Spaceship Earth, the landmark of Epcot
LocationWalt Disney World, Bay Lake, Florida, United States
Coordinates28°22′16″N 81°33′00″W / 28.371°N 81.550°W / 28.371; -81.550
OpenedOctober 1, 1982 (41 years ago) (1982-10-01)
OwnerDisney Experiences
(The Walt Disney Company)
Operated byWalt Disney World
Key people:
Kartika Rodriguez (VP)[1]
Javier Rossy (GM, Operations)[2]
SloganThe magic of possibility
Operating seasonYear-round

Epcot, stylized in all uppercase as EPCOT, is a theme park at the Walt Disney World resort in Bay Lake, Florida. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Disney Experiences division. The park opened on October 1, 1982, as EPCOT Center, the second of four theme parks built at the resort. Often referred to as a "permanent world's fair", Epcot is dedicated to the celebration of human achievement, particularly technological innovation and international culture.

During early development of the Florida property, Walt Disney wanted to build an experimental planned community showcasing modern innovation, known as "EPCOT", an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. After Disney's death in 1966, the company felt his grand vision was impractical. However, it laid the groundwork for EPCOT Center, a theme park that retained the core spirit of Disney's vision. The park was divided into two distinct areas, Future World reprises the idea of showcasing modern innovation through educational entertainment attractions inside avant-garde pavilions, while World Showcase highlights the cultures of various nations. From the late 2010s to the early 2020s, the park underwent a major overhaul, adding new attractions and Future World was restructured into three areas: World Celebration, World Discovery and World Nature.

The park spans 305 acres (123 hectares), more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom. Attracting over 12 million guests in 2019,[3] Epcot remains a popular destination, with Spaceship Earth, a geodesic sphere, serving as its iconic landmark.


1960s: Experimental concept

Main article: EPCOT (concept)

The remaining portion of the Progress City model, the original concept for the city of EPCOT, seen on display from the PeopleMover at Magic Kingdom in 2024

The genesis for Epcot was originally conceived as a utopian city of the future by Walt Disney in the 1960s. The concept was an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, often interchanging "city" and "community."[4] In Walt Disney's words in 1966: "EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed but will always be introducing and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."

Walt Disney's original vision, sometimes called Progress City, would have been home to twenty thousand residents and would be a living laboratory showcasing cutting-edge technology and urban planning. It was to have been built in the shape of a circle with an urban city center in the center with community buildings, schools, and recreational complexes. It would be surrounded by rings of residential areas and industrial areas, all connected by monorail and PeopleMover lines. Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above ground. This radial plan concept is strongly influenced by British planner Ebenezer Howard and his Garden Cities of To-morrow.

Disney went as far as petitioning the Florida State Legislature for the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), with the authority of a governmental body over the Walt Disney World land. The RCID was established in 1967. However, Walt Disney was not able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to first build the Magic Kingdom theme park. He died in 1966, nearly five years before Magic Kingdom opened.[5]

1970s: Concept evolves into park

After Walt Disney's death, the company decided that it did not want to be in the business of running a city without Walt's guidance.

The original plans for the park showed indecision over the park's purpose. Some Imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of emerging technologies, while others wanted it to showcase international cultures and customs. At one point, a model of the futuristic park was pushed together against a model of a World's Fair international theme, and the two were combined. The park was originally named EPCOT Center to reflect the ideals and values of the city. It was constructed for an estimated $800 million to $1.4 billion and took three years to build, at the time the largest construction project on Earth.[6] The park spans 305 acres (123 hectares), more than twice the size of Magic Kingdom.[7][8] The parking lot serving the park is 141 acres (57 ha) (including bus area) and can accommodate 11,211 vehicles.

The park opened on October 1, 1982, in a ceremony with Disney chairman and CEO Card Walker and Florida Governor Bob Graham.

1980s: Opening and operation

As part of the opening-day ceremony, dancers and band members performed "We've Just Begun to Dream".[9] The Sherman Brothers wrote a song especially for the occasion entitled "The World Showcase March".[10] During the finale, doves and many sets of balloons were released. Performing groups representing countries from all over the world performed in World Showcase. Water was gathered from major rivers across the globe and emptied into the park's Fountain of Nations with ceremonial containers to mark the opening. The theme park opened on October 1, 1982.[11]

On opening day, Future World featured six pavilions: Spaceship Earth, CommuniCore, Journey Into Imagination, The Land, Universe of Energy, and World of Motion. During the 1980s, several additional pavilions opened: Horizons in 1983, The Living Seas in 1986, and Wonders of Life in 1989.

