Meet the World: Epcot Center's Canceled Attractions Part 1

Meet the World Show Building Epcot World Showcase

Welcome to Theme Parks and Entertainment. Today we start a new series of articles which will chronicle a series of attractions designed for Epcot Center at Walt Disney World, but for various reasons were never built there. Today we start off with an attraction with complicated development history, Meet the World.

Meet the World was an attraction proposed for the Japan Pavillion in the World Showcase. But this ride was not only proposed, but it also ended up making it all the way to the construction stage, unlike most other canceled Epcot Center attractions.

As you can see above, the show building for this attraction still exists in Epcot to this day, but it remains empty. So what happened?

The answer is, we really don't know.

Let's start by describing what this attraction was going to be. Actually, we know exactly what it was going to be as it ended up being fully built later in Tokyo Disneyland's Tomorrowland as an opening day attraction.

The attraction would work as sort of a reverse Carousel of Progress, with the rotating audience sitting in the center with immobile stages surrounding the audience. It would then tell the story of the history of Japan with an animated Crane and two children as your guides, serving a similar role to Father in Carousel of Progress. The story traveled from the ancient history of Japan all the way through their modern technological achievements. It would also feature a theme song by the Sherman Brothers, creators of many other famous theme park songs, including One Little Spark from Epcot Center.

The attraction was similar in style to other Epcot Center travelogue attractions like the Circlevision films and the American Adventure animatronic show.

This was intended to be a part of Epcot Center's opening day, and most parts of the ride were constructed, including the show building for the ride. The soundtrack was even already created, even though it was never used as a separate version in Japenese was created for the Tokyo version.

Here is where we run into conflicting reports on what happened next. The most accepted story is that some sort of miscalculation happened during construction preventing the building from supporting the attraction. The attraction was to be built on the second floor of the building, so any structural problems would be twice as serious as the ride would not be at ground level. Other reports say there were concerns about the ride's content and how it would play with an American audience, especially considering the attraction largely skipped Japan's role in WWII, but this is not the accepted reason, but merely speculation.

What we do know is the ride did not open as intended in Epcot Center, and that space remains inaccessible to guests to this day. We still got to see a fully realized version of this attraction as it did open with Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, likely using several of the set pieces already created for the Epcot version of the attraction.

This is, at least in my research, the only canceled attraction for Epcot Center that actually ended up being built elsewhere, allowing us to be able to look at what could have been in Epcot, despite the original plans falling through.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the rest of this series here for more like it, and be sure to check back for future articles in this series, including the next one, Blueprints of Nature, The Original Land Pavilion.