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Stanza II Program Guide - EPCOT Center 'The Early Years'


Original Poster
Welcome to the Stanza II Program Guide for The Sorcerer's Apprentice Season 4: Homecoming Edition!

This reference is designed to help you and your teammates orient yourselves to a park which exists today, but in many ways, is drastically different than what it was during its early years from 1982-1985 (the time period in which we are in for this prompt). The goal of this program guide is to provide all teams with a comprehensive retrospective that can be used to better understand the imagineering process, technological innovation, and core messages of the original EPCOT Center at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Hope you enjoy!


Table of Contents
Abstract & Introduction
Opening Day Ceremonies
Park Map

Future World Pavilions
- Spaceship Earth
- Universe of Energy
- Horizons (1983)
- World of Motion
- Journey into Imagination
- The Land
- CommuniCore
World Showcase Pavilions
- Mexico
- China
- Germany
- Italy
- The American Adventure
- Japan
- France
- The United Kingdom
- Canada
Would EPCOT Center Work Today? (Opinion)

Works Cited
Phase 2
- The Living Seas
- The Wonders of Life
- Future Countries, (Morocco, Norway)
Bonus Images/Content
Last edited:


Original Poster
EPCOT Center was inspired by Walt Disney's unbridled enthusiasm and visionary pursuit towards progress. Walt's plan for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, is a concept that the Walt Disney World Resort as a whole was based around. A testing facility to implement new ideas and innovations to help they rest of society into the future. While Walt's vision for a working city of EPCOT did not come to fruition after his passing in 1966, WED Enterprises ensured that his vision would be the core inspiration behind the second theme park endeavor at Walt Disney World.

One of the many reasons why early Walt Disney World fans view EPCOT Center as the crown jewel of theme park design was because of its message of hope and optimism for humanity heading into the 21st Century. Every corner of the park tied into that inspirational theme cohesively, represented through the unity of genres in human ingenuity, as well as nine nations along the banks of a sprawling lagoon in a showcase of the world for guests that will entertain, inform, and inspire them.

During its inception, all the best engineers, architects, creative designers, musicians, and more, worked for WED Enterprises and Disney, as there were no real theme park competitors at the time to saturate the market. This enabled a unison of the greatest minds in theme park design, resulting in a completely ballooned budget, state of the art attractions pursuits, and an emphasis on over the top creativity. What resulted was a revolutionary design, but nearly bankrupted the company in the process.

What we will explore in this thesis is the contents of EPCOT Center (1982-1994) and why it was so impressive. We will also dive into the reasons why a theme park of that size, scope, and theme, would not work in today's climate. Nevertheless, we will strive to assert that the spirit of the original EPCOT Center could have been updated for a new generation with the core themes of hope, unity, and optimism sustained.

When construction began in 1979, EPCOT Center was the largest private construction project in the entire world. Roughly estimated at around $600 Million, due to its immense size and cost, WED and WDI had corporate sponsors assist in funding the project. These sponsors would be seamless additions to the park's attractions, seeing as many of the themes in Future World particularly, were based around the the lines of work the sponsors had. Moreover, creating a hub of industry and innovation from the top companies around the world was a subtle nod to the original city design Walt had envisioned.

Yet at the time for The Walt Disney Company, EPCOT Center was not the only construction project, as Chairman of The Walt Disney Company at the time, Card Walker, desired to put Disney on two continents, with the Tokyo Disneyland Resort being built at the same time as EPCOT Center. To complicate matters even further, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (an already watered down version of the infamous Western River Expedition attraction) was being cloned in 2 parks simultaneous to the other massive projects.

As construction proceeded, with multiple disciplines working simultaneously to ensure the schedule be kept, EPCOT Center ended up being under-estimated, ballooning to a new budget of $1.2 Billion for opening day 1982, plus an additional $110 Million for the opening of Horizons in 1983 along with other development projects. These tactics however, nearly crippled The Walt Disney Company, and a few years after EPCOT Center opened, there were threats of takeover attempts, fortunately thwarted by the new company leadership of Frank Wells and Michael Eisner. As we will address further on, the ballooned budget led to many Phase 2 projects for EPCOT Center being edited or in some cases, shelved completely.

Yet despite the some of the financial impacts, from an imagineering standpoint, EPCOT Center opened as a beacon of innovation. Just what made it such a special theme park? Why is it held in such high esteem in the Disney fan community? We will journey through time back through opening day and into the first years of operation to see why it was such a technological marvel.

As Chairman of The Walt Disney Company at the time, Card Walker, put it: "EPCOT Center is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the 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."


Original Poster

Throughout the conception of EPCOT Center, one of the core themes the imagineers wanted to convey was the importance of communication in shaping mankind's quest for knowledge and pursuit of innovation. Communication for some time in the design phase had been thought of as the 'centerpiece' for the park, and from that idea, Spaceship Earth was born.

"Communications is the beginning of understanding and thus fitting of the park's marquee attraction"
- Card Walker, 1982

The attraction's story was written by Ray Bradbury who consulted with scholars at the University of Chicago, University of Southern California, and the Huntington Library, to create a narrative that remains true to the historical timeline. The attraction's premise was to journey back through time to the dawn of recorded history, and see how the evolution of communication has helped us grow and prosper over the years and into the future.

As the icon of the park, Spaceship Earth's design is of a geodesic sphere, comprised of 11,324 triangular facets that are meticulously crafted with gaps to allow for a gutter system to catch rainfall and redirect the flow to the World Showcase Lagoon. Someone viewing the 18 story geosphere might be wondering how the imagineers crafted this architectural sphere, yet it's not really a complete sphere. At 52 feet, there is a table-top in which the upper portions of the facade sits on, and the bottom half of the facade suspends from this table-top.

