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Epcot is the second theme park built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. It was dedicated to international culture and technological innovation. The park opened on October 1, 1982, and was named EPCOT Center from October 1, 1982 to December 31, 1993. It was the largest Disney theme park in the world by area until 1998, when Disney's Animal Kingdom opened.


Park map




The planned community


The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney (he sometimes used the word "City" instead of "Community" when expanding the acronym). In Walt Disney's words: "EPCOT... will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."


Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. The community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like the one in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland). Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground. Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed." The original model of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen by passengers riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom park; when the PeopleMover enters the showhouse for Stitch's Great Escape, the model is visible on the left (when facing forward) behind glass. This vision was not realized. Walt Disney was not able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first. Disney passed away before the Magic Kingdom opened.


After Disney's death, The Walt Disney Company later decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a town. The model community of Celebration, Florida has been mentioned as a realization of Disney's original vision, but Celebration is based on concepts of new urbanism which is radically different from Disney's modernist and futurist visions. However, the idea of EPCOT was instrumental in prompting the state of Florida to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) and the Cities of Bay Lake and Reedy Creek (soon renamed Lake Buena Vista), a legislative mechanism which allows the Walt Disney Company to exercise governmental powers over Walt Disney World. Control over the RCID is vested in the landowners of the district, and the promise of an actual city in the district would have meant that the powers of the RCID would have been distributed among the landowners in EPCOT. Because the idea of EPCOT was never implemented, the Disney Corporation remained almost the sole landowner in the district allowing it to maintain control of the RCID and the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. Disney's intent appears to be that it wishes to keep the RCID as an instrument of the company, as witnessed by the method by which the RCID redrew its boundaries to exclude Celebration rather than allow Celebration's resident landowners to dilute Disney's control over the RCID.


The theme park


The theme park originally was known as EPCOT Center to reflect the fact that the park was built to embody the ideals and values of EPCOT the city. In 1994, the name was changed to Epcot '94 and subsequently Epcot '95 a year later. By 1996, the park was known simply as Epcot, a non-acronym, mixed-case word.


The original plans for the park showed indecision over what the park's purpose was to be: some Imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of technology, while others wanted it to showcase international cultures and customs. At one point a model of the futuristic park was pushed together against a model of the international park, and EPCOT Center was born—a theme park with the flavor of a World's Fair.


Video of the construction of EPCOT:







Future World Pavilions:


Future World consists of a variety of pavilions that explore innovative aspects and applications of technology. Originally, each pavilion featured a unique circular logo which was featured on park signage and the attractions themselves. The logos, including that of Epcot itself, have been phased out over recent years, but some remnants still remain scattered throughout the park.


  • Spaceship Earth
  • Innoventions
  • Universe of Energy
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friend
  • The Land
  • Imagination!

  • Each Future World pavilion was initially sponsored by a corporation who helped fund its construction and maintenance in return for the corporation's logos appearing prominently throughout the pavilion. For example, Universe of Energy was sponsored by Exxon, and The Land was sponsored by Kraft, then Nestlé. Each pavilion contains a posh "VIP area" for its sponsor with offices, lounges, and reception areas hidden away from regular park guests. In the years since the park's opening, however, some sponsors have decided that the branding wasn't worth the cost of sponsorship and have pulled out, leaving some of the pavilions without sponsors. Disney prefers to have sponsors helping to pay the bills, so pavilions without sponsors have an uncertain future. After General Electric left Horizons in 1993, it closed for a couple of years, then re-opened temporarily while neighboring attractions were renovated. Horizons closed permanently in January 1999 and was demolished in the summer of 2000 to make room for the opening of Mission: SPACE in 2003. MetLife abandoned Wonders of Life in 2001 and that area is closed. Test Track is sponsored by General Motors, Imagination! is sponsored by Eastman Kodak, and Mission: SPACE is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard. Spaceship Earth was sponsored by Bell System from 1982 to 1984, then AT&T (Bell System's parent company, following the Bell System Divestiture) from 1984 until 2003. It was not sponsored between 2003 and 2005. It is now sponsored by Siemens.




