Sunday, September 30, 2012

Epcot's 30th: 1983 Birnbaum's Guide to Walt Disney World

While EPCOT Center opened in the fall of 1982, it is my understanding that the 1983 edition of Steve Birnbaum's Guide to Walt Disney World was the first edition of what would later become Disney World's Official Guide to include coverage of the newest theme park.  Since this book was likely published before the park was finished being built, it relies almost entirely on concept art and photographs of a few models along with whatever Disney chose to reveal to the book's author, but it does accurately represent the early attractions and dining options that were available to EPCOT Center's early visitors.

Readers may be interested in the park admission prices back in the 1980's, before corporate Disney realized what a goldmine their theme parks could be.  Disney diners may also want to know that Biergarten opened as table-service restaurant (not a buffet) and Le Cellier was originally a cafeteria-style steakhouse (though I see no mention of this designation in the Guide).  In Future World, there is no mention of the unfinished Horizons and Living Seas pavilions and very little is written about the tardy Journey into Imagination ride, which also was not ready for opening day (so Disney probably wasn't ready to release much information about the ride).

Have a look for yourself at our first Official Guide descriptions of EPCOT Center!

[NOTE: Double-click on the images to see larger versions of each page]








Saturday, September 29, 2012

Epcot's 30th: World Showcase Dining in 1985

Since the "soft opening" of this year's Epcot Food and Wine Festival began on Thursday I've been reading reports from those who were present at the event.  As the Festival moves into full swing and the official celebration of Epcot's 30th birthday draws closer my jealousy toward those in Walt Disney World this weekend grows larger.  Nonetheless, these two events are worthy of celebration and today's post tries to tie together the topics of Epcot's early years and history of great dining options.

Today, we feature a brief article from the Spring 1985 issue of Disney News magazine, titled "Serendipity," which highlights a few of Disney's featured dining destinations from the early days of EPCOT Center (starting with the almost brand new Morocco pavilion).

[NOTE: Click or double-click on the images below to enlarge them]


Friday, September 28, 2012

Epcot's 30th: Pictures from Our First Visit

By March of 1983, my family had already visited Walt Disney World twice, but 1982 brought a couple significant changes.  The year started with the birth of my only sibling, when my sister arrived in February, then Disney World's Magic Kingdom added a sibling of its own, when EPCOT Center opened in October.  Thus, the pictures my father took commemorate our first visit to Disney World's second theme park!

[NOTE: I'm not sure why we have so few pictures of Future World, but I suspect it is because we visited those attractions later in the day and probably didn't have the high speed film needed to take effective night photographs]

We followed Disney's tips and visited Future World's attractions in the evening and avoided some of the ridiculously long wait times for the new attractions.

This was the first time we stayed on the Disney property and the view from the Contemporary, along with our Gold Key card kinda spoiled me from vacations to come.

My parents really liked the topiary on the road to the Contemporary.  This was the first time I ever heard the word "topiary" and I recall not being very happy that we stopped the car to take these photographs.  I liked being in the parks, at the hotel, and on the monorail, and during this photo session we were doing none of those things.

We visited the Disney Village Marketplace, on the way to our Breakfast a la Disney at the Empress Lilly Riverboat.  This area looks quite a bit different these days.

We also stopped to eat at the Polynesian Village Resort at least one day (maybe more, since I know we liked the old Coral Isle Cafe).  I didn't realize we had an actual picture of the catamarans on the Polynesian beach

OK. Now that you have a feel for Walt Disney World in the 1980's, let's see what EPCOT Center looked like.

We'll work our way around World Showcase, starting in Mexico

China, where my father seemed to like taking a lot of pictures every year



The United States, where we didn't seem to take pictures, but I guess living in Philadelphia we weren't too impressed by the faux-colonial style building (over the years, I've grown more impressed)



The United Kingdom


Other World Showcase pictures, including some of the bus transportation that used to be available around the loop of countries

As I mentioned above, we didn't seem to take pictures around Future World, but since it's required by law to take at least one picture of Spaceship Earth whenever you visit Epcot (or EPCOT Center), my father did catch the park's icon from the monorail station