Celebrating 40 Innovative and Magical Years at EPCOT
EPCOT opened at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1982 and was designed to give Disney guests a taste of what life would be like in the 21st center. The idea of the the theme park was to showcase the ideas and technologies the world had never seen before.
When the park first opened, a month-long celebration took place in Future World pavilions and (at then) the nine World Showcase pavilions to guests from around the world. A grand opening would span for three days and the theme parks official dedication happened on October 24, 1982.
To this day, the park inspires curiosity, imagination and wonder through innovative attractions, cultural experiences and four annual international festivals.
The theme park is currently home to four unified neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Nature, World Discovery and World Showcase. The park also continues its commitment to innovation and is currently undergoing the biggest transformation in the theme park’s history.
As we look forward, now is also a great time to look back. Disney recently shared some important milestones over the theme parks 40-year history at EPCOT.
Let’s take a walk down EPCOT Memory Lane:
- November 15 – Walt Disney and his brother Roy publicly announce plans for Walt Disney World Resort in a press conference held in downtown Orlando, Fla.
- October 27 – Walt Disney records a film outlining plans for the Florida Project, including details for Walt Disney World Resort and the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).
- Then Walt Disney Productions President and CEO, Card Walker, announces plans for EPCOT and even presented concepts to President Jimmy Carter.
- October. 1 – Construction starts at EPCOT
- September 24 – Cast Members and their families enjoy a soft opening of EPCOT.
- October 1- EPCOT opens and has five Future World pavilions: Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination and The Land. There were also 9 World Showcase Pavilions: Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom and the United States.
- EPCOT debuts it’s first nightly fireworks show called Carnival de Lumiere.
- October 24 – Official dedication of EPCOT by Card Walker.
- A new 4-mile monorail extension opens for the Walt Disney World Monorail System taking guests from the Ticket and Transportation Center to EPCOT.
- March 5 – Journey Into the Imagination with Figment makes its debut!
- October 1 – To celebrate the parks first anniversary Horizons makes it’s Future World debut. It was designed to provide visitors a glimpse of what life might be like in the future.
- June 3 – The France Pavilion opens a second restaurant – Bistro de Paris
- September 7 – The Morocco Pavilion opens at EPCOT’s World Showcase.
- August 31 – Skyleidoscope debuts on the World Showcase lagoon. A “daytime” spectacular, the show features flying, swimming and sailing vessels, daytime fireworks and colorful streamers.
- September. 24 – Lotus Blossom Café open in the China pavilion.
- October 23 – The China pavilion’s table-service restaurant Nine Dragons Restaurant begins serving guests.
- January 15 – The Living Seas (now The Seas with Nemo & Friends) opens. A highlight is a 5.7 million gallon aquarium (which at the time was a world record!)
- September 12- Captain EO, a 3D film premieres in the Journey Into the Imagination Pavilion
- The EPCOT Daredevil Circus Spectacular, dubbed The Greatest Show in Space, it featured a variety of circus acts performed in and around the CommuniCore area.
- January 30 – IllumiNations makes its debut incorporating the World Showcase pavilions with lighting and special projection effects.
- June 3 – The Norway Pavilion opens including Maelstrom, where guests boarded Viking boats to discover the country’s beauty, tradition and cities.
- October 19 – Wonders of Life pavilions open in Future World. Housed in a giant gold dome, the attraction explored health and fitness. Within the pavilion, guests would find state-of-the art, hands-on activities, live comedy shows and a fast-casual restaurant.
- November – The EPCOT Resort Are takes shape with the debut of Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort.
- April 29 – The first EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival debuts.
- July 1 – Innoventions replaces Communicore and features interactive exhibits that focus on emergining technologies
- November 21, “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” debuts in the Journey Into the Imagination pavilion (replacing Captain EO.”
- Nov. 25 – The Candlelight Processional appears for the first time at EPCOT (Previously it was held at Magic Kingdom)
- January 21 – “Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable” debuts in The Land. The 20-minute, 70mm film features Simba, Timon and Pumba in a story about the importance of respect for the natural environment
- September 15 – Ellen’s Energy Adventure debuts with a new storyline and humor to what was previously Universe of Energy.
- September 28 – The first annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival makes its debut.
- March 17 – Test Track opens in Future World and has the distinction of being the parks first thrill ride!
- October 1 – EPCOT kicks off it’s Millennium Celebration, a 15th month event, including “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The Millennium Village also opens which celebrates the cultural achievements of 25 countries as well as the Tapestry of Nations parade.
- October 1 – The Art of Disney shop opens in Future World, selling Disney artwork, prints and other collectibles.
- August 15 – Mission: SPACE opens in Future World. The attraction takes guests on a simulated training spaceflight to Mars.