    World Showcase:


    Countries that are currently found around the World Showcase Lagoon:


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    The Canada pavilion is designed to remind the guest of the Canadian outdoors. The pavilion is decorated with a canyon, a waterfall, gardens, a pool with fountains, and totem poles. The main attraction at the Canada Pavilion is "O Canada!", a Circle-Vision 360° movie of Canada's cities and scenery. This pavilion also includes Le Cellier Steakhouse and the semi-permanent home of the Celtic rock band Off Kilter.


    Prior to the construction of the Canadian pavilion, the Walt Disney corporation sought financial support for the attraction from the Canadian government. The company wanted the Federal government to fund the cost of building the attraction, in return the government would have input into the design and layout. The Canadian government was concerned about the stereotype of Canada that Disney wanted (i.e., lumberjacks). Funding was refused, and Disney threatened to pull the exhibit, but ultimately did not.


    At one time during the planning stage, the pavilion was to have been divided by a main street of shops and restaurants, with one side representing French Canada and the other English Canada.


    At the opening in 1982, the original musical talent for the Canadian pavilion was performed by a trio called the "Caledonian Pipe Band". They consisted of 2 pipers, 1 drummer. The performers were Robert (Bob) Proctor (lead, drummer), Kenneth Mauchin (piper) and Robert Mauchin (piper). These performers were recruited by Ron Rodriguez (talent co-ordinator for Walt Disney World) from the Rosie O' Grady's Pipe Band of Orlando. Because all three had ties to Scotland, they also performed in the UK pavilion) at various times.


    In 2007, Disney updated the film "O Canada!", which was filmed in 1979. For several years, the Canadian Tourism Commission had been lobbying to have the movie updated, partly to remove outdated stereotypes of Canadian life. On August 31, 2007, the updated edition opened with a new host, Canadian actor Martin Short, and Canadian Idol winner Eva Avila reprising the original film's theme song, "Canada (You're a Lifetime Journey)".


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    Visitors enter the China Pavilion through a large Chinese gate. The courtyard is dominated by a Chinese temple, the Temple of Heaven, which contains the entrance to "Reflections of China", a Circle-Vision 360° movie exploring China's history and scenery, as well as a museum containing several ancient Chinese artifacts. The courtyard is bordered by shops selling Chinese merchandise, and two Chinese restaurants. The pavilion is decorated with ponds, crossed by bridges. Chinese acrobats also perform frequently in the pavilion.


    The pavilion is home to two Disney characters, Mulan and Mushu, from the 1998 Disney animated feature "Mulan", which was inspired by a Chinese folk tale. The pavilion served as the backdrop for a music video for one of the film's songs, "Reflection", performed by a then-unknown Christina Aguilera.




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    The France pavilion is themed to look like a Paris neighborhood with a pool and fountains and with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Most of the shops on the streets are actual shops selling French goods such as Guerlain perfumes. The pavilion features "Impressions de France", a panoramic movie which visits France's cities and historical structures. It also includes two French restaurants, the Bistro de Paris and Les Chefs de France, and a bakery, the Boulangerie Patisserie.


    Belle, Beast, and Gaston from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", which was partly inspired by the version by French filmmaker Jean Cocteau, make appearances at the France Pavilion. Other characters with French backgrounds, such as those from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "The Aristocats" also appear frequently.

















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    The original design of the pavilion called for a boat ride along the Rhine river. It was to have focused on German folklore, in a similar manner to the Mexico and Norway rides. According to the Walt Disney Company's 1976 annual report the ride was to be " ... a cruise down Germany's most famous rivers -- the Rhine, the Tauber, the Ruhr and the Isar. Detailed miniatures of famous landmarks will also be seen, including one of the Cologne Cathedral."


    Though the building was built, the ride wasn't and is now used as storage space. You can see the main entrance hall, as it's now the dining area for the Biergarten. The ride building is used for storage for floats, a workshop and cast member rehearsal space.


