￼If you still think of Epcot as “EPCOT Center”, stop now we’d like to reminisce with you! Walt Disney’s original vision of a self-sufficient, futuristic city (or, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was never fully realized. However, less than two decades after his death, EPCOT Center’s unique atmosphere had visitor’s atwitter. The park combined charming glimpses into our past with a playful interest in the future. Today, The Walt Disney Company refers to this unconventional amusement park as simply “Epcot”. Though much has changed from here to there, early park devotees still remember many of the park’s original attractions as its best.
Many rumors surround the closure and eventual destruction of this emblematic dark ride. While rumors about structural issues abound, a loss of sponsorship ultimately harmed Horizons’ longevity. No matter the reason, we still feel the sting. The ride took guests on a journey into future. The concept remains so popular with Disney buffs, that many current attractions take inspiration from Horizons’ most missed features. Did you enjoy Horizons’ “Choose Your Future” finale? Spaceship Earth’s “Welcome to Your Future” interactive video segment seems to echo the same concept. Even the original Soarin’ film sequence takes a page from Horizons’ sweetsmelling orange groves, incorporating aroma into the guest experience.
2. World of Motion
This attraction explored the history of man’s relationship with transportation. Audio narration, animation and film, set pieces, animatronics, music: The World of Motion included several elements that early park visitors adored. The gleaming facade and slow-moving carts were hallmarks of a classic Epcot attraction. Plus, the 15-minute ride time made for an excellent break from the merciless Florida heat.
3. Wonders of Life Pavilion
The Wonders of Life produced mixed reactions. The Making of Me was equally cringeworthy for unsuspecting parents and children alike. It also seemed that few truly enjoyed Body Wars, with its rough commute and splinter-centric storyline. Still, an opportunity to convert Cranium Command seamlessly into an Inside Out feature was surely missed. Now this shell plays host to a number of merchandising pop-ups for annual events, such as the Food and Wine Festival.
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A recently scrapped attraction, many Disney purists find the loss of this slowmoving flume ride a pill too tough to swallow. Echoing the “Nemo-fication” of The Seas (R.I.P. hydrolators), the decision to foist a movie tie-in upon the World Showcase’s Norwegian pavilion proved controversial. Unsuccessful campaigns to save the ride and lengthy lines resulted. Still, some remained hopeful about the chance to enjoy a few familiar ballads and fantasy elements in a space that’s remained largely unchanged since 1988. No word yet on whether Elsa has ever sent anyone “back, back over the falls.”
5. Food Rocks/Kitchen Kabaret
￼More kitschy than educational, Kitchen Kabaret (which was later closed and repackaged as Food Rocks) made its home in The Land pavilion. These foodthemed shows ran from 1982-2004. In the end, Food Rocks was closed to make way for Soarin’, which certainly exceeds both musical revues in popularity and wait times. However, the nutritionally-sound performances complemented the neighboring Living with the Land impeccably. Though Food Rocks’ animatronics were considered inferior to Kitchen Kabaret’s, many patrons are still sentimental for Food Rocks’ queue, which contained fruit-patterned carpeting, food factoids, and the oh-so-fantastical smell boxes.
Though we may look fondly on the Epcot of yesteryear, this park still maintains a group of dedicated citizens who look forward to the next big thing. So, what do you think? What memorable attractions at this iconic park do you wish to revisit? Several original ride incarnations, shows, and performances were left unmentioned so that you could share a little of that nostalgia that makes the Disney parks so special. In Epcot, earth’s cultural present and technological future come together. The constant retooling of classic park features is a natural result of the experimental attitude it inspires. In a way then, Walt’s vision for an experimental community does live on. Curious travelers have only to enjoy the results.
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