- November 16 – Turtle Talk with Crush opens in The Living Seas. This attraction is the first of its kind in enabling the beloved Finding Nemo character to talk with guests and learn from them as he talks about his life in the ocean.
- May 5 – Soarin’ opens in The Land pavilion, taking guests on a breathtaking aerial adventure over iconic California locations.
- October 1 – “The Year of a Million Dreams” begins. Dream Squads take to EPCOT to surprise thousands of guests with incredible prizes, from special attraction access, and merchandise to Disney vacations.
- November 26 – The Living Seas becomes The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion.
- April 6 – Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros opens up in the Mexico pavilion. The updated attraction features Donald Duck, José Carioca and Pistoles Panchito from Walt Disney’s 1942 film “Saludos Amigos.”
- April 25 – The Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future exhibit opens at Spaceship Earth. The series of exhibits showcases advances in medicine, technology and energy management.
- October 1 –A rededication takes place in celebration of EPCOT’s 25th Anniversary and a gallery showcasing memorabilia.
- February 15tht – Spaceship Earth reopens with an expanded storyline. The new narration follows the history of human innovation from prehistoric times to the 21st century.
- January 28 – Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure interactive attraction opens. Guests use the Disney Play! App on mobile devices to transform into secret agents. The scavenger hunt-style experience interacted with seven World Showcase pavilions.
- July 2 – The 3-D film “Captain EO” returns to Future World.
- April 4 – House of Good Fortune merchandise location opens in the China pavilion. The new shop sells authentic Chinese merchandise.
- June 23 – Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure replaces Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. The new quest takes guests on an adventure through the World Showcase with Agent P to solve clues and thwart Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plots.
- December 6 – Test Track – Presented by Chevrolet re-opens. The re-imagined attraction allows guests to design their own vehicles before setting off on a thrilling test drive.
- May 30 – L’Artisan des Glaces Ice Cream shop opens in the France pavilion.
- January 20 – Spice Road Table opens in the Morocco pavilion. Inspired by the outdoor cafés throughout the Mediterranean, the restaurant serves tapas specialty wines and aperitifs from the region.
- June 17 – Soarin’ Around the World debuts in The Land pavilion. The reimagined attraction takes guests on a flight high above many of the world’s natural and man-made wonders.
- June 21 – Frozen Ever After open sin Norway pavilion, replacing Maelstrom. The attraction takes guests on a boat ride through the kingdom of Arendelle. In addition, Royal Sommerhus opens, allowing Queen Elsa and Princess Anna to meet with guests inside a charming cabin.
- New holiday experiences come to EPCOT as part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
- January 12 – The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts debuts, expanding the park’s festival offerings to all four seasons.
- August 25 – Disney announces plans for the EPCOT’s incredible transformation.
- October. 1 – “EPCOT Forever” nighttime spectacular debuts at World Showcase Lagoon, replacing “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.”
- October 1 – Walt Disney Imagineering presents the EPCOT Experience opens, offering a preview of attractions coming as part of the theme park’s multiyear transformation.
- July 5 – Takumi-Tei opens in the Japan pavilion. The signature dining table-service restaurant specializes in wagyu beef, sushi and signature cocktails.
- January 17 – Three new films debuts at the World Showcase. “Awesome Planet” debuts in The Land pavilion. “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” premieres at the France pavilion. “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” debuts at the Canada pavilion, updating the O Canada! Circle-Vision 360 film.
- February 19 – Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts and Barbecue opens at The American Adventure pavilion. The quick service eatery serves up American backyard barbecue and home-style craft brews.
- December 22 – A new main entrance is unveiled including a new fountain, inspired by one that originally debuted with the theme park’s 1982 opening.
- September 15 – Creations Shop opens in World Celebration. The store features unique EPCOT merchandise as well as other Walt Disney World collectibles.
- September 20 – Space 220 opens in the Mission: SPACE pavilion. The new restaurant simulates a flight 220 miles above the Earth’s surface.
- October 1 – Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebrations begin. Spaceship Earth transforms into a spectacular Beacon of Magic at night and is illuminated EARidescent colors. Three new neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Discovery and World Nature join World Showcase as the geographic areas that make up EPCOT.
- October 1- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a new 4D ride opens in the France Pavilion along with a new restaurant La Crêperie de Paris, offers guests a delicious taste of French cuisine.
- October 1- Harmonious, a new nighttime spectacular debuts with Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The show is a celebration of Disney music which inspires people across the world.
- April 27 – Connections Café and Eatery opens in World Celebration.
- May 27 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens in the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. The family thrill coaster features the first ever reverse launch on a Disney coaster and ride vehicles that rotate 360 degrees.
- October. 1 – Walt Disney World Resort celebrates the 40th anniversary of EPCOT, as the park continues its multi-year transformation.
Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for further Walt Disney World news and updates. We’ll be coming to you LIVE! from the theme parks each and every week.
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