Disneyland Resort, Haunted Mansion

A Look Back at EPCOT Center Merchandise

posted on January 3rd, 2011 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


A Look Back at EPCOT Center Merchandise

If given the option to live in a Theme Park, I would move to Epcot this afternoon. My family first visited then EPCOT Center in July 1983, and I was immediately hooked (perhaps it was the dream of tomorrow, seeing “John Hench purple” everywhere, or that Figment of Imagination). Of the things I collect, I love EPCOT Center merchandise from pre-opening to around 1985. After reading the many incredible memories shared in “The Florida Project” post, I thought a follow-up post about my favorite park was in order.

A Look Back at EPCOT Center Merchandise

From the start, EPCOT Center merchandise was different. Most of the opening merchandise did not feature well-known Disney characters (they wouldn’t arrive until the mid-1980s). There were, however, several items featuring characters created for the park like Dreamfinder, Figment and Kitchen Kabaret characters from the former Land Pavilion show. Most items from 1982-1985 featured the EPCOT Center logo (“a graphic representation of the park’s philosophy,” according to Marty Sklar, long-time Imagineer and Disney Legend) along with four colors – purple, red, orange and yellow. Those colors and logo were found on everything from coffee mugs to hats to tee-shirts to even a camera strap which I still use today (I “borrowed” it from my father).

A Look Back at EPCOT Center Merchandise

I have three favorite items in my collection. The first is the official album of EPCOT Center. After our first visit in 1983, my sister and I performed an interpretative dance for our parents while playing the record (no, I don’t have video). The next is a puzzle from Horizons (my all-time favorite pavilion) with artwork by Robert McCall once featured at the exit of the attraction. I nearly fainted when I found it in a local antique shop still in shrink wrap. My last beloved item is not merchandise but it is a great memory. My mother and I made a book after my first Disney trip, and above is a drawing of my then favorite pavilion, Journey Into Imagination (Horizons didn’t open until October 1983). I’m sure you can see why I didn’t pursue an art career.

Retro-Inspired Shirts, Disney Pins and a Vinylmation Park Series Figure for Epcot's 25th Anniversary

Luckily, that spirit of EPCOT Center still lives today in Disney Theme Park Merchandise. For the 25th Anniversary of the Park, we introduced several retro-inspired shirts. They have proved quite popular with guests so a new shirt is arriving in locations (pictured above). We’ve also created a variety of Disney pins, like the passport set being released on December 16. There will be two new Hidden Mickey pins next year including the infamous boot from the Space Colony scene in Horizons. Finally, I have a sneak preview of a figure from a future Vinylmation Park series (do you recognize it?).

I know I’m not alone in my love for EPCOT Center, so I would love to hear your memories from the early 1980s. And welcome to the 21st Century!

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Filed: Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

45 Comments 5 Replies

1

Tracy on January 3rd, 2011 at 9:46 am

I use to have the same Figment bank!! :)

2

Adam from GA on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:02 am

The Vinylmation character looks like the sea serpent from World of Motion.

 

Steven Miller on January 5th, 2011 at 11:06 am

Ding ding ding ding! “With proud new ships, we sail forth in search of new worlds undaunted by age old myths and silly superstitions.”

3

Ian on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:12 am

Couldn’t agree more. I’d live in Epcot, as well. In fact, I call the little farmhouse in the Living With the Land ride my “future retirement home.”

4

terry from NY on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:13 am

I was fortunate to have grandparents living in Florida, and was able to attend EPOCT in 1981. I love going to the parks in Orlando. I have tried to go everyother year, you miss a lot. My favorite ride in EPOCT is a tie between spaceship earth and the boat ride through the food land: I was not happy when they changed the imagination to the car ride: I loved imagination: The lights and fireworks around the lagoon are to die for.

5

terry from NY on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:15 am

I have a christmas ornament from EPOCT dated 1981 the year it opened in the original box. I also have the stuffed animal imagination from the show that used to be in the fast track building.

