The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of
Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney (he sometimes used the word "City"
instead of "Community" when expanding the acronym). (you can see a model of Walt's original dream for Epcot
when on the TTA ride in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom)
In Walt Disney's words:
"EPCOT... will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging
from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will
never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new
materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the
ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."
Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty
thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. The
community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial
areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it,
and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been
provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like the one in the Magic Kingdom's
Tomorrowland). Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe
above-ground. Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for
American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT,
there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners
and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at
modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed." The original model
of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen by passengers riding the Tomorrowland
Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom park; when the PeopleMover enters the
showhouse for Stitch's Great Escape, the model is visible on the left (when facing forward)
behind glass. This vision was not realized. Walt Disney was not able to obtain funding and
permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom
first. Disney died before the Magic Kingdom opened.
The landscape of Epcot includes lots of water, grassy slopes, and many trees.
EPCOT Center's grand opening on October 1, 1982, After Disney's death, The Walt Disney
Company later decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a town. The
model community of Celebration, Florida has been mentioned as a realization of Disney's
original vision, but Celebration is based on concepts of new urbanism which is radically
different from Disney's modernist and futurist visions. However, the idea of EPCOT was
instrumental in prompting the state of Florida to create the Reedy Creek Improvement
District (RCID) and the Cities of Bay Lake and Reedy Creek (soon renamed Lake Buena
Vista), a legislative mechanism which allows the Walt Disney Company to exercise
governmental powers over Walt Disney World. Control over the RCID is vested in the
landowners of the district, and the promise of an actual city in the district would have meant
that the powers of the RCID would have been distributed among the landowners in EPCOT.
Because the idea of EPCOT was never implemented, the Disney Corporation remained
almost the sole landowner in the district allowing it to maintain control of the RCID and the
cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. Disney's intent appears to be that it wishes to
keep the RCID as an instrument of the company, as witnessed by the method by which the
RCID redrew its boundaries to exclude Celebration rather than allow Celebration's resident
landowners to dilute Disney's control over the RCID.
The Theme Park:
The theme park originally was known as EPCOT Center to reflect the fact that the park was
built to embody the ideals and values of EPCOT the city. In 1994, the name was changed to
Epcot '94 and subsequently Epcot '95 a year later. By 1996, the park was known simply as
Epcot, a non-acronym, mixed-case word.
The original plans for the park showed indecision over what the park's purpose was to be:
some Imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of technology, while others wanted
it to showcase international cultures and customs. At one point a model of the futuristic park
was pushed together against a model of the international park, and EPCOT Center was
born—a theme park with the flavor of a World's Fair.
Before the park debuted on October 1, 1982, Walt Disney World Ambassador Genie Field
introduced E. Cardon Walker, Disney's chairman and CEO, who dedicated EPCOT Center
with a short speech:
To all who come to this place of Joy, Hope and Friendship—Welcome.
EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are
celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that
promises new and exciting benefits for all.
May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of
belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in
—E. Cardon Walker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Walt Disney Productions,
October 24, 1982
Walker also presented a family with lifetime passes for the two Walt Disney World theme
parks. His remarks were followed by Florida Governor Bob Graham and William
Ellinghouse, president of AT&T.
As part of the opening-day ceremony, dancers and band members performed We've Just
Begun to Dream. The Sherman Brothers wrote a song especially for the occasion entitled,
"The World Showcase March." During the finale, doves and many sets of balloons were
Performing groups representing countries from all over the world performed in World
Showcase. Water gathered from major rivers across the globe was emptied into the park's
lagoon from ceremonial containers to mark the opening.
Located at the front of the park is a plaque bearing Walker's opening-day dedication, as
Facts and figures
Total cost: $1.4 billion (estimated)
Construction time: three years (at the time the largest construction project on Earth)
Park size: 300 acres (more than twice the size of The Magic Kingdom)
141 acres (including bus area)
11,211 vehicles (grass areas hold additional 500+ vehicles)
The pavement at Epcot was engineered by Disney and Kodak photography to be painted a
specific custom color of pink that makes the grass look greener and pictures look brighter.
In addition, the colored sidewalks give an overall cleaner look to the park.
, the Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Innoventions West, and the building housing Club Cool
and Fountain View Ice Cream. The tunnels are used primarily for the support facilities
necessary for the merchandise shops and restaurants contained therein (stock rooms,
break rooms, prep kitchens, garbage disposal, etc). There is an entry/exit corridor that runs
from the northeast corner of the tunnels (the area below Innoventions East/the Electric
Umbrella restaurant) to a backstage area located between the Universe of Energy/Ellen's
Energy Adventure and the east side of the main entrance complex. Because World
Showcase is at the rear of Epcot, backstage areas simply run behind the perimeter of
Official dedication didn't take place until October 24, 1982.
The park consists of two sections: Future World and World Showcase. Both are patterned
after the kinds of exhibits which were popular at World's Fairs in the first two-thirds of the
20th century, in particular the 1939 New York World's Fair. Epcot has become essentially a
permanent display of the world's nations.