5 Facts About EPCOT’s American Adventure Pavilion

by | Jan 22, 2024 | EPCOT, Walt Disney World

Sure, you can recite the Declaration of Independence, but do you know these American Adventure Pavilion facts?

The American Adventure Pavilion opened in 1982 with EPCOT, designed to tell the American story. From early Native American artwork and the arrival of the Mayflower through the Civil War and up to the present day, guests can explore America’s earliest years here in this central World Showcase pavilion.

With so much to see and do within the American Adventure, it’s the perfect way to experience some “edutainment” on your next trip to EPCOT. Take these five facts along with you, and you’ll dig even deeper into American history along the way.

1. The American Adventure Pavilion Took Five Years to Build

The American Adventure was originally intended to serve as the host pavilion of World Showcase. According to initial plans, it would have been located across World Showcase Lagoon near the entrance to Future World

The pavilion’s original design was more contemporary and would have served as more of a bridge between the park’s two lands. But ultimately, Imagineers went with a more traditional design reminiscent of an earlier time in American history.

The Georgian-style mansion that houses much of the pavilion today takes its cues from various 18th-century American architectural icons like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Old State House in Boston, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Like many Disney attraction show buildings, forced perspective is used –– but it’s a bit different here.

While Disney’s forced perspective is usually used to make structures look taller than they really are, in the case of the American Adventure, Imagineers used it to make the show building appear to be shorter than it actually is to fit the architectural style.

2. The Preshow is All Around You

Inside the American Adventure show building

Take a look at all of the preshow materials (especially the paintings!) inside the American Adventure. Photo by Cliff Wang

Step inside the mansion at the heart of the American Adventure Pavilion, and you’ll find yourself within a dome lobby with Imagineer-created paintings and quotes by American historical figures. While the focus of this building is the show featuring 35 Audio-Animatronic figures and an impressive 72-foot screen that brings American history to life, it’s not the sole attraction. In fact, if you know where to look, you’ll find the show (or preshow, at least) is everywhere inside the building.

To the right upon entry into the show building is the American Heritage Gallery, an exhibition space that’s rotated frequently and is home to a series of paintings you won’t want to miss. The pavilion’s paintings portray events throughout American history from covered wagons crossing rivers toward western expansion to new immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, home to the Statue of Liberty.

Take a close look at the paintings next time you’re inside the pavilion –– while they might seem to bear random names or historical figures, there are some Disney touches hidden here! See how many Imagineer names you recognize.

Once inside the theater, you’ll find statues representing the different “Spirits” of America on either side of the theater, including:

  • Adventure (fisherman)
  • Compassion (doctor)
  • Discovery (frontiersman)
  • Freedom (pilgrim)
  • Heritage (Native American)
  • Independence (Revolutionary soldier)
  • Individualism (cowboy)
  • Innovation (scientist)
  • Knowledge (teacher)
  • Pioneering (pilot)
  • Self Reliance (farmer)
  • Tomorrow (mother with her child)

3. Audio-Animatronics Advanced Here

The American Adventure show is one of EPCOT’s greatest technological achievements. The pavilion’s Audio-Animatronic show runs smoothly from beginning to end from Guests’ perspectives, but behind the scenes, a lot is going on to make the show function. The audience area’s sloped seating creates the perfect illusion for hiding massive sets above and below the stages.

It might not seem like it, but this show is actually home to some impressive advances in Audio-Animatronic technology. Some of the first intentional (and very well done) Audio-Animatronic movements are included in the show, such as Ben Franklin appearing to walk and him and Mark Twain shaking hands at the show’s conclusion.

The 72-foot screen serves as a backdrop for the entire performance, mixing hand-painted and Disney-designed backdrops with historic artwork and images.

4. Some of the American Adventure Show Images Are Real (and Some Aren’t!)

Animatronics in the American Adventure Show

A look at the blend of Audio-Animatronics and imagery during the show. Photo by Rich Ramos

If you’ve ever wondered how historically realistic the show inside the American Adventure Pavilion is, the answer is kind of complicated. While some of the images shown in the show are authentic, others were recreated to fit the story.

The Civil War segment, for instance, uses authentic photos of the war alongside a funeral scene that was recreated based on a real photograph staged for the show at the railroad station in New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

Likewise, the World War II scene showing women working to support the war effort mentions Rosie. The Animatronic in question is a Disney-recreated nod to Rosie the Riveter, the model featured in government campaigns created to entice women to take on industrial jobs during labor shortages.

5. The Speeches Are Mostly Authentic

While some imagery may be fake, the speeches you’ll hear in the show are authentic. In fact, some are word-for-word to their real-life counterparts. Many of the speeches heard during the show were not Imagineer-written but rather Imagineer-paraphrased from their real-life counterparts.

For example, Susan B. Anthony’s monologue in the show is almost a word-for-word excerpt from the Women’s Declaration of Independence. While not verbatim, Frederick Douglass’ speech in the show is heavily inspired by his 1855 Lecture on the Anti-Slavery movement. Chief Joseph’s dialogue in the show is a heavily paraphrased version of his declaration of surrender in 1877 when the U.S. government forced the Nez Percé onto smaller reservations. 

Conversely, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s voice is heard over the radio, stating, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” an actual recording from his inaugural address is used.

For more fun facts and trivia about the American Adventure Pavilion and other locations throughout EPCOT’s World Showcase, keep reading:

5 Facts About EPCOT’s Italy Pavilion

5 EPCOT Japan Pavilion Facts

Posts by Brittany DiCologero

epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu
Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Brittany DiCologero

Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop