EPCOT Colors VI - The Living Seas

The first major attraction to debut after EPCOT Center’s opening year, The Living Seas marked a massive departure in not only the mode of exhibition used for a Future World pavilion, but in aesthetics, too. Firmly bookending Future Word West, The Living Seas proves to mesh ideologically with Future World on every level, but is an outlier in appearances. 

Fully abandoning the crystalline architecture of her neighboring Land and Imagination pavilions, The Seas adopted a organic, smooth, and surprisingly low sitting stature along the EPCOT Center skyline. Previous plans indicated a soaring, concrete pylon at the Seas’ entrance, but by the time TLS’ debuted in 1986, this was dropped in favor of a much more subtle design. 

The final design of The Living Seas is meant to emulate a beach’s sand dunes or the contours of a well polished sea shell. The tan, off white color supports this organic look, and was chosen to create a visual and mental juxtaposition between form and topic. A typical blue or sea foam would be too obvious for the pavilion dedicated to underwater exploration and organisms. 

Complimenting and building on the pavilion’s rather basic color scheme, the marquee and entrance mural also contributed to The Living Seas radically organic appearance. Vivid blues, greens, purples, oranges, and yellows were applied in swaths of sculpted metal to the pavilion’s sweeping entrance wall, and formed an abstract mural of a sunset on the ocean. This splash of color lent an artful, but static statement to the otherwise flowing structure. 

Most exciting of all, The Living Seas’ marquee and central fountain were both bold examples of the pavilion’s differences and organic template. Designed to appear as a totally natural wave pool, rock formations and greenery provided for a large fountain that would sporadically splash waves over the sign’s lettering. Providing a sense of energy and kinetics to the pavilion’s entrance, this fountain and its rocky, rough hewn aesthetic were massive departures for the rest of Future World’s sleek, monolithic entrance structures. Given the topic addressed by The Living Seas, and the environment that the pavilion actually put you in, this degree of realism was totally warranted. No other pavilion in Future World boasted environment as fully as The Living Seas did. Considering these thematic changes, the differences applied to her appearance make for much more cogent experience. 

Today, most of these aesthetics still exist on the most basic level. But, tragically, the great details that unified the whole aesthetic package have been tampered with. The pavilion has been painted in a light, pastel blue, obviously advertising the pavilion’s content. The color choice isn’t garish my any means, but it does lack the subtly that the white paint ince held. 

The mural is the most frustrating loss of all. Removed in 2006 for the addition of the Finding Nemo characters, the sunset and warm hues are gone, instead replaced with cut outs of the movie’s characters. Frankly, it is an advertisement, not art. 

Despite all this, the wave pool marquee still splashes and adds a sense of adventure and energy to the area and still delights guests. 

As EPCOT prepares to mark her 30th anniversary in just over a week, it is a hope that in the future, more respect is paid to her inner aesthetic workings and that one day they will be faithfully restored in some new way. 


This is part of a continuing series on EPCOT’s aesthetics and color composition.

Past articles: 

The Land:

Journeys in Space:

World of Motion:

Journey into Imagination:

Universe of Energy:


And to my readers who were anxious for my return to blogging: Thank you and sorry it took so long! The past few weeks have been predictably hectic at work and school, so my time for writing was limited. I appreciate all the encouragement to return, though! Always great to see. :-)