Celebrate Epcot's 35th Anniversary by Recalling 35 Milestones

"To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome. Epcot Center is inspired by Walt Disney's creative genius. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, the 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." — E. Cardon Walker.


Since E. Cardon Walker uttered those words on October 1, 1982, EPCOT Center changed a lot. On Sunday, October 1, 2017, the park (now known simply as Epcot) will celebrate 35 years of joy, hope, and friendship. All day long, there will be several special opportunities for Guests to celebrate this special occasion. Here's the Times Guide for tomorrow:


To get ready for this important day, here you are 35 facts about EPCOT Center that you might find interesting:

What happened at EPCOT Center on 9/24/1982: 
  • Installed this week: the anchors and buoys for the platforms that will be used by Entertainment for special lagoon shows.
  • Buyers for Centorium in Future Word logged over 200,000 miles in their search for merchandise displaying the latest developments in space-age technology.
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/25/1982: 
  • That night was the first of seven preview nights for Cast Members and construction workers at EPCOT Center.
  • Park hours Hours: September 24 - 27 are from 6 p.m. - 1 a.m., September 28 - 30 are 4 p.m. - midnight"
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/26/1982: 
  • Spectacular Scenes Surround Audiences in Canadian Film- More than two years in production, the motion picture took producer Bill Bosche, a veteran of 29 years at Walt Disney Studios, into all 12 Canadian Provinces...Bill and his crew of six - armed with a 600-pound camera pod fitted with nine 35mm cameras positioned to capture a 360-degree panorama - began shooting in the spring of 1980. When they finished in February 1982, they had cranked more than a quarter million feet of film through the cameras.
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/27/1982: 
  • If finding the right shade of purple for a mountain's majesty was the assignment, then Bob Jolley is the right man for the job. Bob is EPCOT Center's man of many colors. From the marble columns of Doges Palace in the Italy Pavilion...to the primeval forest of the Universe of Energy... Jolley was responsible for seeing that the color gradation and actual painting of the facades and rockwork is accurate. In the case of Italy's Campanile tower, Jolley ran into some particular problems. The samples, which were built elsewhere and looked fine in California sunlight, didn't look the same under Florida conditions. He said, "When I got the panels in Florida under the bright sun and blue sky, I had to adjust the colors to achieve the right effect."
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/28/1982: 
  • EPCOT Center opened on this day! While the official opening of Epcot Center occurred at 9 a.m. on October 1, Epcot Center hosted preview days on September 28, 29, and 30 from 4 p.m. to midnight each day. 
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/29/1982: 
  • Beginning that week and continuing throughout the month of October, show hosts and film crews from around the country featured Epcot Center. Along with the official opening October 1, all three major networks aired live from Walt Disney World.
What happened at EPCOT Center 9/30/1982: 
  • Day 1 of Epcot Center hundreds of costumed Cast Members assembled at the main entrance area at 6 a.m. for photography sessions, live television coverage, and opening activities.
  •  Official opening activities began at 9 a.m with the designation of the First Official Family to visit Epcot Center. The visitors were greeted by Card Walker who, along with other VIPs, officiated in brief welcoming ceremonies."
What happened at EPCOT Center 10/1/1982: 
  • Epcot Center is officially open to Guests. Attendance projections suggested 18,000-20,000 Guests would visit the park that day.
  • Epcot Center was the result of:
    • 15 years of planning
    • 3 years of construction
    • 10,000 construction workers
Travel throught the Futureport 10/1/1983:
The first new Future World pavilion to debut since the park opened, Horizons was an instant classic from the very beginning. With new technologies never-before-seen in a Disney attraction (such as the famous "Smellitzer" effect, still smelled in Soarin' today), Guests discovered the promise of progress by visiting families in the not-so-distant future, and learned that "If we can dream it, we can do it." Horizons closed in 1999 to make way for the all-new and equally daring Mission: SPACE pavilion.

President Reagan's Inaugural Parade 5/27/1985:
While some historical U.S. Presidents can be seen in The American Adventure, a real one could be found right outside in 1985. After record low temperatures led to the cancellation of the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., President Ronald Reagan flew the whole production to EPCOT Center, where a smaller version was staged around World Showcase - the first and only time this Presidential tradition has happened outside the Capital.

Welcome Mickey and Pals 1986:
Did you know that when EPCOT Center opened, Mickey and his pals were absent on purpose? Since this was the first non-"Magic Kingdom-style" park ever built, Disney leaders wanted it to be different, and so Mickey and the gang stayed at Magic Kingdom. It wasn't until new CEO Michael Eisner proposed adding Disney friends to make EPCOT Center more fun for families that our famous friends made their first appearances here in 1986.

