Is Walt Disney World's Second Park Epcot or EPCOT?

February 25, 2023, 6:30 PM · How should we write the name of Walt Disney World's second theme park?

Is it Epcot? Or EPCOT? Disney has used both styles in the 40-year history of the park. But the name dates back before its 1982 opening.

Walt Disney himself introduced the term, which he used as an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow - the city that he wanted to build at the heart of what became the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. That Epcot came into being as an acronym helps make the case for typing it in all caps, but does not settle the case the way it would if the term had been an initialism instead.

Which brings me to this flimsy excuse for a vocabulary lesson. Acronyms are a collection of letters, usually initials, that are enunciated together as a word, such as NASA, laser, and scuba, Initialisms are a collection of initials that are enunciated as a string of letters, such as FBI, CIA, and WDW. Initialisms pretty much always get written in all caps (I can't think of one that isn't, to be honest), while acronyms can go either way.

Disney's preference at the moment is to style the park's name in all caps, as EPCOT, while I have been using Epcot here on Theme Park Insider. Why? My journalism geek training was to avoid gratuitous use of capitalization in words and titles, reserving all caps for initialisms and certain acronyms where people commonly used the all caps form. NASA provides a classic example of the latter, while laser and scuba exemplify acronyms that grew into lower-case use because so many - if not most - people forgot that they started as a collection of initials. (If you are wondering, they are Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.)

When Disney decided years ago that Epcot, the theme park, was just "Epcot" and no longer the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, I went with it and stuck with it, even after Disney decided to bring back the EPCOT styling. Now? I'm willing to consider changing back, too.

The other common example of an all-caps treatment in theme parks is Legoland, or LEGOLAND, as its owner Merlin Entertainments prefers to style it. The brand name Lego is actually an acronym, deriving from the Danish words leg godt, which translate to "play well" in English, so styling the word as LEGO has some accepted precedent. But I'm not willing to extend that precedent to a new brand name formed by appending the theme park favorite "-land" to another brand name.

In other words, I can be persuaded to switch to EPCOT from Epcot, but I'm not yet ready to consider LEGOLAND instead of Legoland on Theme Park Insider.

So how to decide this? I have chosen to put it to a vote. So you tell me...

As always, thank you for input.

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Replies (6)

February 25, 2023 at 10:30 PM

To be fair Robert, Wikipedia and many other sources reject LEGO and use Lego - which also applies to Legoland and other Lego products. Personally and academically, I agree with Wikipedia on this one - but I've always used EPCOT (unlike wiki), especially when discussing the park in a historic context.

February 25, 2023 at 10:38 PM

I say Epcot. EPCOT refers to a concept that never existed in reality and never will.

February 26, 2023 at 12:12 PM

I remember in the '80s when it first opened that people were upset it was called EPCOT Center, feeling that it was redundant. But I guess the idea was this would be the "center" of a prototype city, not the entirety of it? It was seen as one of those "the old Ponte Vecchio bridge"-type situations...

February 26, 2023 at 6:58 PM

If I remember the opening ceremony special, Epcot is a park within Walt Disney World, which itself is EPCOT the experimental Community of Tomorrow, or some headache inducing attempt at a one person who’s on first bit…

February 27, 2023 at 7:20 AM

When I was there in '85 they called EPCOT Center Every Person Coming Out Tired, now Tired could be replaced with Fed or Bored.

February 27, 2023 at 9:37 AM

I've always written the park as EPCOT, and see no reason to change that unless Disney specifically formalizes a change through a press release. The fact that Disney's own internal marketing cannot decide the proper way to present the park's name (for a while there, the fonts used would indicate the park was "epcot"), leads me to believe that it should be referenced as its original form of EPCOT.

Perhaps Disney will make a formal clarification when they finally complete the park's 40th anniversary renovation, which is already a year behind schedule and a shadow of what was expected and originally announced.

While Wikipedia is becoming a more reliable source for information, it's still crowd-sourced information that should not be relied upon for setting a new precedent like a name change.

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