For this slow-moving trip through time, the attraction utilized an Omnimover system whose path begins with an ascent portion to the 52 ft table-top mark, where it travels through 3 rising sets of spiraled floors containing show-scenes before peaking at 115 ft. At this point, guest vehicles rotate on an axis 180 degrees, and descend 63 ft, level off, and then proceed to descend another 48 ft to the unload ramp which takes the guests into the Earth Station Post-Show exhibit.

Spaceship Earth: Scene by Scene

Smoke in the ascent tunnel pans into...

Scene 1 - The Dawn of Time
Projections of wooly mammoths and man's quest to survive transitions into a cave scene where our ancient ancestors are viewed drawing on cave walls to communicate.

Scene 2 - Egypt
The invention of papyrus allowed for better record keeping of information and communication.

Scene 3 - Phoenician
Merchants for sea trades created a common alphabet to unite different cultures together.

Scene 4 - Greek
Sharing of information becomes an art form of debate, theater, and mathematics.

Scene 5 - Roman
A vast system of roads in the mighty Roman Empire allowed for an organized transit of information, east, west, north, and south.

Scene 6 - Islam
After the sack of Rome, Jewish and Islamic scholars aided in better record keeping with libraries and monks copying ancient texts by hand, leading to...

Scene 7 - Gutenberg
The Gutenberg press being invented, and thus a new age of communication is upon us.

Scene 8 - Renaissance
Knowledge and communication transcends into an age of painters, sculptors, and musicians, as one can see Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.

Scene 9 - Age of Invention
Skipping hundreds of years in our historical timeline, we arrive a new dawn of innovation. A paper boy announces that the Civil War is over, a rapid series of vignettes including the Telegraph, Telephone, Radio, and Cinema are shown to us.

Scene 10 - Communication Center
A data flow tunnel depicting the acceleration of knowledge and wisdom into the future leading to...

Scene 11/12 - Outer Space/Return to Earth
A large planetarium at the top of the geosphere, rising from 115 ft to the peak dome of 180 ft, stars are projected on the walls and guests see the Earth in the distance. The vehicles rotate backwards for the return to earth, traveling down the through infinite stars.

Ride-Through Video

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet​

Earth Station
Walking down the exit ramp into Earth Station Post-Show, the major exhibit to be found were WorldKey information kiosks, which were touch screen (yes, touch screen in 1982) directories of EPCOT Center. They also allowed guests to video conference with a cast member to make dining arrangements, ask questions, and more. 10 of the 20 WorldKey kiosks were located in Earth Station.

The narrator of the original incarnation of Spaceship Earth was Vic Perrin. Some have claimed, including Marty Sklar, that Lawrence Dobkin was the original narrator, however the consensus is that he was mistaken.

While the ambition of the set pieces and story-line were praised (and still hold up to this day) the narration was a bit dry, and the finale descent a bit underwhelming. In 1984, Bell System left as the sponsor for Spaceship Earth, and AT&T moved in. In May of 1986, Spaceship Earth re-opened after being down four days to accommodate a new attraction experience, with Walter Cronkite as the narrator, articulating a more dramatic depiction of the scenes, and a new theme song 'Tomorrow's Child', among other cosmetic changes and alterations (smoke removal, addition of computer scenes, etc). Tomorrow's Child was a song written by Ron Ovadia and Peter Stougaard, sung by Sally Stevens. It reinvigorated a sense of uplifting hope and optimism about the future being the children of today - and how they will lead us into tomorrow.

--Spaceship Earth--
Theme: Communication
Sponsor: The Bell System (1982-1984), AT&T (1984-)
Opening Date: October 1, 1982
Theme Song: None (1982-1986); Tomorrow's Child (1986)
Narrator: Vic Perrin (1982-1986); Walter Cronkite (1986)
Ride-System: Omnimover
Number of Ride Vehicles: 151
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 4
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 2,400 guests
Track Length: 1,525 feet
Attraction Duration: 15 minutes​


Original Poster

While popular notions may perceive the Exxon sponsored Universe of Energy attraction to be just another dull and dark slow moving attraction, the 105,000 sq ft, partially solar powered pavilion was decades ahead of its time. Originally conceived by Exxon and Disney to be a Solar Energy Pavilion, the concept expanded to all forms of energy in the blue-sky phase, with alternative energy Exxon wanted to promote and educate the guests about.

Like all of EPCOT Center, meticulous planning went into the seemingly simplistic square design, in particular for the 2,156 photovoltaic cells perched on the roof capturing sunlight for energy (7kW of DC power). The sloping structure of the pavilion is designed to represent the idea of 'kinetic energy' as the color patterns change from dark red, to orange, and amber yellow as you rise up to the peak 60 ft back-end of the pavilion. These unique features of the pavilion, which can be viewed not only in Future World, but peaking over the edge walking around World Showcase, introduces the guests to the concepts of 'energy' before they even reach the attraction itself! This sort of priming technique gave the Universe of Energy its own identity not just as an attraction, but as a work of architectural prowess. Even the logo depicted energy in motion reverberating out from a central circle.

As represented from the geometric square designed throughout the attraction, as one gets closer to the entrance, guests see a full scale vector recreation of the Sun's corona if viewed through a thermographic camera. 32,000 individual tiles were needed to recreate this image as guests approached the queue area. As a hidden easter egg, the earth is depicted as a tiny white dot on the right side of the thermal mosaic mural (below) properly proportioned and demonstrating the immense energy and size of the Sun.
After viewing the mural, guests find themselves in a 500 person standing room pre-show staring up at a 90' x 14' screen with one hundred rotating 3.5 ft square elements. Czech director Emil Radok, produced the 9 minute pre-show which was known as the Kinetic Mosaic, a mesmerizing display of continuous screen effects; dazzlingly advanced for the time-period.

Kinetic Mosaic

Credit: widenyourworld

The Traveling Theater

Continuing the froward thinking motifs of EPCOT Center, the ride vehicles for the Universe of Energy were some of the most advanced designs of its time. Originally conceptualized as an Omnimover attraction, during the Solar Energy Pavilion phase of planning, the imagineers instead wanted to go with a ride system inspired by the 1964 World's Fair. The 'moving grandstand' was a concept in 'The American Journey' attraction at the Fair, and Disney took that concept and 'plussed' it - creating something that had never been done before in a Disney attraction, a careful combination of theater, scenes, and special technology.

