Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Remembering the Shopping Experience at EPCOT Center Merchandise

posted on September 28th, 2012 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Remembering the Shopping Experience at EPCOT Center Merchandise

There are a few things I enjoy collecting – tikis, vinyl records and merchandise from EPCOT Center (I first showed some items from my collection in a previous post. With the 30th anniversary of Epcot around the corner, I wanted to share some stories and images from the early days of merchandise (special thanks to my fellow author Nate Rasmussen for help with the images). The funny thing is that I’ve been waiting 10 years to write this Disney Parks Blog post.

Remembering the Shopping Experience at EPCOT Center Merchandise

While serving as a Disney Ambassador in 2002, I created a cast member presentation that discussed the EPCOT Center story (I’m honored that it’s something the Ambassador Team still uses today). At the time, I found a few merchandise related articles that have sat in a notebook until now.

Merchandise development began around 1980 with the development teams “looking for merchandise so unique and different that it didn’t exist.” EPCOT Center was to be a different experience from Magic Kingdom Park, which had opened a decade earlier. Designers wanted new items that didn’t contain well established Disney logos or characters. That is one reason why much of the early merchandise used that globe-like logo and four iconic colors of purple, red, orange and yellow.

Remembering the Shopping Experience at EPCOT Center Merchandise, Including Figment Plush

Early merchandise also included characters that were only found at the park like Figment, Dreamfinder or the cast of Kitchen Kabaret. Other Disney characters wouldn’t be found at EPCOT Center until the mid-1980s.

EPCOT Center opened with more than 30 merchandise locations, most of which were found in World Showcase. Future World locations had contemporary interiors, while the World Showcase shops had a “softer and warmer mood.” When designing the World Showcase shop interiors, designers decided to represent “what people would expect to find on their travels rather than what they actually will see in any given country.”

Remembering the Shopping Experience at EPCOT Center Merchandise

One of my favorite items in my collection is a merchandise bag which I showed in January 2011. Originally, there were plans for two separate bags, one each for Future World and World Showcase. Those plans were scrapped as one bag was introduced to “illustrate the total EPCOT Center experience” (defined as “awesome” in my book).

While we have several new items releasing starting September 28, I’d love to hear of your favorite souvenir from EPCOT Center.



Excited for the 30th anniversary of Epcot? Take a look back at these posts for more:

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Filed: Disney History, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort

13 Comments 4 Replies

1

Eric from CA on September 28th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Love the article! Probably not at unique but still cool, is my World Showcase Passport. You got to meet people from around the world and got a nifty stamp in the book too. I know it is aimed at the kids, but still fun for the kid-at-heart.

2

Tim on September 28th, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I’d love to see some of this stuff return. Also, the link to your previous post is broken.

3

Kevin from ME on September 28th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

What a great post, thank you! I still remember shopping in the Centorium (it was on two floors, if I remember correctly?). I had one of those plush Figments shown in the post, but recently discovered that, while in storage, mice got to him and chewed his foot off to make a nest!

 

Steven Miller on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:06 pm

@Kevin – Your memory is correct. Centorium used to have two floors. The second floor could be accessed via stairs or an elevator. Sorry to hear about the Figment plush :(

4

Diane on September 28th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I have those postcards and I think there is a old merchandise bag hidden in a drawer somewhere. :)

5

Anne Marie on September 28th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I still have a Figment that was purchased ~1994. I keep him prominently displayed to remind me to have an imagination! I’m taking my daughter (almost 6) in November and can’t wait to introduce her to Figment.

6

Roger on September 28th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Wow, Steven, this is like, totally awesome!
I wish I could hop into a Time Machine vehicle and travel backward to 1982 EPCOT Center to spend a bunch of money at the Centorium.

The Merchandise team is doing a great job at re-creating some of the 80′s awesomeness that is EPCOT Center.

 

Steven Miller on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:07 pm

@Roger – Thanks for the comment! I am also loving the retro merchandise.

7

dawn on September 28th, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I remember our first trip as a young girl coming home with the Epoct pennant–I was a collector:) And my sister’s Figment. We happened to run into Dreamfinder and Figment outside Imagination one afternoon. It was a wonderful charecter experience-my dad got it all on tape:) So my sister just HAD to get her own Figment! Practically a tempertantrum (she’s younger); however he was very well loved. It was a great trip with great souvinours.

8

Paul on September 28th, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Cool photos. Especially since I have quite a few of the items shown.

9

Joseph on September 29th, 2012 at 12:52 am

I remember this quite fondly, as I was there for the grand opening and attending the cast preview days prior to Oct. 1. Can’t believe it has been 30 years. What an exciting trip it was to finally see the finished park. Still have all of the merchandise that I bought from opening day.

10

Terri on September 29th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

My favorite Epcot souvenir? Wow, so many…My DH and I had our honeymoon at WDW in 1988 for Mickey’s 60th. Besides my Figment Plush, we bought two Epcot Center mugs with Figment on them – they were white porcelain pedestal mugs. We sadly broke one as soon as we got home-I was heartbroken! I call WDW Merchandise Services…they were so helpful and found the exact mugs…I had to buy 4, but that was fine by me! Still have them too! Honestly, I think I love Epcot a little more than Magic Kingdom (but just a little!) and have so many fond memories of the past there…I love your blog posts about Epcot past…please keep them up!!!

11

Harry on September 29th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Do you have any idea what store is pictured in the second photo? I used to work in Epcot merchandise, and it looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it.

 

Steven Miller on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:09 pm

@Harry – I’m thinking it could have been one of the shops under Spaceship Earth near the main entrance. I’m basing this on the lighting (the way the light falls in the photo). In addition, it seems like quite a collection of very EPCOT Center focused goods to which I believe that shop once had). Sadly, the photo was not labeled when I found it in the library.

12

Jill from NY on September 30th, 2012 at 7:51 am

In one of the pictures you can see an EPCOT Center book, I was lucky to find a copy of this book in a thrift store this summer. It is an awesome book filled with information I haven’t read before! What a find! Thanks for the article, I love reading and collecting these sorts of things!

13

Crissy from FL on September 30th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Would you please please please make dress blouses for women? I’ve “outgrown” the ones I purchased several years ago. They always make my work day a little bit better (I secretly pretend I am working at WDW).

 

Steven Miller on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:10 pm

@Crissy – I unfortunately haven’t seen any plans for such shirts. Sorry.

13 Comments