Editor’s Note: This post is part 12 in a forty-part blog series in celebration of Walt Disney World Resort’s upcoming 40th Anniversary. Please welcome to The Window Seat By Deborah Bowen, Walt Disney World Moms Panel Guest Author.
In 1982, Epcot, still perhaps the most unique theme park in the world, opened its gates as Walt Disney World Resort’s second theme park. Learn how to make your Epcot experience a memorable one for the entire family.
Before Epcot, there was E.P.C.O.T Center, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was, according to Walt, to “take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry.” This was 1982, an era in which computers were no longer strictly the purview of scientists, a time when the Sony Walkman was exploding in the US, two heralds of the decades-long technological revolution.
Epcot was – and remains – divided into two areas: Future World, which offers visitors rides and attractions themed around the earth, the environment, communication, imagination, transportation and space exploration, and World Showcase, which features pavilions depicting the architecture and culture of a variety of countries.
Over the course of the last thirty years, the park has undergone some significant transformations. For one, it’s now simply called “Epcot.” For another, it has worked tirelessly to offer more of the Disney magic to its guests: characters, fireworks and special events abound.
The visual centerpiece of Future World is “the big ball:” an enormous geodesic sphere, hosting Spaceship Earth. But the single most popular ride – and my own favorite, by far – is Soarin’. Located in the Land Pavilion, Soarin’ takes you on an incredible multisensory hang glider simulation over California.
Here in Future World, you’ll meet your classic favorites in climate-controlled comfort. Character meet-and-greet experiences here include Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and Chip & Dale. Other characters appear in different locations throughout the park (Aladdin and Jasmine are found in Morocco, for example, while Mary Poppins makes her home in the United Kingdom Pavilion).
But learning about technology and the environment isn’t all; in World Showcase, you can explore other cultures and sample national cuisines.
The countries of World Showcase circle World Showcase Lagoon, a 1.2 mile man-made lake over which the nightly IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth music/laser/fireworks spectacular is presented. America is the central pavilion, and during the holidays is home to the guest favorite Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story with different celebrity narrators and a live choir.
Each pavilion is staffed by natives of that country, who are eager to share with guests the customs and traditions of their home.
While Epcot used to be thought of as a “grown-up park,” it has struck a very successful balance between informing and entertaining. Thrill rides like Test Track, interactive exhibits like Innoventions, and character interactions help to truly make the park fun for all ages.
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From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.