Welcome guests, to our 30 day preamble to the 30th Anniversary of Epcot! Built as an homage to Walt Disney’s dream of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, this, the second Walt Disney World park, opened to the public on October 1st, 1982. For the next 30 days, my co-host Beth (@disneymom2jhe of Pursuing the Magic and The Magical Blogorail founder) and I will welcome 30 Disney writers as they tell the story of this park. Today, Daniel transports us to the year 1982.
It’s hard to imagine, but at the time I had touched a computer exactly twice in my life prior to the summer of 1982. It was some sort of Commodore, and I had to sneak into a computer lab after hours just to get a shot at “typing” a logic game on it. Most people hadn’t even seen a computer in person, but understood the revolution in technology had begun. Technology had become the flashpoint of society, and the opportunity to improve methods of communication was truly exciting. And Disney was about to open this window to those lucky enough to get to Orlando… this was a whole new level of excitement for a teenager!
I was ready… no, I was EAGER, to get back to Orlando, no side trips necessary! The fact that it was a Disney experience and offered some Disney magic broke down barriers that otherwise might have given pause; Walt Disney World was a perfect environment to overcome user resistance, long before that term existed.
Although I thought we had seen some “radical” things in Future World, I think what may have been the best moments of the visit was interacting with the Castmembers from other countries and learning new things. I had done well in school in geography, so I knew the basics, but being able to converse with citizens of the world that were pretty close to my age was just amazing. I thought this would be one kitschy shopping trip, but much to my surprise, I was reluctant to move from one country to another as I enjoyed learning about their home towns, what we had in common, and what brought them to America. I loved seeing the craftsmen work; in Mexico, my family watched a craftsman customize a ring for my father (that he treasured from that day on) and an artisan carefully engrave a crystal mug in Germany, which is proudly displayed in a place of honor in my parent’s home today.
Maybe best of all were the adventures waiting behind the facades; the Mexican river ride and the spectacular 360 screen of “O, Canada” were just two that stand out, but the American Adventure was the show stopper for me. It was like the Hall of Presidents on steroids, and the Hall was an E-Ticket attraction to begin with. When you have an audience clapping and tearing up around you, you know this is something special. As soon as we exited and sat down to see to our turkey legs, I had one of the warmest moments of my life, taking my father’s hand and telling him how happy I was to be there with him and thankful we could experience it together.
As we departed that day, we stopped to get souvenirs; Dad bought me a white sweatshirt that had a rubberized Spaceship Earth logo, and I bought him a very futuristic coffee cup and some postcards (sadly limited to grass-cutting funds). When we got home, I was saddened to learn my Kodak X-15 Instamatic had failed to capture any decent pictures, but as we left that day, I remember walking past the fountain’s beautiful lights and the reflected colors of the Spaceship Earth and planning with my father to return when we could. Thankfully, my father and I did return to EPCOT together, which became a new ritual to add to the Magic Kingdom, and one I continue with the next generation.