Time is the hardest thing to measure. It’s infinite, but has enormous speed, constantly moving forward towards a goal unknown. It has no value unless we give it some. The greatest method we’ve found to do so is by creating “milestones.” Anniversaries, birthdays, marks of time that celebrate the past and raise a toast to the future. For Disney fans, a grand milestone is approaching: the thirtieth anniversary of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center. This milestone cannot be overlooked. It is the perfect opportunity to reminisce on the past, evaluate the present, and contemplate the future.
The twenty-first century may have begun October 1, 1982, but EPCOT Center ushered in another new beginning. EPCOT Center was the first theme park I ever went to, and thus started my Disney addiction. I was only six weeks old for my first trip in 1995. I don’t have any actual memories, of course- only the stories from pictures my parents took. The first attraction I went on was Spaceship Earth, and the only other picture I’ve seen from this trip was in front of the Mexico pavilion. To this day, those are two of my favorite parts of the park.
My perspective of the park and its attractions and pavilions was unique. I’m the daughter of a foreign language teacher. Growing up, my mother taught me German and was always focused on creating an open-minded child that yearned for experiencing the entire globe. We went to EPCOT Center a lot, and I loved listening to her speak German and sometimes a little Spanish to the Disney cast members. That was pure magic for me. I also enjoyed trying different foods across the countries. I always left EPCOT Center with a full belly… and another treasure that enhanced my World Showcase experience: a colorful mask stamped by cast members from each country. The excuse of the mask allowed me to learn so much more about the cultures of the represented countries. Those interactions with the World Showcase cast members still inspire me to this day.
The world can learn so much from EPCOT Center. Its original themes of health, science, imagination, and unity were the golden promises of what the twenty-first century was supposed to bring. Experiencing EPCOT Center throughout my childhood turned out to be more vital than one could’ve predicted before the new millennium. When the world didn’t follow through with its promises, EPCOT Center continued to inspire the future that should be instead of succumbing to the future that was. Things have changed, however. EPCOT Center is now Epcot, the masks are now Duffy puppets, and we never got the Israel or Spain pavilions that early souvenir books promised. But the original messages and intent are all still there. You may have to look harder to find them, but they are ever present.
Many fans get so caught up in EPCOT Center’s history that they lose appreciation for the current park. It’s ironic to think that a park based on the promise of the future was better in its past. But everything always looks better in the past if we view it through the lens of our childhoods. We can spend hours ranting on message boards about its bygone era, but there is something greater we can do with that time. We can go out into the world, and fulfill the promises of the original EPCOT Center ourselves. Instead of daydreaming of one last ride on Horizons, we can expand the horizons of our globe, and make the twenty-first century what we all hoped it would be.Share