1990s–2000s: Change in vision

Spaceship Earth in the evening hours.

Despite its initial success, Epcot was constantly faced with the challenges of evolving with worldwide progress, an issue that caused the park to lose relevance and become outdated in the 1990s.[12] To maintain attendance levels, Disney introduced seasonal events such as the International Flower & Garden Festival and the International Food & Wine Festival in 1994 and 1995, respectively.[13][14] In the mid-1990s, Disney also began to gradually phase out the park's edutainment attractions in favor of more modern and thrilling attractions.[15] As a result, many of the attractions within the Future World pavilions, were either overhauled or replaced entirely. The Land pavilion saw its attractions replaced under new sponsor Nestlé between late 1993 and January 1995, and Spaceship Earth was updated with music by Edo Guidotti and narration from Jeremy Irons in 1994. Universe of Energy was reconfigured as Ellen's Energy Adventure in 1996. Journey Into Imagination closed in 1998 and was replaced with Journey into YOUR Imagination the following year, World of Motion was replaced with Test Track, and Horizons was demolished in 1999 and replaced with Mission: Space in 2003.[16][17] In 2000, Walt Disney World held the Millennium Celebration with the central focus of the event at Epcot, and a 25-story "magic wand" structure was built next to Spaceship Earth. Millennium Village was closed on January 1, 2001, and was turned into the World Showplace festival center, which is frequently used for Epcot festivals. Journey into YOUR Imagination closed in 2001 due to strong negative reception and was replaced with Journey into Imagination with Figment in 2002. The Living Seas was closed in 2005, and rethemed with the introduction of characters from Finding Nemo, as The Seas with Nemo & Friends. That same year, Soarin', a flight simulator ride originally developed for Disney's California Adventure, was added to The Land (replacing Food Rocks) following its massive popularity in California. The Wonders of Life pavilion closed in 2007, with the pavilion being occasionally used for the park's annual festivals until permanent closure. The Mexico pavilion's El Rio del Tiempo attraction closed on January 2, and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros opened in its space a few months later. After the "magic wand" structure was removed from Spaceship Earth, the attraction's fourth version, narrated by Judi Dench, soft-opened on December 8. Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure opened at EPCOT in 2009.

2010s–present: Transformation and redesign

As part of Future World's overhaul from 2019 to 2024, several original structures were reutilized, such as the CommuniCore Pavilion being repurposed as Connections Cafe.

Test Track was refurbished into new version presented by Chevrolet in 2012, and Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure was to Agent P's World Showcase Adventure the same year. The Norway pavilion's Maelstrom attraction closed in 2014 to be replaced by Frozen Ever After, which opened on June 21, 2016. On January 4, 2016, it was announced that the original version of Soarin' was closed until it reopened on June 17, with the new film Soarin' Around the World. In November 2016, Disney revealed that Epcot would be receiving “a major transformation” that would help transition the park into being “more Disney, timeless, relevant, family-friendly”.[18] In 2017, Mission: SPACE was divided into a new green/Earth mission, and the original orange/Mars mission. In July 2017, Disney formally announced that Epcot would undergo a multi-year, redesign and expansion plan that would introduce Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille attractions to Future World and World Showcase, respectively, as well as maintaining the original vision and spirit for the park.[19] As part of the announcement, Ellen's Energy Adventure closed the following month, and the pavilion's show building was reused for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind,[20] while the EPCOT 35 Legacy Showcase exhibition opened in the Odyssey Pavilion. That same year, the park reported the first drop in overall attendance ranking among the four Walt Disney World Resort parks, dropping from second to third place, the first in its history.[21]

On August 25, 2019, at the 2019 D23 Expo, Disney expanded on the plans for the improvements to Epcot.[22] One of the most significant changes announced was the creation of four distinct "neighborhoods"; the subdivision of Future World into three areas (World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature) and World Showcase.[22] Journey of Water—Inspired by Moana, a walkthrough attraction, was also announced.[23] At the same expo, Disney also announced that Pinar Toprak would be composing a new musical anthem for the park. Toprak's EPCOT anthem was eventually used in various nighttime shows, such as Harmonious and Luminous, as well as ambient music in the entrance plaza and World Celebration.

