Corporate Sponsorship in Epcot's Future World

On October 1, 1982, the world got its first view of the theme park version of Walt Disney's unrealized dream: EPCOT. When Card Walker, then Chairman of the Board and CEO, dedicated the park later that month, he welcomed the world to a place of "joy, hope, and enterprise". Future World is comprised of east and west pavilions flanking main section that is home to Spaceship Earth and Innoventions. Each pavilion celebrates a unique natural or technological concept and each one funded at some point in time by a different corporate giant in exchange for subtle, thematically appropriate advertising.

Spaceship EarthSpaceship Earth

EPCOT's park icon, Spaceship Earth, contains a ride that explores the history of communication. Not surprisingly, this attraction was initially sponsored as a joint venture between Bell Telephone and AT&T. The German technology firm Siemens took over sponsorship of the attraction in 2005 and will remain as the sponsor until at least 2017. This is one of the deepest and most valuable coalitions that Disney has among their Future World partners. In exchange for their sponsorship, Siemens receives some handsome perks that include signage on the attraction, product placement in the Project Tomorrow post-show area, Disney-created informational guides explaining Siemens product to children, and an executive lounge overlooking the World Showcase Lagoon where IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (also sponsored by Siemens) is displayed nightly. In return, when Imagineering needs the latest technology for a new attraction, they call upon Siemens to deliver customized technological solutions. One of the company's notable recent achievements is Radiator Springs Racers at Disney's California Adventure.

Spaceship Earth Presented Today by SiemensSpaceship Earth Presented Today by Siemens

In Future World East, you'll find four pavilions, each with its own history of corporate sponsorship. The Universe of Energy was sponsored by Exxon-Mobile from 1982-2004. For the past 10 years, this pavilion has had no sponsorship and has languished during that time. For now, Universe of Energy is still alive, unlike its neighbor, Wonders of Life. This once bustling pavilion, sponsored by Metlife, explored anatomy and physiology is now relegated to a Festival Center for the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals. Horizons, the precursor to Mission Space was sponsored by General Electric as part of a relationship that lasted nearly 50 years from the 1964 World's Fair until GE acquired 80% of Universal Pictures' stock in 2004. When Mission Space replaced Horizons, a new partnership emerged with Hewlett-Packard. Finally, the old World of Motion pavilion sponsored by General Motors evolved into present-day Test Track, which after a lengthy refurbishment in 2012, is now sponsored by Chevrolet.

Mission Space Sits In Horizons Former SpaceMission Space Sits In Horizons Former Space

In Future World West, The Seas with Nemo and Friends (opened as The Living Seas in 1986) was funded by United Technologies until 1998. The corporate lounge that overlooks the world's second largest salt-water aquarium is now used for VIP events. EPCOT's Undiscovered Future World tour includes a stop at this lounge. The Land pavilion was originally sponsored by Kraft and then by Nestle and previously included shows like Food Rocks and Kitchen Kabaret. Currently only the corporations with a presence in The Land are Chiquita's sponsorship of the Living with the Land boat ride and Smucker's sponsorship of the Garden Grill restaurant. The final Future World pavilion, Journey into Imagination is also sponsor-less as of 2010 when its 28-year partnership with Kodak came to an end.

The Garden Grill RestaurantThe Garden Grill Restaurant

In addition to the main pavilions, sponsorships by Coca-Cola, T. Rowe Price, IBM, Liberty Mutual, and other have come and gone in the Innoventions buildings and Club Cool. You'll find examples of creative product placement throughout Disney parks, but remember that these partnerships serve an important purpose. They give us a chance to explore new products and technologies and they provide Disney with the financial resources and technological support that they need in order to remain at the forefront of the theme park industry.

Club Cool by Coca-ColaClub Cool by Coca-Cola

If you'd like to know more about the Epcot attractions mentioned in this article, be sure to click on the links within the text. Do Disney sponsorships influence your everyday buying habits? Leave a comment to let us know which Disney partners are your favorites.

A big thanks goes out to Guest Author Holly L. for sharing a little bit of her time in Walt Disney World with us. If you'd like to read more about Holly's trip, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

crazycatperson wrote on Tue, 09/16/2014 - 16:03:

crazycatperson's picture

Gotta love Coca-Cola for sponsoring Club Cool. We visit every time we're at Epcot, and I hope that place never closes. And we happily pony up the bucks to purchase Coca-Cola brand soft drinks around the rest of Epcot, at the other WDW parks and attractions, and at home. As for the others sponsors, I'm very grateful to all of them for keeping those pavilions open and interesting. I wish the pavilions that don't have sponsors (or even worse, aren't open any longer) would get new sponsors. Future World could be so much better than it is now.

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