On October 1 will be the 35th anniversary of Epcot. Today’s blog is dedicated the past, present and future of one of Disney’s most unique parks.
Walt Disney’s original plan for Epcot wasn’t what it is today. He envisioned it as a community where companies could innovate and people would live in a harmonious utopia. The original name was EPCOT meaning Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Walt dedicated the end years of his life to this project. Unfortunately, shortly after announcing plans for the Florida Project that included EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom, Walt passed away. Page after page could be written about Walt’s original plans for the park so I will focus on what was actually built.
Nearly 16 years after Walt’s death the park opened. It was a mix of future and technology and world culture. A “sort of world's fair” as Disney executives would call it. Much of the Future World we know today is not what was opened in 1982. The Land and Imagination Pavilion are the only untouched areas left of that portion of the park. Many of the structures are still there but now feature different attractions and themes.
This is where I think the park is truly unique. It is the only Disney park to open that, from the beginning, was all original. That means, for the most part, there were little to no existing Disney characters or movies that the rides, shows and areas were based on. Walking into the park in the early days was a complete new Disney experience filled with new sights and stories. For me that is what makes Epcot different and one of the best Disney parks.
As the years passed the park struggled with attracting younger visitors. It was thought as of an adult park more than a place for the entire family. Disney noticed this and started to introduce rides that were attractive to teenage audience such as Test Track and Mission Space. They also created festivals such as Food & Wine and Flower & Garden to attract locals.
The next wave of updating the image of the park came with the introduction of Nemo to The Living Seas followed by Frozen in Norway. This changed Epcot to be a destination for younger children.
What is next? The additions of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille. Both aimed at a different audience than the decades before. I believe Frozen is an incredible ride and I love The Seas with Nemo. I have no doubt Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille with make us say “wow!”
The one thing that will never change about Epcot are the memories. I will forever remember my first visit to the park because it was so different to what I knew was a Disney park. That may change a little with the new additions but I’m sure that when children visit Epcot now and in the future they too will be in awe at seeing Olaf, Elsa, Anna, Remy, Crush, Nemo and Peter Quill!