When the Disney brain trust created the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, it had in mind a futuristic vision of how it saw the world, presumably with a mouse in charge. Opened in 1982 at a cost that spiraled to nearly $1.5 billion, EPCOT is a sprawling landscape that speaks more to how international culture would showcase itself and interact with others in an idyllic environment.

That whole concept is probably lost on the millions who flock to EPCOT, located near Orlando in Florida. Obviously, the allure of all the rides and the movie themes are so powerful, it's pretty easy to overlook the original concept dreamed up in Disney's design departments. Even the Spaceship Earth geodesic dome created by architect Buckminster Fuller, then seen as a marvel of engineering, ranks as one of the more high-profile sideshows when the whole draw of the theme park is amusement.


Also lost are the dozens of finishing touches added to the complex that are visible, but only to more discerning eyes. Some of them were put in as private jokes by designers, while other features were created for the sake of deception. But the rest seems to double as a test to see if anyone's paying attention to what's on the structures and attractions, doubling as a Disney version of Where's Waldo? being staged right in front of unsuspecting spectators.

Here's a look at a few of those hidden finds, although all of them in plain sight, if your eyes are sharp enough to find them.

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Oh, those deceptive Americans and Canadians!

Probably one of the most amazing elements of the American Experience building and the Canadian Pavilion is how deceptively tall they are. The American edifice, for example, is actually five floors tall, but the outside configuration dupes audiences into thinking there's only three stories. It's the opposite of the Canadian building. From the outside, it looks like a five-story structure if you judge it according to window placement. But the upper floors each have two levels of windows.

Audiences checking out the presidential plays in American Experience are unwittingly on the second floor of the building. The first floor is where they store all the automatic props with trap doors for these figures to enter and leave the stage. And in the lobby are a series of giant paintings, one of which conceals the doors to an elevator.

Meanwhile outside the Canadian Pavilion, stands three totem poles but only the center on is real, which doubles as a storyboard for centuries of folkloric tales. As well, Canada has a bona fide nature path, plus a secret one that takes visitors to an abandoned goldmine and waterfall.

European attractions serve their secrets with a few guffaws

Europe's continent is well-known for its ingenuity in several fields including entertainment. And the contributions it's made to Disney's EPCOT are not only amusing, but they're also downright clever.

Case in point is an unassuming clock in the German Pavilion's courtyard, that quickly converts into a stage for two dancing dolls at the top of the hour. And a series of columns near the Italian Pavilion features a row of monarchs, including one with a bowling ball, as its designer was fond of bowling.

Venture over to buildings in the Norwegian area and look closely at the woodwork, where images of trolls have been added into the finish. In the U.K. section is a hedge formation created to resemble that of Hyde Park in London, but for the sake of the kids, the hedges are cut low to avoid lost youngsters. In the French district, the most misleading structure is the Eiffel Tower that looks tall but is only a tenth of the size. It's also built within the skyline making it inaccessible to visitors.

Asia and other parts of the globe have their own hidden finds

The rest of the world also has its own share of surprises.

China's Temple of Heaven, designed for Disney at half the scale of the real thing in Beijing has a secret you can't see. But you sure can hear it, since it's designed to create a perfect echo of a visitor's voice. As well, the rock formation outside the Japanese pavilion seems pretty stable, until late at night, when the top layers of the rock shift to reveal a giant sound system to amplify the sounds of Disney's evening ceremonies.

One other secret has religious connotations, however. Although all pavilions light up at night, Morocco is the only one that remains dark on grounds of adherence to that nation's faith.

The Mouse makes his mark... pretty much everywhere!

Attention, patrons, Big Rodent is watching you. And he's everywhere if you're on the lookout for all the evidence scattered throughout EPCOT. Take a look at the totem pole outside the Canadian Pavilion, for openers. Now look down underneath the right wrist of the top figure and you can make out the greyish head and ear outline of the Disney icon himself.

If you keep that outline in mind, you'll see it everywhere, such as the mesh configuration in one of the greenhouses in the Living With the Land complex. Elsewhere, you'll find him in paint ring stains left behind by paint lids on wood finishings in Spaceship Earth, or as part of a grapevine in the German pavilion.

He can be found in Victorian-style paintings, like a three-rose formation in a woman's hat, upside-down in gold within a Japanese pagoda or as part of a hanging pub sign in the British section. There's also no shortage of Mickey sightings on the panels of the Spaceship Earth dome if you look carefully. Speaking of which, if you're strategically placed at night to watch the fireworks, two exploding skyrockets create a mouse ear-like cascade on either side of the dome.

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