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]

24 Comments

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  • That is truly incredible! The would be an amazing sight on the world showcase horizon. Maybe you need to send this over to WDI to make them re-imagine this idea haha.

  • I was thinking the same thing about how Storyline B resembles current Test Track (booo!!!). Storyline A, however, looks so incredible that it makes me sad this never happened. If built, this would, by far, be the coolest World Showcase pavilion!

  • This would have been so freakin awesome in the world showcase and this version of the Matterhorn looks way better than the one at Disneyland and honestly I wish they would have gone through with these plans because this would be an awesome pavilion.

  • thanks for sharing this amazing Book. This is a great guide to how proposals to atttactions look like. It Makes you wonder what other attraction’s proposals look like I know that when Walt was in charge He was the Proposal Booklet.

  • A futuristic High tech Matterhorn ride? How stupid. What kind of crack where they smoking when they designed this? Thank goodness it never got built. If you’re going to build the Matterhorn, DO IT RIGHT and give it a classic European Swiss Alpine theme. Not some Sci-Fi shenanigans. That would be like it they had Given Expedition Everest a High tech Sci-Fi theme: just stupid, dumb and WTF.

  • I would love to see this come to fruition in the future rather than frozen as it currently stands. But remove the tomorrow land feel that one part just doesn’t fit quiet right?

    On a side note do you have the full plans for the attraction that was supposed to go in to Germany pavilion also?

  • Is that layout identical to Space Mountain in Disneyland? That whole thing looks absolutely incredible and a family roller coaster is exactly what Epcot needs.

  • If it doesn’t MAKE more money for Disney, such as stores and meet and greet photos, it’s NEVER gonna happen at Disney anymore. Attractions and guest ‘experiences’ are on their way out. All they’ve been really adding is standing space/stoller space and more revenue centers.

  • Excelent Proposal. Typical example of Swiss perfection. Every single detail was covered. I do not undertans why it was not approved until now. I agree with the idea of sending it again to Disney’s Board of Directors.

  • I own the piece announcing this pavilion that hung in the original EPCOT preview center. It measures 30 by 22 inches and is mounted on a larger wood frame. Where would I sell such a piece or just find out what it is worth?

  • Corporate presentation Concept books ….
    A deep sigh .. :-)
    The STUDY as presented here, has been PAI FOR, anyway ! (Realised project or not)

    How different this is in NON corporate (small scale) leisure environments.
    I’m in the running with a concept development for a regional (100% ‘real’) themepark (in Belgium)
    (Realistic attendance size 400,000 first year , to 1,200,000 between 10-15th year)
    Until now, a +1500 hours invested in pre-project concept development. (Spread over a period: end 2014-until now, april 2017)
    Fighting for investor interest. Doing site zoning (government) action work. Political lobbying. etc…
    As USUAL, because I’m co-promotor for the project, ZERO payment for any of the +1500 hours. (Or 3500 if you count phoning, mailing, meetings, EAS-IAAPA encounters … etc)
    “Risk” investment, also counts for endless labour hours.
    >>> The Disney imagineers (and the other non Disney contractuals) do not have ANY idea what it is to fight for a project in an independent small scale environment, one one’s OWN account. They actually do a paid job, and the could or could not complain that the specific project would not be realised. NONE OF THEM ever did a project of themselves, on 100% own risk ! Presentation book delivered ?? FINE… get into the next Neverland… PAID job.

    I just wanted to state this fact, because this is an excellent Disney fan website, but Disney fans very easily forget about people BEHIND projects, and a corporate environment offers pay, even if everything you produce is dumped in the dustbin.
    NON corporate (small scale) projects, are by large, alwars investing all of their energy, time, resources without ANY payment, because EITHER the project happens, and your pay = part of the profit, OR it does not happen and you loose. That’s it.

    >>>> DISNEY IMAGINEERS have no idea at all what a real fight for a project is ….

    Cheers !

    .. :-)
    I wanted to

  • QUOTE :
    “”
    Azi Wolfenson
    February 20, 2015 at 6:13 PM – Reply

    Excelent Proposal. Typical example of Swiss perfection. Every single detail was covered. I do not undertans why it was not approved until now. I agree with the idea of sending it again to Disney’s Board of Directors.
    ……. “”

    It’s amazing ridiculous to read “Every single detail was covered” ……. :-)
    My own pre-project concept report (new Belgian regional theme park) boosts over a 100 pages of detailed analysis in all aspects imaginable (theme choice accounts, attraction proposal packs, private and macro-economic backgounds, environmental analysis
    [which is right here (Europe/Belgium) on a level probably uncomprehensible in the USA… like the legal near zero-energy consumption goal in building sites… ] ,
    labour opportunity analysis, heritage preservation and legal zoning plan, pre-project masterplan, regional mobility planning proposal, operational guidelines,
    …..
    Really, apart from promotional visual information, the Epcot Swiss pavillion presentation book does not present ANY detailed information ! It’s an internal corporate marketing style document !
    We (in my case) would be in the dusbin “by definition” with such a childisch weak report… No investor at all would be interested to give it a second glance, and government agencies would not even give it a first glance….

    Professional review ..
    ;-)
    CHEERS

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