- Walt Disney’s unfulfilled dream was for a futuristic city of tomorrow planned for Walt Disney World. In a televised presentation about the project in 1966, Walt said;
- “But the most exciting and by far the most important part of our Florida Project… in fact, the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World… will be our Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow! We call it EPCOT.”
- “It’s like the city of tomorrow ought to be. A city that caters to the people as a service function. It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities.
- “EPCOT will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that 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 systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”
- “I don’t believe there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities. But where do we begin… how do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we’re convinced we must start answering the public need. And the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land and building a special
kind of new community that will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else in the world.
- In 1967, a model of Walt Disney’s dream project, the city known as EPCOT, was built and installed as part of a fifth scene for Disneyland’s Carousel of Progress, located on the second floor of the attraction building. It was meant to provide a preview for Walt’s proposed city he was to build on his newly-acquired land in Florida . When the Carousel of Progress closed, the model was sent to Walt Disney World, and installed as part of the WEDway Peoplemover attraction, now called the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. It was installed in the Alien Encounter (then “Mission to Mars”) building, and can only be seen while riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. As you enter the Alien Encounter building, look for it on the left hand side. Your narrator points out Walt Disney’s 20th Century “Vision for the Future” – the model city which was to be the perfect community in which to work, live and play.
- On Oct. 1, 1978, Card Walker, then president of Walt Disney Productions, revealed plans for Epcot, a theme park inspired by Walt’s philosophies
- Groundbreaking for the construction of EPCOT began not far from the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1979. At the time, it was the largest construction project in the entire United States . And yes, that’s right…. believe it or not, it took exactly three years to the day to clear the land and build the entire infrastructure for Future World and World Showcase, including all of the attractions, restaurants, shops and gardens!
- It took nearly 3,000 designers and 4,000 construction workers to complete “Phase 1” of the theme park. Think they had to move around a little dirt? You bet – try about 54,000,000 cubic feet. That’s how much earth was moved during this initial construction phase!
- During the entire three year span that it took to complete the project, a total of more than 10,000 workers from 18 labor unions, as well as 22 General Contractors and 500 subcontractorsÂ participated in the construction.
- From the official program for the Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony of EPCOT Center:
- “Some twenty years ago, long before the opening of Walt Disney World, Walt Disney envisioned a place where the greatest feats of human imagination and invention could be communicated to the benefit of all people. He called his idea ‘EPCOT’ – the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – for he wanted to present alternatives and possibilities for a better life ahead.
- Walt Disney’s death on December 15, 1966, was a critical event for the company. His vision of ‘a new Disney World’ outside Orlando, Florida, especially his concept of EPCOT, was so strongly a personal, life-summing statement that many believed the dream might die with Walt. Not so. For in addition to the fantasy empire he had created, he had also built a unique organisation…determined to carry out the plan Walt had outlined…. When, in July 1975, Walt Disney Productions announced it was moving forward with plans for EPCOT, to some it was a bolt of lightning….
- From the beginning, Walt Disney World has been planned, constructed and developed with EPCOT concepts in mind. Futuristic designs and technologies have been put into action as a matter of policy – monorail and linear induction power transportation systems, a solar-powered office building, state-of-the-art waste treatment processes, the first all-electronic, fiber-optics telephone system, and much more. Since 1971, Walt Disney World has been host to the world – 130 million people from 100 nations have visited this community.
- The planners, designers, engineers, and operators of Walt Disney World are already providing nearly all the public services of a city, from communications and security to waste disposal. Implemented by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the EPCOT Building Code, embodying Walt’s philosophy for EPCOT, is firmly in place as the foundation for future development. What was lacking was a public focus for new ideas and concepts, a ‘center’ for the communication of new possibilities for the future – directly to the public.
- To answer this need, we are developing EPCOT Center: a permanent World’s Fair of imagination, discovery, education and exploration that combines the Disney entertainment and communications skills with the knowledge and predictions for the future of authorities from industry, the academic world, and the professions. Our goal is to inspire the visitors who
come here, so they will be turned on to the positive potential of the future and will want to participate in making the choices that shape it. We believe that in a world where cynicism and negativism abound, there is another story, and we have chosen, with forethought and conviction, to tell it, and to be that voice of optimism.
