IMAGINEERING
Yesterland

Venice, Italy
&
Epcot’s Italy

It’s now 2017, the year when Epcot will mark its 35th anniversary. (EPCOT Center had its grand opening on October 1, 1982.) World Showcase guests can still enjoy the brilliant Imagineering work that captivated opening day guests.

In Muppet Vision 3D, Sam the Eagle calls the finale, “A Salute to All Nations, but Mostly America.” He might characterize the Italy Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase as, “A Salute to All of Italy, but Mostly Venice.”

Yesterland photographer Chris Bales recently visited Italy, while I visited Walt Disney World. We emailed photos back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. The results are this article.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, January 6, 2017.



Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: A view of the Grand Canal waterfront

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: A view of the World Showcase waterfront

There’s a distinct resemblance between the real and Epcot views above, although Venice’s Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and its Epcot counterpart are positioned quite differently in relation to the bell tower. Epcot’s Enoteca Castello building, with its stucco walls and red tile roof, represents rural Tuscany, not Venice.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Columns with the Lion of Venice and St. Theodore of Amasea

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Columns with the Lion of Venice and St. Theodore of Amasea

Two twelfth-century granite columns topped with sculptures mark the entrance to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) in Venice. The winged Lion of Venice has become a symbol of the city. St. Theodore is supposed to be standing on a dragon that he just slew, although it looks like a crocodile. The tower in the background of the photo from Italy is the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower. It’s on the other side of the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco, and is not the tower represented at Epcot.

At Epcot, the columns look similar, but are closer together and shorter. The sculptures appear to be faithful replicas.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Palazzo Ducale

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Il Bel Cristallo shop

Historically, the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) was the residence and seat of government of the Doge, the leader of Venice. With its landmark Venetian Gothic exterior and spectacular interior, it’s one of the top attractions of Venice.

The exterior of Il Bel Cristallo shop at Epcot is a “shrink and edit” version of Palazzo Ducale. Inside, it’s an attractive store with Italian goods—including very, very fragrant perfume.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Ground floor arcade at the Palazzo Ducale

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Ground floor arcade at Il Bel Cristallo shop

The amount of “shrinking” and “editing” applied to the huge Palazzo Ducale becomes especially obvious at the much shorter, much narrower, much lower arcade.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Ornamental capitals on the ground floor columns at the Palazzo Ducale

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Ornamental capitals on the ground floor columns at Il Bel Cristallo

The capitals on the columns in Venice are hand-carved stone, with no two capitals alike.

The capitals at Epcot came out of a mold and they repeat. But they look great anyway.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Campanile)

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Reduced replica of the Campanile di San Marco

The red brick Campanile is the bell tower of the Basilica San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica), which is in the background of the photo from Italy. The tower is believed to have been built in the ninth century. It collapsed in 1902 and had to be rebuilt. So, oddly, the real and Epcot versions are both twentieth century copies.

The real Campanile di San Marco in Venice is 323 feet tall. The Epcot version is 100 feet tall.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: A Doge and the winged lion

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Disney version of a Doge and the winged lion

Doge Andrea Gritti, representing the state, kneels before the Lion of St. Mark, representing religion. The book symbolizes the sovereignty of the state of Venice.

In Venice, the sculpture is on the façade of the palace facing the Piazza San Marco. A similar sculpture with a different Doge (Francesco Foscari) is above the Porta della Cart, which connects the palace to the basilica.

Epcot repeats the same sculpture on both main façades of Il Bel Cristallo.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Closer look at the Doge kneeling before the Lion

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Closer look at Disney’s Doge kneeling before the Lion

At first glance, the real and Disney versions look similar. But look at the kneeling Doge in each photo. In the original, the size of the Doge’s head and the proportions of his body under the robe seem off. Is the Doge kneeling or standing? The Disney version clearly shows a man who is kneeling. Possibly, Disney’s Doge is just a shorter man. Also, the Disney lion seems friendlier.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Gondolas at their moorings on the Grand Canal

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Gondolas at their moorings on World Showcase Lagoon

Venice, Italy has around about 400 gondolas. These graceful, motorless boats were once the primary form of transportation in Venice. Now they almost exclusively serve tourists. There are less expensive, more efficient ways to get around.

Italy at Epcot has three gondolas, but only as props. Epcot has no gondoliers—not even for guests who might be willing to pay big bucks for a personal ride on World Showcase Lagoon with a singing gondolier and a bottle of Prosecco.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Gondola and a canal

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Gondola and a canal

Venice, Italy has 30 miles of internal canals and waterways. It’s what the city is famous for. Actually, a number of cities have more miles of canals, including at least three in Florida. Fort Lauderdale and Port Charlotte each have 165 miles of canals. Cape Coral has a mind-boggling 400 miles, making it the city with the most miles of navigable waterways in the world. Even Birmingham, England, with 35 miles of canals, beats Venice. But, arguably, Venice wins for the most beautiful urban canals.

Italy at Epcot has just one canal. It’s very short—about 150 feet long. The canal forms a small island on the edge of World Showcase Lagoon.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Chris Bales, 2016

Venice, Italy: Ponte della Paglia

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Bridge based on Ponte della Paglia

One of Venice’s nicknames is the City of Bridges. Given its many canals, it’s not surprising that there are many places to cross them. Ponte della Paglia is near the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace).

Italy at Epcot has three bridges crossing its little canal. Two of them, with significant arches and steps, have been there since opening day. The third, which has no steps and is relatively flat for accessibility, was added in 2007. They all go to the small island.


Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Venice, Italy: Ponte San Moisé (San Moise Bridge)

Comparing Venice at Epcot and Venice in Italy

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Italy at Epcot: Bridge based on Ponte San Moisé

In Venice, Ponte San Moisé crosses the San Moisé canal, adjacent to an elaborate historical church and high-end stores, including Versace and Prada. At the base of the busy pedestrian bridge, gondoliers load passengers at one of Venice’s few official gondola stands.

The Epcot version of the bridge gets much lighter use because it only goes to the small island that nobody really needs to go to, except to explore that part of the waterfront or to attend a private event.

We now bid arrivederci to Italy—both of them.


Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


Norway: Real & Epcot
Hong Kong and the Original, #2
Home


© 2017 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated January 27, 2017.