The Morocco Pavilion at EPCOT has a special history, and has always offered an in-depth look at Moroccan culture. Now, things are changing, and we are hoping that culture immersion is not lost. This weekend we witnessed some changes now in place, and if you’re familiar with this pavilion, things are noticeably different.
The Morocco Pavilion was originally funded by the Kingdom of Morocco, and its design was managed by the kingdom. Each World Showcase pavilion received funding or at least approval from the respective country, particularly their tourism board, council, or other similar organization. The Morocco Pavilion, however, was the only one to have such a deal in which the country itself funded the entire pavilion and was so heavily involved in its development. This also meant that the entire pavilion was operated by a third party, and not Walt Disney World. In October a joint statement was released by Jacquee Wahler, VP Communications Walt Disney World Resort, and Rashid Choufani and Rachid Lyazidi, Operating Participants Morocco Pavilion:
“After many years of working together, we have a mutually agreed arrangement to begin the process of transitioning operations of the Morocco pavilion to Disney. By the end of the year, Disney will assume operations of this important part of EPCOT and under Disney’s operation, the pavilion will continue to honor the rich traditions and legacy it has since it opened.”
That last sentence is pretty important. Now that some changes have been implemented we can see, and judge, for ourselves as to if the “rich traditions and legacy” are being maintained. Let’s take a look at photos we captured this weekend. The big, noticeable difference so far is the merchandise.
The amount of merchandise in the shop at the front of the pavilion, as well as the marketplace, is now reduced. Although there is a good amount of merchandise that is culturally inspired, there is now Disney character merchandise, namely featuring characters from Aladdin. This issue with this is the animated film takes place in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah. Then again, looking over at the Norway Pavilion, Arendelle isn’t a real place either. At this point anything goes. Maybe we’ll soon see pavilion themed merchandise designed by Disney similar to what many of the other pavilions like Germany, Italy, and France have for sale.
One of the great features in many of the World Showcase pavilions is the ability to explore a museum. These museums have great exhibits that change fairly often. The Morocco Pavilion has such a museum, and it currently remains open. Here’s hoping it stays that way. It is important to note that the Moroccan Embassy and Morocco Tourism Board are still involved in the Morocco Pavilion, similar to other World Showcase pavilions.
Disney has assumed management of the food and beverage operations in this pavilion. Spice Road Table reopened with a new menu, with small plates only and specialty beverages. Stay tuned for a review about the new menu. Currently Spice Road Table is the only food and beverage restaurant open in the pavilion. Tangerine Café and Restaurant Marrakesh remain temporarily closed.
Have you ever explored the Morocco Pavilion? What do you think of these changes?