Walt Disney had a dream for a self-sustaining community that was environmentally conscious and accessible to all. There are even stories of Walt lying in his hospital bed making plans for what would become the future of EPCOT.
EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The park as it is today is different from the one that Walt Disney had personally envisioned, but Imagineers kept the heart of the concept. EPCOT is an educational theme park that teaches us all about the world, the people in it, and how to all understand our part in it.
When the park opened in 1982 it was known as EPCOT Center, then Epcot, and now Disney is rebranding the park to be … EPCOT. We know, huge change. Going to take a while for it to sink in. Kidding. Anyways!
The O.G. EPCOT
The original idea for EPCOT was to be a functioning community of people actually living in a section of Disney World. Yeah, that can’t happen. Could you imagine?! One thing from the original concept is still there today, and that is the iconic monorail. Walt imagined a mode of mass transportation that would take people to work, entertainment, and home again that would be environmentally friendly, and off the ground to free up the green space.
You can actually see the original concept model for EPCOT if you ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover in Magic Kingdom!
EPCOT Through the Years
It was Walt Disney himself that reminded us that, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” The Disney company continues this core belief in all of the parks, and EPCOT is no different. EPCOT continues to improve and change with the mission of innovation, imagination, education, and achievement. Some even compare the park to the permanent World’s Fair.
When EPCOT opened in 1982 it was met with excitement and success, however people became “bored” with the World Showcase and attendance began to drop in the 1990s. In 1994 and 1995 Disney introduced guests to EPCOT Festivals, International Flower and Garden Festival and International Food and Wine Festival, and the rest is history! Now, it seems that there is always a festival in EPCOT, not that we’re complaining.
Attractions have changed a lot through the years, too. Let us take a moment of silence for those former EPCOT attractions that are with us no more…
Wonders of Life Pavilion 1989 – 2007
Sum of All Thrills 2009 – 2016
SpectacuLAB 2017 – 2019
Ribab Fusion 2015 – 2016
Remy Experience 2009 – 2013
O Canada! 1982 – 2019
The Making of Me 1989 – 2007
Maelstrom 1988 – 2014
The Living Seas 1986 – 2005
The Jeweled Dragon Acrobats 2011 – 2020
Innovations East 1994 – 2019
Innovations West 1994 – 2015
IllumiNations 1988 – 2019
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 1994 – 2010
EPCOT Forever 2019 – 2022
Ellen’s Energy Adventure 1996 – 2017
Cranium Command 1989 – 2005
Circle of Life 1995 – 2018
Body Wars 1989 – 2007
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure 2012 – 2020
Horizons 1983 – 1999
Food Rocks 1994 – 2004
Innoventions 1994 – 2019
Captain EO 1986 – 1994
The New EPCOT
It seems that EPCOT has been under construction forever, (hey Disney, we give you a lot of props for really working with those construction walls to turn them into selfie spots), as the first announcement for the “New EPCOT” was at the D23 meeting in 2017. Now 5 years later, we are starting to really see the fruits of their labor with the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in 2021 and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in 2022.
Another major change to the theming of EPCOT is the new names for the different sections. What used to be known as World Showcase and Future World will now be split into “neighborhoods” called World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature, and World Showcase.
World Celebration is the first neighborhood as you enter the front of the park and it focuses on the world around us and our connection to it.
- Spaceship Earth
- Club Cool
World Discovery focuses on science, technology, and future advancement.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
- Mission: Space
- Test Track
To share the message of sustainability and protecting the environment, World Nature is all about “understanding and preserving beauty, awe, and balance in the natural world”.
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Living with the Land
- Awesome Planet
- The Seabase
- Finding Nemo
- Turtle Talk with Crush
The purpose of World Showcase is to share knowledge, history, food, and culture between 11 very different nations around the world. Not to be corny, but to quote the Sherman Brothers, “there’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all”.
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
EPCOT’s Iconic…Golf Ball?
Everybody knows the icon of EPCOT, that gigantic golf ball thing that you have an obligation to take a picture in front of, but what is it?
Walt Disney believed in the power of the “weeine”. Gosh, that just did not really stand the test of time, did it? The “weenie” is what would draw people in like a moth to a flame or like a dog to a hot dog. Get it? In Magic Kingdom the weenie is Cinderella’s Castle, in Animal Kingdom it is the Tree of Life, and Hollywood Studios has had some weenie changes over the years, but now it is the Hollywood Tower Hotel or Tower of Terror.
