Spaceship Earth, the icon of Epcot
|Location||Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.|
|Theme||Technological innovation and international culture|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
|Operated by||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts|
|Opened||October 3, 1982|
|Previous names||EPCOT Center|
|Walt Disney World|
Epcot, originally EPCOT Center, is the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida. It opened on October 1, 1982, and spans 300 acres (120 ha), more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom park. Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture, and is often referred to as a "Permanent World's Fair." In 2011, the park hosted approximately 10.83 million guests, making it the third most visited theme park in the United States, and sixth most visited theme park in the world.
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 24, 1982
EPCOT is an acronym of Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a Utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney, often interchanging "city" and "community." 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. 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." His original vision was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. It was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings, schools, and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like that in Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland.) Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground. The original model 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 remaining portion of the model is visible on the left (when facing forward) behind glass. Walt Disney was not able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to first build Magic Kingdom. He died nearly five years before 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 without Walt's guidance. 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 (now Lake Buena Vista), a legislative mechanism allowing 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 original plans for the park showed indecision over the park's purpose. 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 a World's Fair international theme, and the two were combined. The park was originally named EPCOT Center to reflect the ideals and values of the city. It 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. 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). Before it opened 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.
In 1994, the name was changed to Epcot '94 and subsequently to Epcot '95 the following year, reflecting a similar naming convention used at world's fairs and expos. In 1996, the name was changed to simply Epcot.
Epcot is divided into two areas, patterned after the types of exhibits found at world expositions. It is designed in an hourglass shape.
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
- Universe of Energy
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- The Land
Each 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 reopened 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 sponsored by Chevrolet. 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 contains pavilions representing eleven countries. In clockwise order, the pavilions are:
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 Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, and Israel have never made it past the planning phase to date. An Equatorial Africa pavilion was planned but 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. 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.
Unlike the Magic Kingdom, which only offers beer and wine on a limited basis and until 2012 did not serve alcohol at all, many stores and restaurants in the World Showcase serve or sell alcoholic beverages from their respective countries, and beer is sold at refreshment stands throughout the park.
Originally based on the Disney Channel animated series Kim Possible, the World Showcase Adventure is an interactive attraction taking place in several 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. It was succeeded by Agent P's World Showcase Adventure, based on Disney's Phineas and Ferb, on June 23, 2012.
World Showcase Lagoon is a man-made lake located in the center of World Showcase, with 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 a meet-and-greet attraction providing guests the opportunity to pose for photos with Disney characters. This attraction, originally named Character Connection, welcomed its first guest in May 2007. Guests can meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto at the Character Spot.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is an award-winning show taking place in the World Showcase Lagoon every night at the park's closing time (usually 9:00 pm). It 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 2000. 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.
Epcot hosts a number of special events during the year:
- 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 was 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, inaugurated in 1995, 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.
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.
- 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
- "Epcot Origins (The World Showcase)". D23. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "News Update: EPCOT". AT&T Archives. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "2011 attendance report". Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Kurtti, Jeff (1996). Since the World Began: Walt Disney World, The First 25 Years. New York, New York: Hyperion. p. 89. ISBN 0-7868-6248-3.
- For First Time in History, Beer and Wine in Magic Kingdom, ABC News, Sep. 24, 2012.
- "Coming Soon To Epcot: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure". March 13, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
- Kurtti 1996: 106
- "Epcot Character Spot", Disney, Accessed March 10, 2011.
- "Gold Ticket Awards Winners List". April 16, 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-04-21. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- Scott Joseph (July 17, 2008). "Pretigious [sic] Bocuse d'Or competion [sic] to be part of Epcot Food & Wine Festival". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 17, 2008.
- "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "TEA/AECOM 2010 Global Attractions Report". Themed Entertainment Association. 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report". 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2012. Unknown parameter
- Alcorn, Steve and David Green. Building a Better Mouse: The Story of the Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot. Themeperks Press, 2007, ISBN 0-9729777-3-2.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Epcot|
- Official section within the Walt Disney World website
- Epcot travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Epcot Park Guide