This Week in Disney History: Sept. 28-Oct. 4
Oct. 1, 1982 - EPCOT Center opens at the Walt Disney World Resort
When Walt Disney announced his Florida project in 1965, an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow was a cornerstone of the original vision for the Walt Disney World Resort. It would be an innovative, master-planned city filled with new ideas for transportation, commerce and living, and would influence the way communities were built in the future.
Walt, who passed away the following year, didn't get to see his Florida project realized. With no formal plans ever developed, the only thing built reflecting the original vision was a 115-foot-wide scale model of "Progress City," displayed on the second story of the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland Park from 1967 to 1973. Walt's brother Roy pressed ahead with the rest of the Florida project, completing the construction of Magic Kingdom Park and three resorts for the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort on Oct. 1, 1971.
However, no one at Disney forgot about Walt's vision for "EPCOT," as he referred to it. Walt Disney Productions President Card Walker and an army of Imagineers were determined to bring it to life. Interestingly, the Walt Disney World Resort received accolades for essentially functioning like a community of tomorrow, with its thoughtfully built resorts and fully integrated transportation network. But Imagineers realized that Walt's ideas weren't yet practical for the location, and from there, a new concept grounded in his original vision began to evolve.
A 300-acre park was planned, divided into two sections: Future World, showcasing new technology and the promise of tomorrow, and World Showcase, an international festival celebrating the history, culture, cuisine and beauty of nine countries. Groundbreaking for EPCOT Center was held Oct. 23, 1979, kicking off a massive construction effort requiring more than 25 million hours of labor.
EPCOT Center opened to Guests Oct. 1, 1982, and on Oct. 24, Card stood in front of Spaceship Earth to lead the dedication ceremony. "EPCOT Center is inspired by Walt Disney's creative genius," Card said in dedicating the park. "And, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere."
As the acronym EPCOT grew into popular usage, "Center" was dropped and the park became simply known as Epcot in 1993. Walt's original vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow lives on in another form: A small piece of the original Progress City model still exists, and may be viewed by taking a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover at Magic Kingdom Park.
Many other events in Walt Disney World lore happened Oct. 1, too ? below is a small sampling.
Also this week in Disney history:
1997 -"The Wonderful World of Disney" premieres on ABC
2001 - The expanded Emporium opens at the Magic Kingdom Park, putting the entire west side of Main Street, U.S.A. under one roof
2006 -"Ugly Betty" debuts on ABC
2009 - The Disney Parks Blog debuts
1983 - The American Egg House restaurant is open for the last day at Disneyland Park
1999 - Millennium Village opens at Epcot
2001 - "Alias" debuts on ABC
2003 - Mickey's PhilharMagic soft-opens at Magic Kingdom Park
2005 - Michael Eisner officially retires from The Walt Disney Company
2006 - The Happiest Celebration on Earth (commemorating Disneyland Park's 50th anniversary) ends
1971 - The Walt Disney World Resort officially opens, including Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
1988 - Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort officially opens
1991 - "SpectroMagic" debuts at Magic Kingdom Park
1992 - Critter Country, including Splash Mountain and the Beaver Bros. Canoes, opens at Tokyo Disneyland Park
1993 - Walt Disney Pictures releases "Cool Runnings"
1994 - Euro Disneyland Paris becomes Disneyland Paris
1996 - Disney's BoardWalk officially opens
1998 - "Fantasmic!" debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios
1999 - The Millennium Celebration officially begins at the Walt Disney World Resort
1999 - The "Leave a Legacy" program begins in the entrance plaza at Epcot
2000 - Conservation Station becomes Rafiki's Planet Watch at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
2005 - Robert A. Iger becomes chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company
2009 - The Walt Disney Family Museum opens in San Francisco, Calif.
1971 - Admiral Joe Fowler Riverboat opens at Magic Kingdom Park
1983 - Epcot leaders host groundbreaking ceremonies for The Living Seas and Morocco
1992 - Walt Disney Pictures releases "The Mighty Ducks"
1992 - Splash Mountain officially opens at Magic Kingdom Park
1996 - World of Disney opens at the Downtown Disney Marketplace in the Walt Disney World Resort
1999 - The first Disney's FASTPASS is offered at Disneyland Paris on Indiana Jones et le Tempil de Peril
2011 - The inaugural Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon takes place at the Walt Disney World Resort
1955 - "Mickey Mouse Club" debuts on ABC
2002 - Le Bat en Rouge opens at Disneyland Park
2004 - "Desperate Housewives" debuts on ABC
1993 - Mission to Mars closes at Magic Kingdom Park
1998 -The Epcot Discovery Center closes at Epcot