Epcot, the second park to open at Walt Disney World, is divided up into two distinct sections, Future World and World Showcase. Future World is focused on the technology of the future, although some are now more dated technology. Future World is further broken down into pavilions based on Communication, Energy, Space, Car Technology, the Ocean, the Environment, and our Imaginations. These pavilions each feature a combination of rides, shows, restaurants, and interactive exhibits.
World Showcase allows guests to travel the world all centered around the 1.2-mile perimeter of the World Showcase Lagoon. The countries represented, in clockwise order, are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Each pavilion is a mini replica of a city, or cities, from the country represented. This is primarily accomplished through the architecture and landscaping you’ll see, but the food and drink offerings of each help to place you in different countries around the world too. Maybe the most interesting part of World Showcase is that the Cast Members working in each of the countries are all visiting from the country that they represent. You can learn a lot just from speaking with them, and these interactions can make you feel like you’re actually in Italy, France, or whichever country you might be visiting. Nightly, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth can be seen from anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon.
Epcot also hosts three seasonal events each year that bring new tastes and sights to the park. The Flower and Garden Festival, highlighted by dozens of character topiaries, is held each year from March through May. The Food and Wine Festival brings the flavors of dozens of additional countries to Epcot from September through early November. The year is capped off with the International Festival of the Holidays featuring Holiday Storytellers from each country, the Candlelight Processional, and traditional Holiday meals from around the world. The Festival of the Holidays runs from the day after Thanksgiving through the day before New Year’s Eve.
Epcot, an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, was first conceived by Walt Disney as a utopian city designed to use all the available technology of the time. It was to utilize monorails and peoplemovers as the modes of mass transit. The city was also planned to be a series of layers with the communities on the top layer and transportation and other industrial city functions below that. Walt can be seen discussing his plans for Epcot in the video unveiling his Florida Project. Unfortunately, Walt did not live much past the unveiling and plans for a functioning city were abandoned.
The Imagineers continued development of the project with two competing visions, an exhibit of technological innovation and World’s Fair-like showcase of countries. As Disney Legend Marty Sklar tells the story, the two models were physically pushed together resulting in the theme park we know today. The 300-acre park took over three years to build at an estimated cost of over $1 billion, making it the largest construction project in the world.
Epcot opened on October 1, 1982, as EPCOT Center with a lavish dedication ceremony where water from the major rivers and bodies of water from around the world was poured into the Fountain of Nations in Future World. Disney CEO Card Walker dedicated the park, “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 the world.”