Tuesday, August 09, 2016

EPCOT model photos from Mike Devlin

It's time for more photos from the Devlin family! These come specifically from Mike Devlin, who lived the dream and became an Imagineer during the development of EPCOT's "World Showcase". Mike generously shared some wonderful photos of some of the intricate models that were built for various pavilions - and some models for pavilions that never happened!

Today I'm posting photos of the never-built Costa Rica pavilion. Mike said, "This model was used as a marketing device to coax Costa Rica to join World Showcase, so we really put our hearts into it."

As you can see, this really was an amazing model! In future posts, you'll see that all of the other pavilion models were done (as Mike says), "...in shades of gray to allow the designers to see shapes rather than details". But the Costa Rica model, "...was done in full color from the get-go". 

The style was an interesting combination of traditional Spanish colonial architecture, combined with  almost Victorian-style glass domes and a vast greenhouse, presumably to contain a representation of Costa Rica's lush rain forests. 

This is a neat "high altitude" view showing the pavilion in relationship of the pavilion to the waterfront (the World Showcase Lagoon, I assume). From this angle we can get a better look at some additional structures that have corrugated tin roofs, evoking the kind of buildings that one might come across in the jungle.

This part of the model represents some of the lush botanical gardens that guests would have been able to enjoy.

Here's Mike again: "Costa Rica eventually delined, and the model was destroyed. There were sad faces in the WSC model team that day". Oh man, destroyed.  That hurts. 

Many thanks to Mike Devlin for sharing these photos and some of his recollections. There are more pictures of EPCOT models coming up!


Nanook said...


Destroyed, eh-! Boy, there's no messing-around here-! That was some intricate and detailed model. It's too bad it ultimately failed to survive the thumbs-down from Costa Rica.

Thanks, Mike (and the Major), for sharing these wonderful images.

TokyoMagic! said...

Holy moly....these shots are super cool! What a shame the model was destroyed, but at least the photos of it still exist. I'm looking forward to seeing more EPCOT models, Thanks for sharing these with us, Mike!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I agree, these are very cool to see. Thanks for sharing. I always loved seeing the models (especially 67'tomorrowland and progress city) either on the old TV show or live in the park. I look forward to more of these hidden gems.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

P.S. todays forecast for Phoenix.....Dark and Mungy.

Scott Lane said...

Destroyed? That's just criminal! I guess that's the heartbreak of being an Imagineer. Even worse than the things that get left in the dust are the things that get turned to dust.
Thanks for sharing, Mike.


That indeed is a heart break for Imagineer's when the time comes to move onto or change the direction of a project and Art Collections doesn't chose to save the model. My first model I had to destroy was a 4th version of a Walt Disney World Frontierland & Liberty Square redo project. We first stripped it of trees and scale figures, then details and architectural elements we could add to our "chum" room (a room we keeped salvaged model pieces that any model teams could reuse without having to bill the parts to the project's budget" . For a long time a little Aunt Polly's Restaurant sat on a tool box at my workbench until it was taken away to be used as a hill-billy bear cabin for some other model at a different scale. The killer is when you have to destroy models YOU built and have to remind yourself their purpose is as a tool - not a piece of art!

Patrick Devlin said...

Way to go, Mikey! He's told me about this model but it's the first time I've gotten to see the pics.

Chuck said...

Holy cats! Not only have I never seen any concept art for the Costa Rica pavilion, I'm blown away by the level of detail of this model.

While I can understand the heartbreak that goes with killing a project and tearing apart the models not selected for preservation, I do like the idea of a "chum" room. I'm going to start calling my spare model and detail parts box the "chum box." Once I fill it up, I'm going to use it as shark bait and catch me a whopper. Which reminds me - it's almost lunch time and I'm hungry for a hamburger. Who's with me?

Mike, thanks so much for sharing these images of this truly amazing model.

Melissa said...

I was hoping that at least some Imagineer's kid got to take it home and use it as a doll house, but I guess it's even better that some bits of it got to be reused.

Those greenhouses! What a complement a tour of them would have been to Living with the Land!

