Blog - OCTOBER 4,2012

EPCOT

People who are enthralled with everything Disney know that EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. And a majority of those people are aware that Uncle Walt actually wanted to build a city/community near the Magic Kingdom that would be the basis for all future cities around the world.

His idea was the community was laid out as a hub. The business community would be the heart of EPCOT with everything else expanding from there, like the spokes of a wagon wheel. Shops, apartments, recreation areas, and eventually housing more typical of what we all know were included in his original prototype.

But instead of me reinventing the wheel, so to speak, here is Walt’s vision of what EPCOT was supposed to look like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxC_a7qnGi8&feature=relmfu and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBNfauF6IHc&feature=relmfu
Of course this dream died with Walt.

Why? The reasons are too numerous to mention. Simply put, the two biggest stumbling blocks were money – the cost was overwhelmingly prohibitive – and the fact that the Disney board was not wild about the idea to begin with.

But the board had a problem. After Walt broadcast his idea to millions of people through Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, people began to press WED Enterprises to build EPCOT. In their infinite wisdom – well maybe something much closer to finite wisdom – they realized that over the years, people had all remembered Walt’s vision a bit differently than it was first presented.  

So what they did was break it down into individual pieces and incorporated the best ideas from his presentation. Thus, we now have the configuration we all know so well.

On my first visit to EPCOT it was love at first sight. My friends will tell you that happens on a daily basis, but this was true love, like the “happily ever after” kind of love.

The minute I saw the geosphere I was entranced.

The interactive displays in Communicore sealed the deal. (Sorry kids, these are long gone.) When we were able to use the touch screen computers (a new technology in those days) I was hooked forever.
Although the Magic Kingdom brings a smile to my face as I walk along the streets and byways of the different lands, it doesn’t begin to compare with what I feel when I enter EPCOT.

No matter which of the theme parks you decide to visit – none of which would have been created without the success of EPCOT by the way – you are greeted with, “Welcome home.”
I love that thought – “Welcome home.” Yeah!

Yet, when I really think about it, there’s only one place where I truly feel I’m at home.

And particularly the World Showcase. But why there?

Just so you know, I can never seem to get enough of the Tower of Terror, Rock ‘N Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, Tower of Terror, Kali River Rapids, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain – well you get the idea. Each one of those rides makes me feel like I’m a kid again. I could ride all of them time and time again, and usually do, whenever I get the chance. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, if they allowed it, I would ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror continuously until I died.

But to me there is nothing like that walk around the World Showcase, savoring the smells, absorbing all the sights – not the least of which are the people, letting the sounds of the World Showcase flow over me and tasting the many treats awaiting each and every guest.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely madly, deeply in love with Future World too – Test Track, Mission Space, the Living Seas with Nemo and Friends, the Land (and of course Soarin’ deep within it), Imagination, Ellen’s Universe of Energy and Spaceship Earth – all fill me with wonder and excitement, almost as if I’m seeing each and everyone for the first time.

Still, it doesn’t begin to compare with the way I feel about the World Showcase. That’s where I truly feel as if someone should grab me and hug me, plant a big wet one on my cheek and say, “Welcome home.”

As I start my stroll, (yeah, it’s the only place on earth I actually walk slow) whether I enter by way of Mexico or from the Canadian border (and just so you know, I’m not a big fan of entering directly into the World Showcase by way of the bridge from Disney’s Boardwalk to France) I am once again transported to places that for the most part, I could never afford to visit. And each and every time I’m there, I find something new and exciting I missed before.

Ambling through the streets and shops, while choosing to occasionally stop in one of the pavilions to catch a movie or hop on one of the boat rides through Mexico or Norway, it makes me feel as if I’ve just traveled to those places. Having been to Canada, England and Italy myself, (I’m not contradicting myself here, the company I worked for paid for those trips) I’m impressed with how each pavilion captures the spirit of that country, in more ways than just its architecture. So, of course being the romantic I am, I immediately jump to the conclusion that this must be true of the rest of the countries in the world showcase as well. (If I’m wrong, don’t ruin it for me by telling me it ain’t so.)
The street performers in Italy always make me laugh. The drummers in Japan never fail to draw me in with their impeccable, timely percussions. The Aztec buildings in Mexico take me back to a time where an ancient people had a deeper understanding of sciences and space and time than most of the people of Western Europe during that same period. And who can resist the Chinese cuisine, or the French pastries, or the English and German beers, or the bazaar in Morocco, not to mention the belly dancer? I always stop to listen to a set by Off-Kilter in Canada and I’m deeply saddened by the fact that The British Invasion – a Beatles tribute band – no longer plays in the UK garden.

So of all the things one can possibly see or do at the World Showcase, what is my favorite? Well, actually, I’m going to cheat. So, what are my favorites.

I never miss an opportunity to sit down near the end of the day and catch one of the last showings of The American Experience. To me, whenever I’m fortunate enough to be at WDW, it’s a must see. I even took my daughter on one of the tours that take you behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, and yet again, of all the things we were shown, the ones at EPCOT intrigued me the most with The American Experience topping that list.

I was totally captivated by the way they are able to move the sets around to make it all work seamlessly. (Heck, if I had programed it, there would have to be an announcement every other scene asking people to be patient and assuring them the show will resume in a matter of minutes.)
And no matter when, or where, I am at WDW, I always try to get to EPCOT for Illuminations. One of the first things I do upon entering any of the other parks is to grab an event schedule for EPCOT. Virtually every time I am there at Walt Disney World, I plan my whole day around seeing the two shows I just mentioned.

The first always makes me exceptionally proud to be an American, and the second is absolutely the best mix of pyro techniques, lasers, fire and water, synchronized to music anywhere in the world. And they do it on a nightly basis. How amazing is that?

So to Spaceship Earth, Innovations, the Living Seas, the Land, Journey Into Imagination, Test Track, Ellen’s World of Energy and Mission Space, (RIP: Horizons, Wonders of Life, the World of Motion and Communicore East & West – you may be gone, but not forgotten) along with all of the nations mentioned above: Happy 30th Anniversary EPCOT.

 

The 8th Mayan Prophecy by Robert G. Peterson
The 8th Mayan Prophecy
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