Walt Disney envisioned a showcase for innovation. A place where people could experience the cutting edge of technology. A place celebrating human achievement. The embryo of an idea grew to become Epcot, the Disney discovery park -- 300 acres of attractions, shows, interactive presentations, dining, shopping and architectural wonders where guests are immersed in a celebration of both technological accomplishments and international cultural achievements.
On Oct. 1, 1978, Card Walker, then president of Walt Disney Productions, revealed plans for Epcot, a theme park inspired by Walt’s philosophies. A groundbreaking ceremony was held one year later.
Epcot was designed with two “lands” of discovery: Future World and World Showcase. Future World showcases the land, the seas, communication, imagination, energy and technology. World Showcase is a kaleidoscope of nations from throughout the world brought together to celebrate their cultural heritage, arts and entertainment.
Epcot had its soft opening Sept. 28, 1982, at 4 p.m.
On Oct. 1, 1982, Epcot opened. The dedication plaque still reads:
“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, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Walt Disney Productions, Oct. 24, 1982
The park covers and area of 300 acres.
It took nearly 3,000 designers and 4,000 construction workers to build the first phase of Epcot.
54 million cubic feet of dirt was excavated to build the park
World Showcase, comprises of 11 pavilions situated along a 1.3-mile promenade that encircles the 40-acre World Showcase Lagoon.
Epcot has two entrances. The original entrance is convenient to Epcot’s 162-acre parking area and the Epcot monorail station (the monorail runs between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom Transportation and Ticket Center three miles to the north). The International Gateway entrance opened in 1990 near the France pavilion in World Showcase, providing park access to guests staying in Epcot resort area hotels -- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s BoardWalk, Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin.
Future World pavilions:
• Spaceship Earth, 1982
• The Land (presented by Nestlé USA), 1982
• Imagination! (presented by Kodak), 1982
• Universe of Energy, 1982
• The Living Seas, 1986
• Wonders of Life, 1989
• Innoventions, 1994
• Test Track (presented by General Motors), 1999
• Mission: SPACE (presented by HP), 2003
World Showcase pavilions:
• Mexico, 1982
• China, 1982
• The American Adventure, 1982
• Germany, 1982
• Italy, 1982
• Japan, 1982
• France, 1982
• Canada, 1982
• United Kingdom, 1982
• Morocco, 1984
• Norway, 1986
World Showcase Lagoon is 15ft deep, and has a circumference of one and a quarter mile.
The gardens of Epcot are among the most extensive at Walt Disney World Resort. The themed landscapes are maintained year-round by a horticulture staff of more than 50.
More than 30 tons of fruits and vegetables grown at The Land pavilion at Epcot are served in Walt Disney World restaurants.
The Land has a "tomato tree" that is the only one of its kind in the United States. The massive plant has produced a world-record harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes from a single vine.
The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can shoot water 150 feet in the air -- within 30 feet of the top of Spaceship Earth. If all of the shooters were fired at once, there would be 2,000 gallons of water in the air.
Spaceship Earth, the visual and thematic centerpiece of Epcot, weighs 16 million pounds -- more than three times that of a Space Shuttle fully fueled and ready for launch. The outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles. Also, did you know that rainwater never falls off the sphere? It's absorbed into the ball and funneled away.
At Spaceship Earth, Mickey Mouse is hidden in his own constellation just beyond the attraction's loading area.
If you emptied the water from The Seas with Nemo & Friends (formerly The Living Seas) pavilion in Epcot into one-gallon milk jugs and laid them side by side they would stretch from here to New Orleans, Knoxville or Raleigh -- 540 miles. And the recipe for the artificial seawater called for 27 truckloads of sodium chloride or common table salt.
The body of water at The Seas with Nemo & Friends provides a home to 3,000 fish and other sea creatures and contains 5.7 million gallons of water, one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world.
More than 26,000 feet of lights outline the Epcot World Showcase pavilions -- a string long enough to stretch across the Golden Gate Bridge more than six times.
It took more than 650 Walt Disney Imagineers more than 350,000 hours (the equivalent of 40 years of time) to develop Mission: SPACE. The Imagineers' efforts took place over a five-year period.
At Mission: SPACE, there are 13 quotes by space explorers and visionaries on the attraction's wall of honor. The most recent was added in September 2007 by teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan, reading "Reach for your dreams . . . the sky is no limit."
At nearly a mile long and reaching a top speed of 65 mph, Test Track is the longest and fastest ride at a Walt Disney World theme park.
At United Kingdom's Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room in World Showcase, a specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, the temperature favored by Brits.
26.2 miles of bratwurst are served every 60 days at the Biergarten restaurant in the Germany pavilion. That, by the way, is the length of a marathon.
The Eiffel Tower replica in the France pavilion is 103 feet tall.
The castle in Japan is a replica of the Shirasagi-Jo, a 17th century fortress overlooking the city of Himeji, known as one of the most well-preserved castles in Japan.
A Disney crew carried a 300-pound camera up 4,500 steps of the Huangshan Mountain in the Annui Province to film the Circle-Vision 360 film seen in the China pavilion.
From bonsai to roses, there's something for every gardening guru at the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Disney horticulturists rotate the crops twice during the festival to keep the 30 million blossoms colorful and fresh.
Each year at the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, more than 33,000 bottles of wine and champagne are uncorked, 1.2 million hors d'oeuvre plates are served and 100,000 miniature desserts are dished up.
Earth Globe is a 28-foot-diameter sphere on World Showcase Lagoon and the centerpiece of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth." The globe weighs 350,000 pounds and is wrapped in more than 180,000 Light Emitting Diodes arranged in the shape of Earth's continents.
Some 2,800 firework shells are used during each "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" show.