Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Secret World of Disney's Corporate Lounges...

Sounds pretty mysterious, right? Perhaps not so mysterious, but definitely a little-viewed slice of semi-secret Epcot history...


 Nestled in under the great orb of Spaceship Earth, 
a special event inside the Siemens' lounge is visible from the plaza.  
Photo credit: Amy Simpson Swiss, August 2013

Tucked away off stage, mostly out of view from the casual guest, are a host of special VIP areas scattered throughout the pavilions of Epcot. They are not widely advertised, and they have subtle access points. You've probably passed by an entrance to one, completely unaware of what was beyond the door.

Each of the major pavilions in Epcot once had a private lounge. In the heyday of corporate sponsorship, these lounges served as VIP areas for hosting employees, entertaining guests, and holding special events. Some are active for current sponsors, while other lounges are no longer in regular use.

Siemens has a lounge inside Spaceship Earth. HP's private lounge inside Mission:Space overlooks the queue and the Advanced Training Lab post-show area. The Test Track building is home to GM's lounge- though this area was reported closed for quite some time after the Test Track overhaul. Kraft once had a lounge in The Land, back when they were the sponsor of that pavilion. The Imagination Pavilion was the home of Kodak's corporate lounge.

One of the most impressive of the corporate lounges was said to be found in The Seas pavilion. I once read that an entire wall of the lounge was floor to ceiling glass, looking into one of the huge aquarium tanks in the pavilion. A transparent acrylic grand piano helped entertain guests in this exclusive space. Grand, indeed! This pavilion no longer has corporate sponsorship, and the area now goes largely unused.

These special areas are the stuff of legend for many, probably because they are off limits to all but those with corporate connections or personal invitations. Most of the throngs who would clamor for new experiences never get access to these areas of respite in the park. That doesn't stop people from embellishing the lore, though, or even from videotaping attempts at unauthorized access (not that we condone that sort of thing here at Plus the Magic... but we did uncover some footage while doing research). The attraction to these exclusive areas is understandable, especially to people who have experienced all that Epcot has to offer to the general public. Who wouldn't want to get a chance to see something off the beaten path?

The lounges mentioned so far are all in Epcot's Future World.  What about the World Showcase?

American Express used to have a VIP lounge inside The American Adventure, but their sponsorship ended and the lounge is not regularly in use. This parlor space is now used for private functions.

Another "secret" area in in World Showcase is The Norway Loft. While not a corporate lounge, it's one of the little-seen spaces that's sometimes used for private functions. A search of the Disney Events site shows some of the other areas available for the discerning event host. And now that we're on the subject...what exactly is in that hotel structure in the Canadian pavilion? I'm curious.

A private lounge overlooking Norway, my favorite World showcase pavilion? Or a secret bird's-eye view of one of my favorite attractions? I think I may have a new entry on my Disney Bucket List. I'd love to get a peek inside any of these corporate lounges or special event locations one day. If any of you Plus the Magic readers are interested in hosting a private event, or if you are eligible for entry into a corporate lounge, please do get in touch! (Hey, it never hurts to ask, right?)

So, dear readers, do you know any details about any of these secret spaces? Have you even been fortunate enough to spend any time in one of these Epcot hidden gems? Please share your story with us in the comments!

8 comments:

  1. I am going to an event during Princess Half Weekend at the Norway Loft! Can't wait.

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  2. How exciting! Will you come back and tell me about it? :)

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  3. I had no idea! How interesting. Thanks for sharing and I found you through SITS.

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  4. I work at a school in Orlando. Each summer the SGA kids do a team building retreat in the parks. This past summer that included a dessert party and viewing of illuminations (in a roped off area directly across the water from the American Adventure). Anyway, the weather was iffy so last minute Disney bumped us just for the desserts into a private area above the building used for special events at Flower and Garden. Very odd, random, scared the fecal matter (I'm scared of clowns) circus looking theme, but great views of the park!

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  5. The American Adventure lounge is being used as the Chase cardholder area during Food & Wine. It's really nothing special to tell about. However, during the Undiscovered Futureworld tour in early September they did take us into the Living Seas' lounge. It is truly amazing! I didn't see a clear piano, but the whole wall is indeed a view into the aquarium opposite where you walk through the large portion of the exibit (above the hidden mickey made of stones). There's also many nice decorations in there, but the furniture is indeed dated.

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  6. Your articles are great reads. Thanks for putting them out there. I've been lucky to be in three of the places you mentioned above. When I was on the Future World Tour at Epcot, they took us into the Living Seas pavilion and into that private area. Same aquarium wall as the restaurant just separated by a wall. Clear crystal piano in a lounge and dining area watching the fishes. Upstairs at Norway is a nice room that we had breakfast in for a private event. The view of Norway's street is cooler than the room here. The best was Siemen's VIP area in Spaceship Earth. There was a dining room and a drink area for soft drinks. The kids changed the color of the paneled floor with a computer. We then got in the front of the line at SSE. All very fun experiences.

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  7. HP lounge at Mission Space is great! Free beverages and things for the kids to do. You overlook the control room and you exit into the fast-pass line. The air conditioning is cranking and the employees treat you like a VIP!

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