Through the years Spaceship Earth has seen changes and accessories, but the structure is left largely alone. For the millennium celebration, Disney installed a giant Mickey arm holding a wand over the ball with “2000” in it, and that was the most dramatic change. As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, each park in Walt Disney World will show an EARidescent Beacon of Light in the evening. Basically, that means that the park icon will be lit up in shades of purple, pink, blue, and a smidgeon of orange. Hands-down, Spaceship Earth is the most beautiful Beacon of Light. Imagineers even put individual lights at the point of every triangle so it really is a mesmerizing architectural beauty.
So, shocker, this is not really a golf ball. It’s a geodesic sphere holding an attraction called Spaceship Earth. Spaceship earth is a slow-moving ride that is actually inside the giant ball that showcases the evolution of communication through time. Remember, if you’re reading this, thank the Phoenicians!
A Little History of Spaceship Earth
Spaceship Earth is an opening day attraction to EPCOT back in 1982, and the attraction is still largely the same from opening day. The design of the sphere was meant to be very sci-fi and Disney even sought design help from Ray Bradbury. (Think back to high school, Ray Bradbury was a famous science fiction writer, most notably for Fahrenheit 451).
Epcot Ball FUN FACT & PRO TIP
In one of those amazing Florida down pours, stand UNDER any section of Spaceship Earth and you will be dry. I know that sounds redundant because stand under a building, of course, you’ll be dry, but remember this building is round… It is actually because of architectural genius. The panels that makeup thousands of isosceles triangles have a drainage system in their design. When the rain run over it is then filtered down these drains like really pretty rain spouts.
FUN FACT: Y’all, there is a lounge above the ride INSIDE the top of the ball! You won’t find a walk up waitlist for this lounge, though. Unfortunately, this lounge is for the sponsoring company and their guests.
Let’s Have a Little Fun
We’ve scoured the internet and found the best and funniest names and acronyms for EPCOT. Come on, let’s play Wrong Answers Only!
*Side Note: We’re a little disappointed that no alternate acronym on the internet used the “E” for “Eat”. I mean, come on, it’s EPCOT, that’s what you do! We tried to make our own and only came up with Eat Pizza Corners on Toast… And that’s when we decided we should leave naming things and jokes to the professionals.
- Every Person Comes Out Tired
- Employee Paycheck Comes Out Tuesday
- Every Parent Carries Out Toddlers
- Employee Polyester Costumes of Torture
- Every Person Comes Out Thursday
- Every Pocket Comes Out Thinner
- Every Person Caught On Tape
Wait! Just a little note…
While, yes, it’s true that Walt’s original version of EPCOT is not what we have enjoyed for the last 40 years, but that’s not to say that Disney has not tried to create actual communities before…
The Walt Disney Company did create a “utopian” community that they called “New Urbanism” where everything was controlled to create a happy All-American community. From the styles of homes, to the businesses in the main square, everything was chosen with happiness in mind. This community is just a stone’s throw from the Walt Disney World Parks, so these homes are ideal for Disney fans. That all being said, Disney no longer controls or runs Celebration. The brightly colored homes still show its influence.
Golden Oak Community
Did you know you can actually live in the Disney Bubble? The Golden Oak Community is a neighborhood of luxury Disney homes close to the Four Seasons Resort. These homes are custom homes with a little bit or a lotta bit of Disney in the homes.
Don’t start packing your bags yet, the cheapest home is over $2,000,000 and come with a whopping $25,000 HOA fee!
Storyliving By Disney
Just announced in 2022 is Storyliving by Disney in Rancho Mirage, California, a Disney Community for people to work, play, and live with a Disney touch. This is just a whisper of Disney, this is not Mickey Mouse is your mailman, Disney. This is a 55+ community, and it is located where Walt Disney, himself found happiness and creativity.
I am a mother of three that has refused to grow up. Adulting is for the birds, so I go to Disney World every chance I get for that magical escape from reality. I believe that Haunted Mansion is the best ride in all of the Disney Parks, and I am fervently in team Happily Ever After for fireworks spectaculars, (sorry, not sorry, Enchanted). Finally, I hope I never grow tired of skipping down Main Street, USA, and my dream come true would be “friends with” the Fairy Godmother in my old age.
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