    The Germany Pavilion is designed to look like a German town, but with architecture from different eras and regions. The Platz (square) is decorated with a statue of St. George and the Dragon and a clock tower. The Biergarten, at the rear of the courtyard, sells traditional German food. The pavilion also has numerous small shops selling German goods, including dolls and cuckoo clocks. The area near the pavilion is decorated by an extensive model village with working model trains.


    Characters from the Walt Disney animated feature "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", which was inspired by the version of the tale attributed to the Brothers Grimm, make appearances in and around the pavilion.



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    The Italian Pavilion features a plaza surrounded by a collection of buildings evocative of Venetian and Roman architecture, including a functional re-creation of St Mark's Campanile (bell tower) of St. Mark's Square. A replica of the Doge's Palace from Venice also figures prominently. The pavilion's design is inspired by other hallmarks of Italian architecture, such as the Neptune Fountain (reminiscent of Rome's Trevi Fountain), the Il Bel Cristallo shop (meant to resemble the exterior of the Sistine Chapel) and the Lion of St. Mark. Musicians, clowns and acting troupes often appear in the piazza throughout the day. There are also small shops selling Italian goods, such as candy and wine. Characters from Walt Disney's "Pinocchio", which was based on the work of Italian author Carlo Collodi, make daily appearances.








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    A Japan pavilion is one of the original World Showcase pavilions and had been in planning since the late 1970s. Many attractions have been proposed for the pavilion and one show building was built, but left unused. Meet the World was one planned attraction and was a clone of the attraction Meet the World that was once at Tokyo Disneyland.[1] But because management thought that the Japanese film's oversight of World War II might upset many Veterans, it was dropped. The show was so close to opening, the show building and rotating platform was built but then unused.


    For years, the idea of a roller coaster attraction based on Matterhorn Bobsleds from Disneyland but themed to Japan's Mt. Fuji has been mulled over by Imagineers. Space, lack of sponsor, and money has been a deciding factor in many of the reasons. Fuji Film originally wanted to sponsor the ride in the early 1990s. Kodak, a major Epcot sponsor, convinced Disney to decline the sponsorship. At one point, Godzilla or a large lizard attacking guests in their cars was tied to theming.[citation needed] Another attraction proposed was a walk through version of "Circle-Vision", in which guests would board and walk through a Shinkansen (bullet train) and looking through windows (actually film screens) that showcase Japan's changing landscapes before exiting. The train would have shaken and moved like a train going through the countryside.


    The Japan pavilion is made up of buildings surrounding a courtyard. The entrance to the courtyard features a Japanese Pagoda. A torii gate decorates the water in front of the pavilion. The area is filled with Japanese pools and gardens. At the end of the courtyard is the gate to a Japanese castle, including a moat, which leads into a display of Japanese culture.


    One of the unique offering at this pavilion is live demonstrations by Miyuki, a candy artist. This art goes back over 250 years in Japan with artists creating animals or flowers from very hot, soft dough that hardens when it cools. Of the current 15 Japanese candy artists, Miyuki is the only woman.


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    The Mexico pavilion resembles a Mesoamerican pyramid. The nightly fireworks show "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" is controlled from a small office atop the building. The office's window is barely visible from street level, but can be seen at an angle.


    Visitors enter through a display of Mexican artwork, the "Animales Fantasticos" art collection. The main room is the home to a twilight-lit Mexican marketplace, Plaza de los Amigos. At the edge of the plaza, a restaurant, San Angel Inn, overlooks an indoor lagoon. To the side of the plaza, a boarding area leads to a boat ride, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.


    Attraction:


    * Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (2007 - present)
    * El Rio del Tiempo (The River of Time) (1982 - 2007), a slow boat ride through Mexico.



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    The Moroccan Pavilion is designed to look like a Moroccan city, with a realistic Minaret. It features the Restaurant Marrakesh which serves Moroccan fare, such as roast lamb in Tagines, Couscous and Harira soups. It includes the Gallery of Arts and History and the Fes House, an example of a typical Moroccan house. It has many shops with a Moroccan feel, selling such goods as rugs, leather goods, and clothing. The area is decorated with gardens and fountains to give a North African feel. Later in the evening, there is a musical show including a Belly Dancer.