Credit: progresscityusa.com
The Traveling Theater 'traveled' in packs of 6 ride vehicles that could hold 96 guests per vehicle (+ 2 wheelchairs). When guests completed the Kinetic Mosaic Pre-Show, they walked into what was known as 'Theater 1', where the traveling theater awaited, resting on a turntable. As guests are viewing a four minute presentation about the inception of energy and where it comes from, the turntable rotates, following the onscreen action to align with the upcoming 'diorama' scenes. The pack of vehicles then transition into the diorama.

The most famous scenes from the attraction, split into two parts, the diorama contained dozens of dinosaur audio-animatronics, 250 trees, rockwork placements, and hundreds of other plants to give the impression of entering a Primeval World where our fossil fuels were created. Overall, the diorama scene covers 300 Million Years, from the carboniferous period to the cretaceous period. It contained 8 brontosaurus, 6 dragonflies, 2 snails, 2 millipedes, 2 edaphosaurus, 3 trachodons, and the Allosaurus vs Stegasaurus battle scene, inspired by the Rite of Spring portion of Walt Disney's Fantasia. (martinsvids.net)
In fact, for many of these dinosaurs, this was the 3rd attraction they were a part of. 1st used in the 1964 World's Fair on the Magic Skyway, then in 1966, installed in Disneyland, and now in 1982, brought to EPCOT Center.
To venture through the Primeval World diorama, the traveling theater would be guided single file until it reaches the conclusion of the scene. Another innovative design technique? There is no track! To the guests, it feels as if the vehicles are driving themselves, but in fact, they are actually guided by an embedded wire in the concrete, and the turntables act as charge ports to charge the ride vehicles, partially using the energy gathered from the panels on the roof. Essentially meaning, the attraction is powered by sunlight!

After the diorama, the pack reorganizes into the standard rows in Theater II, watching another film, and turning back towards Theater I where the show concludes. Guests are then guided out a walkway and at a time, children were given Mickey and Goofy Universe of Energy Comic Books, with signs that pointed towards the northeastern part of CommuniCore, where a designated Exxon sponsored exhibit called 'Energy Exchange' was located.

Ride-Through Video

Credit: sean and stef IRL

--Universe of Energy--
Theme: Energy
Sponsor: Exxon
Opening Date: October 1, 1982
Theme Song: Universe of Energy
Ride-System: Traveling Theater
Number of Ride Vehicles: 12 (+ 1 spare)
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 96 (+2 wheelchairs)
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 1,930 guests
Attraction Duration: 24 minutes (+ 9 minute Pre-Show)​


Original Poster


Credit: disneytouristblog
Of all the Future World attractions, several factions of EPCOT Center fans can concur that Horizons truly embodied the themes and motifs of the park the best. The spiritual successor to Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, shown in the 1964 World's Far and currently residing in the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, General Electric was poised to continue their prosperous relationship with WED and WDI, with a pavilion in EPCOT Center surrounding future living.

In 1979, George McGinnis and Colin Campbell had developed an Edison Labs attraction that would tell the story of General Electric, however it felt too similar to the Carousel of Progress, focusing on the past, rather than what lies ahead.

Horizons went through several iterations and placements throughout Future World, with Jack Welch, the then VP of General Electric, stepping in to ensure that the pavilion had a quintessential 'futuristic' vibe. Thus, the GE pavilion went through several name changes from Century 3, to Futureprobe, to Horizon, and then eventually, landing on Horizons.

The goal of the attraction involved a look 'back at tomorrow', before traveling to an 'achievable future' in 2086. At a whopping $110 Million budget, Horizons was one of the most expensive and expansive attractions in EPCOT Center history, and merely a metal facade during the opening ceremonies on October 1, 1982.

The 137,000 sq ft pavilion rising 77 feet on the Future World skyline, opened for its first travelers on October 1, 1983, exactly one year after EPCOT Center opened to the public.

New Horizons


Credit: Epcot Discovery Center
The interior design of Horizons was unique for several reasons. First that the ride-path of omnimovers was rarely stay on one level for a long period of time. They were also suspended from above and continuously traveled with the guests facing sideways.
The omnimovers would flow up and down between levels various times, and even had some show scenes that would use both levels for a large-scale presentation. The 1,350 feet of track would flow from the first and second levels, peaking for guests at 38 feet above the loading platform. The two levels were stacked on top of each other to allow more seamless transitions between the floors for the riders.

The attraction began at the Futureport after passing an exterior slogan built on the wall of the pavilion "if you can dream it, you can do it"
After flowing through the Futureport, guests would board the ride vehicles equipped with on-board audio narrators of the 'husband and wife' - a succession of the Carousel of Progress family, all grown up, but still connected by technology and progress. The first section of the 35 show scenes would take guests for a look 'back at tomorrow', eliciting visions of the future from past historical figures and places. Jules Verne, 1920s Robidas Paris of the future, the 1980s seen in the 1930s, and movies of yesteryear.

At this point, the vehicles begin to climb into the future 'far out' 50s, which uses a full two-level show scene, followed by a transition tunnel to a 77 foot tall double Omnimax theater show scene.
After the Omnimax scene, we would then transition into the 'achievable future' - and venture with the Carousel of Progress family through the various places where they work and live in the 21st Century including Nova Cite, Mesa Verde, Sea Castle, and in space at Brava Centauri. Following the space scenes, the cars descend again as they bypass the main characters celebrating a birthday, eventually coming to a transition point where a panel in front of you lights up and allows the guests to choose the path back to the Futureport; either traveling by Land (Mesa Verde), Air/Space (Brava Centauri), and Sea (Sea Castle). After a 31 second video clip, chosen by the majority of guests, the omnimovers arrive at the unload station and guests exit the pavilion gazing at the largest mural in the pavilion; The Prologue and the Promise by Robert McCall.

Putting it in Perspective
Horizons is held in such high regard for a reason...no dark ride has ever been designed to this level of immersion and detail since in a Disney Park!

35 show scenes, 17 main sets, 51 animated figures, 35 animated props/figures, 456 plants, 110 special lighting effects, 14 70mm projectors, 14 35mm projectors, 13 video projectors, 2 omnimax screens (1 spare), 7 painted murals, scent cannons (orange groves in Mesa Verde), and an incredible soundtrack and core message that combined all of Future World's unbridled hope for tomorrow into one attraction.

Ride-Through Clean Audio

Credit: ResortTV1

Ride-Through Video

Credit: Carol Kim Pedersen

Theme: Future Living
Sponsor: General Electric
Opening Date: October 1, 1983
Theme Song: New Horizons
Narrators: Bob Holt and Dena Deitrich
Ride-System: Suspended Omnimover
Number of Ride Vehicles: 174
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 4
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 2,660 guests
Track Length: 1,350 feet
Attraction Duration: 14 minutes 45 seconds​


Original Poster

EPCOT Center always had a transportation pavilion as part of its core design. After seeing the success of WED and Ford's partnership with Ford's Magic Skyway in the 1964 World's Fair, competitor General Motors jumped at the opportunity to sponsor an EPCOT Center transportation pavilion.

Originally conceived as a 'history of transportation' attraction, the attraction morphed into 'World of Motion'. The pavilion, standing 60 feet tall and 320 feet wide, is not ironically, shaped like a wheel. Similar to the Universe of Energy with its solar panels and color patterns, and Horizons with its spaceship futuristic design, World of Motion shaped like a wheel is another visual cue about the theme of the pavilion, guiding the mindset of guests before they even reach the entrance to the pavilion.

Inside the pavilion would be two floors, the upper level being the omnimover dark ride and the lower level being the queue/load area for the attraction, as well as the impressively expansive post-show area called the Transcenter, which housed additional projection and animatronic shows.

The Wonderful World of Motion

Credit: enfilm​
While most Future World attractions had a more serious tone to them such as Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, and so on, World of Motion stood out for being much more humorous, with many of the scenes being gags juxtaposed to the ironically serious narration provided by Gary Owens. The satirical nature of the scenes throughout the attraction gave World of Motion a unique flavor, something directly provided by the legendary imagineer, Marc Davis, also known for attractions such as the Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Marc Davis might be most famous for his never built Western River Expedition, yet some of the set pieces that were meant for that attraction of his, ended up making their way into World of Motion. Compound the Marc Davis inspired humor, with an uplifting theme song by Buddy Baker and X Atencio "It's Fun to Be Free" and the result is a mega omnimover attraction traveling through 24 unique show scenes, entertaining the guests throughout. The hybrid omnimover system had two rows that sat up to six guests per vehicle, with each vehicle being balanced on a central support column which allowed them to turn independent of the rest of the chain of omnimovers.

History of Transportation scenes in order of appearance included:
Foot power, water transport, animal power, the wheel, trade and commerce, ships, air power and hot air-balloons, wagon trails in the wild west, steam trains, bicycle, horseless carriage and the big city (which ended in the world's 'first' traffic jam including 61 animatronics in that scene alone.)

Continuing on guests traveled through the 'sunday' drive, the airshow, modern times, then through 3 speed tunnels and to the finale which was in what was known as the CenterCore - a floor to ceiling atrium where the ride vehicles descending back down to the unloading station while gazing at a city of the future.

All in all there were 180 animatronics and upwards of 3,375 props/effects to complete this incredibly mammoth and unique EPCOT Center attraction.


Sea Travel



The Bicycle


The 'traffic jam'​

It's Fun to be Free (Different Iterations)

Credit: WDWFacts

Ride-Through Video

Credit: widenyourworld


After exiting, guests were funneled into the post-show area that included several interactive exhibits such as the wind turbine and aerotest, as well as two full-length shows. One being the Water Engine, a projection show, and the other being the Bird and the Robot, an animatronic show. Guests continue to meander down to Concept 2000, the Dreamers Workshop, and Concept to Reality, where guests could see the cars of the future from General Motors.

The Water Engine

Credit: martinsvids

Bird and The Robot

Credit: JESmith

--World of Motion--
Theme: Transportation
Sponsor: General Motors
Opening Date: October 1, 1982
Theme Song: It's Fun To Be Free
Narrator: Gary Owens
Ride-System: Omnimover Hybrid
Number of Ride Vehicles: 141 (+ 4 spare)
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 6
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 3,240 guests
Track Length: 1,749 feet
Attraction Duration: 14 minutes 20 seconds​


Original Poster

At WED Enterprises, it was a common theme to not throw out any ideas, as they could be modified to fit future theme park attractions. That philosphy was put on display with Journey into Imagination. In the late-1970s, Kodak was interested in sponsoring an EPCOT Center pavilion, but a contract was not finalized.

For Disneyland, Tony Baxter had designed what was known as Discovery Bay, and expansion to be located in the northwest corner of the park. Based on a Jules Verne inspired 1860s Americana, Discovery Bay would be ripe with steampunk designs and feature a Carousel of Progress style animatronic show known as Professor Marvel's Gallery of Illusions. Professor Marvel would breed dragons, and one concept image in particular had him holding one of his baby dragons. Tony Baxter showed Kodak that image of the dragon and while Discovery Bay never came to fruition, it evolved towards Journey into Imagination.
Professor Marvel was changed to a younger and jolly 'Dreamfinder' while the baby dragon went through several color palette alterations before finally landing on 'Figment'. The original color of Figment was green, but given that Fiji Film, a rival of Kodak, was green, the company insisted that the dragon be any color other than green.

