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#DisneyMagicMoments: Behind the Camera – EPCOT Prepares for Its Grand Opening in 1982

David Roark

by , Manager of Photography, Yellow Shoes Creative Group

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a new series here on the Disney Parks Blog where Disney photographers share the stories behind some of their favorite pictures.

I started my career as a Disney photographer in April of 1982, six months before the grand opening of EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort. The park was still a massive construction site at that time, and my main assignment as a new Disney cast member was to “make EPCOT look finished.” Our marketing department needed beautiful photos for travel agents, guidebooks, etc., to get people excited about visiting the new park … all well in advance of opening day on Oct. 1, 1982. Easier said than done!

That was one long, hot summer, as I would start at sunrise and go until dark, searching for unique angles that would obscure any equipment and unfinished work throughout the park. One afternoon, I made my way up onto the roof of the France pavilion in World Showcase, a day or two before the Eiffel Tower was being installed. I looked off to the north and … there it was! The photo I had been searching for, with the Canada pavilion in the foreground with Spaceship Earth framed majestically in the background – a perfect composition to illustrate the scope of EPCOT.

Epcot

The image you see here was captured from that spot, nearly 40 years ago now. I’ve always loved how beautifully the late-afternoon light reflects off the surfaces of each structure – the earthy vibe of the Canada pavilion contrasting against the futuristic metal of Spaceship Earth. But if I went back out to this same spot today, the image would look completely different – the trees have grown in so thick you wouldn’t even see the Canada pavilion anymore.

Now as EPCOT continues its historic transformation, I imagine I’ll be out there again looking for some more unique angles that tell the next chapter in this park’s amazing story!  

Keep checking our special Disney Magic Moments page on the Disney Parks Blog for more of these types of stories.

Comments

  • David, this is truly an iconic photo that provided a fantastic juxtaposition between Future World and World Showcase. With the upcoming 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World’s opening and 40th anniversary of EPCOT Center’s opening, perhaps Yellow Shoes Creative Group could put together a book with a series of old and new photos taken from the same vantage points.

  • I had a poster with one of these images up over my bed when I was a kid. Very cool to know who it came from. Would love to see more!

  • I adore this image! The juxtaposition of the Old World v. Future is impressive!

  • I’ve always loved this photo, such a classic EPCOT image. It always take back to the first time I visited the park as a kid. Thanks for the memory.

  • Very cool series! I would love to see a recreation of the photos presented in this series to show how things may or may not have changed over the years.

  • Great shot. I think you had this poster hanging up in your cubicle back in the days when I worked with you. Anyway, I always enjoyed this photo 🙂

  • What an incredible picture! I hope you will share other photos from that summer you worked so hard to “make EPCOT look finished” here on the Disney Parks Blog.

  • I thought the angle was the Boardwalk – close! What a cool story. As a photographer myself, I love these behind-the-scenes details and seeing photographs you don’t often see from the parks.