Epcot, Walt Disney World’s second park, opened to guests on October 1, 1982. In the nearly 35 years since the park opened it has grown and evolved into a favorite of many Disney World goers.
Last week we took a look at the history of Hollywood Studios from the day it opened in 1989 to now, and this week it is Epcot’s turn! Today we take a look at the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow as it was in 1982 and as it is today.
P A S T
When the park opened in the early 80’s, it was known as the EPCOT Center. On opening day it was home to Future World West, Future World East, and over in the World Showcase there were nine country pavilions. As you entered the park you were greeted by the large, towering Spaceship Earth (or, as many have called it, the “Epcot Ball”). The park also included CommuniCore, a pavilion centered around computers and the technologically advanced.
Future World East: Being the larger area of the two, Future World East consisted of four pavilions: World of Motion, Horizons, Wonders of Life, and Universe of Energy. While the Universe of Energy still remains in the park today (though not for much longer), the other three pavilions do not. World of Motion wound up closing in 1996, but once held the Transportation Pavilion that took guests through the history of transportation, starting all the way back at the invention of the wheel! Wonders of Life, which closed its doors in 2007, centered around the body and health. This pavilion held the attraction Body Wars (a Star Tours-esque attraction) from 1989-2007. And of course, the fan favorite Horizons, which focused on predictions for the future and was believed by many to be a sequel to the Carousel of Progress, sadly had its last run in 1999.
Future World West: Across the way in Future World West there were only three pavilions. Those pavilions were known as The Living Seas, The Land, and Journey Into Imagination. The Living Seas focused on the ocean and marine life, once home to an attraction that gave guests a closer look and a better understanding of the deep sea. The Land held Living with the Land, a boat ride that teaches of the importance of the relationship we have with our environment. And finally, the Journey into Imagination pavilion which was home to a few different attractions over the years, starting in 1982 with Magic Journeys and then adding Figment in 1983. Magic Journeys was turned into a viewing of the film Captain EO (starring the late Michael Jackson), and was later turned turned into Honey I Shrunk the Audience...and then back to Captain EO once more. The film was shown for the last time in the park in December 2015.
P R E S E N T
Today, Epcot has changed quite a bit from what it was when it first opened.
For starters, the name EPCOT Center was adjusted slightly and the park is now just known as Epcot. Spaceship Earth still stands tall and remains the park’s icon, but it did see a few updates over the years. The biggest update came in 2008 when interactive screens that allowed guests to chose their future were added to the vehicles. CommuniCore has since closed and is now known as Innoventions, and also houses Epcot’s Character Spot, Club Cool, and Mouse Gear. Over in the World Showcase, guests can now enjoy two additional country pavilions, Morocco (added in 1984) and Norway (added in 1988).
Future World East: What was once World of Motion now holds the ever-popular Test Track, a thrill ride that put guests in the position of crash test dummies. Test Track was open for 14 years before a refurbishment in 2012 that added a section for riders to design their own vehicles and test them out in various weather and road conditions. Horizons now holds Mission: SPACE, yet another popular thrill ride that simulates a space mission, and is currently closed for its own refurbishment that will be completed in the next couple of days.
The Festival Center, used for the Food & Wine and Flower & Garden festivals, stands where Wonder of Life once stood, and it was announced not too long ago that the Ellen’s Energy Adventure ride in Universe of Energy will be closing this month.
Future World West: While The Seas, The Land, and Journey into Imagination still stand, the have had more minor adjustments since their opening day compared to the pavilions of Future World West. Nemo and friends are now the center focus of The Seas, though the aquarium still remains. While visiting The Land, guests not only get to enjoy the boat ride through Living with the Land, but can also fly over several different landmarks in Soarin’ Around the World! Figment saw a few changes over the years, but that pesky purple dragon is still there to whisk you through the human imagination - and I promise you, that song will be stuck in your head for days!
F U T U R E
The future holds some interesting things for the Epcot park. It was rumored that the World Showcase would gain a Brazil pavilion, though official plans have not been announced, and the France pavilion will soon be home to a Ratatouille-themed attraction! As mentioned above, Mission: SPACE will reopen on August 13th to reveal an update, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure in the Universe of Energy pavilion will have it’s last ride on that same day to make way for a Guardian of the Galaxy-themed attraction. It was also recently announced that the sponsor for Spaceship Earth, Siemen’s, has ended their 10-year sponsorship, so it will be interesting to see what this change means for the attraction.
With all the changes to Epcot over the years, which attractions do you miss the most? The least? Or what are you most excited to see in Epcot’s future? Let us know down below!