EPCOT originally stood for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was a serious ambition of Walt Disney. He believed that cities could be better organized and self-sufficient. Originally, the idea of EPCOT and Disney World were kept secret from the public as Disney continued to buy land in the Florida area to open a new theme park after the success of Disneyland in California. Walt did everything he could to cover his tracks; purchasing land under assumed identities, creating dummy corporations, and upon occasion even paying off some Citrus farmers to remain hush on the matter. His supporters were critical at best about his idea, but Walt persisted and the Magic Kingdom was opened in Orlando, Florida in 1971. Unfortunately, Walt Disney passed away in 1966 before he could see his creation come to life.
EPCOT opened in 1982 and it consisted of Future World and World Showcase. The original name of the park was EPCOT Center to reflect Walt’s original idea of wanting to build a prototype city. Although the Disney Company was not up to heading a city, at least not yet, they did take Walt Disney’s ideas of the future and technology and combine them. Future World was dedicated to the cutting edge technology that was being developed and that would be used by mankind on many different fronts. World Showcase was developed to be a separate park that showed the customs and cultures of other countries, however during a meeting with Imagineers, the model of World Showcase and Future World were pushed together and EPCOT Center was born. The park was not known as we know it today until 1996, when the park was officially rebranded Epcot. Fans everywhere still look back and reflect on what was the original EPCOT CENTER.
Epcot is the largest of Walt Disney World’s 4 parks. There are several attractions that have been implemented and removed; some that are favorites which cause some serious uproar in the fan community, and others that are not. One of the main attractions is Spaceship Earth. Spaceship Earth is located in the giant sphere that symbolizes Epcot. It is an attraction that showcases the evolution of communication from the beginning of time to more present day. The attraction has been overhauled numerous times in previous years, and most recently in 2008. The use of animatronics is amazing and makes the viewer feel as though they are actually travelling through history.
Future World today, is not what it was when Epcot opened in 1982, and there have been various changes and upgrades to various attractions that were here when the park opened, while some have been totally removed. When Epcot was dedicated by E. Cardon Walker (Disney Chairman and CEO at the time), there were nine attractions in Future World. Those were Spaceship Earth, Communicore, The Living Seas, The Land, World of Motion, Imagination, Horizons, Universe of Energy, and The Wonders of Life. Three of these have completely closed down, and become something else, while the rest have all seen changes over the years in some way. Communicore has become Innoventions, The Living Seas is now The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Mission: Space and Test Track now stand were Horizons and World of Motion used to be. Spaceship Earth has changed narrators and had its exhibit changed, along with Imagination seeing similar changes in updates to its attraction as well.
As technology evolves and changes, so too do the attractions and innovations that make Epcot what it is. Over the past two half decades, attractions have been put into place, and even removed in order to keep up with the changing technology of the times; one such attraction was is the recently closed 3-D show Honey, I shrunk the audience. However, Captain EO (starring Michael Jackson) was reopened in July of 2010.
Perhaps Epcot’s best feats take place in World Showcase. There were eleven countries originally, however, the Norway and Morocco pavilions were not opened until after Epcot was opened to the public. Also planned originally was a second phase to World Showcase that never saw completion, due to various shortfalls in budgets and sponsors. World Showcase has also seen changes minor and major over the years with attractions being remodeled like the Gran Fiesta Boat Ride in Mexico, The Millennium Village and Tapestry of Nations that debuted during the Millennium Celebration that are now gone. In 2007, Epcot celebrated its 25th Anniversary and was rededicated using parts from the original dedication ceremony.
Though Epcot was an innovative idea that many were afraid would not take off due to skepticism, or lack of interest. Today, millions of people arrive at Epcot to witness the technology and cultures that are part of the park. They are combined to make a lasting impression that leaves visitors wanting more and wondering what could be done next. There is always speculation as to what will be added or removed next, or what will be changed, or possibly return in a new form, however one thing does not need to be speculated on. Epcot may not be exactly what Walt Disney wanted it to be, but it has certainly relayed the messages that Walt hoped it would pass along to anyone who visits.
In the future, we will profile former shows and attractions that were an important part of Epcot’s past.