“EP-COT. Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. 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 new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future.”
The voice of Walt Disney rings out across the entrance to Epcot every morning, reminding those few who stop to listen that EPCOT Center was Walt’s last great dream, a project intended to make the world a better place. Far more than a theme park, EPCOT was a promise of hope, a promise that was left unfulfilled at Walt’s death, a promise that Disney Imagineers struggled with and then transformed from a practical living space into a promise – a theme park centered around the idea of hope and harmony.
On October 1, 2012, Epcot will celebrate 30 years of operation. Disney fans and officials alike are indulging in a celebration of the park, and that retrospective is well deserved. In his initial vision, Walt promised that Epcot would be constantly changing, never completed, and certainly no park has re-invented itself as many times as Epcot. Of the 7 original Future World attractions, 2 have been replaced, 3 have undergone radical renovations, and 1 has been so radically overhauled as to be barely recognizable. The 10 countries on World Showcase’s map have bloomed into 11, and planned attractions and even countries have fallen by the wayside. Even the park’s name, originally EPCOT Center has changed to just Epcot.
In a way, all of those changes are a testimony to Walt Disney and the company he inspired. Walt loathed stagnation; he was always looking for the next big thing, and Epcot was born from that forward-looking longing. In his introduction to the 1982 book Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow, Marty Sklar admits he always called the project Waltopia. “Utopias,” he writes, “are created by dreamers, and Walt Disney’s dreams just happened to be bigger than all of the other kids on the block and in his business.” Epcot was the epitome of those dreams…something that promised a better future for all of us.
So 30 years after Walt Disney Imagineering scaled EPCOT down from a utopian city center showcasing ways of overcoming urban problems to a theme park intended to showcase the promise of a more technological, harmonious tomorrow, Epcot has become a tried-and-true part of the Walt Disney World choice of parks. It acts as host to a calendar of festivals and events, and it still promotes connections between cultures and positive innovations.
But Walt was never one for destinations; he loved journeys. And the history of Epcot center has been a journey…one that’s far from over. So as we prepare to celebrate Epcot’s 30th anniversary, we wanted to look back over the journey, remember where we’ve been, celebrate the things we love best, and ask you to share your memories as we remember 30 years of Epcot.
Join us as we take a look around Epcot, present and past, share our memories with you, and invite you to share yours with us in return.