Happy 30th Birthday Epcot!

Deb Wills


It seems like it was just last year when I attended the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Epcot!

Epcot's 25th Anniversary

Many books have been written about Epcot Center, from Walt Disney’s original concepts to what came to be.

This blog, however, is just going to highlight a few fun facts I found while pursing some of the documents in my collection. At the end of the blog are two youtube videos you’ll want to watch!

3,000 designers and 4,000 construction workers were involved in building Epcot Center Phase I which took 3 years to build. The size of the new park was massive. A one-eighth inch scale model was already as big as a home!

Future World largest attraction was The Land, presented by Kraft, Inc. It covered six acres and was as big as the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland!


During the construction of Epcot Center, 54 million cubic feet of dirt was removed!

Over 1.5 million feet of motion picture film was shot to produce 31 Epcot Center shows – can you name them all?

The 32 foot high, 515 foot long diorama in the Universe of Energy took 3 artists, 5,700 hours to paint.

Disney landscapers planted three and a half acres of annual flowers and plants, 70 acres of sod, 12,500 specimen trees and 100,000 shrubs!

Planting Epcot Trees

World Showcase Lagoon covered 40 acres and opened with nine countries: Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan, The American Adventure, Germany, China, Italy and Mexico. The first photo is the American Adventure under construction.

American Adventure Construction

Japan Construction at Epcot

Many VIPs visited Epcot Center during construction. Here are 3 of France’s best known chefs and restaurateurs, Roger Verge, Gaston LaNotre, and Paul Bocuse at the ground breaking ceremony for the France Pavilion. The world famous chefs will collaborate on the fine French restaurant to be located in the Pavilion.

France Ground Breaking at Epcot

The 260 acre Epcot Center opened at more than twice the size of the Magic Kingdom!

When Epcot Center opened it was deemed “Disney’s New Special Effects Capital”. “The challenge of special effects is that the viewer must believe”, says Bill Novey manager of the WED special effects team. “We’re trying to involve guests in Epcot Center experiences, some of which are intense, and special effects can make a contribution through impressions as well as physical contacts.”

Computers, laser graphics, holographic images, liquid neon and fiber optics played a big part in the special effects found throughout Epcot Center. Fiber options projections formed the starry universe planetarium in Spaceship Earth, the fireworks display in Mexico and the paint-spilling sequence in Journey to Imagination!

The piece de resistance of WED special effects is the Journey into Imagination, the attraction that comes closest to traditional Disney entertainment. Between the 80-foot upside down water fall, to the leapfrogging water streams outside, to the colorful rainbows, exploding nebula, and lightening in the jar inside the attraction to the Image Works area with magical devices gallor, Imagination was a true showcase! Altogether there are more than 200 projectors used in Journey to Imagination, more than all of the Magic Kingdom.

Journey Into Imagination

Disney Parks Blog published a time-lapse video of Epcot construction:

Here are a few other videos I came across on YouTube you may find interesting.

The Dream Called EPCOT – Shown at the EPCOT Preview Center on Main Street in 1980

Epcot Center 1982 Preview

This video is from the Vault Disney Collection that has the Danny Kaye opening ceremony for Epcot. It’s almost 45 minutes but you’ll enjoy it!

There are many more great vintage videos of Epcot on YouTube – what are some of your favorites from the 1980s?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 Replies to “Happy 30th Birthday Epcot!”

  1. I remember being 25 when EPCOT opened and it immediately become my favorite park! I loved the kiosks with touchscreen where you looked at and spoke to reservationists to get a dinner ressie, the ‘cars of tomorrow’ exhibit (which, by the way, materialized in 2000.) I remember thru the years when Morrocco & Norway were added to the countries, I remember the ‘dispute’ when Russia was invited and they wouldn’t give up Misha, their mascot bear in favor of Mickey Mouse. There was Appartide, which kept South Africa’s section from being completed. Cap’t EO came in with a bang and quietly left when MJ got bad publicity (now it’s back again).I was just at the 30 year celebration fireworks last Monday-what a spectacular event!! So much has come and gone, so much more to look forward to!

  2. I remember seeing this video at EPCOT: How it changes the world with Marty Sklar. It was and is so entertaining. I’m not old enough to have been there when EPCOT opened but i wish i was. I have seen and heard so many great stories and photos from it’s first years. The presentations and 3PM 30th celebration ceremony were so enlightening and fun. I look forward to other walt disney world anniversary celebrations in the future.

  3. Thank you so much for providing us with that great video “The Dream Called Epcot”! I was 11 years old when it opened and I remember being amazed at all of the attractions in FutureWorld. When we go with my children, who are 14 and 9, they have to ride “Spaceship Earth” at least 3x in a day and say it’s their favorite! I wish they were able to have seen World of Motion because I remember the animatronics on that one being really cool. At least they will get to see it on this video!