The pavilion itself would be unique from its counterparts on the Future World East side of EPCOT Center. At 128,200 sq feet it was one of the larger pavilions in Future World, and was designed with less 'math/physics' themes in mind.

While the East tended to focus on forward thinking technology, the West side was more interested in art, landscapes, and creativity, as can be seen by the ornate and winding foliage filled walking paths on the West side compared to the geometric pointed paths to the East. The Journey into Imagination Pavilion would feature its signature attraction, Journey into Imagination with Dreamfinder and Figment, as well as the Image Works, an interactive playground on the 2nd floor of the pavilion, and lastly a 3D Magic Eye Theater which would house the film 'Magic Journeys'.

One Little Spark
The ride system for Journey into Imagination would be another spin on the Omnimover system. Another version of a hybrid omnimover, each train of four cars would be able to speed up or slow down independent of the other trains of cars. This was an incredibly advanced system, but with new technology comes technical issues.

While the pavilion as a whole opened on October 1, 1982, Journey into Imagination the ride, had major problems with its first set-piece, the turntable.

As the trains would enter the 3.5 minute scene, which contained 78 special effects, the guests would travel around the 'flight of imagination, and the cars would rotate inwards. The turntable and the trains would be moving at the same speed, while created the illusion that you weren't actually moving.

The synchronization of those aspects, combined with alterations to the ride system to account for the varying speeds of the trains, pushed the opening of the attraction to March 5, 1983.

In the opening day images of the 2nd floor stairway to the Image Works, one can see the ride load area in the bottom left, but without any omnimovers on it!
When the attraction finally opened, it was an immediate fan favorite. The attraction flowed seamlessly as you followed the Dreamfinder and Figment with their Dreamship as they traveled through the realms of imagination. Beginning at the DreamPort, you'd travel through the 3.5 minute turntable scene, travel into the World of Art, the White Lands of Fantasy, through Literature, Performing Arts, Science and Technology, Image Technology, towards a Finale, and then to the unload area that would lead you to the upstairs interactive exhibits.
The entire attraction brought a sense of creativity and vibrancy to Future World, and the Sherman Brothers 'One Little Spark' theme song was an instant classic Disney theme. Dreamfinder and Figment would become walk-around meet and greet characters as well due to their immense popularity.

Ride-Through Video

Credit: VideofromGeorge

The Image Works

A large exhibit area encompassing 18,500 sq feet, there were several interactive areas to explore.
Dreamfinder's School of Drama - interactive short-show
The Sensor Maze
- Rainbow Corridor - continuous changing or assigned color
- Vibrating Mirror - two mirrors made of reflexive plastic, pressure pads on floor
- Lumia - reacted to guest voices with illuminated color
- Stepping Tones - activated by pressure pads which activated musical tones.
- Digital Wall - exit of maze
Light Writer - 4 stations, draw patterns with a laser
Bubble Music - press a series of sound pads for effects
Magic Palette - light pens to draw on 14 tv screens
Pin Tables - press hands to make a variety of shapes
Kaleidoscopes - 2 pairs with large rotating patterns
Electronic Philharmonic - polaroid sonar sensor to detect arm movement of guests (6 at a time)

Magic Journeys
The Magic Eye Theater held Magic Journeys directed by Murray Lerner. The premise of the 17 minute show involved looking through the eyes of a child and experiencing the world through their perspective. This attraction had two theme songs 'Makin' Memories (in the pre-show) and the Sherman Brothers theme, Magic Journeys (in the film).

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet

--Journey into Imagination--
Theme: Imagination
Sponsor: Kodak
Opening Date: October 1, 1982 (JII Ride: March 5, 1983)
Theme Songs: One Little Spark, Magic Journeys
Ride-System: Omnimover Hybrid
Number of Ride Vehicles: 20 trains, 4-cars per train
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 6
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 2,240 guests
Track Length: 1,460 feet
Attraction Duration: 11 minutes
Theater Capacity: 592 guests
Theater Duration: 17 minutes (+8 minute Pre-Show)​


Original Poster

At first glance, approaching the west side of Future World, the center pavilion may resemble a volcanic shaped greenhouse. This design is intentional for another original concept for EPCOT Center since the idea first arouse, a pavilion based on the earth itself. Since 1978, an Ecology and Mineral Pavilion was in the works for Future World, however as plans continued to evolve, the more niche topic was broadened to the earth and environment as a whole, and how we are in harmony with the earth. Crystal structures made up the original design of the pavilion, with a rainforest ecosystem in the pavilion, and a 'Blueprint of Nature' balloon ride through the treetops, as well as a journey to the earth's core via a drilling machine. While those plans never exited the Blue Sky phase, the design of the pavilion influenced the design of The Land's neighbor, the glass pyramids of the Journey into Imagination Pavilion.

Kraft signed a 10 year contract worth $35 million to sponsor the pavilion, which would be the largest pavilion in Future World, at 6 acres, with a capacity to hold 3,600 guests inside the pavilion. Kraft's influence over the pavilion was that it wanted the pavilion to reflect agriculture and food production, leading to the signature attractions of the pavilion. Listen to the Land would be a slow moving boat ride through the earth's ecosystem and into a 'living laboratory' where guests would see how ecological scientists at EPCOT Center are developing new growing techniques for the future of crop production. Secondly, there would be an audio-animatronic show called Kitchen Kabaret, which would focus on nutrition and healthy eating, in a humorous and off-the-wall fashion, with punned character names and gags. Lastly, Symbiosis would be an educational film in the attached 'Harvest Theater' which would show our relationship with the earth and how we can use it for the betterment of mankind.

Inside the pavilion, there were also various restaurants and a shop. The table service restaurant, the Good Turn restaurant, would be a rotating circular dining experience on the 2nd floor of the pavilion, while the Farmers Market on the ground floor would be a quick-service food court, both offering healthy choices to eat. Lastly, Broccoli & Co would be the gift shop located at the end of Kitchen Kabaret.

