Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or Epcot, opened on October 1st, 1982. Walt Disney called Epcot the most exciting and most important part, the heart, of his Florida Project. Though what exists today is a far cry from the city of the future originally envisioned by Mr. Disney, this permanent world’s fair in Central Florida has awed and inspired hundreds of millions of people, as of today, for thirty-five years. Walt Disney famously said that Disneyland, his original theme park in Southern California, would never be finished, that it would continue to grow as long as there was imagination in the world. Similarly, he thought that Epcot could also constantly introduce new ideas.
Change has indeed come to Epcot, especially in recent years.
A Look Back: Epcot Rides That No Longer Exist
The Maelstrom ride at Norway was one of my favorites. I loved the trolls, the backwards plumet, the menacing polar bears, and passing underneath the mighty oil rig.
Theme Park Review presents this final ride:
My childhood memories include the stomach-churning motion simulator of Body Wars. Watch the full ride through of Epcot’s Body Wars Ride.
I don’t remember Captain EO from when I was little, but I was glad they brought it back in tribute to Michael Jackson around the time of his death. Captain EO was a classic 80’s attraction, and I enjoyed it as an adult!
If you like the old ride videos, here is a great list of the ten top extinct rides at Epcot with videos.
Festivals at Epcot
In an attempt to boost Epcot’s attendance numbers from locals, Epcot features several unique festivals throughout the year.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts: Jan 12, 2018 - Feb 19, 2018
Epcot’s newest festival debuted in 2017, and so far has been a great addition. The performing arts, visual arts and culinary arts combine into one amazing trifecta! Inside the Odyssey Center, visitors were able to participate in hands-on classes, tour the artwork of Disney Masters like Mary Blair, and taste new culinary concoctions with an artistic flair. This year I took home Herb Ryman’s concept art of Epcot (pictured above) which is a stunning print.
They had food pop ups as well as photo stations. The living statues were outside of the fountain plaza, and it was quite amusing to watch guests take photos with them. I liked the photo booths. They had an interactive book for kids where they placed corresponding stickers in each country as they found them in a scavenger-hunt type. WDW News Today has a great review of Figment’s Brush With the Masters.
International Flower and Garden Festival
The elaborate character topiaries showcased the artistry of Disney horticulturalists. I worked at the butterfly exhibit for this event when I was a Cast Member. My favorite aspect of this event now is to get inspirations for flower combinations for my dream backyard! We’ve also caught many bands over the years at the Flower Power concert series. The outdoor kitchens also offer delectable treats as you take in the fragrant vistas of Epcot in full bloom.
Food and Wine Festival
A favorite festival of many people, the Food and Wine Festival has been running since 1995. We enjoy trying out new food from the pop up stalls of additional countries added to the World Showcase.
The Future of Epcot: New Attractions
Guardians of the Galaxy
While I loved the dinosaurs in Ellen’s Energy Adventure, this ride was prone to breaking down and it was definitely showing age. I'll be excited to see how Guardians of the Galaxy plays out!
Ratatouille Ride Coming to Epcot's France Pavilion
I’m excited to see trackless cars finally make their way to the States. In Tokyo Disneyland, one of the most popular attractions utilizes this technology. It’s called Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, and it often boasts 3 hour lines! The ride vehicles move autonomously throughout rooms with no tracks, stopping at different points to interact with features of the room. Each ride is different because your car may stop at different points and experience different effects! I am excited to see this technology finally making it’s way to the states.
Our Connection to Epcot
Yes, Epcot turns 35 years old today, and my husband and I will be there to celebrate. He and I met on the Walt Disney World College Program over a decade ago. In fact, our very first date was at Epcot, which at the time was my husband’s favorite theme park in the entire world. During his program, he worked at Epcot, as a host at Innoventions, as a park clearer, and as a captain on the Friendship Boats. For years, I have affectionately referred to him as “Mr. Epcot”. We even walked down the aisle at our wedding to the finale from Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, which has been Epcot’s nighttime spectacular for 18 years.
Speaking of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, please be sure to follow my facebook page for a live stream of the special Epcot 35th anniversary fireworks tonight at 9 pm Eastern Time!