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Epcot
Epcot Center

Opened

October 1, 1982

Size

300 acres

Epcot is a theme park in the Walt Disney World Resort, located near Orlando, Florida. The park is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely international culture and technological innovation. The second park built at the resort, it opened on October 1, 1982 and was initially named EPCOT Center. In 1994, the "Center" was dropped from the park's name, and by 1996, the park was simply named Epcot. In 2010, Epcot hosted approximately 10.83 million guests, ranking it the third most visited theme park in the United States, and fifth most visited theme park in the world.

EPCOT was originally an acronym of Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was the name originally given by Walt Disney to a conceptual utopian city of the future that he had wanted to build on the site that is now Walt Disney World. 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. Disney's vision was not realized, as funding and permission to start work on his Florida property would not be granted until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first. Disney died before the Magic Kingdom opened, and the Walt Disney Company decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city.

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. The park consisted of two sections, Future World and World Showcase, laid out in an hourglass shape. In 2020, the lands were changed, with Future World being split up into 3 separate sections. World Celebration includes the park's entrance, Spaceship Earth, Imagination! pavilion, Club Cool, Creations Shop, and two eateries, while World Nature includes the Land pavilion and the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilions. World Discovery includes Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Mission: SPACE, and Test Track.Both sections are patterned after the types of exhibits found at world expositions. In its early years, Epcot was often called a "permanent World's Fair."

EPCOT Center was constructed for an estimated $800 million to $1.4 billion and took three years to build (at the time the largest construction project on Earth). Covering an area of 300 acres (120 ha), it is more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom. The parking lot serving the park is 141 acres (57 ha) (including bus area) and can accommodate 11,211 vehicles (grass areas hold additional 500+ vehicles).

Dedication[]

"To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship--welcome. EPCOT 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, October 1, 1982

History[]

Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow[]

See also: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney (sometimes using 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 ares 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 died before the Magic Kingdom opened.

After Disney's death, the Walt Disney Company decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city. 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 further cemented this control by deannexing Celebration from 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.

Before the park debuted on October 1, 1982, Walt Disney World Ambassador Genie Field introduced E. Cardon Walker, Disney's chairman and CEO, who dedicated EPCOT Center. 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 Fountain of Nations 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.

Park Sections[]

Special Events[]

Incidents[]

On September 12, 1992, a 37-year old man entered EPCOT Center after park closing and brandished a shotgun at three security guards, demanding to see his ex-girlfriend who worked at the park. He fired four blasts at the guards and took two of them hostage in a restroom near the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. As Orange County sheriff's deputies surrounded the area, the intruder released his hostages and emerged from the restroom with the shotgun held to his chest. After exchanging words with deputies, he put the gun to his head and fired. The man was pronounced dead on arrival at the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Investigators attributed his actions to a recent breakup with his long-time girlfriend.

Sources & External Links[]

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