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Spain Still Here....

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Posted 19 December 2002 - 01:33 PM

From the Orlando Sentinel...


Spain is very much in evidence this month at Epcot even though the theme park's annual International Food & Wine Festival -- which the capital of bull fighting and Flamenco dancing set up shop for in the first place -- ended Nov. 17.

So why is the Spanish mini-pavilion, with its impressive walk-through display of the country's Andalusia region, still operating? Could it have anything to do with the current talks going on between Disney World executives and officials in Spain about the possibility of a permanent pavilion, which would become the 11th foreign attraction in Epcot's World Showcase?

No, says Jacquee Polak, a Disney World spokeswoman. "The Andalusia booth is separate from the discussions about a Spanish pavilion," she said.

Spain's current display is still temporary, she said. "It's particularly popular with guests, so it will remain open until the end of this year," she said.

Still, the Andalusia display offers more than the wine and food that were the heart of the festival it was set up to serve. The attraction, on a smaller scale than the permanent international pavilions such as England, France and Mexico, also provides information about Spain's culture and heritage.

If Spain built a permanent attraction, it would be the first new one in the World Showcase since Norway debuted in 1988.

Theme park consultants such as Steve Baker, a former Epcot executive who arranged for the original eight foreign pavilions, have said that Spain would be a welcome addition to the park. The foreign attractions usually consist of exhibits, a restaurant and sometimes a tour movie and ride. Some offer live music.

All of the World Showcase pavilions share at least one financial characteristic: Disney didn't pay to build them.

Building a pavilion when Disney gives permission is at least a $50 million project, according to Baker, who is now president of Baker Leisure Group, an Orlando-based entertainment consulting firm.


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