6

Erin from RI on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:21 am

I first visited Epcot in 1986 and Figment was definitely my favorite character at the park. I also remember that my mother loved all of the movies in the country pavilions. When my parents announced that they were taking my sister and mayself as well as our kids back in 2008 they did it by wrapping up our childhood Figment stuffed animals and giving them to the kids for Christmas. The kids took our vintage Figments back for a homecoming that year. It was great!

7

Sherri from MI on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:22 am

Epcot is also my favorite park!!! I still have one of those merchandise sacks from Epcot Center. My brother-in-law uses that camera strap all the time and I also have an Epcot Center coffee mug that I use almost every day!! I love the very unique merchandise created for Epcot and have been happy to see some of the retro stuff on recent visits!

8

Frank on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:40 am

Remember when the land pavillion played the song “listen to the Land” And I still have the coffee mug I bought there in 83″

 

Steven Miller on January 5th, 2011 at 11:11 am

Coffee is always better with EPCOT Center. I use my mug nearly every day (actually have two, just in case :-)

9

SANDRA from MA on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:48 am

I love Epcot and have a lot of merchandise from the park. Figment is my absolute favorite character of all, but I saw in the picture the Eggplant plush from Kitchen Kabaret, I have the Tomato. “Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit”! I love the retro stuff, it reminds me of my visits of when I was a kid with my parents! Props for bringing back Captain EO!

10

Elizabeth on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:07 am

That first image is AMAZING! I would love a poster of that.

11

Leslie on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:11 am

We never called the show Kitchen Kabaret but always referred to it as Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit. That eggplant plush is as the kids would say “MAJOR” ! Awewsome post as usual, thank you Steven Miller.

12

Elizabeth on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:11 am

Oh my – I missed the camera strap. I want that too. :) I’m jealous of the collection for sure!

13

Maureen from CA on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:56 am

Like Tracy (comment 1), I also had the Figment bank! I think my most cherished piece of Epcot “memorabilia” is the 1988 CD “The Music of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Epcot Center.” It has music now long-departed from the park: “Tomorrow’s Child” from Spaceship Earth, “Energy (You Make the World Go ‘Round)” and “Universe of Energy” from Universe of Energy, “Listen to the Land” and the “Kitchen Kabaret Medley” from The Land, “One Little Spark” from Journey Into Imagination and “Makin’ Memories” from the Captain Eo pre-show, “It’s Fun To Be Free” from World of Motion, and “New Horizons” and “Space” from Horizons (which is still my favorite – I can still smell the scent of the orange grove!). When I listen to these songs, I feel like I could go back to Communicore East, and watch the CommuniCorps perform!

14

Michelle on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I like to say that EPCOT Center is my favorite defunct theme park. It was replaced by Epcot, a thrill park.

I collect every EPCOT Center item I can get my hands on.

Did you know that the sea monster from World of Motion (> Test Track) made his home at Disney’s California Adventure for a while? I have some photos of him there. Or her, let’s not be “genderist”.

15

Gabriela on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:08 pm

What a surprise it is to see that Figment Bank on the page seeing how my Figment Bank is sitting right next to me on my desk :)
And yes, I still use it.
I got it back when I was 3, now I’m 25 and love my little piece of Disney History.

16

Beverly from NC on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I agree with Elizabeth…I would LOVE to purchase a poster of that EPCOT Center shopping bag design at the top of this blog entry, and a matching Magic Kingdom one! Brings back so many happy memories!

17

Brian from IL on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:41 pm

EPCOT is my favorite park as well – will that new shirt be available when I visit the park next week? I would love to pick that up. A majority of my favorite memories were actually from Wonders of Life – I loved Cranium Command and Body Wars. We used to go right to that pavilion when EPCOT opened to get waffles from the food service station there, and then try not to get sick on Body Wars. Good times!

 

Steven Miller on January 5th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

@Elizabeth – I would also love a poster (or tee-shirt) with that logo. The image pictured is the small bag. You can also find the same image of my bag on the new Walt Disney World 40th Anniversary overall print. Natalie Kennedy from Disney Design Group used it in that print (along with a few other items from the collection above). Total geek moment! That is another article coming soon.

