Concept Art and Full Details on EPCOT Center’s Never-Built Switzerland Pavilion, Including the Matterhorn!

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Not much can beat that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning, running down the stairs, and ripping open the presents under the Christmas Tree… unless you’re a die-hard Disney Parks nerd. In that case, finding plans for an un-built attraction, possibly a pavilion for EPCOT Center, probably means more than Teddy Ruxpin ever will. It was a great toy and all, but it wasn’t this…

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A few months ago at Theme Park Connection, this particular book came across my desk. This is a 1989 proposal for a potential Switzerland pavilion at EPCOT Center. This plan was the absolute final version that was presented to Walt Disney Company management, international dignitaries, and corporate sponsors involved in the project. It is literally filled with every last detail on what would have been World Showcase’s Switzerland pavilion (and first and only roller coaster). What you are about to see and read is our Christmas gift to you in celebration of the tremendous year WDWNT had in 2014. So we hope you enjoy a little virtual trip through the never-built Switzerland pavilion at Epcot.

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Located between Germany and Italy in Epcot’s World Showcase, the Switzerland pavilion skyline is dominated by the Matterhorn, standing at 192 feet tall and 200 feet in diameter. The mountain would contain a bobsled ride with a track layout essentially identical to Disneyland’s Space Mountain attraction, but themed like the Matterhorn. Being quite different from the Florida version, Space Mountain at Disneyland features a different style of track and side-by-side seating in the ride vehicles. Imagine this as a cross between Matterhorn and Space Mountain at Disneyland, but with a larger budget and far more extensive show scenes than either attraction. While there would be indoor and outdoor scenes on the EPCOT version, the ride would be completely contained inside the large mountain structure. More on that later…

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Before reaching the mountain, guests would be greeted by a quaint, rural Swiss village hidden behind some evergreen trees. The village would be home to four shops: a clock and music shop, a wood carving and crafts shop, a candy and gourmet food store, and a clothing accessories boutique. Several house facades hide the 230-seat restaurant upstairs and an extended queue for the Matterhorn downstairs. A tourism center and VIP lounge were also part for the plans.

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Here you can see the facades and the layout of the stores on one side of the village. Personally, most of this seems like stores and items you could find in Germany, so I’m not sure how some of these shops would have worked out.

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Moving to the other side of the village, let’s further inspect the restaurant…

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The restaurant would be located across the street and dominate the upper level of each facade you see.

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The layout was pretty ingenious as almost every seat had a beautiful view of the promenade, the village, or the Matterhorn.

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Here we see concept art of what one of the dining rooms would have looked like, with the entire seating area positioned by windows.

And now, time for the main event…

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Two seperate, very different plans were created for the ride, which we will call Storyline A and Storyline B. What the interior of the ride would be was still undecided at this point, so both plans were still very viable at this point. Let’s begin with Storyline A:

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The backstory is pretty insane… it’s all about a secret Swiss bobsled training camp…

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The interior queue mostly takes place in this ice cavern.

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Suddenly things get very high-tech, think Swiss Space Mountain…

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In typical Disney ride fashion, the riders start their trip and head down the wrong path…

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Despite appearing to be outdoor scenes, all of this takes place inside of the mountain.

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The track layout appears to be identical to Disneyland, as there are 3 lift hills.

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One of the vignettes guests encounter on the mountain.

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You are “timed” as you run the bobsled course, starting at this starting gate.

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Similar to an effect that would later be developed for Test Track, but never quite worked…

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The bobsleds then veer “inside” the mountain

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Guests dodge a projection-based avalanche in this art.

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Then they speed through an ice cavern.

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Sorry it is blurry, but here gusts arrive at the unload and get their final race time.

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Guests then exit back out of the mountain.

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The attraction exits into the tourism center.

In case all of this was too expensive or didn’t appeal to those who needed to sign-off on it, a second storyline was developed.

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The attraction opens in the same style as Storyline A.

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The ride itself is VERY similar to Space Mountain in style, including these lift hills.

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The ride takes places completely inside the secret training facility, with the entire experience essentially being a simulation.

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A “tubular waveform”… Really odd…

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It’s scary how much of this seems like current Test Track…

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The ride also concludes in the same fashion as Storyline A.

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In case the scenes for Storyline B didn’t pique anyone’s interest, alternate scenes were also drawn up.

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Nothing says Switzerland like simulated explosions…

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Now let’s take a closer look a the rockets… I mean Bobsleds…

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Here are several color schemes that were laid out for the vehicles.

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Here’s a list of who would have worked on the project, most notably John Hench was the creative leader.

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The pavilion would have taken 3 years from approval to completion, so it may have opened around 1992-1993 if it was approved.

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Here are some fun facts for those of you who like this kind of stuff (and I know you are out there)…

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Concepts for the Disney Parks that are never realized are always fascinating, and to be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever had an entire book on a project like this at my disposal. I hope you agree that it is one of the most absolutely fascinating unrealized projects and have enjoyed this look at the project. We plan on going much further in-depth on this project on a future episode of the WDWNT Podcast, but until then, Merry Christmas!

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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