Vote of the week: Epcot turns 30 - but is the park better than ever?
Written by Robert Niles
Walt Disney World's Epcot celebrates its 30th birthday on October 1, which pretty much demands a look back at the park's history.Tweet
Epcot was Disney's third theme park, and the first not to follow the "Magic Kingdom" template. A sort of permanent world's fair, with one half devoted to corporate-sponsored technology exhibits and the other half a showcase of world nations, Epcot was and remains the world's most "non-fiction" theme park. It also lacks roller coasters and many other carnival ride staples found in most theme parks, further distinguishing the park.
But what most makes Epcot unique, I think, is the fact that a case can be made that the park was better when it opened 30 years ago than it is today. Here's the opening-day line-up of pavilions:
And here's what we have today:
Personally, I think Epcot hit its peak after the opening of the original (and all-time best version of) IllumiNations in 1988 and Wonders of Life in 1989. (I'm also partial to 1989 because that's when my then-future wife played in the Disney All-American College Orchestra. I also miss the early-morning rush to make restaurant reservations for the day by speaking with a Disney host via closed-circuit TV. Hey, for most of us, that was the first time in our lives and the only place in the world to experience video chat.)
More than any other park, Epcot suffered in Disney's late-1990s scorched-Earth management, which eliminated leads, closed locations or replaced them with cheaper alternates, and dismissed entertainment extras throughout the resort (including the college orchestra). And then there was the wand, the visual abomination that lorded over Spaceship Earth from 1999 - 2007, to be followed by the funeral Leave a Legacy that today clutters the park's once handsome entry plaza.
We've dissected Epcot's current condition before. Now, for our vote of the week, please tell us when you think Epcot was at its best, or if you think the park's at its best today.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Stories from a Theme Park Insider
What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Features, News and Advice
"Stories from a Theme Park Insider"
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks