Disney History: Epcot's Future World Then & Now

The year was 1982. Nearly two decades after Walt Disney first unveiled his ambitious plan to create an Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, a theme park created to honor his dream was finally ready to welcome the world through its turnstiles. From EPCOT Center to just EPCOT to Epcot, changes in the name of the park, itself, have signaled Disney's commitment to constant reinvention. Join me on a brief journey from where we started to where we are now.


EPCOT's Future World Then & NowEPCOT's Future World Then & Now


Central Future World opened with Spaceship Earth as an anchor, flanked by CommuniCore East and CommuniCore West. Spaceship Earth has undergone periodic updates to keep the storyline relevant, but given the significance of showcasing the history of communication, this attraction will likely remain with us in much the same form far into the future. To remove Spaceship Earth would be akin to removing Cinderella castle from the Magic Kingdom. CommuniCore, on the other hand, has changed almost completely. Originally, CommuniCore showcased the latest in computer technology and robotics. For many of Epcot's young visitors, this was likely the first time they had ever seen a computer. Obviously an attraction like this today would be out of place as consumer technology has become so advanced and so accessible. CommuniCore became Innoventions in 1994 and the downsizing of the former attraction left space for the EPCOT Character Spot, Club Cool, and MouseGear.


Innoventions Is The Place Learning And Exploring TechnologyInnoventions Is The Place Learning And Exploring Technology


Future World East began its life with four pavilions: Universe of Energy, Wonders of Life, Horizons, and World of Motion. World of Motion showcased the history of transportation and was sponsored by General Motors. In 1996, it was the first casualty in this section of the park. After a lengthy overhaul, the building would reopen as the popular Test Track attraction. Horizons, a look at how technology might change the way we live in the future, was the second attraction to fall in 1999. Considered a sequel of sorts to Carousel of Progress at Magic Kingdom, the closure of this fan favorite sparked an outcry from guests. Never the less, the building was eventually demolished to create the hugely ambitious Mission: Space attraction. The most recent closure in this area was the Wonders of Life pavilion including Body Wars, Epcot's first thrill ride. Since 2007, the pavilion has served as the Festival Center for Flower & Garden and Food & Wine. Of the original Future World East pavilions, only the Universe of Energy is still standing mostly intact. The show has changed, adding Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' as hostess and host, but the dinosaurs, the ride vehicles, and the science behind the attraction have remained unchanged.


The World of Motion by GM became Test Track by ChevroletThe World of Motion by GM became Test Track by Chevrolet


Future World West graced Epcot with three pavilions, all of which have been maintained with the same theme for the past 33 years: The Living Seas, The Land, and Journey Into Imagination. Journey Into Imagination opened with a 3-D Film called Magic Journeys. Figment and Dreamfinder joined the pavilion a year later and were an instant success. Magic Journeys has since been replaced by Captain EO...and then Honey I Shrunk the Audience...and then Captain EO again. Journey into Imagination with Figment closed in 1998 despite fan protest and reopened four years later in a nearly unrecognizable form. We first visited Sea Base Alpha at the Living Seas in 1986 and it entertained and mystified guests for 20 years before being re-themed as The Seas with Nemo and Friends and adding a new attraction in the form of Turtle Talk with Crush. This much more "kid-friendly" version still boasts the world's second largest salt water aquarium. It is surpassed in size only by the Georgia Aquarium, which opened in 2005. The Land pavilion opened with three attractions and retains three attractions today. Formerly presented as Listen to the Land, the Living with the Land boat ride has been a staple attraction since the opening of the pavilion. A film featuring the synergy between humans and the environment has been part of The Land since the beginning. The film "Symbiosis" was replaced with Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable in 1995 following the blockbuster release of The Lion King. The biggest change at The Land was in 2004 when shows like Kitchen Kabaret and Food Rocks stepped aside to make space for a visitor from the west coast, the perennial favorite, Soarin'.


The Land Is Home To Fan Favorite - Soarin'The Land Is Home To Fan Favorite - Soarin'


What changes do you think we'll see at Epcot's Future World in the next ten years? What attractions would you be sad to lose? What concepts would you like to see added to Future World? Leave a comment and let us know!

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A big thanks goes out to Guest Author Holly L. for sharing her knowledge and love of Walt Disney World History with us. History pictures in this post were compiled from her family albums along with family photos from Kristen K. If you'd like to read more about Holly's trips to Disney, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

David Francis wrote on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 16:58:

David Francis's picture

all of these attractions are good fun for a slower pace than the other parks, and all enjoyable for all ages. Soarin is amazing and mission Space is a great ride, although it did take a couple of hours to recompose myself after experiencing the orange version!!

Bill wrote on Fri, 08/07/2015 - 17:06:

Bill's picture

I thought Wonders of Life opened many years after the park first opened. I don't recall it being there in '83.

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