Epcot
Epcot is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort, located near Orlando, Florida. The park is dedicated to international culture and technological innovation. The second park built at the resort, it opened on October 1, 1982 and was named EPCOT Center until 1994. In 2009, Epcot hosted approximately 11 million guests, ranking it the third most visited theme park in the United States, and sixth most visited in the world. Epcot is an acronym of Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. Disney's vision was not realized as funding and permission to start work on his Florida property would not be granted until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first. Disney died before the Magic Kingdom opened and the Walt Disney Company decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. The theme park originally was known as EPCOT Center to reflect the fact that the park was built to embody the ideals and values of EPCOT the city. The park consists of two sections; Future World and World Showcase, laid out in an hourglass shape. Both sections are patterned after the types of exhibits found at world expositions. In its early years, Epcot was often called a "permanent World's Fair." EPCOT Center was constructed for an estimated $800 million to $1.4 billion and took three years to build (at the time the largest construction project on Earth). Covering an area of 300 acres (120 ha), it is more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom. The parking lot serving the park is 141 acres (57 ha) (including bus area) and can accommodate 11,211 vehicles (grass areas hold additional 500+ vehicles).

Dedication

History

The planned community
The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney (sometimes using the word "City" instead of "Community" when expanding the acronym). In Walt Disney's words: "EPCOT... will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise." Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. The community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like the one in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland). Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground. Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed." The original model of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen by passengers riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom park; when the PeopleMover enters the showhouse for Stitch's Great Escape!, the model is visible on the left (when facing forward) behind glass. This vision was not realized. Walt Disney was not able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first. Disney died before the Magic Kingdom opened. After Disney's death, The Walt Disney Company decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. The model community of Celebration, Florida has been mentioned as a realization of Disney's original vision, but Celebration is based on concepts of new urbanism which is radically different from Disney's modernist and futurist visions. However, the idea of EPCOT was instrumental in prompting the state of Florida to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) and the Cities of Bay Lake and Reedy Creek (soon renamed Lake Buena Vista), a legislative mechanism which allows the Walt Disney Company to exercise governmental powers over Walt Disney World. Control over the RCID is vested in the landowners of the district, and the promise of an actual city in the district would have meant that the powers of the RCID would have been distributed among the landowners in EPCOT. Because the idea of EPCOT was never implemented, the Disney Corporation remained almost the sole landowner in the district allowing it to maintain control of the RCID and the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista; Disney further cemented this control by deannexing Celebration from the RCID.

The theme park
The theme park originally was known as EPCOT Center to reflect the fact that the park was built to embody the ideals and values of EPCOT the city. In 1994, the name was changed to Epcot '94 and subsequently Epcot '95 a year later. By 1996, the park was known simply as Epcot, a non-acronym, mixed-case word. The original plans for the park showed indecision over what the park's purpose was to be: some Imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of technology, while others wanted it to showcase international cultures and customs. At one point a model of the futuristic park was pushed together against a model of the international park, and EPCOT Center was born"a theme park with the flavor of a World's Fair.

Opening day
Before the park debuted on October 1, 1982, Walt Disney World Ambassador Genie Field introduced E. Cardon Walker, Disney's chairman and CEO, who dedicated EPCOT Center. Walker also presented a family with lifetime passes for the two Walt Disney World theme parks. His remarks were followed by Florida Governor Bob Graham and William Ellinghouse, president of AT&T. As part of the opening-day ceremony, dancers and band members performed We've Just Begun to Dream. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song especially for the occasion entitled, " The World Showcase March". During the finale, doves and many sets of balloons were released. Performing groups representing countries from all over the world performed in World Showcase. Water gathered from major rivers across the globe was emptied into the park's fountain of nations ceremonial containers to mark the opening. Located at the front of the park is a plaque bearing Walker's opening-day dedication, as seen above.

Park layout
The park consists of two sections"Future World and World Showcase"laid out in an hourglass shape. Both sections are patterned after the types of exhibits found at world expositions. Epcot is often referred to as a "permanent World's Fair."

Future World
Future World consists of a variety of pavilions that explore innovative aspects and applications of technology. Originally, each pavilion featured a unique circular logo which was featured on park signage and the attractions themselves. The logos, including that of Epcot itself, have been phased out over recent years, but some remnants still remain scattered throughout the park.
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Innoventions
  • Universe of Energy
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • The Land
  • Imagination!
Each Future World pavilion was initially sponsored by a corporation who helped fund its construction and maintenance in return for the corporation's logos appearing prominently throughout the pavilion. For example, Universe of Energy was sponsored by Exxon from 1982 to 2004, and The Land was sponsored by Kraft from 1982 to 1993, then Nestlé from 1993 to 2009. Each pavilion contains a posh "VIP area" for its sponsor with offices, lounges, and reception areas hidden away from regular park guests. In the years since the park's opening, however, some sponsors have decided that the branding wasn't worth the cost of sponsorship and have pulled out, leaving some of the pavilions without sponsors. Disney prefers to have sponsors helping to pay the bills, so pavilions without sponsors have an uncertain future. After General Electric left Horizons in 1993, it closed for a couple of years, then re-opened temporarily while neighboring attractions Universe of Energy and World of Motion were renovated. Horizons closed permanently on January 9, 1999 and was demolished in the summer of 2000 to make room for the opening of Mission: SPACE on October 9, 2003. Metlife sponsored Wonders of Life from 1989 to 2001, until that area was closed. However, the Wonders Of Life pavilion is still mostly intact and is used for both the Flower and Garden Festival and the Food and Wine Festival. Test Track opened in the World of Motion pavilion and is still sponsored by General Motors. Mission: SPACE is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard. Spaceship Earth was sponsored by Bell System from 1982 to 1984, then AT&T (Bell System's parent company, following the Bell System Divestiture) from 1984 until 2003. It was not sponsored between 2003 and 2005. It is now sponsored by Siemens.

