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    EPCOT Overview

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Walt Disney's original 1960s-era vision for EPCOT was a complete rethinking of the American city. Back then, EPCOT was an acronym meaning “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” Among Walt’s ideas for future city living were self-driving electric cars, prefab solar-powered homes electronically connected to a network of information services; and an entire city center enclosed in a giant air-conditioned dome.

After Walt Disney died in 1966, the people who took over his company considered his ideas too risky to implement. When EPCOT Center finally opened 16 years later, it was a theme park with a split personality: Half of it was based on a futuristic, semi-educational “better living through technology” look at the world, and the other half was a kind of permanent world’s fair (another of Walt’s passions).

Navigating Epcot is unlike getting around at the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom is designed so that nearly every location is part of a specific environment-Liberty Square or Main Street, U.S.A., for example. All environments are visually separated to preserve the integrity of the theme.

EPCOT, by contrast, is visually open. And while it might seem strange to see a Japanese pagoda and the Eiffel Tower on the same horizon, getting around is fairly simple. An exception is Future World, where construction walls hide (for now) everything on the east and west sides of Future World.

EPCOT’s architectural icon is Spaceship Earth, a shiny 180-foot geosphere that’s visible from almost everywhere in the park. Like Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth can help you keep track of where you are in EPCOT. But it’s in a high-traffic area and isn’t centrally located, so it’s not a good meeting place.

Any World Showcase pavilion makes a good meeting place, but you need to be specific. “Hey, let’s meet in Japan!” sounds clear enough at first, but each pavilion is a town in miniature, with buildings, monuments, gardens, and plazas. So pick a specific place in Japan—the sidewalk side of the pagoda, for example.

Last updated by Len Testa on May 16, 2023