The most recent addition to Epcot’s World Showcase is the Norway Pavilion, which was added in 1988. Epcot has been described as a permanent world’s fair, and if that is going to be the case, then Disney needs to add another country to the mix.
There is one giant problem. Disney is out to create the biggest profits for themselves, and their shareholders. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is the reality of the situation. The prospect of spending millions of dollars to build a new pavilion is unlikely because the potential earnings from a new pavilion are most likely much lower than a new attraction that Disney can slap the face of their newest intellectual property on.
The Frozen “take over” of the Norway Pavilion is proof of this. If you don’t know, the massively popular 2013 animated feature film Frozen is now a giant part of the Norway Pavilion. In late 2014, the former attraction, Maelstrom, closed to make way for a new Frozen-themed attraction. In 2016, Frozen Ever After opened. In addition to the attraction, a massive meet-and-greet for the two lead characters, Anna and Elsa, was also built right next to the pavilion. This is nothing against Frozen. The only potential letdown for hardcore Disney parks fans will come in if Disney begins to solely invest in spreading their intellectual properties throughout the World Showcase, and continues to freeze all spending on adding new countries to the park. So, to be clear, I am not bashing Frozen, I am only being cautious that the World Showcase might lose its identity if similar changes are made throughout that area of the park.
Selling the idea of visiting a new pavilion is hard. Disney executives have a lot easier time selling an attraction with popular Disney characters attached to them. There is nothing wrong with Disney taking advantage of their incredibly popular characters. The concern is that places like the World Showcase will lose their identity if it is over taken by Disney’s intellectual properties. Disney, in many ways, is now run by penny pinchers who will almost always opt for the surefire success, even if it is at the cost of losing their creativity and originality.
So, it begs the question, why should Disney take the risk? I argue that there are three main reasons, which are: the need for expansion, the importance of targeting an adult audience, and the strength of it being a good long-term investment.
Expansions at all four Walt Disney World theme parks are becoming more and more important. The crowds are increasing rapidly, and the only way that Disney is going to be able to handle these crowds is by expanding their parks. This is why adding another pavilion might be a smart idea for Epcot. Not only will guests be excited to explore a new area of the park, but more importantly, it will expand the footprint of the park which will help disperse the crowds.
There is a perception of Walt Disney World that outsiders have, that it is only for children. I have always adamantly refuted this claim, and I’ve always used the World Showcase as proof of this. There is certainly a demographic of adults who wouldn’t visit very often, or at all, without adult experiences like drinking around the world at Epcot. So, by expanding the World Showcase and including more countries, it might entice more adults without children to visit Walt Disney World. A new pavilion in Epcot might not be something at the top of the “to-do” list if Walt Disney World was designed by a six-year-old. But, at the end of the day, a six-year-old is not going to be the one who’s deciding where the family is going to be on vacation. Adults who enjoy the educational experiences of the pavilions and enjoy the fine dining options would all be thrilled about the addition of a new country. So, if Disney wants to target the “adults without children” demographic, they should really consider adding another country.
Lastly, it simply seems like a good long-term investment. In twenty years, Frozen Ever After won’t be as popular as it is today, as some new flashier, and more current attraction will be the hot new thing at Walt Disney World. The pavilions as a whole always remain popular. Countries, in large part, don’t go out of style (god forbid we go to war with said country).
There were multiple countries that never made it off of the drawing board that maybe Disney could dust off and use for the next expansion at Epcot.