EPCOT Center Tickets & Maps

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A lot changes have changed about EPCOT Center over the years. Attractions have come and gone, entertainment has changed, even Walt Disney World guests look different now than they did in 1982. Another thing that has changed is the printed material available in the park. Tickets, maps, and other ephemera have all changed. In some cases, these changes have been for the better–many old maps look archaic by today’s graphic design standards. In other cases, beautiful art on napkins or shopping bags has been replaced by generic “DisneyParks” script.

Ephemera can tell a lot about the history of a place, so I think it’s useful to look at the these old maps, tickets, and times guides and see just how much has changed over the years as EPCOT Center changed to Epcot ’94 and changed to just plain Epcot.

It’s interesting to look at these old times guides and see how many bands used to appear at EPCOT Center for the “Future World March” and “World Showcase March.” I doubt Disney paid much, if anything, for these high school bands to appear, so I wonder why they stopped the practice. During lighter seasons, World Showcase still is only lightly crowded in the early morning, so it seems this type of cheap/free entertainment could still be offered. (more…)

EPCOT Center Vintage Character Photos

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Since opening day on October 1, 1982, EPCOT Center had walk-around meet & greet characters. The most famous of these were Figment & Dreamfinder, who are still sorely missed by Epcot fans (for more photos of them, check out our Vintage Journey into Imagination Photos page). There were also some other bizarre and short-lived characters, such as the World Showcase dolls and various robots, such as SMRT-1. In more recent years, Disney has reprised odd characters with “Figzilla” a giant walk-around Figment character that met guests outside the third version of Journey into Imagination.

When EPCOT Center opened, there were not walk around characters, with that ‘void’ instead being filled by the above aforementioned odd characters, as well as Figment & Dreamfinder. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon how creepy you find those other characters), only Figment & Dreamfinder caught on. The other unique characters were abandoned relatively quickly, and by the late 1980s, Disney characters made appearances in EPCOT Center.

These characters consisted of Disney characters in World Showcase clothed in attire representative of their host countries and also random characters that rode around the double-decker World Showcase buses. Neither these country-specific costumes nor the double decker buses are currently used. Instead, characters from stories set in the various countries do meet and greets in those countries. For example, you’ll often find Marie of Aristocats or Belle of Beauty and the Beast in France. (more…)

Epcot’s World Showcase Vintage Photos

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Although World Showcase has been part of EPCOT Center since that pivotal day when models for two separate parks were pushed together to form what we know today (or at least so the story goes), World Showcase has changed over the years. It has changed a lot less than Future World, and much of what you can see today within World Showcase could also be seen by guests who entered EPCOT Center in 1982. Still, there have been additions and changes over the years.

I think it’s interesting to look at old World Showcase photos to see how much has changed, but at the same time how the fundamental elements have mostly stayed the same. With the exception of Morocco and Norway, which opened in 1984 and 1988, respectively, the rest of the pavilions in World Showcase all existed on EPCOT Center’s opening day.

Since these pavilions are short on actual rides, not much has changed on that front. Mexico’s boat ride El Rio del Tiempo became the Gran Fiesta Tour in 2007, and some of the films have been updated in the countries, but World Showcase has not seen a fundamental paradigm shift like Future World has seen.

For most people, the more interesting aspect of World Showcase’s history is the unbuilt pavilions. Disney has developed a reputation for building incomplete theme parks following EPCOT Center due to the financial strain it put on the Company in the early 1980s (though in fairness, The Walt Disney Company was not nearly as strong then as it is today), and the Disney-MGM Studios, Disney’s California Adventure, Disney’s Animal Kingdom–basically every park except Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea–are all examples of this thinking. But the mentality was around even during EPCOT Center’s construction, as World Showcase opened incomplete, with several countries slated to open shortly following the opening of the park. (more…)

The Living Seas Vintage Photos

The Living Seas pavilion, with SeaBase Alpha, was added to EPCOT Center in 1986 and was the second-latest EPCOT Center-era pavilion to arrive on the scene.

While other pavilions immersed guests in the experience with incredibly well-themed attractions that made them forget about the park outside, The Living Seas strove to do more, attempting to convince guests that they were actually descending to SeaBase Alpha when they “boarded” the Hydrolators. This would probably come to the surprise of many guests, but the Hydrolators didn’t actually transport them anywhere. They just created the impression of submersion by shaking and having outside walls that moved.

Prior to boarding the Hydrolators, guests could watch a masterful film called “The Seas,” which showed the transformation of the earth, including the deluge! This film is most known for that particular scene, but overall it was a really well-done, short documentary.

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30 Years of LASERS!

Walt Disney WorldEPCOT CenterSpaceship EarthOn October 1, 2012, this was projected onto Spaceship Earth following IllumiNations. The projection cycled through

Okay, so it hasn’t been a full 30 years of lasers, but is it ever a bad time to celebrate lasers? Moreover is there a better way to make Future World more futuristic than by adding more lasers? (Don’t answer that.) In actuality, as almost everyone reading this likely knows, the “30 years” projection was referring to EPCOT Center’s 30th anniversary, which was celebrated on October 1, 2012.

Epcot’s 30th definitely peaked at the end of the day, with a special ground-shaking tag to IllumiNations that had guests’ ears ringing the next day followed by special IllumiNations exit music from the classic EPCOT Center tracks on this CD. Although I have that album and listen to those awesome tracks regularly at home, there was something special about hearing “One Little Spark” (with Dreamfinder dialogue), Listen to the Land, Tomorrow’s Child, New Horizons, and other classic tracks inside the park.   (more…)