- Now we have a way to bring real focus to the import of creative and futuristic processes and the value of friendship among nations. EPCOT Center is a permanent World’s Fair of imagination, discovery, education, and exploration built with the help of leading American and internati onal industries and with the cooperation of a number of governments.”
- The EPCOT Center Dedication Plaque reads: “To all who come to this Place of Joy, Hope and Friendship, Welcome. EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all. May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire, and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.” E. Cardon Walker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Walt Disney Productions.
- When the park was still in its design phase, a 1/8th inch scale model of EPCOT was built. How big is that? Well, let’s just say it covered over 1,428 sq. ft. – about the size of an average home.
- Originally called “EPCOT Center”, Walt’s original vision of Epcot was an actual, working community. Since its announcement, EPCOT has always stood for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”
However, about 12 years after the park opened, “EPCOT” was no longer considered an acronym, but an actual new word. In fact, most people never referred to it as ” EPCOT Center ” anyway (though all merchandise and information referred to it as such).
- In 1994, when Epcot re-Imagineered many of its attractions, the name was officially changed to “Epcot ’94.” (Great… now I have to buy a new Epcot shirt…). Well, Disney liked the idea (and the fact that we all now had to buy a new shirt every year), so in 1995, it became, you guessed it… “Epcot ’95.”
- Thankfully, in 1996, this confusing, yearly re-naming of the park came to an end. The park’s name is now, officially, just “Epcot.” (Note that the name is not longer in all capital letters, signifying that it is no longer an acronym).
- However, to many Cast Members, past and present, EPCOT will always stand for, “Every Paycheck Comes on Thursday.” Some of the other great Cast Member “suggestions” for the true meaning of the acronym are:
- “Every Paycheck Comes Out Tiny”
- “Experimental Polyester Costumes Of Torture”
- “Every ParentÂ Carries Out a Toddler”
- “Elvis Presley Comes On Tuesdays”
- “Every Person Comes Out Tired”
- “Eisner Pockets Cash Off Tourists”
- “Even Programmers Can’t Operate TestTrack”
- “Even Parents Can Overtire Toddlers”
- “Every Pocketbook Comes Out Trashed”
- “Economic Privation City of Orlando Taxbase”
- “Extremely Profitable Corporation Of Today”
- “Endless Parks, Covering Orlando in Tourists”
- “Expounding Past Concepts Of Technology”
- “Extensively Plywood Community Of Tomorrow”
- After 4 years of construction, (and about $1,400,000,000.00 [that’s 1.4 BILLION dollars]), Disney’s second theme park opened in 1982. “Future World,” the area of Epcot showcasing new technologies through educational, interactive attractions and rides, opened with Spaceship Earth, The Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Journey into Imagination, The Land, and CommuniCore. Since opening day, numerous attractions have been replaced, and others have been added to Future World.
- The official name for the theme park that should share the name of Walt Disney’s city of the future was “EPCOT Center”. A little more than a decade after the park’s opening, “EPCOT” was no longer an acronym, but was regarded as an actual word. Coinciding with the updating of many of the park’s attractions in 1994, the “Center” was dropped from the name, and the park was known as “Epcot ’94.” The renaming of the park with the year added to the name lasted only one more year, and in 1996, the name of the theme park became simply Epcot.
- Disney’s “Leave A Legacy” sculpture was introduced in 1999 as part of Epcot’s Millennium Celebration. There are 35 sculptures in the plaza ranging from 3 to 19 feet high, each with engraved 1-inch-square images of guests.
- Guests can have their photos taken at one of the five Photo Capture Stations near Spaceship Earth, and then etched onto a steel tile, which is affixed to one of the stones, usually within 48 hours. Computers on site can show the locations of a guest’s image, or they can find it online at home by visiting Disney’s Leave a Legacy Web Site. With room for approximately 750,000
images, the heaviest of these monoliths weighs in at over 50,000 pounds.
