Mad Tea Party at Fantasyland

Epcot Video Flashback: Watch Spaceship Earth Emerge

posted on October 1st, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Our look into Epcot history continues this week with a rare timelapse video that shows the construction of the park’s iconic attraction, Spaceship Earth.

This clip shows the construction of the attraction’s external geosphere from start to finish. Inside, the attraction told (and continues to tell) the story of human communication and the many technologies we’ve used over the years to express ourselves and connect with others.

The attraction opened 30 years ago today, on October 1, 1982. Happy anniversary!

Take a look back at Epcot in the posts below:

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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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The Scientist Who Inspired The Name of Epcot’s ‘Spaceship Earth’

posted on September 28th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


It’s no secret that Walt Disney was deeply interested in progress and the work of great futurists of his time, like Ray Bradbury. But did you know that the work of one great mind in particular actually inspired the name of a classic Epcot attraction?

“The

That man was R. Buckminster Fuller, a theorist/futurist, who studied how technology could improve our daily lives, including in the area of housing. Two of his major works may sound familiar in terms of Spaceship Earth: First, in 1951, he patented a design called the geodesic dome that was lightweight, cost-effective and easy to assemble. Then in 1968, he published a book called, “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” in which he calls people astronauts and describes how the planet needs continual maintenance in order to keep operating, just like a vehicle.

According to Disney Legend John Hench in his “Designing Disney” book, Fuller’s work was a huge inspiration in shaping what would become the park’s icon:

“We assumed from the beginning that we needed a large sphere for the Epcot icon, and we wanted one with enough space inside for an attraction. We were familiar with architect Buckminster Fuller’s experiments with building the geodesic dome he had invented in the 1940s, including the one he had constructed for the Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1953. Fuller’s famous phrase ‘spaceship earth’ also appealed to us.”

Excited for Epcot’s 30th anniversary? Follow @WaltDisneyWorld on Twitter, and join the conversation with the hashtag #Epcot30.

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Vintage Epcot: Welcoming Epcot on October 1, 1982

posted on September 27th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


“The

On October 1, 1982, the 21st Century came to life when Walt Disney World Resort welcomed guests to EPCOT Center.

“The

Opening Day involved honoring the first official family to EPCOT Center and the official dedication ceremony for Spaceship Earth.

“The

Plans to move forward with Walt Disney’s vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) were first announced in 1974 by Card Walker (pictured above on opening day), then president of Walt Disney Productions. EPCOT Center was one of Walt Disney’s original ideas for the “Florida Project.”

“The

Thirty years later, Epcot still stays true to the words inscribed on its dedication plaque, “May Epcot Center entertain, inform, and inspire.”

For more of the “Vintage Epcot” series, check out the posts below:

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Five Classic Epcot Attractions That Were Almost Named Something Else

posted on September 26th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Have you ever embarked on a daring ocean journey on SeaVenture in World Showcase? Snagged a Transportation Pavilion postcard? Or glimpsed the future in Century 3?

Probably not, considering that these original names for Epcot attractions were all changed prior to their respective openings. Whether a name was amended in order to more accurately describe an attraction’s storyline or simply changed to something catchier, these decisions eventually shaped the reality that became the Epcot that we know and love.

World of Motion in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

Here are five Epcot attractions that were originally named something else before they opened.

  1. World of Motion – According to the Disney Archives, this attraction, which celebrated transportation milestones and the possibility of where vehicles could take us in the future was one of the final opening-day attractions to be named. It was first referred to as the “Transportation Pavilion,” then tentatively named “Transcenter” and “Transcenter 2000” before finally becoming “World of Motion.”
  2. Horizons – Can you imagine that this beloved attraction of the past originally wasn’t planned to show a vision of the future at all, but a retrospective on how Thomas Edison harnessed electricity? When the direction of the attraction changed to focus on inventions that could impact our lives in the future, it was renamed “Century 3” and later “Futureprobe.” “Horizons” was the final pick.
  3. Journey Into Imagination – The attraction that introduced us to Dreamfinder and Figment was originally planned to be a part of the “Images & Imagination” Pavilion.
  4. The Living Seas – All the fun we had venturing to Seabase Alpha in the ’80s almost took place at “The Seas” attraction.
  5. Maelstrom – As late as March 1988 (two months before opening), Maelstrom in the Norway Pavilion was named “SeaVenture” – even on attraction signage. The name “Maelstrom,” a Nordic name for a very powerful whirlpool, was the final choice.