Disney began to stylize the name as "EPCOT" as an homage to both the park's original name and Walt Disney's original concept, although the name is no longer an acronym.[15] On October 1, 2019, it was announced that a new nighttime fireworks show, Epcot Forever, and The EPCOT Experience Center, a preview space for the park's expansion project, would replace IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and EPCOT 35 Legacy Showcase. In late 2019, EPCOT installed new directory signage in Seabase Alpha, restoring the former Living Seas logo, as the pavilion was renamed to The Seas Pavilion.[24] That

Agent P's World Showcase Adventure closed on February 23, 2020; it was slated to be replaced with DuckTales World Showcase Adventure, which did not open until 2022. The park was closed from March 16 to July 15, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.[25][26] Modified operations were established, including a pause on concerts and fireworks, in order to promote sufficient physical distancing. Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story, the attraction's fifth update, the Wondrous China film, the PLAY! pavilion in World Discovery, and the United Kingdom pavilion's Cherry Tree Lane expansion were indefinitely delayed until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while it was announced that the CommuniCore Hall exhibit space and the CommuniCore Plaza festival stage would be built instead of a three-level festival pavilion.

On September 29, 2021, the nighttime fireworks show Harmonious replaced Epcot Forever as part of the resort's 50th anniversary celebration.[27] The show ended its run on March 31, 2023, in preparation for Luminous: The Symphony of Us which debuted later that year; Epcot Forever returned during the interim period. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (duplicated from Disneyland Paris) opened in the France pavilion on October 1 as part of the same celebrations.[28] The EPCOT Experience Center closed in 2022, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, part of the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, would open on May 27.[29]

Journey of Water opened in World Nature opened on October 16, 2023, the day of the Walt Disney Company's 100th anniversary. World Celebration Gardens, divided into five sections (Inspiration Gardens, CommuniCore Gardens, Connections Gardens, Creations Gardens, and Dreamers Point), opened on December 5, 2023, to commemorate Walt Disney's 122nd birthday. CommuniCore Hall and Plaza opened to the general public on June 10, 2024. Test Track closed for refurbishment on June 17 to make way for the attraction's third iteration.[30]

Park layout and attractions

See also: List of Epcot attractions

The Walt Disney World Monorail System passes through Epcot's World Celebration, providing transport between the park, Magic Kingdom, and the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Epcot is divided into four main themed areas, known as "neighborhoods": World Celebration, World Discovery, World Nature and World Showcase.

The park consists of a variety of avant-garde pavilions that explore innovative aspects and applications including technology and science, with each pavilion featuring self-contained attractions and distinct architecture in its design. Currently, the park features ten major pavilions: Galaxy, Imagination, Journey, Land, Motion, Odyssey, Seas, Space, Spaceship Earth, and World Showcase, which itself has eleven individual nation pavilions.[31]

World Celebration, Discovery, and Nature were originally grouped as one area called Future World, which debuted with six pavilions: Spaceship Earth, CommuniCore, Imagination!, The Land, Universe of Energy, and World of Motion. The Horizons pavilion opened the following year, and The Living Seas and Wonders of Life pavilions were added in 1986 and 1989, respectively, bringing the lineup to nine. CommuniCore, World of Motion, Horizons, Wonders of Life, Universe of Energy, and Innoventions closed in 1994, 1996, 1999, 2007, 2017, and 2019, respectively. The Fountain of Nations, a large circular musical fountain which debuted with the park, was removed in 2019 as well. Each pavilion was initially sponsored by a corporation which helped fund its construction and maintenance in return for the corporation's logos and some marketing elements appearing throughout the pavilion.

Additionally, each pavilion of Future World featured a unique circular logo designed by Norm Inouye (except for the Wonders of Life logo due to its later introduction), which was featured on park signage and throughout the attractions themselves.[32] The pavilion logos were gradually phased out in the early 2000s, as the pavilions instead were identified by name and recognized by the main attraction(s) housed inside. Several homages remained scattered throughout the park, including merchandising. However, in 2019, the circular pavilion logos were revived as part of Epcot's transformation, with both classic logos reprised and refreshed and newer logos introduced.[33]

World Celebration

World Celebration serves as the park's main entrance and a central hub that honors global human interaction and connection, including communication, imagination, creativity, and the visual and culinary arts.[34] The neighborhood features four major pavilions—Spaceship Earth, Imagination, Odyssey, and CommuniCore—as well as additional attractions, shops, and restaurants.[31]

Guests enter through the main entrance and walk underneath Spaceship Earth, an eighteen-story-tall geodesic sphere structure and the anchor pavilion, which also houses an eponymous dark ride attraction that depicts the history of communication.[35] Directly behind Spaceship Earth are the World Celebration Gardens and Dreamers Point, featuring lush interactive gardens, lighting fixtures and Walt the Dreamer, a bronze statue commemorating Walt Disney. The Imagination! pavilion celebrates the concept of imagination and features Journey into Imagination with Figment, a dark ride starring Figment that explores the senses. CommuniCore Hall and Plaza is a multi-use pavilion used for exhibitions, gallery space, a mixology bar, a demonstration kitchen, and music performances, as well as meet-and-greets with Disney characters.[36] The Odyssey Pavilion is an exhibition space during the park's annual festivals.