- Known as “Future World’s global Main Street of ideas and inventions,” EPCOT Center ‘s CommuniCore was similar to the Magic Kingdom ‘s Main Street USA – each acting as the central “hub” of their park that all guests must travel through as they enter or exit. Communicore was made up of two crescent-shaped buildings that were broken into 4 areas, consisting of a north and south area of Communicore East and Communicore West. The northeast quadrant contained EPCOT Computer Central, Travelport, Energy Exchange and the Stargate Restaurant. Communicore West housed “EPCOT Outreach” and FutureCom.
- CommuniCore closed in 1994. Many of the attractions were removed or replaced, and the pavilion reopened as Innoventions West and Innoventions East.
- “Ice Station Cool,” located in Innoventions Plaza on the West side of Epcot,Â (now known as “Club Cool”) allows you to sample free (yes, I said “free”) Coca-Cola drinks from around the globe.
- Some of the other flavors of Coca-Cola you can sample, (be warned… they aren’t what you might expect!) include: Smart Watermelon, Kinfey Lemon, Diet Tai, Guarana Vegitabeta, Lift Apple, Mezzo Mix, Beverly, and Krest Ginger Ale
- The two huge buildings of CommuniCore East and CommuniCore West were designed to act as the central “hub” of Epcot. It opened with the park on October 1, 1982. “Energy Exchange” was one of the attractions located in Communicore East which was closed to make room for Innoventions. Sponsored by Exxon, it was filled with 3D displays dealing with energy. Many oft he exhibits were interactive, such as allowing guests to turn a crank to generate power for a light bulb. Wow. Why did they ever close that? Couldn’t you just spend hours having that kind of fun?
- Every fifteen minutes throughout the day, the Innoventions Plaza Fountain, located between Innoventions East and West, presents a spectacular water ballet set to music.
- The “Fountain of Nations” took its name from the fact that when Epcot first opened, nations from around the world took water from their country and poured it into the fountain as a symbol of global unity.
- Located behind Spaceship Earth directly across from the Fountainview CafÃ©, the “Fountain of Nations” displays a computer-controlled water ballet set to music every 15 minutes.
- Innoventions East and West opened on July 1, 1994 replacing the outdated CommuniCore.
- Innoventions is a showcase of new products and technologies with exhibits by Sega, Xerox, Lutron, Disney Interactive, IBM, Motorola, Apple, Lego and others. Over the years, the exhibits (and sponsors) have been replaced or upgraded. In fact, Innoventions West closed on October 15, 1997 for major renovations, and only parts of it reopened in January, 1998. In 1999, the pavilion was upgraded yet again in preparation for the Millennium Celebration. The merchandise store was redesigned and renamed, and the “Innoventions: Road to Tomorrow” exhibit opened. This took guests on a “road trip” through the exhibits as they follow a painted road through the pavilion. Three restaurants and two merchandise shops are also located in Innoventions.
- Covering more than 300 acres, Epcot occupies only about 1/100th of the approximately 30,000 acre site that Walt Disney World is located on! (In fact, only about 7,100 acres are developed! That’s a whole lot of extra room for more parks, hotels and attractions!)
- Mouse Gear, the largest retail store in any of the Walt Disney World Resort’s theme parks, is located inside Innoventions in Future World and offers a wealth of Disney-related merchandise. It opened on September 20, 1999 as part of the Millennium Celebration, after the original store, the Centorium, closed for renovations. The new store was radically changed from a two floor shop to just one floor, although it expanded in size from 13,000 square feet to over 19,000 square feet by incorporating the area previously used for the ” Epcot Discovery Center ” and “Epcot Poll” Theater.
- Disney Imagineers also redesigned this shop to integrate the classic Disney characters, (known as the “Fabulous Five”), Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto, into the factory-themed store. Rarely seen in Epcot prior to this time, the characters now became an integral part of the shop. Up until the Spring of 2000, children were able to take pictures with live characters in the “Character Connection” area of the store.
- FAST FACT: Dreamfinder’s flying machine from the original “Journey Into Imagination” attraction was relocated here as a prop for a brief period of time.
- As part of the Millennium Celebration, Disney installed 35 granite and steel “Leave A Legacy” sculptures in front of Spaceship Earth. Digitally etched onto these works of art are photos ofÂ guests who had their pictures taken at one of Epcot’s “Capture Stations.” Images were usually added to the sculptures within 48 hours. Visitors also received information by mail as to where their photo was located. They could use a designated ID number to find their images online at Disney’s web site.
