EPCOT turned thirty today. As someone turning thirty myself in December, I feel an odd kinship with it now. We are both products of 1982 and everything that followed.
My first visit to EPCOT was when I was nearly six and a half years old. I was excited. We were going to go INSIDE the golf ball which was a ride! We were going to see dinosaurs, visit other countries and travel to the future but not in a DeLoreon. It was a LOT of walking and I thought there would be a ride in every country which there wasn’t but I had fun. I loved the dinosaurs and they were with a movie that completely surrounded us on all sides. I asked why all movies couldn’t be like that and my mom said that she had been to one like that when she was young. I finally met Mickey Mouse at the American Pavilion, loved the trolls in Norway, fell for adorable food products that sang, watched Michael Jackson save the day and saw manatees for the very first time. Illuminations became the benchmark by which all future exterior lighting shows would be compared.
Best of all, I loved a little purple Dragon named Figment. Figment had a whole land of Imagination with a wonderful bearded man named Dreamfinder. He was like Santa but cooler. I remember very little of the actual ride but I didn’t want to leave what happened afterwards. There was a tunnel of color that we traveled through. The colors shot all around us with lights. Then, I was able to play with all sorts of electronic gadgets before trying to catch water that jumped from fountains outside.
The second time I went to EPCOT I was twenty and a senior in college. It wasn’t quite how I remembered it. They had added new rides but others had been closed or seemed dated. The trolls weren’t as scary as I remembered. Worst of all, Figment had changed a lot. He could talk which I didn’t remember him doing before and Dreamfinder wasn’t there at all. The tunnel wasn’t there and there weren’t many activities after the ride.
As I grew older, I appreciated EPCOT more. Magic Kingdom had my favorite rides, Hollywood Studios had my favorite characters and Animal Kingdom had animals but EPCOT has the best atmosphere and guest experience. First of all, there are lots of places to sit and many are in air conditioning. There are multiple areas for cooling off with fountains and sprays. The corridors and pathways allow for easier flow of guests. Magic Kingdom often comes to a standstill after parades or events but I’ve never experienced this at EPCOT. Other parks can require a lot of hunting to find fresh fruits or vegetarian options. EPCOT has a whole cafeteria of foods for the whole family, including some of the best vegan potato salad ever made. Many of the best wait times for character Meet and Greets were at EPCOT. EPCOT is just a nice place for meandering around the lake, watching other people and relaxing instead of having to worry about where to go next or which train or bus you should take. I’m not saying that EPCOT is boring though. It has plenty of fun for those look for it: watching Hanson or other recording stars, creating your own roller-coaster, playing Hopscotch in the United Kingdom, Soarin’ over California or meeting Nemo’s friends. It’s just as magical as the other three if not more so in its own way.
EPCOT and I have both had our Ups and Downs over the last thirty years but I feel that while we both have room for improvement, we’ve done pretty well and the future seems bright.
What are your favorite memories?