04 October 2011

The nations of today

As Walt Disney World turned forty this past weekend, another park was, if not forgotten by guest, overshadowed at the very least. Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, and just a few years later they had the biggest 11th birthday celebration in the history of 11th birthdays when they opened EPCOT Center in 1982. The rub is, since the park opened a year after the decade mark it doesn’t get to share the big birthdays. There were no 30-20 or 40-30 joint birthday celebrations, because a 40-29 celebration is just silly. That said, let’s go back and take a look at what EPCOT Center looked like in early 1982.Okay, this isn’t exactly what you had in mind, is it? You expected some construction photographs, didn't you? This is the scale model that was meant to whet appetites for the coming of the global tomorrow that would be EPCOT Center. Still, there are some interesting tidbits to explore here.

For instance, The Living Seas has found its proper place in Future World West, with an edifice meant to invoke thoughts of churning waves. For the unaware, the exterior of a seas pavilion went through a variety of forms and was even situated in Future World East for a time, before it finally came to rest where and how we know it.

Back in World Showcase, there are not yet models for Morocco or Norway, not surprising since it they did not open until 1984 and 1989, respectively. Equatorial Africa, however, is represented in full miniature, though it never did arrive in full. Also, take note of the open theater area in front of The American Adventure. Perhaps the most interesting piece, or lack thereof, in World Showcase is the exclusion of a model China, a late addition to the World Showcase line-up.

With Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and Disney’s Animal Kingdom after it, Walt Disney World moved away from opening parks on the same day as the Magic Kingdom. This allows each park its own unique place in the calendar and gives it a sense of identity. Epcot, or EPCOT Center if you like, wasn’t given the same opportunity, but that doesn’t mean it should be celebrated any less. Happy 29th birthday, Epcot!


Michael said...

Actually, and weirdly, China was the *last* pavilion greenlit for Showcase. They were never able to find sponsors or work something out with China, but Card Walker decided they *had* to have it so Disney paid for it themselves. It was designed and built in less than a year! Crazy...

Debbie V. said...

My very first visit to Epcot will be next month to celebrate my 60th birthday.
I was telling my coworker today how growing up going to Disneyland we would see the EPCOT model - but I can't remember if it was inside the Primeval World diorama area or where it was - and thinking how exciting the future was going to be!

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Thanks for keeping me honest, Michael! I wrote that late at night, after a very long weekend, and misread my source. I think I was remembering the 1981 Annual Report where it was mentioned and thought it was an earlier edition.

Debbie, I hope you have a terrifice time next month!