We are not throwing away our shot to share some Disney Imagineering details you may have missed during your last visit to Walt Disney World. This 4th of July weekend we were coming off of a Hamilton high having watched it on Disney+, so we wanted to take a dive into the theming and history of the two American lands here at the parks, Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom and the American Pavilion at EPCOT. Next time you are at Walt Disney World, be sure to keep an eye out for these hidden gems!
Consider this a glimpse of what we discuss in our episode 009: I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot of the Orlando Adventure Club podcast. Give it a listen for a deeper look into these details and to hear our thoughts on Hamilton!
Here are some details, facts, and some history on these two American lands at Walt Disney World that you may have missed:
EPCOT’s American Pavilion:
- America sits in the middle of the World Showase as a host: The American Pavilion is located in the middle of World Showcase, and you have a perfect view of it across the lagoon entering the Showcase. Imagineers created this focal point to signify that America is the host country for all of the other country pavilions.
2. The American Adventure building is 5 floors tall, not 3 (and definitely not 2 as it appears indoors): The main show building for The American Adventure, a 28-minute long theatre attraction appears to have 3 floors when looking at the outside facade’s windows. When you enter, it seems to be just two large floors. However, the building actually has 5 floors in it. To stay true to the Colonial era and Georgian Mansion architecture of which it’s based, they had to keep the outward appearance as only 3 floors since there were no buildings over 3 stories tall during the Colonial time period.
3. Voices of Liberty in the Rotunda: Do not miss beautiful A Capella performance of American hymns and folksongs sung by an ensemble in the rotunda as you wait for the American Adventure show to start. It is simply beautiful.
4. You can get married in the American Adventure Rotunda: For a pretty copper penny, you can get married in the Rotunda of the American Adventure. It would be a full Disney Fairytale Wedding, where Disney catering, photo, and florals must all be added on for a total cost that would shock the US Department of Treasury to hear.
5. Native American Artifacts on Display: We all know that Native American history has been erased from much of American history. Disney does touch on the dark history of colonization and its damaging effects on Indigenous people in the American Adventure show. In the waiting area of the American Adventure, you are also able to marvel at some beautiful modern clothing, bags, tools, and other artifacts from various tribes across the nation.
6. Colonial style paintings by Disney Imagineers: Hanging in the waiting area for the American Adventure, be sure to look at the oil paintings. There are around 30 paintings done by Disney Imagineers depicting various scenes that give you a glimpse into Colonial life, painted in the art style of the time.
7. Hall of Flags: As you head up the escalator to the American Adventure theatre, look up! You will see above you 40+ flags including those of colonies, territories, and countries that in past history have claimed bits of land which are now part of the United States.
8. The American Adventure: The show itself! This is often overlooked and the theatre goes partially filled most days out of the year. The key exception being Independence Day, where it is filled to capacity at nearly every showing. This 28 minute show is a journey through the American Revolution, Civil War, Industrial Revolution, Women’s Suffrage, National Park Conservation, and more. The music is fantastic, look for the Two Brothers song and of course the finale track Golden Dream which plays over a montage of modern American figures.
9. Unpleasant American History is depicted: America is the only Pavilion that talks about their nation’s troublesome history alongside the good. Slavery, women’s oppression, and Native American genocide are all touched on in the American Adventure show.
10. Disney’s first walking Animatronic: The American Adventure is filled with complex animatronics including Disney’s first ever walking Animatronic, Benjamin Franklin. This was also the first Disney show to project the animatronic voices from nearby the figure rather than just playing it over the general speaker system.
11. Club 33 in the American Pavilion: As you may know, Club 33, the highly exclusive and expensive club for Disneyland’s more famous and prominent visitors expanded to have club locations at Walt Disney World. There is one location in each WDW park, and the entrance for EPCOT’s is located between the shop entrance and American Adventure entrance doors.
Now let’s jump on the Monorail and park hop over to Magic Kingdom…
Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom
12. There are no bathrooms in Liberty Square…on purpose!: To stay true to the Colonial era, there are no bathrooms visible in in the land, as indoor plumbing was non-existent. A cast member will politely direct you toward the neighboring Frontierland and nearby Tangled bathroom in New Fantasyland. However, there are restrooms in the restaurants of Liberty Square, so don’t worry, you are safe in case of emergency!
13. 13 lanterns and 13 Flags: If you look up at the large beautiful Oak Tree in the center of Liberty Square, you will see 13 unique lantern hanging to symbolize the original 13 Colonies. You will also see 13 American Flags surrounding the replica of the Liberty bell, which was cast from the actual Liberty Bell, so it RINGS true as an authentic dupe. You’re welcome for the bell pun.
14. The Liberty Tree was hand selected and replanted into Liberty Square: As seen in the Imagineering documentary on Disney+, the Oak Tree at the Center of Liberty Square was discovered on Walt Disney World property as it was being built. It had the perfect look and shape with its over hanging branches, so it was dug up and transplanted into Magic Kingdom. As a backup, there is a similar Oak tree in Animal Kingdom that is kept in case something were to happen to the one in Magic Kingdom now.
15. There’s poop on the roads: If you look down at the pavement in Liberty Square, you will see a brown stream of concrete running through the red pavement. This streak actually signifies the method of dumping bathroom waste out onto the streets due to that lack of indoor plumbing. GROSS.
16. Crooked shutters hang from windows: Look up at the shutters that hang from the Colonial house and restaurant facades around Liberty Square and you will notice many are hanging unevenly. This is yet another accuracy of the times since shutters were hung by leather that would often stretch and cause the shutters to droop over time. This was because at some point during the American Revolution, Britain stopped sending over metal to America to deter us from using it as ammunition against them in combat. This resorted in the original metal hangings of shutters to be repurposed for weaponry and Colonists replaced them with leather instead.
15. Paul Revere’s lanterns – One by Land, Two by Sea: If you look up above the left side of the Hall of Presidents building, you will see in the window two lanterns to warn that the British were coming swiftly by sea. The lanterns of course are in homage to Paul Revere’s historic ride, and were a failsafe to deliver the message in case he didn’t survive his ride over to signal American troops.
Next time you’re at the parks, be on the lookout for these details! Give our episode: I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot a listen, where we elaborate more on Liberty Square, the American Adventure/Pavilion, and Hamilton!
020: Fork That! – Orlando Adventure Club
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