    Some of the major defining structures of the pavilion include two prayer towers, the Chellah and the Koutoubia, which are replicas of the ones in the towns of Rabat and Marrakech, respectively. The Baboujaloud archway into the Bazaar area signals the entrance to the downtown replica of the pavilion called the Medina.


    The King of Morocco actually sent Moroccan artisans to design and create the many mosaics. Due to Islamic religious beliefs on the content of art, the mosaics contain no representations of people.


    Characters from Disney's Aladdin can be seen throughout the park, such as Princess Jasmine, Aladdin, and the Genie.


    The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the nearby Disney's Hollywood Studios is clearly seen behind the Moroccan pavilion, yet it was designed in a way to look as if it is part of the pavilion and does not spoil the illusion.


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    The 58,000 square foot Norway pavilion is designed to look like a Norwegian village. The village includes a detailed stave church, and the exterior of its main table-service restaurant, Restaurant Akershus, resembles its namesake in Oslo. The exhibit showcases 4 styles of Norwegian architecture: Setesdal-style, Bergen-style, Oslo-style and Ålesund-style.


    Much of the pavilion is taken up by interconnected shops. These shops are decorated with large wooden trolls and sell assorted Norwegian goods, including clothing, candy, and small troll statues. The courtyard of the pavilion contains the entrance to Maelstrom, a boat ride into Norway's past and present. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe is a bakery, featuring assorted Norwegian pastries, such as cream horns and open-faced salmon sandwiches. There is a Viking ship, inspired by the famous Oseberg ship, that was formerly used as a children's play area. The courtyard contains the entrance to Restaurant Akershus, featuring a hot and cold buffet and "Princess Storybook Dining."


    The Norway pavilion is the most recent nation to be added to World Showcase. It was officially opened in June 1988 by Crown Prince Harald in a ceremony that was broadcast live to Norway. The original idea was to create a Nordic Pavilion that would combine elements from various countries into one exhibit. Three countries were consulted, but it finally ended up with investors from Norway raising the required US$30 million as to create an exclusive national pavilion. Disney contributed the other one-third of the construction cost. In 1992, the investors sold their stake to Disney. Since nearly as many people visit Epcot as live in Norway, the government felt it still was a good promotional tool for their tourism industry. The federal government continued to contribute US$200,000 annually for five years to help fund the exhibit. Renewed in 1997 for a further 5 years, the government stopped payments in 2002, against the recommendations from their American embassy.


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    The United Kingdom Pavilion is designed to look like a typical British village, although it could be argued that it is more stereotypical, with buildings based on different periods of British architecture. It has British gardens (including a hedge maze). The shops sell British items, such as tea, toys, clothing and Beatles merchandise. There is also a Beatles tribute band called "The British Invasion" that performs regularly in the Pavilion. The Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room serves traditional British food, as well as beer and ale. There is also a Harry Ramsden's restaurant serving Fish and Chips. There is a sport shop selling British sport equipment, including Chelsea FC and Liverpool F.C. shirts.


    Throughout the day, characters from British-based Disney features like Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh appear.




    Dining:

    *Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room

    A full service restaurant that serves English cuisine in both an indoor and outdoor setting. The indoor section resembles a pub, while the outdoor seating is located on a patio overlooking the lake. Lunch and dinner are served daily. Dishes include Potato and Leek Soup, Bangers and Mash, Fish and Chips, and Baileys Irish Cream Irish Coffee Trifle.


    * Yorkshire County Fish Shop

    A quick service restaurant that serves only fish, chips, and shortbread. Drinks, including beer, are available. Seating is outdoors only.




    And the host country...


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    The American Adventure is the host pavilion of the World Showcase within Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort. It is also the name of the pavilion's main attraction, an Audio-Animatronics stage show of American history.


    The pavilion is a single large building designed in the Colonial style. It contains the American Adventure show and the Hall of Flags exhibit, a display of the different flags throughout U.S. history. It also contains the Liberty Inn restaurant which serves American fare, such as cheeseburgers and hot dogs. There is a small gift shop, Heritage Manor Gifts, selling American items.