The Inland Sea is Discovered 1/15/1986:
The third new Future World pavilion opened on a cold January day in 1986, after years of construction. The Living Seas' long build time was due to the complexity of its design, which featured at its heart by far the world's largest man-made aquarium at the time. To this day, the massive 5.7 million gallon environment is home to a dazzling variety of tropical marine life, and the conservation and behavior research that takes place backstage is cutting edge for any aquarium.

Epcot Daredevil Circus Spectacular 10/3/1987:
Hosted by the courageous Commander StarCirc, this high-thrills production literally took over Innoventions Plaza for 30-minute performances daily. The Commander's crew of intergalactic acrobats and artists appeared both on the stage (specially built atop the Fountain of Nations) and in the air - with sets and spinning wheels on the rooftops of Communicore and a trapeze line strung from the top of Spaceship Earth to the stage 180 feet below, perilously teetering over the audience along the way. The Daredevil Circus Spectacular's last performance at Epcot was in March 1988.

World Showcase Expands 1984 & 1988:
Although World Showcase opened with 9 nations, it was always designed to accommodate more. In 1984, the Kingdom of Morocco debuted with an immersive look and feel made possible by a team of dozens of Morocco's royal artisans, who completed the interior design by hand using ancient techniques and time-honored traditions. In 1988, Norway opened on the other side of World Showcase, including a unique forward-backward boat ride originally named "SeaVenture."

Celebrate the Joy of Life 10/19/1989:
Built in a 100,000-square foot dome that drew its inspiration from the same geometry as Spaceship Earth, Wonders of Life joined the Future World pavilions. Containing attractions, shows, dining and shops dedicated to life, health and the human body, it is notable for featuring Body Wars. The attraction was Epcot's first thrill ride and the precursor to Star Tours, built later with the same ride system. Fun fact: the Body Wars film starred Elisabeth Shue and Tim Matheson, and was directed by Leonard Nimoy!

International Gateway 1/12/1990:
With the opening of the new Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels and construction of Disney's BoardWalk and Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts underway, a secondary entrance was added to EPCOT Center between the United Kingdom and France pavilions, dubbed "International Gateway." Originally, Guests could ride a fleet of parking trams from the doors of their hotel to the entrance of the park, which explains the huge oval sidewalk that once defined the area.

Splashtacular! 11/20/1993:
Inspired by a similar production at Tokyo Disneyland, "Splashtacular!" was the reason why the Fountain of Nations dances today - prior to this show, the fountain was very pretty, but much less animated. Mickey Mouse and the Fab Five took the stage in this spectacle of music, color, water, and light, defending the colors of the rainbow from an evil alien determined to steal them forever. "Splashtacular!" closed on June 11, 1994.

EPCOT Center becomes Epcot 7/1/1994:
Realizing that, over ten years after its opening, EPCOT Center had become a full-fledged theme park in its own right, Disney leaders decided to retire the original name and rebrand the park as simply "Epcot" with a new logo. In this way, Walt's original vision of a futuristic city and the theme park that it inspired could become two separate, but related concepts.

The Road to Tomorrow 7/1/1994:
A major change came to Future World in 1994 following the completion of Innoventions, twin pavilions on either side of the Fountain of Nations that were originally known as Communicore. Completely rebuilt from the inside out, these new playgrounds of progress invited Guests to walk down the "Road to Tomorrow" and learn about new innovations and technologies that could improve the lives of people everywhere. Some exhibits were serious, some were just for fun, but all were designed to be hands-on and interactive to bring the future to life like never before.

A New Creation: Epcot Festivals 1994 & 1996:
Can you imagine our park without festivals? Believe it or not, it took some time to see them all debut. The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opened for the first time in 1994, and while not quite as massive as today's version, it still filled the park with an incredible array of colors and blooms. Meanwhile, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival made its first appearance in 1996, and was also relatively modest compared to today's festival - with just 15 marketplaces around World Showcase Lagoon.

Test Track Debuts 3/17/1999:
When Disney Imagineers and GM engineers put their minds together, there's nothing they can't accomplish - behold Test Track, still the longest and fastest thrill ride ever built at Walt Disney World. In the original version, which replaced World of Motion, Guests became test dummies and learned the science behind vehicle testing and safety. The pre-show film featured actor John Michael Higgins as track manager Bill McKim.

Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand 10/1/1999:
The whole world came together starting October 1, 1999 - the kickoff of Disney Parks' global Millennium Celebration, which was based right here at Epcot. A whole list of new activities, events, and offerings joined the park, including the debut of Pin Trading, the multiple award-winning IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the dramatic Tapestry of Nations parade, the colossal Millennium Village pavilion in World Showcase, and the landmark Leave a Legacy monuments near the Main Entrance. Even Spaceship Earth got into the spirit with a new, 200-foot tall Mickey hand and wand magically displaying "2000" in bold red colors.

Tapestry of Dreams Parade 10/01/2001:
"And now, as the drumbeats inspire us to play, we'll show you the world that you dreamed of - today! A world full of love and compassion rejoices - a world you created, so lift up your voices to celebrate all the reds, blues, and greens, and welcome the future - the Tapestry of Dreams!" So go the opening lines of this reimagined Tapestry of Nations parade which starred the Dream Seekers, a group of mystical spirits who tapped into the same magic and wonder of our greatest dreamer, Walt Disney.

We Choose to Go! 8/15/2003:
Mission: SPACE represents one of the most technologically advanced theme park rides ever built. Set in 2036, Mission: SPACE presents a vision of the future where humankind has never lost sight of the stars, and a progression of "firsts" finally leads to manned, deep space missions to Mars that can include the whole family. Before you can lift off, though, you have to be trained - and that's where the International Space Training Center comes in. Guests strap in to real centrifuges and hold on tight for the ride of a lifetime, discovering firsthand what it's like to have "the right stuff."

You're Cleared for Take-off! 5/5/2005:
A gift from the Cast of Disneyland Resort in honor of its 50th Anniversary, Soarin' opened in The Land on May 5, 2005 - hence your flight number, 5505. Originally built with the same ride system and film as seen at Disney California Adventure Park, this quickly became one of the most popular Epcot attractions ever. In 2016, Soarin' received an international makeover with a new gate for added capacity and a new film taking Guests over cities around the world.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends 10/9/2006:
The Big Blue World came to life at Epcot with the completion of a years-long refurbishment at The Living Seas, which turned the pavilion into a bright and colorful space ideal for families to explore life under the sea. As part of the transformation, friends from Disney-PIXAR's "Finding Nemo" take starring roles in both the attraction and the interactive show, Turtle Talk with Crush.

Silver Anniversary 10/1/2007:
The excitement and pageantry of EPCOT Center's opening ceremonies was recreated in a smaller scale for the park's 25th Anniversary, which included "throwback" elements such as opening day background music around the Main Entrance, vintage entertainment, themed merchandise, and a special rededication moment on the Fountain Stage that featured many opening day Cast Members and some of the park's original Imagineers, along with park leaders and other VIPs.

We sing and we samba… 4/6/2007:
Since opening day, Guests had the opportunity to sail down El Rio de Tiempo - the River of Time - through Mexico's cultural heritage, from the ancient Mesoamericans to modern Mexico City. In 2007, this story was updated and enhanced through the eyes of Walt Disney's famous goodwill ambassadors to Latin America, the Three Caballeros: Donald representing North America; Panchito, Central America; and Jose Carioca, South America. Together they take Guests on an epic adventure down that same timeless river, re-introducing Mexican culture to a new generation.

Thank the Phoenicians…2/15/2008:
The icon attraction of our park underwent a massive makeover for the 25th Anniversary and reopened featuring enhanced Audio-Animatronics, modernized show scenes, interactive finale, a brand-new musical score, and updated narration provided by legendary actress Dame Judi Dench. It was during this refurbishment that Spaceship Earth lost its "Mickey hand and wand", a special installation since the Millennium Celebration.

Unpaid Internships Available 6/22/2012:
Doobee-doobee-doobah! The stars of the popular Disney Channel animated series "Phineas & Ferb" came to Epcot to refresh the popular interactive scavenger hunt originally based on characters from Disney's Kim Possible, another animated series. Using special cell phones and wireless signals, Guests were able to follow clues in many World Showcase pavilions to foil plots and save the world...and learn a thing or two about those countries along the way.

Practical Magic 1/1/2013:
One of the largest and most sophisticated technology programs ever created for a theme park resort, MyMagic+ has redefined the way Guests interact with our parks, resorts, and Cast Members - and much of the early testing, especially for features like RF-enabled media and touch point entry, was done here at Epcot.

TIMES GUIDE: © Walt Disney World Resort. All Rights Reserved.

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