Let’s Meet for a Drink at the Biergarten!
As Oktoberfest, is upon us, and the beer drinkers of the world unite, I find it a decent time to talk about one of the best drinking spots in all of the Walt Disney World resort, the Germany pavilion at Epcot! Many people come to the pavilion all year long to celebrate the heritage of Oktoberfest and the Biergarten environment can not be beaten, but why was Germany, and it’s history or beer brought to Epcot, especially when it’s sister park, the Magic Kingdom, had been a park without alcohol for years. I also don’t even need to mention the lack of booze at Disneyland because it never has had alcohol and probably never will.
Well, if you want to get really technical about timing at Epcot, Germany was a very early and natural pick for Imagineering wihen thinking about countries to add to it’s World Showcase. Several reasons are behind this. Funding attractions and pavilions was a big need and there were several German sposors willing to throw money in the hat for the pavilion to be built. A big thought going into it was that Imagineers wanted a big restaurant atmosphere at one of the pavilions and the Biergarten was a natural pick for that. Another big reasoning was the familiarity of German culture with Americans. When thinking about countries Americans would be interested in visiting, Germany, as well as several other Western European countries were picked.
Interestingly enough, the Germany pavilion is also one linked to controversy, but was built with that in mind. Epcot, and with it the Germany pavilion were built before the Berlin was demolished. Because of that, the pavilion had to be built with a bit more care for a country that was divided. The choice was made easily to design the pavilion around Western Germany, specifically southern Germany as well, which had lass of an industrial feel and more of a small town feel. That gave the pavilion a sense of history and backstory.
The choice to add an emphasis on Southern Germany also gave freedom to Imagineers who were designing the buildings. Because of their freedom, many of the buildings span architecture between the 13th and 17th centuries, giving each building it’s own personality. Southern Germany also represents many of the Germanic fairy tales represented in many Disney animated films. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Pinnochio, the first two Disney animated films, were based on German folklore.
Germany opened on Epcot’s opening day along with most of the other pavilions. (However Morocco and Norway were not opening day pavilions.) As the opening day Germany, it provided a place for shopping, drinking, and food. More was to come to the pavilion in a phase two expansion. A Rhine River attraction was to be added. A boat ride similar to the Fantasyland Storybook Land Canal Boats. As you were to ride along the rivers of Germany, guests would pass miniature representations of different historical regions. Because of financial reasons, phase two never got off the ground, but the showbuilding is still sitting there. Currently the former attraction building is home to any props needed for the Illuminations night time fireworks show.
Will the building ever be turned into an attraction? That is a mystery to all of us as we don’t have a clear cut answer. With so many other Disney parks getting attention, it is only a matter of time before some Imagineering attention comes to Epcot and the World Showcase, but truthfully, expansion will probably come in another pavilion, not a previous attraction idea. Germany does very well on its own as a food, drink, and shopping destination around the World Showcase, it does not need the attraction to succeed.
Leave your thoughts on the German pavilion. Tell us your favorite spot in Germany or your favorite memory from the the pavilion. In the spirit of Oktoberfest, whats your favorite beer, German or not?
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