In celebration of Epcot’s 35th Anniversary, WDW Radio Blog writers are sharing their thoughts, memories and experiences from one of Disney’s most iconic theme parks.
I remember it like it was yesterday: My parents drove to pick my sister and I up from summer camp in western North Carolina and surprised us by saying, “We’re going to EPCOT Center!”
It was the summer of 1983 and the newest park in the expanse of the Walt Disney World Resort had been open for less than a year. It was a classic Florida summer on that first visit, filled with extremely hot weather and thunderstorms. Most of my memories from the early days of EPCOT Center were of running under Spaceship Earth to get away from lightning, and playing in the enormous puddles that collected on the red concrete walkways of Future World.
I remember the magic of Figment and Dreamfinder and the original catchy tune. I loved the ingenuity and sweetness the original Journey Into Imagination. It was all so new and exciting. We had never walked on lighted, colored shapes, to find they played a musical note as we walked along, nor had we ever seen jumping arcs of water, nor such amazing water fountains.
I loved it all.
Fast forward 35 years and my love for the park has transformed and grown. Much the same way that the park has shifted its themes, so has my appreciation for all that it has to offer.
Now, when I think of Epcot, I mostly think of the food. (Yes, I know that I am no alone in this.)
But let me qualify that statement with the following:
It’s the food AND its the culture behind it. The makers and the festivals. The unabashed celebration of all-things-culinary.
One of Epcot’s original missions was to be a home to cultural exchange – a guiding philosophy that has solidified in its 35 years. There is no better way to experience a culture than though its food. As I get older, it’s what I enjoy most, and what I seek out every time I visit the park. I go for the festivals and make sure that food is the only souvenir that I buy.
In my mind, Epcot = Food Love, and I embrace it as my culinary theme park.
Where else can you step into a new world where exciting textures and flavors await you? You can try some dried crab snacks or sip on a melon-flavored soda at Mitsukoshi’s Department Store. You can make your way around World Showcase and eat some sweet School Bread at Kringle Bakeri og Cafe in Norway. Or you can taste some of the best and richest ice cream stuffed macarons at Artisans des Glaces in the France pavilion.
Flavor is at your fingertips.
As the festivals have expanded to include classes, I heave learned everything from how to taste whiskey (I used to hate it, and now I at least appreciate its nuances) to making puff pastry. I have gone to the Burger Bashes and seen chefs do their best work to make the classic patty-and-bun combination the best that it can be. I have danced, sipped, and cheered as chefs flambeed doughnuts in Grand Marnier during IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I love watching as my kids try new things – and the sweet memories that we make when we eat together as an extended family. Epcot is where my dad taught my daughters to use chopsticks, and where he showed them how to drink from their udon noodle bowls.
I am privileged to have experienced it all at Epcot and I cant wait for what’s to come in the next 35 years!
I would love to hear your food recollections from Epcot. What did you love? Share with us on the WDW Radio Facebook page.
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Kristin and read her recent posts for WDW Radio, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.