Excited for Epcot’s 30th anniversary? Follow @WaltDisneyWorld on Twitter, and join the conversation with the hash tag #Epcot30.

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Disneyland Resort Donates Matterhorn Bobsled to National Roller Coaster Museum

posted on September 25th, 2012 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Matterhorn Bobsleds Attraction in Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort

This past summer, the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster – the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland park – received an extensive refurbishment that included a fantastic new paint job and all-new bobsleds. Now considered a piece of roller coaster history, a former bobsled from the iconic attraction recently was donated by the Disneyland Resort to the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives, along with signage from California Screamin’.

Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis said, “We’re delighted to provide these pieces of Disneyland Resort history to the National Roller Coaster Museum, an organization that celebrates our industry. The Matterhorn bobsled and California Screamin’ signage represent two of our most beloved attractions, from the first tubular steel-tracked roller coaster in the world to one of the longest and most thrilling.”

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Epcot Video Flashback: ‘Step Into Horizons’ Commercial

posted on September 24th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


With the 30th anniversary of Epcot just one week away, we’ve decided to kick our coverage of Epcot history up a notch by sharing this early 1980s commercial for, you guessed it, Horizons.

This :30-second TV spot offers a peek inside the attraction, which offered a look at the future. I love how it transitions from 80s graphics to scenes from inside the attraction.

Enjoy your “step into Horizons”!

Follow @WaltDisneyWorld for the latest on Epcot’s 30th anniversary. To join the discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #Epcot30.

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Then and Now: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland Park

posted on September 24th, 2012 by Erin Glover, Social Media Director, Disneyland Resort


For many, Main Street, U.S.A., is as much a Disneyland park icon as Sleeping Beauty Castle. A tribute to turn-of-the-century small towns like Marceline, Missouri – Walt Disney’s childhood home – Main Street has undergone quite a few changes since it first opened in 1955. But as Disneyland Resort photographer Paul Hiffmeyer and I found, some things are still surprisingly the same. We recently discovered a photo of a Main Street, U.S.A., cast member taken in March 1960 and went searching for the window seen behind her. We were amazed to find it in front of Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. It’s slightly larger now, but as you can see, many of the details remain today.

Then and Now: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor at Disneyland Park in 1960 and Now

Check out these posts to read more about Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park:

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Vintage Epcot: A Look Back at Horizons at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on September 20th, 2012 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Let’s all take one big breath in and let it out slowly, because it’s time for a look back at…Horizons.

Although it’s now a thing of the past, Horizons, the attraction that took guests on “an exciting exploration of options for living and working in the 21st century,” continues to be an Epcot fan favorite today.

Horizons in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

Called a “mind-boggling 15-minute journey” aboard a suspended vehicle, the first scene in Horizons was titled “Looking Back at Tomorrow” and offered a glimpse at past visionaries and views of yesterday’s future. Included in this area is one of the most iconic figures in Horizons, the Robot Butler.

The Robot Butler, Part of Horizons in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

Horizons also took guests to Nova Cite a community of the future where the use of a “holographic telephone” helped families keep in touch.

Horizons in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

Designed over a three-year period at Walt Disney Imagineering in California, one memorable part about Horizons was the choose-your-own ending to the journey via personal spacecraft, desert hovercraft or mini-submarine.

Horizons in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort

It doesn’t matter where I am at; the smell of citrus will always evoke fond memories of Horizons.

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Epcot Photo Flashback: From the Cranium Command Control Room

posted on September 17th, 2012 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


By popular demand, this week’s Epcot Photo Flashback will focus on the Wonders of Life pavilion attraction Cranium Command.
Cranium Command in the Wonders of Life Pavilion at Epcot

Cranium Command opened at the park on October 19, 1989, and offered a fun look at how “the lean, mean thinking machine,” the human brain, worked. Guests first watched a video in which a rookie recruit, Buzzy, was assigned to take the controls of a 12-year-old boy’s brain. They then entered a theater to join Buzzy inside the boy’s head and saw firsthand how the boy’s brain reacted when different things happened throughout his day.

Which Epcot attraction should we spotlight next Monday? Leave your requests in the “comments” section below.

Follow @WaltDisneyWorld for the latest on Epcot’s 30th anniversary. To join the discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #Epcot30.

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