I had planned to attend Epcot’s 25th Anniversary back in 2007, but just couldn’t make the logistics work. This time it would be different!!! Epcot’s 30th Anniversary would be my first “Research Trip”!!!
What better time to do research? The Crew at www.wdwcelebrations.com hosting Celebration30 and my new friends at www.communicoreonline.com had space in their Illuminations30 Dessert Party!! I’m in! I traveled alone, but I was far from alone between local friends and a podcast community that gets bigger all the time. It was old friends and new friends all sharing a passion for Disney… and EPCOT Center. I took the opportunity to to take a close look at Illuminations, that history and video will be part of Episode #20, to be posted soon.
October 1, 2012…The fan community was alive with anticipation. The Anniversary Celebration was noticeable, but not overdone. If you didn’t know about the event, you could have gone about an exciting day at Epcot enjoying the Food and Wine Festival and been none the wiser. Just beyond the turnstiles there was a small table, your first indication that something was different. Here you could get your Epcot30 Exclusive Guide Map & Times Guide along with an Epcot30 Button! The Anniversary Guide Map in a foldout with maps from 82, 83, 91, 93, 2000 and today, with Epcot milestones noted. The One Day Only Times Guide included all of the one day events. First official event 1:00… Lots of time!
Or so I thought. I’m here and limited edition merchandise is available… Sure, let’s get a pin or two. (Love the Figment 30th pin and T-shirt). Off to Mouse Gear… WOW!! The line for Mouse Gear started at the main entrance (Not the side or back) and stretched around the building, past the Fountain of Nations, past the Phineas and Ferb station into World Showcase almost to the new Terra Food and Wine Station!!!! Turns out, that’s about a 3 hour wait!!! I waited about 45 minutes when we were told the Figment T-Shirts and Vinylmations were sold out. It was 11:00 am. Food and Wine was now open, and the first session was at 1:00pm “Lunch Time!” The merchandise would have to wait. (On a side note, I was able to get a T-shirt later in the evening… the line for pins at 6:30 pm was still about an hour long.)
The D23 Sessions were outstanding!! Recording devices were not allowed, but I’m sure you can find a podcast with audio. Hearing directly from Imagineers and cast members was priceless. The first session “Designing the Future: Present and Past” featured a panel of opening day cast members recounting their stories. From details on construction to the opening festivities and last minute activities, there were stories I hadn’t heard before and pictures available to the public for the first time. Each cast member was able to provide personal photos from early Epcot and fascinating stories all at no extra cost…even better!!
The official 30thAnniversary ceremony was conducted at the American Gardens Theater. The event started with the Mexican Mariachi Cobre, an opening day original, followed by the Voices of Liberty also an opening day original. Not only have their performances been part of Epcot since day 1, members of both groups were honored for services since opening day. (Nice Touch) The event continued through some “official presentations”. There were some touching stories and presentations, but it mostly reminded me of why I wanted to go back to the Magic Kingdom as a kid. As the presentations were continuing, the rain started to roll in… Just as the presentations were wrapping up and the closing number was starting (the closing was the best part of the celebration), the rain started. It was worth it for the last few minutes of the closing ceremony. If I could have fast forwarded through the middle, I would have. It’s raining… now what? Did I mention it’s also the Food and Wine Festival? I’m sitting not far from “Hops & Barley” which offers Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll, Pumpkin Mousse with Ocean Spray Craisins and a Samuel Adams Flight, and an added bonus of a covered area next to the Kidcot at the American Adventure… Perfect!!!
The 4:30 pm “Epcot: How it Changed the World” was the main attraction outside of Illuminations, that is. Any chance you have to hear Marty Sklar, you have to jump at the chance. Marty’s presentation, style, wit and humor are a fascinating combination along with a no nonsense approach, and you have a must see. Marty took the opportunity to highlight and add commentary on various videos, most of which I had seen, but some I had not. (I’d love to get all of those videos just to study the pre-opening shots).Marty commented on the local airport MCO. Before Disney World’s Opening, there were 7 flights a day to MCO. Today (September 2012) there are 846 daily flights with over 97,000 passengers a day, wow! The commentary was rapid fire as Marty went through pictures and videos.
Why is there such a distance between Future World and World Showcase? According to Marty, there is a sink hole near the Odyssey Restaurant, and the walkways in that area are bridges over that sink hole. Lots of steel beams were lost trying to find the bottom of that hole…
During the Question and Answer Session, Marty was asked if there was anything he would change about Epcot. The answer was interesting. At some point in the late design process, a change was proposed to make the entrance at the “Center” of the park. In theory, the park would have two gates, one into Future World and the other into World Showcase. This would allow easier guest flow for “special events”. Imagine World Showcase having an event like “Food and Wine” as a separate ticketed event. Future World could be easily closed, while World Showcase remained open. Marty was in the camp that thought it should happen, but corporate sponsorship got in the way. It turns out, part of attracting major corporations to sponsor (read inve$t) the pavilions was foot traffic… having people walk into the park past the company logos then leave walking past the logos was part of the package. So the entrance remains at the front of Future World. It’s interesting what could have been.
Most memorable to me was a memo he read dated September 24, 1982, titled: The EPCOT Center Logo. “The EPCOT Center Logo symbolizes unity, fellowship and harmony around the world. Five outer rings are linked to form the shape of a flower, a celebration of life. The heart of the logo is the Earth embraced by a star symbolizing hope. Hope that with imagination, commitment and dedication we can create a better tomorrow.” After reading the memo, Marty paused and commented “Isn’t that nice?” to great applause. His next comment is the best… “So, I’m starting a campaign to get this logo back, instead of the stupid one they are using now”. Talk about applause!! It was a great moment!Marty also co-wrote the Epcot dedication plaque that was read by Card Walker at the opening ceremony. He continued to review pictures and facts, too many to list here. Marty finished with an EPCOT musical medley featuring opening day music.
Marty’s presentation was outstanding and worth the trip alone. It was back to Food and Wine after the presentation to prepare for Illuminations 30, the special onetime only Epcot 30th Anniversary tag to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.
Anticipating the performance, I couldn’t help but recount Illuminations in general. After all, Illuminations is a 3 part play performed every night since October 1, 1998. With lots of rich history, it’s worthy of a blog post all to itself. So join me for the Video Version of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #20… Illuminations 30!
Thanks reading and look for Episode #20 of the video series, Illuminations 30. Visit my full blog at www.samsdisneydiary.com, like us on facebook facebook.com/samsdisneydiary e-mail email@example.com and all the videos over on youtube youtube.com/samsdisneydiary…. and watch for the audio podcast.