World Celebration is also home to Creations Shop, the park's main gift shop; Connections Eatery & Cafe, a quick-service restaurant and Starbucks themed to global food history; and Club Cool, an Coca-Cola- themed attraction and shop featuring complimentary samples of Coca-Cola soft drinks from around the world.

World Discovery

World Discovery centers on space, science, technology and intergalactic exploration. Lying on the east side of World Celebration, the Discovery neighborhood currently features three major pavilions in clockwise layout: Galaxy, Space, and Motion.[31]

The Galaxy Pavilion, also known as the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion, houses Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, an enclosed spinning roller coaster based on the superhero team of the same name. The building originally opened as the Universe of Energy Pavilion.

The Space Pavilion houses Mission: Space is a centrifugal motion simulator thrill ride that replicates a space flight experience to Mars and a low orbit tour over the surface of Earth. Next to it is Space 220, a themed restaurant simulating dining aboard a space station located 220 miles above Earth.[22][37] The building is located on the original plot site of the Horizons Pavilion.

The Motion Pavilion houses Test Track is a high-speed slot car ride inspired by the automobile testing procedures that Chevrolet uses to evaluate concept cars. The Motion Pavilion was one of the original pavilions of Epcot and has always housed an attraction sponsored by General Motors.

There is one standing but unused pavilion in the World Discovery neighborhood that once housed the Wonders of Life attraction.

World Nature

World Nature focuses on understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world.[22] Located on the west side of World Celebration, the Nature neighborhood features three major pavilions in counterclockwise layout—Seas, Water, and Land—inspired by human interaction with the Earth, specifically ocean exploration, hydrology, agriculture, horticulture, ecology, and travel.[31]

Based on ocean exploration and inspired by the Finding Nemo series, The Seas pavilion features the sixth-largest aquarium in the world with marine life exhibits; an Omnimover attraction inspired by Finding Nemo; and Turtle Talk with Crush, an interactive show hosted by Crush from Finding Nemo. Connected to the building is the Coral Reef Restaurant, a themed seafood restaurant that provides views into the aquarium. Nearby is the Journey of Water pavilion, an outdoor walkthrough water attraction depicting the Earth's water cycle, inspired by Moana.[36] Finally, the Land pavilion features three attractions; Soarin' Around the World, an attraction that simulates a hang gliding flight over various regions of the world; Living with the Land, a narrated boat tour through Audio-Animatronics scenes, a greenhouse and hydroponics lab; and Awesome Planet, a short documentary film presented in the pavilion's Harvest Theater about the Earth's biomes and the perils of climate change.

World Showcase

World Showcase is the park's largest neighborhood, dedicated to representing the culture, history, cuisine, architecture, and traditions of 11 nations from across four continents—North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Each nation pavilion features attractions, shops, restaurants, and landscaping that celebrate or portray authentic settings from each country—several pavilions contain recreations inspired by existing buildings and landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Itsukushima Shrine, Hampton Court Palace, Château Laurier, Gol Stave Church, St Mark's Campanile, and the Kutubiyya Mosque.

The nation pavilions surround the World Showcase Lagoon, a man-made lake located in the center of World Showcase with a perimeter of 1.2 miles (1.9 km), which is the site of the park's nighttime fireworks display, Luminous: The Symphony of Us. In counter-clockwise order, the 11 pavilions are:

The American Adventure is the host pavilion of World Showcase, sharing its name with its marquee attraction in Liberty Theatre: a titular stage show detailing American history and hosted by Audio-Animatronics versions of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The pavilion also includes the American Heritage Gallery, where the "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors" exhibit will be hosted starting June 9, 2024. On the shores of the lagoon is the America Gardens Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater that hosts the park's festival concerts. The France Pavilion hosts Impressions de France in Palais du Cinéma, an 18-minute Cinerama-style film depicting the culture of France, and along with Beauty and the Beast: Sing-Along. Tucked behind the lagoon-facing portion of the pavilion is Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, a 3D dark ride inspired by Pixar’s Ratatouille. The Canada and China Pavilions each host Circle-Vision 360° filmsCanada Far and Wide and Reflections of China—that depict the diverse cultures and countrysides of their respective countries. Two dark boat rides reside within the Norway and Mexico Pavilions—Frozen Ever After and Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, respectively—inspired by Frozen and The Three Caballeros.

