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Iraq, Russia, and Israel Pavilions at EPCOT World Showcase, Oh My!

world showcase
Credit: Disney/ Canva

Ah, EPCOT, home to technological marvels of the 80s, the only Marvel IP Disney can use east of the Mississippi River, and, of course, the World Showcase!

epcot spaceship earth blue sky

Credit: Becky Burkett

Considered initially as an Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow by the late great Walt Disney, EPCOT morphed into something entirely different after its inception in 1982.

Realized rather quickly, EPCOT became a popular park admired for its educational prowess and technological gallantry. However, it’s better known today for its festivals and alcohol sales.

Sommerfest Pretzels Beer

Credit: Disney

Despite the miss on what Walt hoped EPCOT would be, the park still remains beloved and passionately defended by Walt Disney World lifetimers, who remember her from her glory days of Horizons, Captain EO, and Maelstrom.

Although Disney is currently investing much of their efforts in expanding the park, including the creation of World Celebration, which has seen the opening Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana, the big draw to the theme park remains the World Showcase.

EPCOT’s World Showcase

At EPCOT, you’ll find a plethora of attractions, including Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Test Track, Mission Space, and even the Kidcot Fun Stop. The different pavilions, themed after the land, sea, and imagination, are still a big draw for crowds.

That being said, most head to EPCOT, not for Spaceship Earth, but for food, drinks, and entertainment around the modern marvel that is the World Showcase.

epcot's world showcase lagoon

Credit: Becky Burkett

If you’re unfamiliar, stretched around World Showcase Lagoon, you’ll find eleven themed pavilions authentically representing separate countries and cultures from around the world.

Germany Pavilion, China Pavilion, Mexico Pavilion, Canada Pavilion, Italy Pavilion, the United Kingdom Pavilion, France Pavilion, Morocco Pavilion, Japan Pavilion, Norway Pavilion, and the American Adventure Pavilion all call the World Showcase home.

world showcase

Credit: Disney

In each pavilion, you’ll find authentic smells and tastes, including snacks, quick service, and table-service dining. Some pavilions, like Norway and France, even hold their own attractions.

Festivals Galor

Although you’ll be treated to delicious fare during your trip around the world at Walt Disney World, stopping in iconic food locations like Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway, Chefs de France, and Rose & Crown in the United Kingdom, the real food comes out during one of EPCOT’s many festivals.

Almost all year long, the EPCOT World Showcase and countries like Germany, France, and China play home to several different festivals depending on the season.

EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays

Credit: Disney

To start the year off, you have the International Festival of the Arts, followed by the International Flower and Garden Festival. Next, and arguably the most popular, is the International Food and Wine Festival, rounded out by EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays.

During the massive events, guests to EPCOT can leave the comfort of Future World, World Discovery, and World Nature to treat themselves to authentic tastes from kiosks in each country of the World Showcase.

Each festival is also full of fun activities and amazing vendors serving up alcoholic beverages, art, topiaries, and much more.

Dining in the World Showcase

Despite fun attractions like Gran Fiesta Tour, Frozen Ever After, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the real reason to visit the World Showcase is to eat. As each pavilion offers authentic tastes typically associated with their country of origin, there are plenty of unique foods and snacks to expand your palate.

Although there are superb options within the World Showcase all year long, like Biergarten in Germany, Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the American Adventure, and the San Angel Inn Restuarant in Mexico, festivals provide an opportunity to grab a quick taste from different vendors that highlight florals for Flower and Garden, savory options for Food and Wine, and holiday treats for Christmas.

EPCOT-International-Festival-of-the-holidays-full-menus-released-2023

Credit: Disney

Assuming you visit during the rare dead period when there isn’t a festival taking place in the World Showcase, each pavilion offers fan-favorite selections for your hungry tummies, such as school bread in Norway, poutine in Canada, and fish and chips in the United Kingdom.

Disney World recently announced that it would be bringing back its popular Disney Dining Plan, which means you can use those table service credits at popular spots like Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada! If there’s one thing that’s for certain in the World Showcase, you won’t go hungry!

New Countries

Since its opening, guests have always been loud regarding their selection of country representation within the World Showcase. Although there is a wide variety of cuisine and culture to be had now, some feel that Disney World could have incorporated a few more selections, with Ireland and Brazil being some of the most popular suggestions.

Although these countries get pop-up kiosks during specific festivals, some Walt Disney World faithful wish more countries were offering their own unique food, drinks, and merchandise around the World Showcase.

Morocco Pavilion in EPCOT's World Showcase

Credit: Disney

Interestingly enough, according to Thrill Network, Walt Disney World decided on the existing countries along the 1 1/4 mile track, with the American Adventure pavilion being the center focal point. Mexico and Canada were to originally border the United States, as they do geographically speaking.

However, some early considerations didn’t make it into the final project as countries were allowed to bid for representation. Some, like Israel, Spain, and Equatorial Africa, didn’t make the final cut for one reason or another.

Even more interesting is the fact that certain countries, which are highly controversial today, were actually considered for inclusion in the World Showcase. According to Defunctland on YouTube and posters on Reddit, Iraq and Russia, two highly volatile countries in today’s geo-political world, were initially considered for inclusion in the World Showcase.

Speaking as someone who has spent two years of their life living in Iraq, I can attest that the culture and food would undoubtedly be an exciting choice for the World Showcase. Although I’m not as well versed in the typical norms of Russia, their uniqueness, settled in Slavic history, is probably an appropriate representation as well.

Users Disagree on Whether These Counties Would Work

Referencing the Defunctland video, Reddit user u/skatecloud1 suggested that if these countries ended up in the World Showcase, “drama” would surely ensue. 

Anyone think Disney lucked out on Epcots World Showcase from controversy?
byu/skatecloud1 inDisneyWorld

Others were quick to point out that both countries have storied histories that are representative of more than their current political climates. Others pointed to strained relationships with China, which already has a pavilion in the World Showcase, as evidence that Russia or Iraq would have worked well.

As what we know today as Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, found itself deadset on a Cold War with the United States during the construction of EPCOT, it is obvious why they were not included in the final product.

world showcase

Credit: Disney

As for Iraq, despite two wars, the latest lasting almost ten years, the country enjoyed prosperity during the 80s, even as it carried out an eight-year war with Iran.

Still, the Slavic and Islamic cultures of both Russia and Iraq would provide a perfect opportunity for education and exciting food choices like Solyanka or Masgouf.

As Russia continues to find itself in an invasion of neighboring country, Ukraine and Iraq is now home to the terrorist organization ISIS, do you think Iraq or Russia would be appropriate additions to the World Showcase? What other counties would you like to see added in the future?

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!