Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion: 30th Anniversary

Olivier S. (NDD#263) (27 Posts)

Born in France (and still living there) I discovered WDW in the mid 1970's when I was 10 during a trip to Florida with my parents. Since then, I am a Disney fan, but also a WDW fan with EPCOT as the prefered park. The Contemporary is my "mythic" hotel even if I never stayed there: it´s because of its futurist look. By the way, I also encountered space exploration during the same trip by visiting KSC. And I am today working as the chief editor of a space news website for a scientific park in France. Guess you can see the importance of this Florida trip and the others after...


The Morocco pavilion, seen from the World Showcase lagoon, before the new Spicy Road restaurant.

The Morocco pavilion, seen from the World Showcase lagoon, before the new Spice Road Table restaurant was added.

If the future began October 1, 1982, according to the slogan used for the opening of EPCOT (at that time it was written in capital because of the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow meaning), the first new country added to the World Showcase part of the park arrived almost 2 years later on September 7, 1984. Already 30 years!

 

The king of Morocco sent the best artisans from its country for these delicate type of work, and it shows!

The king of Morocco sent the best artisans from its country for these delicate type of work, and it shows!

The Morocco Pavilion was different compared to the others, as the government of the country represented was more involved. At that time, the king of Morocco was Hassan II (now it is his son Mohammed VI) and it is a well known story that he sent the best Moroccan artisans to work with the Imagineers and create the superb mosaics that are considered by Moroccans as a historic and cultural heritage. By reading books about imagineering, you find indications that Hassan II may also have had influence on the design of the pavilion, as an elaborated model was even sent to him. And it is true that Epcot’s Morocco is as spectacular as it is faithful (as a pavilion can be, of course) to the many architectures of the country showcased.

The Koutoubia minaret at night at Epcot.

The Koutoubia minaret at night at Epcot.

Of course, you can’t miss the minaret which is designed after the famous Koutoubia in Marrakesh. The gateway is inspired by the Boujouloud Gate in Fez, another big city in Morocco. Inside you can see a representation of the typical townhouses and their interior courts with elaborate mosaics and woodworks. No Moroccan village will be complete without its Medina (old town) market. Thanks to a clever design, the light passes through some shades and colored tissues that give the shops there a rather authentic feeling. How do I know that, you say? Well, my mother Marianne, although of French origin by her parents, was born in Rabat, a town in Morocco. She lived there until her 20’s when she moved to France, but she always thought of Morocco as her home country!  I have also visited this part of North Africa many times.

Typical architecture of Moroccan townhouses with an internal court. Notice the fine mosaics and the wonderful woodwork.

Typical architecture of Moroccan townhouses with an internal court. Notice the fine mosaics and the wonderful woodwork.

The architecture of the Marrakech restaurant is different and a tribute to the southern part of the country.

The architecture of the Marrakesh restaurant is different and a tribute to the southern part of the country.

The Morocco pavilion was my mother’s most loved. She even liked the food served at the Marrakesh restaurant and only complained of one thing: you can’t bargain in the bazaar of Epcot’s Morocco! That didn’t stop her. She would speak to the cast members of the pavilion in either French or Moroccan Arabic. I always thought that one of the brightest World Showcase ideas was to have people from the countries involved at the pavilions, as it gives an human approach to the cultures of the 11 nations there.

Speaking of culture and history, an important historical link between the USA and Morocco is displayed. Located in the Marrakesh restaurant (when I was last there), on display was a copy of an official document stating that Morocco was the first country to officially recognized the independence of the United States of America (dated 1777). A strong bond that is surely no stranger to the presence of Morocco in Epcot.

The official website of the Morocco Pavilion
This article is a tribute to my mother who left us in 2009.
All pictures were taken by my wife.

The arrival to Epcot’s Morocco is quite spectacular.

The arrival to Epcot’s Morocco is quite spectacular.