Wendy Cugliotta, Malvern, PA – Hey Lou! When I was a kid my dad worked for Sperry/Univac computers. When we visited EPCOT center in 1986 there was an attraction all about computers. We were invited to a special upstairs lounge. I was wondering if you know what attraction that was? Also, the only thing I remember about the presentation was a character called I/O as in Input/Output. My dad still has a pin of I/O that he bought in EPCOT Center! Does it sound familiar to you?
LOU: You are 100% correct! There used to be a number of computer exhibits at EPCOT Center, but I know exactly what you’re referring to!
“EPCOT Computer Central” was presented by Sperry (which later became UNISYS), and was home to the first EPCOT Center attraction to disappear, the Astuter Computer Revue. It starred Ken Jennings and featured him singing and dancing about the computer systems that ran EPCOT. I’d (half-jokingly) guess that today’s Playstation 3 probably has more computing power than the monolithic machines in that room.
Located in Communicore East, it was on a second-floor theater that overlooked a room where some of the park’s computers were housed. The host was “transported” from World Showcase’s United Kingdom pavilion (where he performed in the pub with a monkey) into this room, where he was shrunk down and sang about computers (“The Computer Song”). They used something similar to the famous Pepper’s Ghost effect (as in the Haunted Mansion), where they projected the images of Ken onto the glass. And made it look as though he was small and walking atop the computers. Here’s a sample of those amazing lyrics (LOL): “He’s got a great big memory like an elephant, utilizes knowledge without end, That’s why I’m a rooter for me computer, everybody needs a friend.” Believe it or not, written by the Sherman Brothers (it’s a small world, Mary Poppins, the list goes on and on). Must have been a off-day for them.
The show closed in January 2, 1984 (like I said, 1st attraction to be removed from EPCOT Center) and was replaced with “Backstage Magic”. In this show, Ken was replaced by “Julie” and her sidekick was your little robot friend, “I/O”. This show ran until October, 1993. In both shows, there was even an Animatronic “Mr. Eggz” from the Land pavilions’ Kitchen Kabaret show. He demonstrated how Audio-Animatronics figures were programmed and responded, etc.
Hope that helps. Thanks for letting me take a little trip back in time and recall one of EPCOT Center’s lost attractions! P.S. I’d love to see a photo of that pin (or the sponsor lounge) if you have one! Thank you!
For more information, to listen to a discussion about this extinct attraction, and to see images of the Astuter Computer Review, Ken Jennings and the EPCOT Center computer core, check out the MouseTunes.com Disney Podcast for the week of November 19, 2006 HERE