On October 1st, 1982, EPCOT Center opened its doors at the Walt Disney World resort. It was the second theme park to call the resort home and was dedicated 10 years after the opening of the Magic Kingdom. It was an idea originally put to conception by Walt Disney himself, for a city of the future, an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. This was his most passionate project, what he wanted to be his lasting legacy, but sadly, Walt passed before he was able to realize his dreams. Walt Disney Productions and Imagineering decided that they couldn’t build this community without Walt’s guidance, however, EPCOT could live on.
EPCOT was built on the promises of tomorrow and a better future. Technology, culture, and imagination blended into one providing guests with not just entertainment, but edutainment. Future World hosted the technologies of yes, the future, and what we could do to make our world better. The icon of the park was a giant Geodesic sphere hosting a dark ride named Spaceship Earth. It traveled through the history of communications from the Stone Age to the Age of Information. After traveling through Future World, you could make your way to the World Showcase where you could travel the countries of the world. Culture was the forefront of World Showcase, with you really feeling like you traveled to Japan or England when in fact, you are still in Central Florida.
Some of my earliest memories at Walt Disney World include EPCOT. When Duffy the Bear was aggressively pushed in the US Parks (to only be forgotten stateside as years go by) I remember traveling the World Showcase and collecting my KidCOT stamps on my Duffy cutout. I loved Club Cool and tasting all the different sodas that the world had to offer, often ending with reveling in disgust. I have fond memories of watching Illuminations after a long day at the park and being in absolute awe at the fireworks exploding above the floating globe.
I wasn’t just interested in finding the next ride to go on, I was interested in exploring and learning as my family and I went through the different countries getting a fun dessert at the Norway Pavilion or putting on a sombrero for a picture at the Mexico Pavilion. Through this park (and countless visits) my deep love for Disney and its parks grew more and more. EPCOT felt like something more and as I have joined the online Disney community, I have realized for many people, it is.
As I grew older, my respect for the park grew even more. I dove into its history learning to love it even more. It was always my favorite park to go to whenever we had a family vacation. I would go as far as to say Living with the Land is one of my favorite attractions in the entire resort. I even wrote one of my college essays about the park. As my love for Disney grew, so did my love for EPCOT.
EPCOT has changed a lot from that initial day 40 years ago for better, and arguably, for worse. With the Guardians of the Galaxy, Moana, Ratatouille, and Frozen populating a park that was once Disney movie free, it is easy to argue that Disney is actively destroying what once made EPCOT special. What once was a park about the future and the human spirit, has now shifted to be more timeless and more Disney. However, even though the park is growing and changing, Disney can still reach for the ethos of EPCOT. Will they? Only time will tell.
So what does the future hold? The transformation of the park is finally in full swing and now Figment is even getting his own feature film, so the next couple of years for the park look pretty busy. But, my only hope is that EPCOT will continue to inspire future generations for years to come. EPCOT is about imagination, making the world a better place, and what the future may hold for us. So Happy Birthday EPCOT, here’s to another 40 years.