When I first started working in a teacher's outreach program at an agricultural college, one of my first tasks was to pull together reports and phots from teachers whom we had just sent on an educational tour of agricultural and agribusiness sites across Costa Rica. The photos were gorgeous, and the reports were fascinating. They've got some very efficient methods down there for making the most of their soil and water.

DrGoat said...

Wow, such a shame, but that Devlin family is a treasure trove.
PS Alonzo, raining like heck down here in Tucson. 1.5 inches already and still raining hard. Tomorrow is supposed to be even rainier.

Anonymous said...

EPCOT could use an infusion of new countries and not having this one built is a real shame...it would have been beautiful...if not also expensive to maintain. Great post! KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, never get involved with models! It always ends in heartbreak.

TokyoMagic!, I would like to believe that the archives has many detailed photos of these models (and others), from every angle.

Alonzo P Hawk, I still think my favorite model (today) is the Progressland model, particularly before it was cut down for display at WDW. Don’t let the munginess get you down!!

Scott Lane, they should have given the model to me. I could have put my Weebles in it, along with my Godzilla toy.

Mike Cozart, a tool can still be art, but I know what you mean! I can only imagine how much room it would require to store hundreds and hundreds of models - it just couldn’t be done.

Patrick Devlin, what? You must not have said the magic word!

Chuck, a “chum box” sounds like something that Spongebob would serve at the Krusty Krab.

Melissa, yeah, why not let somebody take it home? But… I know why. They don’t want their work to wind up on eBay - it would only be a matter of time, assuming that kids didn’t tear it to pieces. You know how they are, with their firecrackers and their uzis.

DrGoat, I am SO jealous of the rain you are experiencing.

Anonymous, my understanding is that there is still tons of room for additional countries to add to World Showcase, but it’s such an expensive proposition that it will be very difficult to get anyone on board.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I'll try, but like The Carpenter's used to say....Rainy days and Mungy's always get me down.

Anonymous said...

That's a brilliant model, for sure. Beats anything I've done, or seen, for that matter.

The gray and white mass models are pretty common, even now in the days of computer 3D. These are now often 3D printed in plastic instead of laboriously built by hand out of foam core or cardboard. One of my neighbor architecture firms just bought a big 3D printer used strictly for this purpose.

I saved the school models I built myself for as long as I could, but eventually they went into the bonfire. It's kind of satisfying to design the building and then design it's apocalypse.

I have designed several projects where we did the full color models with cars and trees, etc. These were laser-cut polystyrene panels, hand painted and assembled with airplane model glue. The AutoCAD drawings of the buildings are used as the templates to cut the plastic, which is back-painted. People really like models as sales tools, somehow they are more "relatable" than a fancy rendering drawing. Like little doll houses, (or Storybook Land). It's rare for these to get tossed out, if the owners don't take them, they become backstage ornaments in the architect's office. 2 of mine are still hanging on the wall today in my old shop, almost 20 years and several moves later. I stop in to visit them occasionally.

The plants in today's example are remarkable for their realistic detail. Most architectural models have very schematic plants and cars to avoid drawing attention away from the buildings.

Thank you, Mike and Major for posting these pics, a great backstage view into the design process.


Melissa said...

Yes, there is plenty of room for more countries in World Showcase. About there's also plenty of certainty that it's never going to happen. We're already losing most of EPCOT's Norway to the fictitious country in a hit cartoon because the real Norway stopped paying sponsorship money. With times the way they are, nobody's going to put up enough sponsorship money to make it profitable.

Melissa said...

Yes, there is plenty of room for more countries in World Showcase. About there's also plenty of certainty that it's never going to happen. We're already losing most of EPCOT's Norway to the fictitious country in a hit cartoon because the real Norway stopped paying sponsorship money. With times the way they are, nobody's going to put up enough sponsorship money to make it profitable.

Chuck said...

Late to ask the question so it will probably never be answered, but at what scale was this model executed?

walterworld said...

As for Costa Rica and its leadership at the time (look it up); the old saying tkhat 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink' kind of fits. Looks like it would have been mighty cool though...