World Showcase
World Showcase contains pavilions representing eleven countries"click on the links below for more information about each. In clockwise order, the pavilions are:
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • China
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • The American Adventure
  • Japan
  • Morocco
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
Of the eleven pavilions, Norway and Morocco were not present at the park's opening, and were added later. Each of these contains representative shops and restaurants and is staffed by citizens of these countries, as part of the Cultural Representative Program. Some also contain rides and shows. The only pavilion that is sponsored by the country it represents is Morocco. The remaining country pavilions are all sponsored by private companies. Pavilions for Australia, Russia, Spain, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, and Israel never made it past the planning phase. An Equatorial Africa pavilion was planned but was never built. It would have featured a large African presentation film hosted by Alex Haley. A small African themed refreshment stop is now in its place, known as the Outpost. After Disney's Animal Kingdom"an African-and-Asian-themed animal preserve and park"opened, any plans for an African Pavilion were dropped. The World Showcase usually opens two hours after park opening and remains open later than the Future World section of the park, however most major attractions in Future World including Test Track, Soarin', Mission Space, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Spaceship Earth remain open until park close. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, which does not serve alcohol, many stores and restaurants in the World Showcase do serve or sell alcoholic beverages from their respective countries, and beer is sold at refreshment stands throughout the park. There is an entrance to the park between the France and United Kingdom Pavilions known as the International Gateway. Guests staying in a number of the Epcot Resorts and guests coming from Disney's Hollywood Studios can access this gate by walkway or boat. Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure Based on the Disney Channel animated series Kim Possible , the World Showcase Adventure is an interactive attraction taking place in several of the World Showcase pavilions. The attraction is an electronic scavenger hunt that has guests using special "Kimmunicators" (in actuality, stripped-down cell phones) to help teenage crime-fighters Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable solve a "crime" or disrupt an evil-doer's "plans for global domination." The "Kimmunicator" is able to trigger specific events within the pavilion grounds that provide clues to completing the adventure. Launched in January 2009 and presented by Verizon Wireless, the Adventure is included in park admission.

World Showcase Lagoon
World Showcase Lagoon is a man-made lake located in the center of World Showcase. It has a perimeter of 1.2 miles. "FriendShip" launches ply the waters of the lagoon, transporting guests from Future World to the opposite end of World Showcase.

Epcot Character Spot
Epcot Character Spot is an attraction where kids of all ages can meet and greet their favorite Disney Characters and take the opportunity to pose for photos with them. Originally called the Character Connection, Epcot Character Spot welcomed its first guest in May 2007. On June 8, 2010, Kevin and Jacqueline Fink became the Epcot Character Spot's 3 Millionth guest, while celebrating their one year wedding anniversary.

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
This award winning night time show takes place in the World Showcase Lagoon every night at the park's closing time (usually 9:00 PM). The show features Fireworks, lasers, fire and water fountains timed to a musical score over the World Showcase Lagoon. A large rotating globe with curved LED screens is the centerpiece of the show and is used to display images of people and places. The current version premiered as part of the park's Millennium Celebration in 1999. The show tells the story of Earth and is divided into three movements titled "Chaos," "Order," and "Meaning." The music has an African tribal sound to it, to emphasize the idea of humanity as a single unified tribe on this planet; the lagoon is surrounded by nineteen large torches signifying the first 19 centuries of the common era, and the show culminates in the globe opening like a lotus blossom to reveal a twentieth torch, representing the now-completed 20th century.

Annual events
Epcot hosts a number of special events during the year that have proven very popular with guests.
  • The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, inaugurated in 1993, uses specially-themed floral displays throughout the park, including topiary sculptures of Disney characters. Guests can meet gardening experts and learn new ideas they can use in their own home gardens. The 18th annual event is scheduled for March 2- May 15. Each event takes more than a full year to plan and more than 20,000 cast member hours.
  • The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival debuted in 1995. The festival draws amateur and professional gourmets to sample delicacies from all around the world, including nations that do not have a permanent presence in World Showcase. Celebrity chefs are often on-hand to host the events. In 2008, the festival featured the Bocuse d'Or USA, the American semifinal of the biennial Bocuse d'Or cooking competition.
  • Holidays Around the World is Epcot's annual holiday celebration. The World Showcase pavilions feature storytellers describing their nation's holiday traditions, and three nightly performances of the "Candlelight Processional" featuring an auditioned mass choir and a celebrity guest narrating the story of Christmas. During "Holidays Around the World," Illuminations: Reflections of Earth features a special extended ending.
  • On New Years Eve the park offers a variety of additional entertainment including live DJ dance areas throughout the park and a special New Years Eve countdown edition of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.


