Researching this WestCOT conceptual site plan was like taking the pieces to two different puzzles, mixing them up, throwing half of them out and trying to create a finished picture from the remains. I quickly discovered that a lot of the publically-available information on WestCOT was contradictory – likely coming from different iterations of the design (versions 1.0, 2.0, etc.) . For example, two key pieces of information were the 1991 Master Plan Report (available on SamLand) and the Tony Baxter lecture; in the latter, Tony talked about European & Asian themed hotels being built six-stories above their continents and a Ride the Dragon coaster, but these things did not appear to be present in the 1991 master plan. So what I’ve drawn is not what WestCOT was actually to be at any one time (although parts may be), but instead a fun, amalgamated vision that takes all the best ideas (IMO) that were revealed and puts them into one fantasy park.
Since WestCOT was to be a new & improved version of EPCOT Center, and EPCOT is bigger than the combined plots of Disneyland + DCA (expanded), it became apparent that WestCOT needed to be double-decker (or triple-decker if you count the hotels) theme park. That would help explain the early multi-billion (in 1991 dollars) price tag. The official site plan and some key pieces concept art corroborated this theory. For example, the giant soundstages that were to be home to the Future World style pavilions (with exteriors not visible to the park-goer) were built behind the World Lagoon show buildings, and the only way to access these would be subterranean (likely, moving) passageways.
Also, on the site plan & art, there was scant evidence of the park’s most famous & elaborate attraction: the “World Cruise” aka “River of Time” – a forty-five minute, five-stop boat ride that would take riders past animatronic show scenes and then “pop out” in the exterior waterways of that particular continent. This ride would also have to be on the lower level (light gray lines in my plan).
This pic of the underside of SpaceStation Earth, the park’s enormous centerpiece, shows the multiple levels (Lower Concourses leading to the futuristic Wonders of WestCOT pavilions).
Speaking of SSE, since the World Cruise/River of Time covers the historical scenes that comprise the majority of EPCOT’s SSE’s ride, I imagine this West Coast geosphere attraction to be closer to Horizons in spirit & execution – focusing on futurism rather than the history of civilization.
FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD
The entrance to the park (and part of The Americas corner representing the U.S.A.) is in a similar style to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, easing the thematic transition from to Disneyland’s MS:USA to WestCOT. There is an exhibit and show in a similar vein to The American Adventure.
Native Tribes of North America are represented by an island village and Spirit Lodge-type show. Mexico is represented with an interior space (similar to EPCOT but much larger) that houses an ongoing night-time fiesta, dark ride and spinners for kids. Inca & Aztec exhibits & shows are present, as well.
Europe begins with a tribute to Denmark’s Tivoli Gardens that inspired Walt. France & Italy are represented in the wings of the Continental Hotel that rises, similar to Mira Costa, five or six stories above the park. There is the Russian show once planned for EPCOT and a Trans-European Express circle-vision attraction crossing the heart of the continent. As Europe transitions eastward, Turkey & Russia meet in a family boat ride based on the classic song ‘Abdul Abulbul Amir’ (done in a similar style as TDS’ Sinbad attraction).
Asia begins with representations of Istanbul (part of the Hotel Oriental), India (a Bollywood-musical theatre), Japan (Meet the World production), SE Asia (Siamese carousel). The Ride the Dragon coaster represents China, with its Great Wall segment and Dragon's Teeth Mountains.
The lakeside areas of Africa are more representative of North Africa & the Middle East (with a Great Pyramids adventure on the scale of Indiana Jones and a bustling bazaar).
Equatorial Africa, with its river rapids attraction, uses some elements of the unbuilt EPCOT pavilion.
Tony Baxter described (and the Master Plan confirmed) that the Future World pavilions would be housed in huge, un-themed (from the exterior) warehouses (or soundstages) standing behind the heavily-themed World Lagoon. This would be done to afford WDI the ability to make changes to the shows being presented, without having to expensively alter/demolish elaborate, futuristic pavilions.
While that sounds cost effective, I believe that a great theme park must impress not only from within, but without, as well. So while I kept the concept of accessing the backstage Wonders pavilions via lower level concourses, I drew representations of themed exteriors based on another WDI WestCOT proposal.
I also created some original iconography that would link these futuristic pavilions to their Orlando sisters. I have very strong feelings about EPCOT Center’s Future World past, present & future, which I will discuss when I post a plan for that park, but I’ll say here that I think that the symbology created for Future World was a work of graphic design genius, and discarding it (and thus any holistic linkages among the FW pavilions) and not replacing it is one of the most grievous decisions TWDC has ever made (for me). I’ve tried to keep all the symbols using simple geometric shapes to tell a universal story. Ventureport’s represents a key to the world, Earth’s represents the sacred spiral found throughout nature, Science represents the atom, Living represent human well-being:
Wonders of Earth (sometimes called Wonders of Nature) combines the ideas behind EPCOT’s The Land and The Living Seas. I included some shows/rides that were planned for EPCOT, but never built, such as “Blueprints of Nature”, an expedition through various biomes from the Arctic to the Desert, and a sea-voyage film/simulator aboard a vessel called ‘The Spirit of Mankind’.
Wonders of Living includes an omnimover ride through the human body (planned for EPCOT, but discarded for Body Wars) as well as a new LPS-version of Imagination with Dreamfinder & Figment.
Wonders of Science (sometimes called Wonders of Space) has the Cosmic Journeys (power of ten) show/simulator planned for the park as well as some concepts taken from earlier versions of EPCOT’s space pavilion (such as a simulated space station and space walk).
So there you have it... a closer look at how one of the big "woulda, coulda, shoulda" projects in theme park history. If you like this site/these posts, please take a moment to comment. Cheers.