/ Monday, September 24th, 2012

by Don Myers

Plus…Opening of Little Mermaid Wing brings Art of Animation to fully operational status, Update on Bistro de Paris, and more!

Walt Disney World’s second Park is turning 30 years old next week, and to celebrate, we’ll be taking a look back at the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! So let’s waste no time and dive right into the latest edition of the WDW Radio Newswire…..

EPCOT turns 30. Back in 1986, when I was a four year old child experiencing the magic that is Walt Disney World for the first time, who would have ever thought I’d be here today covering Epcot’s 30th. It’s like a dream come true, just as the vision and planning of EPCOT was to Walt. EPCOT is one of the primary reasons (and arguably the driving force) behind The Florida Project. In Walt’s own words: “The most exciting, and by far the most important part of our Florida Project…in fact the heart of everything we’ll be doing at Disney World, will be our Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow. We call it EPCOT.” Reading those words, there’s no doubt that EPCOT was Walt’s ultimate dream. He may not have lived long enough to see that dream come to fruition before his own eyes, but the dream of EPCOT did become a reality, thanks to the tireless efforts of Walt’s dedicated Imagineers. Through the darkest hour, they forged on, undaunted by the massive task at hand. And finally, on October 1, 1982, after years of planning and construction, Epcot Center opened its gates. Walt’s final dream had finally been realized. It may not be an “exact replica” of what he had envisioned, but I believe EPCOT has and still does contain some of those special fibers.

But the EPCOT of today is vastly different from the Epcot Center we saw back in the early 80s. Instead of Dame Judi Dench, our trip though time on the grand, miraculous Spaceship Earth was narrated by Lawrence Dobkin (and of course there was Walter Cronkite’s narration as well, which began in 1986). We had yet to learn the term Innoventions, but we were all getting quite acquainted with the technological advances of the computer age over at CommuniCore. Instead of banking turns at 65 mph on Test Track, an omnimover took us through the history of transportation on World of Motion. At The Living Seas, you could look high and low, but Nemo was nowhere to be found. Over at Mission: SPACE, Gary Sinise was nowhere to be found either, as we were still two decades away from our first launch. You could however catch a transport from the FuturePort to Brava Centauri, Sea Castle, or Mesa Verde at Horizons. Over at The Land, hang gliding over the California landscape was just a tiny spark in the imagination of a young Imagineer. But you could catch a swingin’ show on the benefits of good nutrition at the Kitchen Kabaret. And since I mentioned “tiny sparks in the imagination,” sounds like a perfect segue to Figment! We were introduced to the beloved creature back in 1983. And while we’ve seen some changes to the attraction over the years (including Figment’s temporary removal from 1999-2001), Figment still reigns supreme over at Journey Into imagination. But back then, there was no Institute, nor was there any mention of Dr. Nigel Channing. Instead, Figment was joined by his loyal companion Dreamfinder. You may have already been aware, but after reading this you can certainly see that EPCOT has gone through some major changes throughout its thirty year existence. You might love some of the changes, and you might hate them. Experiencing Soarin’ may be your new favorite thrill, and seeing Horizons close may have brought tears to your eyes. But through it all, one thing is certain. And that’s the fact that for three decades, EPCOT has carried on several of those familiar aspects of Walt’s original dream, and continues to do so today. So here’s to the next 30 years!

Now it’s time to fast forward back to 2012 as we make our way over to World Showcase for a quick update on Bistro de Paris. The France pavilion has been without the services of the Bistro for the majority of the summer, and the closure will continue throughout the duration of the fall months as well. The restaurant is set to re-open on Saturday December 1st, and when it does, Guests will be able to indulge their taste buds with a completely revamped menu. New decor will also be a part of the Bistro’s immense upgrade. This will be quite a lengthy closure when all is said and done (over four months),  so it will be very interesting to see the changes once the restaurant re-emerges this December.

Time to Park Hop out of EPCOT and make our way over to Animal Kingdom now, where there was a brief attraction closure last week. Dinoland’s popular kids spot The Boneyard was closed down on Tuesday September 18th and Wednesday September 19th for a minor two-day refurbishment. The pint-sized friendly digsite is currently back in action however, as the attraction re-opened to Guests on Thursday September 20th.

Time to make our way out of the Parks and into the Resorts now, as there is news to report on WDW’s newest Resort: Art of Animation. Last weekend, the fourth and final Phase of Art of Animation made its grand debut. I’m referring to The Little Mermaid wing, which opened up for business on Saturday September 15th. The debut of the Mermaid section officially rounds out the quartet of themed areas at the Resort, which also includes the Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King sections as well. Also located in The Little Mermaid wing is The Flippin’ Fins Pool, which opened up on September 15th as well. The Flippin’ Fins Pool is the third and final themed swimming area in the Resort’s “aquatic trio,” which also includes The Big Blue Pool and the Cozy Cone Pool. The Big Blue Pool is located in the Finding Nemo section, and The Cozy Cone Pool can be found in the Cars wing of the Resort.

Well, that’s gonna do it for today’s update. But before we call it a wrap, let’s take a look back at the results of our previous poll. The question was:

Which aspect of the next Phase of the Fantasyland Expansion are you looking forward to the most?

. Under the Sea- Journey of The Little Mermaid

. Enchanted Tales with Belle

. Gaston’s Tavern

. Be Our Guest Restaurant

And the winner is…..

Under the Sea- Journey of The Little Mermaid with 55% of the total vote! Be Our Guest Restaurant finished 2nd, bringing home 25% of the total vote. The two previous polls were very close, this one however was a landslide for the Mermaid! Once again, thank you to everyone that took the time to vote, and now on to this week’s question:

What do you miss most about the "Early Years" of EPCOT?

View Results

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Don Myers covers news and recent events in Walt Disney World.  He has been enamored with the World of Disney since his first trip to WDW in 1986. As they say, the rest is history!  Don also has been a contributing writer for Celebrations magazine since 2009.



2 thoughts on “WDW Radio Newswire: Happy Birthday Epcot Center and Vintage EPCOT POLL!!!”

  1. Caitlin Corsello says:

    I love the recap of the changes that have happened to Epcot over the thirty years. What I would give to be able to experience the original Journey Into Imagination and Dreamfinder again!

  2. Jon says:

    I’d like to toss in a write-in for The Living Seas- love the Hydrolators and Sea Base Alpha.