Timeline

1960s
  • In 1966 Walt Disney produced his final film, a promotional where he tells Florida residents the plans for Walt Disney World and EPCOT.


1970s
  • October 1, 1978: Card Walker, CEO of Walt Disney Productions, reveals plans for the theme park
  • October 1, 1979: Official groundbreaking and construction of the park begins


1980s
  • October 1, 1982: EPCOT Center opens with Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Imagination ( Magic Journeys and ImageWorks only), The Land, CommuniCore, and 9 of the 11 current World Showcase countries
  • March 5, 1983: Journey Into Imagination opens.
  • October 1, 1983: Horizons opens
  • October 1, 1984: Morocco opens
  • January 15, 1986: The Living Seas opens
  • February 9, 1986: Magic Journeys closes, to reopen at the Magic Kingdom
  • September 12, 1986: Captain EO starring Michael Jackson opens
  • July 1, 1988: Norway opens
  • July 5, 1988: Maelstrom opens at Norway
  • October 19, 1989: Wonders of Life opens


1990s
  • 1993: First annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
  • 1994: Name changes from EPCOT Center to Epcot '94
  • January 30, 1994: CommuniCore closes
  • March 26, 1994 Food Rocks opens
  • July 1, 1994: Innoventions opens
  • July 6, 1994: Captain EO closes
  • November 21, 1994: Honey, I Shrunk the Audience opens
  • 1995: Name changes from Epcot '94 to Epcot '95
  • 1995: First annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
  • 1996: Name changes from Epcot '95 to Epcot
  • January 2, 1996: World of Motion closes
  • September 15, 1996: Universe of Energy reopens, now starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye
  • October 10, 1998: Journey Into Imagination closes in its original form
  • January 9, 1999: Horizons closes
  • March 17, 1999: Test Track opens
  • September 29, 1999: The Mickey Mouse arm holding a wand is dedicated with "2000" (later changed to "Epcot") over Spaceship Earth. The wand and "Epcot" sign were removed in 2007
  • October 1, 1999: Journey Into Imagination reopens as Journey Into Your Imagination, Millennium Village opens, and Millennium Celebration begins
  • October 1, 1999: Tapestry of Nations parade opens.


2000s
  • January 1, 2001: Millennium Village closes, marking the end of the Millennium Celebration
  • October 8, 2001: Journey Into Your Imagination closes
  • June 1, 2002: Journey Into Imagination reopens as Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • May 22, 2003: Reflections of China replaces the former Wonders of China
  • October 9, 2003: Mission: Space opens
  • January 3, 2004: Food Rocks closes
  • January 5, 2004 Wonders of Life becomes seasonal
  • May 5, 2005: Soarin' opens at The Land
  • October 2006: The Living Seas is refurbished and becomes The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • January 1,2007 Wonders of Life closes
  • January 2, 2007: El Rio Del Tiempo closes in its original form
  • April 6, 2007: El Rio Del Tiempo reopens as Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
  • July 9, 2007: Spaceship Earth closes for major renovation
  • September 1, 2007: O Canada! re-opens in an updated form, hosted by comedian Martin Short
  • October 1, 2007: Epcot celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a rededication ceremony, special fireworks display, a gallery exhibition showcasing EPCOT Center memorabilia, and exclusive presentations by Disney Legend Marty Sklar.
  • February 15, 2008: Spaceship Earth reopens with new sets, narration, soundtrack, and interactive ending
  • January 28, 2009: Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure opens


2010s
  • May 9, 2010: Honey, I Shrunk the Audience closes
  • July 2, 2010: Captain EO reopens


The Official Album of Walt Disney World Epcot Center
The Official Album of Walt Disney World Epcot Center was the official album for EPCOT Center in 1983. It was originally released on LP and Cassette and is no longer in print.

Track listing
Side 1 "Main Entrance Medley (Instrumental)" ”“ 3:22 " Golden Dream" - The American Adventure in the World Showcase ”“ 3:27 "Energy (You Make the World Go 'Round)" - Universe of Energy ”“ 1:48 " The Computer Song" - Epcot Computer Central ”“ 2:32 " Magic Journeys" - Journey Into Imagination ”“ 3:36 "Canada (You're A Lifetime Journey)" - Canada in the World Showcase ”“ 3:22 Side 2 "Universe of Energy" - Universe of Energy ”“ 2:14 "Listen to the Land" - The Land ”“ 2:59 " One Little Spark" - Journey Into Imagination ”“ 3:40 "It's Fun to Be Free" - World of Motion ”“ 2:14 " Makin' Memories" - Journey Into Imagination ”“ 3:26 "Kitchen Kabaret Medley" - The Land ”“ 2:20
  • Boogie Woogy Bakery Boy
  • Meat Ditties
  • Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit
“ To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship"welcome. EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world. ” " E. Cardon Walker, October 1, 1982

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