- The sculptures were designed by a team of Imagineers, led by veteran Imagineer John Hench, the original art director for Epcot. John Hench joined Disney in 1939 as a sketch artist for Fantasia. He later expanded his role into layouts, background painting, animation effects and supervision. His work can be seen in such films such as Dumbo, The Three Caballeros, Cinderella,
Peter Pan, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. At Walt Disney’s personal request, Hench joined Walt Disney Imagineering in 1954 as a project designer for Disneyland ‘s Tomorrowland. He developed many of the attractions for the park, as well as shows for the 1964-5 World’s Fair. He later provided creative direction for all phases of Walt Disney World. He also contributed to the creation of Epcot, as well as many other of Disney’s theme parks around the world. He was later named Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.
- OK, you probably have noticed how incredibly clean the entire Walt Disney World Resort really is. And you may or may not have even seen these hard working janitors keeping everything spic and span for your enjoyment. Well, next time you’re near Innoventions in Epcot, look out for a special group of janitors who may make a little bit of noise as they arrive. These aren’t street sweepers, maintenance workers, or window washers – they’re the JAMMitors, and when you see them coming, stop and watch – you’re in for quite a treat! These talented percussionists use trash cans as their instruments, and their comedy-filled, interactive performance is nothing short of amazing.
- After three years of construction, and a little over $1.4 billion dollars, EPCOT Center opened to the public on October 1, 1982. A television special hosted by Danny Kaye took viewers on a tour of the park, with the help of other celebrities and performers. Although nothing like Walt’s original visions or designs for what he wanted EPCOT to be, Epcot the theme park still reflects his hopes and visions for the future.
- Epcot has two entrances. The original entrance is convenient to Epcot’s 162-acre parking area and the Epcot monorail station (the monorail runs between Epcot and the Magic KingdomÂ Transportation and Ticket Center three miles to the north). The International Gateway entrance opened in 1990 near the France pavilion in World Showcase, providing park access to guests staying in Epcot resort area hotels — Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk, Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin.
- The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, as Epcot was originally known when Walt Disney dreamed it up, was to be laid out like a “wheel and spokes,” very much like Magic Kingdom. Instead of a castle at the center, however, it would have been the city’s bustling downtown area.
- After a great deal of research by Disney Imagineers and Kodak photography experts, the pavement in Epcot was painted a specific, custom pink color, in order to make the grass look greener and pictures look brighter.
- Near the Imagination! pavilion are two fountains – one in which the water flows upwards, and another where the water jumps from pad to pad.
- As you leave Epcot at night, look down at the fiber optic lights embedded in the walkway that twinkle as you walk over them.
- Walt Disney originally envisioned a dome over the entire Epcot city in order to have complete control over the weather.
- The 108,000 gallon fountain in the middle of Epcot’s Future World uses as much power in one day as it takes to run a single house for 6 months. This is due to the incredible amount of pressure that must be generated to create the water ballet that runs throughout the day.
- The Fountain of Nations in Epcot can shoot water more than 150 feet into the air. If all of the water cannons were fired at the same time, 2,000 gallons of water would fill the air!
- Held every year at Epcot from October through November, guests can taste fine wine and paired cuisine during the annual Food and Wine Festival. There is also live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, seminars and more.
- The Night of Joy in September features contemporary Christian musicians performing in the Magic Kingdom. The Holiday Splendor celebration, held from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, showcases candlelight processionals, fantastic lights displays, visits from Santa and more. A great time to of year to visit the parks!
- The two odd-shaped pyramids are made up of hundreds of panes of mirrored glass. Inside the pavilion, you will find three attractions:Â “Journey Into Your Imagination”, which takes you on an adventure with the lovable “Figment”; “The Image Works,” a playground for your imagination; and “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” an incredible 3-D film.
- There is a marker in Epcot showing the exact center of the park. It is located just to the west of Innoventions West (on that path that leads straight to the Land).
Epcot Trivia – General
About Lou Mongello
Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…