room.


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Side street in France (1983 photo)

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Side street in France (2011 photo)

The Boulangerie Patisserie in France has been a popular spot for sweet and savory baked goods since the earliest days of Epcot Center.

Yes, that’s the line to buy pastries in the 1983 photos. The Boulangerie Patisserie expanded next door to larger quarters with two lines. The original location has a new sign, and its door is locked.


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The second level of Plume et Palette in France (1983 photo)

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Looking up to the second level of Plume et Palette (2011 photo)

When Epcot Center opened, Plume et Palette—which translates to “pen and (artist’s) palette”—was a two-level store selling books, art, and French mementos. Guests could take a narrow stairway to the second floor to enjoy (and buy) the art hanging on walls. The store was dominated by a large Art Nouveau skylight.

The store is still called Plume et Palette, but it now sells fragrances and cosmetics. The stairway is still there, but it’s now for cast members only. Guests can’t go to the second level, even if they ask nicely. That’s why the camera angle is different.


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The United Kingdom and Canada from Japan (1983 photo)

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The United Kingdom and Canada from Japan (2011 photo)

The view across World Showcase Lagoon really hasn’t changed much. The landscaping has matured, but the pavilions look about the same.

The big change in these two photos is how the huge structure for Soarin’ is now the backdrop for the United Kingdom and Canada. Its light blue color was apparently chosen so that it would fade into the sky (quite effectively in the 2011 photo).


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United Kingdom (1983 photo)

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United Kingdom (2011 photo)

The two views of the United Kingdom might be the two most similiar photos in this whole series. Even the Twining’s Teas sign looks the same. The biggest difference is that the street is no longer lined with so many rubbish receptacles.


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Canada (1983 photo)

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Canada (2011 photo)

This stop is Canada. The appearance of the pavilion hasn’t changed much.

The big question in 1983 was what would go into the majestic “hotel” structure (based on Le Château Laurier in Ottawa) in the center of the pavilion. The bottom level was Le Cellier buffeteria, but the rest of the structure would surely also be used for something. What would it be?

We now know the answer: nothing. The bottom level is now Le Cellier Steakhouse, a table service restuarant. The rest of the structure (which is not as large as it looks) is not open to guests.


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Musicians in kilts, Canada (1983 photo)

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Musicians in kilts, Canada (2011 photo)

Unlike the other photos in this article, these two photos are from different locations, but both are at the Canada pavilion.

When immigrants from Scotland settled in the country of Canada, they brought their culture—including kilts and bagpipes—with them. Canada at Epcot has had musicians with kilts and bagpipes since the park opened.

But oh how the music has changed! The trio in the 1983 photo played traditional music without electronics. Off Kilter, the group in the 2011 photo, plays Celtic rock, including high-energy interpretations of traditional songs.

None of musicians in Off Kilter are from Canada. That doesn’t matter. They put on a great show and they represent Canada far better than the pavilion’s tired CircleVision movie, O Canada, updated in 2007 with Martin Short.

Piper and singer Jamie Holton, who founded Off Kilter in 1997, has performed at the Canada pavilion since 1990. His previous role was as part of the Canada pavilion’s Calendonian Bagpipe Trio—playing traditional music without electronics.


 
Do you want to see more? Here are four Yesterland articles published in 2011 comparing Epcot Center in 1983 with Epcot in 2011.

 

Click here to discuss this page on the Yesterland Discussion Forum at MiceChat!


World Showcase Night, 1983
World Showcase Then/Now, 2
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© 2011-2012 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated October 1, 2012.

Photographs of World Showcase at EPCOT Center in 1983: Werner Weiss and Dennis Derr, January 1983.
Photographs of World Showcase at Epcot in 2011: Werner Weiss, February 2011.