The Beginning of EPCOT Center

By Keith Mahne

Epcot is the second of four theme parks built at Walt Disney World. It opened as EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982, and spans 300 acres, more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom park. It is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, namely technological innovation and international culture, and is often referred to as a “Permanent World’s Fair.” Many Disney fans are fascinated with the original EPCOT Center, myself included, and long for the day it returns to its original goals of being a demonstration and proving ground for prototype concepts, a ongoing forum of the future, a communicator to the world, and most importantly, being a permanent international people-to-people exchange by advancing the cause of world understanding among its citizens. Will this day ever return? We can only dream, however we can, here today, step back into the past and remember what the beginning of EPCOT Center was like…

Let’s begin our look into Epcot’s infancy with a 1978 preview video featuring Card Walker, Disney’s President during the creation of the Park:

Now let’s take a look as Epcot slowly rises from the ground:

 
 
 

 
 
 

 

Let’s have a look at a promotional film which debuted in the “Walt Disney Story” theater in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1981, when that facility was temporarily changed to become the “EPCOT Center Preview Center”. It gave a sneak peek at the attractions planned for the new theme park, which would open a year later.

EPCOT Center finally opens to the world on October 1, 1982:

 
 
 
Later that month on October 24th, Card Walker welcomed Lillian Disney to a stage on the other side of Spaceship Earth in front of the fountain:
 
 


The EPCOT Center Opening Ceremony:

1982 application for a commemorative EPCOT ticket:

1982 EPCOT commemorative ticket with embossed silver envelope pictured below:

Tickets would come with a brochure produced especially for the park opening:

The inside held some wonderful photos and information about the park:

EPCOT Center Opening Day Guide Map:

EPCOT Center was ready for the world to see:

The television special EPCOT Center: The Opening Celebration which aired on CBS October 23, 1982 (the night before the park’s official dedication). It was hosted by legendary actor-singer-comic Danny Kaye:

Photos of  Communicore costumes:

Photo of Horizons costumes:

Fun loving EPCOT Center cast members:

EPCOT Center in the early days:

I can’t think of a better way to capture what Epcot was originally intended to be and what we as fans dream for it to return to, than with what you’ve just seen in this post. I asked you in the beginning of this article if those days would ever return. What do you honestly believe? Being the optimist that I am, I’d like to think so. My heart tells me yes, but my mind tells me no. One way to start getting on the right track is to do what we’ve just done, take a step back into the past and remember what the beginning of EPCOT Center was like, and what we long for it to be once more!

(If you’ve enjoyed today’s article on the beginnings of Epcot, I can’t recommend to you enough that you grab a copy of the book Walt Disney’s EPCOT: Creating the New World of Tomorrow! I’ve included a link for you below. It is JAM PACKED with all shorts of concept art, construction photos, models and more. I absolutely adore my own personal copy and I know you will as well. Check it out in the Amazon link below…)

 
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Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.
 

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

 
 



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