A secondary park gate is located between the France and United Kingdom pavilions of World Showcase and is known as the International Gateway. The International Gateway is directly accessible to guests arriving from the Disney Skyliner and from watercraft transport, and by walkways from the nearby Epcot Area Resorts and Disney's Hollywood Studios.[38]

Of the 11 pavilions, only Morocco and Norway were not present at the park's opening, as they were added in 1984 and 1988, respectively.[39] Each pavilion contains themed architecture, landscapes, streetscapes, attractions, shops and restaurants representing the respective country's culture and cuisine. In an effort to maintain the authenticity of the represented countries, the pavilions are primarily staffed by citizens of the respective countries as part of the Cultural Representative Program through Q1 visa agreements. Some pavilions also contain themed rides, shows, and live entertainment representative of the respective country. The Morocco pavilion was directly sponsored by the Moroccan government until 2020, when Disney took ownership of the pavilion.[40] The remaining pavilions are primarily sponsored by private companies with affiliations to the represented countries.

Originally, the showcase was to include partnerships with the governments of the different countries. According to Disney's 1975 Annual Report, the Showcase would:

...offer participating countries a permanent installation for such features as themed restaurants and shops, product exhibits, industrial displays, cultural presentations, a trade center, and even special facilities for business meetings.

Major sponsorships for each participating nation will be asked to provide the capital to cover the cost of designing, developing and constructing its attraction and/or ride and all exhibits, as well as the Pavilion itself. It will also have the responsibility for funding the housing for its employees in the International Village. Its land lease will cover the cost of maintaining the attraction for a minimum of ten years.

The Disney organization will be responsible for area development, including the construction of transportation systems and utilities. We will also build and operate the internal people moving system, the Courtyard of Nations and central theater facility.[39]

Proposed pavilions and unused locations

There are currently seven undeveloped spots for countries around the World Showcase in between the locations of the current countries. Two sites are located on either side of the United Kingdom, one between France and Morocco, one between Morocco and Japan, one between Italy and Germany, and two between Germany and China.[39]

In 1982, Disney announced three pavilions were "coming soon": Israel, Spain and Equatorial Africa, blending elements of the cultures of countries such as Kenya and Zaire.[41] A model of the Equatorial Africa pavilions was also shown on the opening day telecast. However, the pavilions were never built. Instead, a small African themed refreshment shop known as the "Outpost" currently resides in the area between China and Germany, where the Equatorial Africa pavilion was to be located.[39][42]

More than 50 nations, among them Israel, Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and five African countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa), took part in the Millennium Village, a project that took place in Epcot during Millennium Celebration from 1999 to 2001.[43] The Millennium Village was located inside a temporary structure built behind the United Kingdom pavilions that remains in use as World ShowPlace.

Alcohol policy

Unlike Magic Kingdom, which up until 2012 did not serve alcohol,[44][45] most stores and restaurants at Epcot, especially in the World Showcase, serve and sell a variety of alcoholic beverages including specialty drinks, craft beers, wines, and spirits reflective of the respective countries. The park also hosts the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, an annual event featuring food and drink samplings from all over the world, along with live entertainment and special exhibits.

Annual events

Epcot during the annual Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot hosts a number of special events during the year:


The Walt Disney Company generally does not publish attendance figures for its theme parks,[50] so industry groups such as the Themed Entertainment Association estimate these figures.

Year Attendance
2011 10.8 [51]
2012 11.0 [52]
2013 11.2 [53]
2014 11.4 [54]
2015 11.7 [55]
2016 11.7 [56]
2017 12.2 [57]
2018 12.4 [58]
2019 12.4 [3]
2020 4.04 [59]
2021 7.75 [59]
2022 10.0 [60]

See also


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Further reading

Preceding station Walt Disney World Monorail Following station
Transportation and Ticket Center
Epcot Line Terminus
Preceded byNashua, NH Host of FIRST Robotics World Championship 1995–2002 Succeeded byReliant Park