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EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida

EPCOT: The planned community
Main article: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. (He sometimes used the word "City" instead of "Community" when expanding the acronym). In Walt Disney's words: "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 systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise."

Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. The community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like the one in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland). Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground. Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed." The original model of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen by passengers riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom park; when the PeopleMover enters the showhouse for Stitch's Great Escape, the model is visible on the left (when facing forward) behind glass.

This vision was not realized. Walt Disney wasn't able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first, and he died before its opening day. The Walt Disney Company later decided that it didn't want to be in the business of running a town. (The model community of Celebration, Florida has been mentioned as a realization of Disney's original vision, but Celebration is based on concepts of new urbanism which is radically different from Disney's modernist and futurist visions.) However, the idea of EPCOT was instrumental in prompting the state of Florida to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) and the Cities of Bay Lake and Reedy Creek (soon renamed Lake Buena Vista), a legislative mechanism which allows the Walt Disney Company to exercise governmental powers over Walt Disney World. Control over the RCID is vested in the landowners of the district, and the promise of an actual city in the district would have meant that the powers of the RCID would have been distributed among the landowners in EPCOT. Because the idea of EPCOT was never implemented, the Disney Corporation remained almost the sole landowner in the district allowing it to maintain control of the RCID and the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. Disney's intent appears to be that it wishes to keep the RCID as an instrument of the company, as witnessed by the method by which the RCID redrew its boundaries to exclude Celebration rather than allow Celebration's resident landowners to dilute Disney's control over the RCID.


EPCOT: The Theme Park
The landscape of Epcot includes lots of water, grassy slopes, and many trees.

The Epcot theme park was originally known as EPCOT Center to reflect the fact that the park was built to embody the ideals and values of EPCOT the city. In 1994, the name was changed to Epcot '94 and subsequently Epcot '95 a year later. By 1996, the park was known simply as Epcot, a non-acronym, mixed-case word, as the park no longer reflected Walt Disney's plans for a futuristic city.

The original plans for the park showed indecision over what the park's purpose was to be: some Imagineers wanted it to represent the cutting edge of technology, 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 the international park, and EPCOT Center was born - a theme park with the flavor of a World's Fair.

Epcot is generally regarded as more "learning-oriented" than other theme parks. It has only three thrill rides (Test Track, Mission: SPACE, and Soarin'); the rest of its attractions are dark rides, shows, or walkthrough exhibits. Epcot's Future World is showing its age; the exhibits there no longer represent the most modern advances in technology. A plan code-named "Project Gemini", once rumored to exist, would have changed Future World into "Discoveryland," changed its theme to the idea of discovery, reduced the pressure to keep everything cutting-edge, and added a few more thrill rides. "Project Gemini" was simply a hypothetical project that, when leaked to the internet community became regarded by many as fact. It simply never was.

Epcot is also regarded today as the quitessential park of the 1980's. There are many who feel the park is severely outdated. On the other hand there are many who enjoy the nostalgia as there has been a growing trend toward interest in 1980's culture. To showcase this growing trend Epcot has a performance troupe in the Future World area perform many New Wave hits from the 80's on synthesizer instruments. The troupe dresses in "80's futuristic" clothing and also peforms many Disney songs.

Various satirical expansions of the acronym EPCOT have emerged over time, such as "Every Person Comes Out Tired" (because of the amount of walking required in the park), "Every Pocketbook Comes Out Thinner," "Evil Polyester Costumes Of Torture" (which refers to the puppets in the Tapestry of Nations and Tapestry of Dreams that created back problems from many Cast Members)(this satirical acronym actually predates the Tapestry of Nations parade by more than a decade and refers to the costumes of most Cast Members throughout Walt Disney World, as polyester is not very comfortable in the Florida humidity), "Every Paycheck Comes On Thursday" (the pay day for Disney Cast Members), "Eisner Puts Cash On Table" (in light of the high admission price to the Disney parks, and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner's reported 40 million dollar bonuses in the 1990s), "Eisner's Personal Coin-Operated Toy," and "Eisner's Personal Cash On Tap."


EPCOT Facts and Figures

* Total cost: $1.4 billion (estimated)
* Construction time: 3 years (at the time the largest construction project on Earth)
* Park size: over 300 acres (1.2 km&Mac183;)
* Parking lot:

* 141 acres (including bus area)
* 11,211 vehicles (grass areas hold additional 500+ vehicles)

* The pavement at EPCOT was engineered by Disney and Kodak photography to be painted a specific custom color of pink that makes the grass look greener and pictures look brighter. In addition, the colored sidewalks give an overall cleaner look to the park.

* Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Epcot only contains tunnels underneath the buildings that contain Innoventions East, the Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Innoventions West, and the building housing Club Cool/Ice Station Cool & Fountain View Espresso. The tunnels are used primarily for the support facilities necessary for the merchandise shops and restaurants contained therein (stock rooms, break rooms, prep kitchens, garbage disposal, etc). There is an entry/exit corridor that runs from the northeast corner of the tunnels (the area below Innoventions East/the Electric Umbrella restaurant) to a backstage area located between the Universe of Energy/Ellen's Energy Adventure and the east side of the main entrance complex.
* To commemorate the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982, the Imagineers who worked on the project put together a massive cake that was a scale model of EPCOT Center. It was dubbed "EpCake: The Experimental Prototype Cake of Tomorrow".


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