@Brian – The Dawn of a New Era shirt should be out by now. I wrote this article a few weeks ago. It feels great – soft cotton. I still wish I could fit into the shirt pictured in my collection. It was from my first visit when I was seven. Oh well, I guess my son can wear it now. :-)

@Matt – Just wait :-) Vinylmation Awesomeness is coming!!!!

18

Ann from IN on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I still have some rubber figurines of figment and I have the same cd as Tracy (Post 13)! I even loaded it to my mp3 player and listen to it all of the time. I would play it around January to get my parents thinking about calling to make Disney World reservations – always worked like a charm! Thanks for the great post!

19

Sandra on January 3rd, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Wow you do have a nice collection. I went to EPCOT for the first time in 1986 as a 9 year old. I still remember loving the World Showcase and today as a 34 years old I love it even more. I’m going in feburary (again…. that will be my 11th time) and I can’t wait. Loved your article. Brings back a lot of found memories!

20

Ana from TX on January 3rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Looove all the “retro” merchandise that was put out for the anniversary. Epcot is near and dear to my heart – I love that park. One thing though, although not specifically related to this post, it is related to Epcot: please bring back more “country” themed merchandise, it seems to be disappearing. Don’t get my wrong, I love the generic Disney stuff too, but that’s what makes Epcot so special, it’s uniqueness…in everything, including merchandise.

21

Lauren on January 3rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I absolutely love all things Epcot Center. My very first memory of going to WDW as a child was going on the Journey into Imagination ride. I just love Figment and still do to this day. I have to say Steven, you definitely stumped me with the preview of the vinylmation design from an upcoming Park Series. Maybe I’m just too young to remember World of Motion, but I really love all the retro Epcot vinylmation designs so keep them coming.

I have a slightly unrelated vinylmation question. Will the Animation #1 Series 3″ figures eventually be sold in the Disney Parks Online Store (specifically the tray of 24 figures)? Also, will the Animation #1 Series 9″ vinylmation figures, such as the Beast 9″ and the Pete’s Dragon 9″/3″ set, eventually be sold in the Disney Parks Online Store? Thanks for your help and great post.

22

Alison on January 3rd, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Oh my goodness I love all things Epcot, and I also love the merchandise! My favorite of the oldie but goodie souvenirs that I have is a white mug with Figment on it. As a kid, that was the only cup I’d drink hot cocoa from and now as an adult I have the mug sitting on my shelf dedicated to all things Epcot. I miss the old ImageWorks upstairs in Imagination. I miss veggie veggie fruit fruit. I’m so glad I grew up an 80s Disney kid able to spend multiple days at the park just taking it all in, back when there was only Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center. Now that we’ve brought back all this great retro merchandise, can we please bring back Dreamfinder? After all, Disney is the place where dreams come true. =)

23

Eric on January 3rd, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I was at the Epcot opening on October 1, 1982. I still have alot of early merchandise. Including the camera strap which I quit using 4 years ago because it was about to break. My most treasured item is a CLOTH Figment. I even have the commemorative ticket, unused in the foil envelope.

24

Diana from NY on January 3rd, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Coolest Disney Parks blog post ever!

25

Matt on January 3rd, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Very VERY cool! Please keep the retro epcot merchandise coming. We love it. Epcot is a truly amazing park, and although a lot of the original views of the park are being distorted, I believe if we look back and LEARN off of it’s history, and let it affect its future, it can be the absolute masterpiece it was in the “olden days”.

I especially like the Vinylmation! I hope that this is going to become a thing in each park series, as we already have smrt-1, Retro Epcot, and Dreamfinder/figment.

Can’t wait to see what Disney has in store for the future!

26

Suzannah from FL on January 3rd, 2011 at 7:25 pm

SO happy to read this post. I’m not sure if I still have any original EPCOT bags as pictured, but I do have the album, the original guide with wheel, a World Showcase tin tray, as well as Figment in his first plush form. Every EPCOT item I have are among my favorites and they just warm my heart to see.