    Attractions:

    The American Adventure takes guests on a trip through America's rich 200-plus year history. It is narrated by figures of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The show is presented in a theater-like auditorium, with sets and characters rising out from the stage floor to represent scenes from different historical periods. The characters provide insight into American life of the past through conversations in which they discuss the current events of their time. Periods include the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 (representing American industrialization), and the Great Depression. The presentation culminates with a musical film montage representing famous moments and people in American history from post-World War II to the present.


    American Gardens Theater:

    Across from the pavilion is the America Gardens theater, an outdoor amphitheater. The America Gardens theater hosts concerts, singers, and bands from around the world. Many entertainment acts from around the world perform on this stage.


    The America Gardens theater has hosted numerous amount of shows since it was built. Over the years some of the more famous shows include Blast! and Barrage. During the park's two major festivals—the International Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, and the International Food and Wine Festival in the fall—musical groups from the 1960's and 1970's perform as part of each festival's concert series ("Flower Power" in the spring, and "Eat to the Beat" in the fall).


    In 1999, a revised version of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance performed in the theater over the summer. Even though Flatley himself did not perform in the show, its popularity encouraged Epcot to bring the show back in 2000 for another summer run. Originally designed as an open-air theater, partial cover and backstage dressing and show equipment areas were added during a refurbishment that was completed before the inception of the "Magical World of Barbie" stage show.


    Characters from recent Disney films such as Pocahontas, Lilo and Stitch, and Toy Story 2 drop by to greet guests.




    Opening day

    Before the park had its debut on October 1, 1982, Walt Disney World Ambassador Genie Field introduced E. Cardon Walker, Disney's chairman and CEO, who dedicated EPCOT Center with a short speech:

    To all who come to this place of Joy, Hope and Friendship—Welcome.

    EPCOT Center is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

    May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world.
    E. Cardon Walker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Walt Disney Productions, October 24, 1982

    Walker also presented a family with lifetime passes for the two Walt Disney World theme parks. His remarks were followed by Florida Governor Bob Graham and William Ellinghouse, president of AT&T.

    As part of the opening-day ceremony, dancers and band members performed We've Just Begun to Dream. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song especially for the occasion entitled, "The World Showcase March". During the finale, doves and many sets of balloons were released.

    Performing groups representing countries from all over the world performed in World Showcase. Water gathered from major rivers across the globe was emptied into the park's lagoon from ceremonial containers to mark the opening.

    Located at the front of the park is a plaque bearing Walker's opening-day dedication, as seen above.



    Facts and figures:

  • Total cost: $1.4 billion (estimated)
  • Construction time: three years (at the time the largest construction project on Earth)
  • Park size: 260 acres (more than twice the size of The Magic Kingdom)
  • Parking lot: *141 acres (including bus area) *11,211 vehicles (grass areas hold additional 500+ vehicles)
  • The pavement at Epcot was engineered by Disney and Kodak photography to be painted a specific custom color of pink that makes the grass look greener and pictures look brighter. In addition, the colored sidewalks give an overall cleaner look to the park.
  • Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Epcot only contains tunnels underneath the buildings that contain Innoventions East, the Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Innoventions West, and the building housing Club Cool and Fountain View Ice Cream. The tunnels are used primarily for the support facilities necessary for the merchandise shops and restaurants contained therein (stock rooms, break rooms, prep kitchens, garbage disposal, etc). There is an entry/exit corridor that runs from the northeast corner of the tunnels (the area below Innoventions East/the Electric Umbrella restaurant) to a backstage area located between the Universe of Energy/Ellen's Energy Adventure and the east side of the main entrance complex. Because World Showcase is at the rear of Epcot, backstage areas simply run behind the perimeter of World Showcase.
  • To commemorate the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982, the Imagineers who worked on the project put together a massive cake that was a scale model of the park. It was dubbed "EpCake: The Experimental Prototype Cake of Tomorrow"
  • Official dedication didn't take place until October 24, 1982.