Thirty years ago today, Epcot opened to the public, becoming Walt Disney World’s second park to delight and amaze guests.
Originally called EPCOT Center (but officially changed to Epcot in 1994), the word EPCOT was actually an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The concept was the original vision of Walt Disney himself, and was one of the original ideas for the “Florida Project” – code name for Walt Disney World while it was being developed. First envisioned as a Utopian city, Disney saw its future this way:
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.
However, the planned park took a different development direction, when Disney opted for a park embodying the feel of a world’s fair, rather than a residential area. Announced officially in 1974, the park took three years to build, and was officially dedicated on October 1, 1982.
Special events will be taking place today within the park to commemorate this special anniversary. The Disney Store online is also offering special 30th anniversary merchandise marking the date as well.
Yesterday, more than 1,000 D23 Members (Disney’s official fan club) gathered to celebrate the event with special panels and presentations.
I’m going to interject a little personality into this piece now, and let you in on a secret: Epcot is, and will always be, my favorite park. Never do I enter its gates without recalling my first visit in the summer of 1983. Accompanied by my grandparents, mom, and brother, I felt like I had found “my” Disney park – one that let me explore both the future and other countries, all while vacationing in my beloved Florida. Only a few months later, we would lose my grandfather suddenly. That trip to Epcot will always be marked by the fact that I got to visit Disney – and a new Disney – with him, one last time.
So what special memories do you have of Epcot? Let us know in comments.
Here’s to many more years celebrated at one of the most special places in the world.