Credit: Stuff from the Park​
The main atrium of The Land offered a unique flavor compared to the rest of the Future World Pavilions, in that - the attractions weren't the only or main draw. The experience of The Land, dining in the food court or table-service restaurant, seeing a few shows, or taking a boat ride, were all part of the overall experience.

This experience, aside from a few cosmetic modifications and attraction updates, remains the same today as it did in 1982. Guests walk up an inclined pathway past a mosaic mural which is meant to make guests believe they are walking into the earth's crust.

Credit: enfilm
Guests would enter on the 2nd level of the pavilion, where they could veer off to the right hand side for the Harvest Theater and Symbiosis, or dine at the Good Turn, or take the escalator down to the first floor, where they could queue for Listen to the Land, Kitchen Kabaret, or dine/shop in the lobby atrium.

Listen to the Land
This 1,650 foot long boat ride begins with guests entering a scene dubbed the 'Symphony of the Seed' designed by Walt Peregoy. This is where the attraction's theme song 'Listen to the Land' written by Robert Moline, began to play, as guests would continue through a subsequent biome section of the attraction. This attraction also featured a 'skipper' similar to the Jungle Cruise, but in a more serious fashion, would be explaining to the guests the importance of the environment and the ecosystems. Traveling through 4 ecosystems of the rainforest, desert, prairie, and American farmland.

A fun fact is that some of the animal animatronics in these scenes were leftovers from the unbuilt Western River Expedition (similar to World of Motion).

The boats then enter two theaters and then into the greenhouse, where the boats travel through a greenhouse dome, a 3-part aquacell culture exhibit, and then a 13-bay sand culture building, before reuinting with the finale of the Symphony of the Seed and heading back for the dock.

Ride-Through Video

Credit: VideofromGeorge

Kitchen Kabaret

Located in a 250 seat theater complex, this audio animatronic show was akin to that of the Magic Kingdom's Enchanted Tiki Room or the Country Bear Jamboree. This humorous and fun filled show was designed by Rolly Crump, Steve Kirk, and Jeff Burke, and was hosted by Bonnie Appetite who was a housewife singing 'Meal Time Blues' to open the musical show.
The show would travel through a variety of acts from condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayo, a singing cartoon milk carton featuring songs such as 'The Stars of the Milky Way', 'Boogie Woogie Bakery Boy' by the Cereal Sisters, and the famous 'Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit' which is what the show became known for. When the show would end, guests would be funneled into the gift shop Broccoli & Co where a variety of merchandise from the show and the pavilion was located.

Full Show

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet​

Presented in a continuous fashion, this film would showcase mankind's relationship with the earth (both the good and the bad) and how we can learn from it for the future. Directed by Paul Gerber and narrated by Phillip L. Clarke, this would symbolize EPCOT Center's educational message in a strong way with an informative show.

Full Show

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet

--The Land--
Theme: Environment and Nutrition
Sponsor: Kraft
Opening Date: October 1, 1982
Theme Songs: Listen to the Land, Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit
Ride-System: Boat
Number of Ride Vehicles: 16
Guests per Ride Vehicle: 36-38
Attraction Hourly Capacity: 2,445 guests
Track Length: 1,650 feet
Attraction Duration: 12 minutes
Kitchen Theater Capacity: 250 guests
Kitchen Theater Hourly Capacity: 1,014 guests
Theater Duration: 13 minutes
Harvest Theater Capacity: 428 guests
Harvest Theater Hourly Capacity: 1,062 guests
Theater Duration: 18 minutes​
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Original Poster


Credit: retrowdw.com​

EPCOT Center's design was unlike any Disney Park that came before it, because it took ideas that were custom in previous parks, and adapted them to a new enviornment. Typically, 'Magic Kingdom' style parks have a 'main street' that brings guests from the entrance to the center hub and spoke to the various lands. In EPCOT Center, the 'main street' of the park was orangized a bit differently, with a central plaza being flanked by two buildings combining for 100,000 sq feet of space that housed interactive exhibits, restaurants, and shops, all themed around technological advancement. CommuniCore was born.

The two main buildings, CommuniCore West and CommuniCore East, each had a north and south quadrant that were divided by walkways that would take guests from the center plaza to the various pavilions on the West or East side of Future World. Similar to other Disney park 'main street' designs, the central retail location was in CommuniCore, similar to the Emporium on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Thus, this layout provided the 'hub' for guests to transition from one side of Future World to the other.

EPCOT Center's vast layout was purposeful, the main goal was not to have buildings stacked near each other similar to the Magic Kingdom parks, but to have the guests have to 'quest' to each area of the park, providing some downtime to take in the experience they just had, and build-up to the next one, through the various archetectual primers described throughout the pavilions in Future World (solar panels on energy, wheel for World of Motion, volcano greenhouse for The Land, and so on)

In CommuniCore, there were various locations the guests could meander through and explore. From extended post-show areas from other Future World attractions, to hands-on interactive games, and even walk-throughs and theater shows, there was plenty of moving parts to this central hub of EPCOT Center.

CommuniCore West
--North Quadrant--

A secondary Spaceship Earth Post-Show exhibit, presented by the Bell System (1982-1984) and then AT&T (1984-) this 9,000 sq foot area housed various communication themed areas for guests to explore. One of the most astounding features when entering is the kinetic sculture; the Fountain of Information, which had a decadent array of communicative devices from newspapers, traffic signs, television, and more.

Also included were the following areas:
- The Intelligent Network: Map display
- Face to Face: video conferencing (ala Skype)
- Computer Displays (formally The Microchip Maze)
- The Family Phone
- The Einsel Theater - large scale kinetic display to showcase the benefits of technology

The Einsel Theater

Interactive Games

-- Lost For Words: Guests guide a mouse through a maze using voice recognition
-- Electric Finger Paint
-- Tele Trivia: fiber optic cables and the history of AT&T
-- Famous Faces: touchscreen; guests identify faces
-- Scramble Faces: showed how computers unscramble data
-- Network Control: Switch calls from overcrowded lines
-- Bit by Bit: Displayed computer memory
-- Phraser: Guest would type and a voice synthesizer would speak it
-- Packet: Guests decode messages by color (Packet switching)
-- AT&T True Vision: Displayed color computer graphics
-- Chip Cruiser: Destroy a virus before it affects a network

Credit: Steve W

EPCOT Outreach

An information center for EPCOT Center and all of the Walt Disney World Resort, available to answer any questions you may have, and had readily available pamphlets of information about the parks and resorts (this was before smart phones).