I love the new items and it took me a whole minute to figure out the Vinylmation but I recognized the sea serpent! I took some pics on my phone last time we were in the Backlot Tour of the old used chariot signs that are in there, and wondered how many people knew where they were from. :)

Thanks for another amazing post, Steven! I’m so happy WDW has stewards like you preserving the history along with the magic.

27

Shaun from IN on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Great Post. I love Epcot too. I do miss the days however, that Merchandise was location specific and themed. You would not find Nightmare Before Xmas items in Frontierland and so forth. I also miss the days where the “Disney Parks” merchandise was not around…. That really “6 Flags” the merchandise….. I think each Park should have it’s own merchandise including each Resort Hotel…
I too was at Epcot in 82 and Magic Kingdom in 71 and really brought back memories after seeing your merchandise.

Thanks!

28

John from TX on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I really like seeing the retro Epcot merchandise! It has to be some of the best at WDW, graphically speaking. Show us more!

29

Louis on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit, the Kitchen Kabaret was so much fun. Made my third trip to Walt Disney World and first trip to Epcot in February 1983 and had a great time playing and eating around the world. The park was open some long hours back then and it was a blast. Journey into Imagination wasn’t working the 10 days I was their that time but came back later that year and got to ride it and have a great time again. Love a lot of the merchandise I still have from those trips. It is my favorite park in Florida since it is so different from Disneyland here in California.

30

Shawn on January 4th, 2011 at 12:49 am

Wonderful post!

I love EPCOT and really miss the old attractions and style of the park back in the day. EPCOT was an inspiration for me growing up. I loved the idea of the future and what it could hold. The Living Seas was one of the reasons I went to college and obtained degrees in Marine Biology and Marine Ecology.

I’ll chime in with others that it would be great to have the poster from the first image above. Any retro EPCOT items are great!

31

Wendy from CA on January 4th, 2011 at 10:36 am

Really wish the t-shirt said “EPCOT Center” – great though!

32

Patrick on January 4th, 2011 at 11:21 am

I could not go to EPCOT (and WDW) until 2004… But I remember looking at all the things one of my friends came back with and all the stories he had about EPCOT. I love all the retro stuff from EPCOT and I do still refer to it as EPCOT Center! I will be seeing Captain EO for the first time ever in 2 weeks… I can barely contain myself! This blast from the past is something I always wanted to experience it as a kid! And those memorabilias should be at the entrance of Pop Century!!!

33

Darren from CT on January 4th, 2011 at 11:21 am

We really need to go back to attraction-specific merchandise again! It made shopping in the parks so much fun.

Oh, and SO jealous of the Horizons puzzle!

34

Ken from CA on January 4th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Damn, that stuff is hot!

I was just watching a midnight screening of the original TRON and they had a trailer for the up-and-coming EPCOT Center which made all of us cheer!

I miss Horizons and wish they would bring that back!

35

John on January 4th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

I love Epcot (although if you’re a die-hard fan it will always be EPCOT).

I went with my parents way-back-when after the park just opened and was not even complete yet. As I recall, several of the rides were closed and there were still construction people wandering about.

Nevertheless the feeling of Epcot, the features, and the entire atmosphere were something that hooked me for life.

Great post! Love seeing the original merchandise.

John

36

Jackie on January 4th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I didn’t realize they had sold a plush of the eggplant from the Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit song. My sister and I used to sing Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit all the time, when we were at the park. We thought it was really funny.

 

Steven Miller on January 5th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

@Shawn – That is pretty cool. I’m sure the Imagineers who worked on that pavilion would be humbled to know it had that much of an impact on your life. For me, it was the “…rain, and rain and rain … the deluge.”

@Ken – Lucky, Program! That would have been incredible to see. There was once discussion to have a Tron themed arcade in CommuniCore long ago. That would have rocked! End of line.

@John – “We call it EPCOT, spelled E-P-C-O-T: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” :-) I would have LOVED to live there.

@Jackie – There were several items featuring characters from the Kitchen Kabaret show. I’ve seen multiple plush, pins (long before pin trading), kitchen item and more.