CommuniCore East
--South Quadrant--

Sunrise Terrace
A counter-service dining location that served a variety of chicken, seafood, salads, and more.

CommuniCore East
--North Quadrant--

EPCOT Computer Central

Credit: retrowdw.com

Sponsored by Sperry-Univac, this locale had both an 'on-stage' and 'backstage' component. The on-stage areas housed various interactive elements including:
- Great American Census Quiz: accurate US population counter
- Get Set Jet: Computer controlled motions game
- Manufacturing Game and 'Putting it all Together': Tech exhibits
- Compute-a-Coaster: allowed guests to design their own 3-D roller coaster and watch a ride-through once it was complete.
- SMRT-1: An interactive robot that played voice-activated guessing games.

Backstage, guests could travel in a walk-through attraction called the Astuter Computer Revue, which was a backstage tour through EPCOT's Computer hubs which ran the park. The Computer Song, by The Sherman Brothers, was the attraction's theme, however this walk-through attraction was short-lived.

Credit: WDWFacts

In fact, The Astuter Computer Revue is the shortest lived attraction in EPCOT Center history, from 1982-1984. On February 6, 1984, the attraction reopened as 'Backstage Magic'which had a new host and theme, but with a similar premise of walking backstage.

Sponsored by American Express, this exhibit space served more than 1,700 guests per day during its first few years of operation. Touch screen areas allowed guests to view and explore vacation destinations around the world. Dubbed 'Destination Terminals' we may take touch screens for granted now, but in the early 1980s, that was extremely advanced. The travel sphere in the center of the exhibit tied everything together.

Energy Exchange
Sponsored by Exxon, this was the post-show exhibit area for the Universe of Energy, only a stone's throw away from the attraction's exit. This 14,000 sq foot exhibit space housed various interactive areas to learn more about alternative energy and fuel sources. The comic Mickey and Goofy also transitioned into the exhibit area.
Areas included:
- Kinetic Energy Sculpture
- Wind and Solar
- Hand Photo-voltaic Generators
- Wind Turbine
- Nuclear Energy
- Radiation Detection
- Oil and Gas
- Coal Bucket
- Synthetic Fuels
- Biomass
- Energy Pedaling
- Neon House and Home Energy Conservation
- The Taxi Game, drive around using as little fuel to get to your destination
- 32 Energy Access Touch Screen locations.

Stargate Restaurant
An Americana restaurant located near a pond in the center of CommuniCore. The restaurant also contained Beverage Base, which was a small snack area for guests.

CommuniCore East
--South Quadrant--

A 13,000 sq foot 2-floor retail shop. The first floor sold mostly theme park gear while the second floor delved into more unique technology gadgets such as watches and electronics.

Electronic Forum
One of the most unique areas in all of CommuniCore and Walt Disney World in general, this exhibit housed live news feeds from around the world in the areas of sports, business, weather, and current events. Two sattellite dishes on a hill outside the building provided the feeds into the exhibit. The main concept though for the exhibit was after guests watched the news and events in the waiting area, they would be funneled into a 175 seat 'Future Choice' theater to answer poll questions on important topics of the age. The polling was embedded into the seats, which again, might seem like commonplace today, but back in 1982, this was state of the art technology, as results from the polls would show up on the main theater screen in real-time.

Theme: Technological Advancement
Sponsors: Sperry-Univac, American Express, Exxon, Bell System (1982-1984) AT&T (1984-)
Opening Date: October 1, 1982
Theme Song: The Computer Song (1982-1984)
Exhibit Total Size: 100,000 sq feet
Main Exhibits: 5
Restaurants: 2
Main Shops: 1​


Original Poster

Mexico opened with 2 restaurants, additional exhibitions, shops, and a boat ride, one of the more elaborate pavilions on opening day. Despite the variety of attractions, the boat ride, El Rio del Tiempo, almost didn't open with the pavilion. The reason why El Rio del Tiempo was green lit, was that the Rhine River Germany boat ride and Japan attraction were both pushed to Phase 2, and the park needed extra capacity in terms of attractions, in particular World Showcase. So El Rio del Tiempo was born, with a 1,656 guests per hour capacity, which was desperately needed.

The boat ride would be completely enclosed inside the 35 foot tall Mesopotamian Pyramid. Inside the pavilion, a large Aztec calendar would be seen in the main lobby, and a twilight Mexican village based on Taxo. You would then meander down sloped pathways from the main lobby into the village, which contained shops, the boat ride entrance, and the San Angel Inn Restaurant.

El Rio Del Tiempo was split into 3 parts, Pre-Columbian Mexican history, Spanish Colonial history, and the modern day Mexico. The boat track was 816.5 feet long and 18 boats would float around the attraction at a time. The boats were free floating with four side wheels.

During the attraction, a mix of physical sets, animatronics, and blue screen projections would immerse the guests in the history of Mexican culture.

Fun Facts:
If You Had Wings in the Magic Kingdom (now Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin) was rushed to open for capacity in Tomorrowland. Due to the rushed opening, the ride had to embed video screens into the facades instead of build physical sets in some cases. El Rio Del Tiempo in fact took one of the If You Had Wings marketplace projection scenes, and expanded on it in the attraction as a subtle nod to the attraction that began this effective technique.

The ride system of El Rio del Tiempo used the same system as it's a small world, and even had miniature dolls as one of the main elaborate scenes as a reference to small world, in particular the Dia De Los Muertos - Day of the Dead festival scene, in the middle of the attraction.


Credit: disneyrob​


Original Poster


Credit: disneytouristblog
Opening on October 1, 1982, the China Pavilion featured a Circle-Vision 360 theater, and a restaurant soon to follow after its initial opening.

The grand temple was a walk-through location that encompassed an atrium where guests can look up. In the center core of the temple, the acoustics are in perfect harmony with the rest of the walls, allowing for an incredible audio-visceral experience. Wonders of China, a CircleVision 360 show, was a monumental achievement at the time. Due to China's wary relationship with allowing American film crews to videotape the 'wonders' needed for the pavilion. WED in fact became the first western crew to gain access from the government to film and view China's best kept locations and secrets. (Source: martinsvidsdotnet)

In 1985, the Lotus Blossom Cafe opened added 200 seats of capacity to the pavilion, along with a full service restaurant, Nine Dragons, which added 250 more seats of restaurant capacity to the east side of World Showcase, making China a fully fleshed out pavilion to explore.

Theater Show

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet​


Original Poster

An original pavilion on World Showcase that opened on October 1, 1982, Germany today is still reminescent of the pavilion present decades ago, yet still missing a key attraction that was meant to be involved with the showcase.

The original 'boat ride' of World Showcase was supposed to be the 'Rhine River' attraction which would take guests on a cruise through scenic areas of Germany including down the Rhine, Tauber, Ruhr, and Isar rivers. The Black Forest and Oktoberfest would be some of the main events and locations along the riverbanks as you flowed through this attraction, yet in 1981, a year before opening day, the Rhine River was scrapped, and El Rio del Tiempo was fast-tracked to be completed in one year.

The pavilion as it stands today still has the 'to-be' entrance area that the boat ride would have had, which is adjacent to the Biergarten restaurant. Oktoberfest became one of the main themes of the pavilion, as the restaurant celebrates the eternal Oktoberfest with live music played daily around a stage show buffet. Shops featuring German designs of Hummels, Clocks, and Christmas flank the restaurant and the plaza area in the center.


Credit: ResortTV1​


Original Poster


Credit: disneytouristblog
The Campanile of St. Mark's Square in Venice rises high above the World Showcase lagoon to denote the Italy Pavilion, marked by distinctly Venetian architecture throughout. The pavilion, similar to Germany, remains true to its original incarnations from 1982. The main restaurant has changed hands over the years from L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, to new owners and the creation of Via Napoli, built in 2010, as Italy's 2nd restaurant offering. Other than restaurants, there are quaint Italian shops encompassing a central plaza dubbed the Theatre al Fresco, which features live entertainment from traveling comedy and character acts throughout the day.


Credit: prezut​


Original Poster

The host pavilion on the World Showcase promenade is The American Adventure, sponsored by American Express and Coco-Cola. Similar to most pavilions, this has remained true to its original incarnation. The pavilion has 108,000 sq feet of space and home to two show areas, the first being outside along the lagoon in the American Gardens Theater, which is a 900 guest capacity venue holding various musical performances outdoors. Inside a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, guests enter a 1,024 seat theater for an incredible audio-animatronic show hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twin. From the immense theater space, to the amazing set design, this show takes guests through America's history and its famous figures from Fredrick Douglass, to Alexander Graham Bell, to John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.

The attraction ends with the infamous 'Golden Dream' theme song illustrating America's strength and perseverance of dreams, a fitting addition to EPCOT Center's long list of incredible soundtracks.

Theater Show

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet​


Original Poster

One of the most beautiful pavilions in all of World Showcase, designed by Gary Goddard along with Claude Coats and Herb Ryman, the attention to the ornate details inspired by Japanese gardens and architectural designs of cities such as Kyoto is readily apparent as you walk through the pavilion. Mast the main Mitsukoshi complex and department store, through the various restaurants and shops, all of these areas are leading guests further into the pavilion, but sadly there is no attraction. The Japan Pavilion was originally planned to have a Carousel of Progress style rotating theater experience called 'Meet the World' which would have introduced guests to Japanese culture and heritage. The developer of the attraction had a strong interest in portraying Japanese culture and believed in Walt Disney's philosophies. He pleaded with WED and Disney to have an attraction for the Japan Pavilion on par with if not better than the Hall of Presidents or the Carousel of Progress, two widely regarded animatronic shows.

Meet the World was scrapped from EPCOT Center however, despite the layout of the pavilion being designed for it, and instead, in 1983, Meet the World premiered in Tokyo Disneyland.

Credit: naramitsu


Credit: iThemePark​


Original Poster

With the Eiffel Tower perched over the top of an ornate Parisian village, the France Pavilion honors both history and culture of a nation steeped in cuisine, architecture, and more. Two main restaurants are located near each other while guests can peruse down a 'main street' of the pavilion towards shops and a pastry corner, while also meandering down to the main attraction of the pavilion - the CircleVision 360 show, Impressions de France. A hidden gem of the parks, this film has stood the test of time since opening with the park in October of 1982, and still plays till this day. The musical score is by Claude Debussy, Camille Saint Saens, and Francois-Adrien Boiedieu, by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Theater Show

Credit: martinsvidsdotnet​


Original Poster

Shopping was to be the main focus of the United Kingdom Pavilion as the attention was to create a 'nation of shopkeepers'. In the UK Pavilion, that message holds up as a variety of time periods in English history are represented through various side streets and quaint shops from tea shops to toy stores, and much more. The Rose & Crown Pub is one of the main attractions of the UK Pavilion, a restaurant themed after an English Pub, and named after the two most common words for pubs in the UK (rose and crown) so they simply combined those top two words together into one!

Meandering back to the rose garden and guests will be treated to musical numbers and a place to sit and relax among the crowds. Original plans called for a more dramatic entrance to the pavilion, with a replica of Kings Cross Station, as well as a Thames River Cruise, but those plans never made it past the blue-sky phase.


Credit: ThemeParkHD​

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