37

Shawn on January 5th, 2011 at 11:24 pm

@Steven – I watch some videos online to relive the Living Seas. Always loved that part of the video :)

And I totally agree with Ken! Miss Horizons dearly. It ended with a choose your own adventure! My cousin and I would ride it three times in a row just so we could experience each ending :)

38

Lauren on January 6th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Steven, can you please respond to my question above in post #21 regarding the vinylmation Animation #1 series. Will the Animation #1 Series 3″ figures eventually be sold in the Disney Parks Online Store (specifically the tray of 24 figures)? Also, will the Animation #1 Series 9″ vinylmation figures, such as the Beast 9″ and the Pete’s Dragon 9″/3″ set, eventually be sold in the Disney Parks Online Store?

I just love this series and want to make sure I will be able to purchase the 3″ series and 9″ LE vinylmation figures. Thanks.

39

Lori on January 6th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I first visited Epcot on 10/29/83. I LOVED Figment! I’ve always loved Spaceship Earth, the moving ride at The Land (with the dinosaurs-not sure if it’s still there), and the boat ride through Mexico. I didn’t get any of those cool gifts though. I was a kid and my Dad was too cheap!

40

Noreen from PA on January 7th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Epcot is and always will be my favorite park! I collect anything vintage Epcot Center that I can get my hands on. My fav pieces are my vintage Epcot Center logo earrings and necklace. I wear them each and every trip to WDW. I get loads of compliments when I wear them. I’m so very happy that the lovely people in merchandising are bringing back some of the old retro logos on the shirts, pins, etc. Hopefully a nice zippered hoodie will be next . . . hint, hint. :)

41

Pearl on January 9th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Steven–Cool Future World plate! Reminds me of the mural outside of Spaceship Earth…same artist?

42

Anjali from FL on January 10th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

OMG, this is a blog entry after my own heart! I first visited Epcot in 1987 and fell absolutely in LOVE with the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. I agree with you, Steven, Horizons was awesome and it was my favorite ride … I miss it dearly, even tho it was terribly outdated the last time I went on it in the mid-90s. I also remember “World of Motion” which became GM Test Track. Miss that one, too!

I used to have a cassette tape of the EPCOT soundtrack that had all those old songs from back in the day, like “Tomorrow’s Child” and “Makin’ Memories.” I played it SO much the tape broke — breaking my heart, too.

Epcot was the reason that I wanted to move to Orlando from the time I was 12 years old. I finally made it as an Orlando resident four years ago :) Thanks for creating such great nostalgia with this stuff!

43

David from MA on January 11th, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Steven – Just booked my flight for The Florida Project, September 9-11th. Can’t wait to see what you can come up with for this show.

I would love to see a Vinylmation created with the Spaceship Earth tiles. Pull some strings and talk with Randy Noble. Have him make some “magic”.

44

Emily on January 19th, 2011 at 10:51 pm

As a BIG fan of the Imagination Pavillion (in fact, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m typing this while wearing a Figment nightie! :P), it’s cool to see this look back at the history of its’ merchandise.

Also, love the drawing you did of the iconic double-pyramids! I swear, it isn’t as bad as you think it is! ;)

45

Justin from CT on January 20th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Do you know if “The World Showcase March”, the song that Bob and Dick Sherman wrote for EPCOT Center’s grand opening is on that record? I have been trying to find this song for a while now, but I have not been able to locate it.

 

Steven Miller on January 20th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

@David – Yahoo! The artwork is looking really great for the event. And the possibilities with Vinylmation are endless :-)

@Emily – You’re welcome. I was thrilled I could include that drawing. Funny story is that my parents and I couldn’t find that book for 10 years. When they finally found it, they gave it to me for Christmas. You should see the other drawings – LOL!

@Justin – That LP doesn’t contain that march. Was it used in the Grand Opening television special? I know I’ve heard it before (big fan of the EPCOT Center music). The LP, however, does contain music from the Astuter Computer Revue once found in CommuniCore. See, my friend the Computer really does make life easier. :-)

45 Comments