I’m spending the weekend finishing up the Epcot chapter of our new color guidebook to WDW. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the text we have in the regular Unofficial Guide, of course. However, Epcot is my favorite park, so I want to explain in text what makes Epcot special and why everyone should love it.
I’m trying to make two points: Epcot is a theme park about ideas. And the attractions work best if you consider the impact of those ideas on everyday life. Whereas the Magic Kingdom is focused on fantasy and adventure, the Studios is a look at entertainment, and the Animal Kingdom is a view of … the animal kingdom, Epcot is an exploration of humankind’s role in the world.
In fact, I’d argue (but I can’t yet find the words) that Epcot is the thing that differentiates Disney Imagineering from every other company that builds amusement parks. No other company would have either the vision or the corporate will to create and build such a park. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I doubt seriously whether Universal, Six Flags, or the folks building up Bahrain could even conceive of the concept of Epcot on their own, amass the expertise and funding to build it, or explain concepts such as energy and communication in a way that makes people want to visit.
I could be wrong. In any case, here’s the intro text I have so far. Comments and suggestions welcome.
It’s probably safe to say that Epcot was the park that Walt Disney most wanted to build after the success of Disneyland. Designed to demonstrate new technology and innovation, Walt envisioned it as a sort of permanent World’s Fair for companies, universities and governments to show off their latest creations.
On paper, that doesn’t sound like the recipe for a fun vacation. Indeed, Epcot’s educational theme and corporate imagery lacks some of the obvious warmth and charm of the Magic Kingdom. And unlike the Magic Kingdom’s attractions, many of which assume you’re going to sit passively and watch whatever is in front of you, Epcot is a theme park about ideas, such as ecologies, energy sources, and the role communication systems play in human societies. Epcot’s attractions work best when you consider the impact these ideas have – and will have – on the lives of everyday people.
Do not worry – these concepts are presented in an upbeat way, with lots of dazzling visual effects and humor, and most visitors find plenty of entertainment and education. In fact, Spaceship Earth, the ride dedicated to exploring communication systems, was for more than two decades the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World. (That distinction is now held by Soarin’, also at Epcot.) And Epcot is usually the third-most visited theme park in the United States, behind the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland.
Besides futuristic attractions, half of Epcot is devoted to World Showcase, a collection of elaborate pavilions representing the landmarks and culture of various countries from around the world. Each country is staffed by young adults from that nation, so it’s possible your children will hear French spoken in the France pavilion or Mandarin in the China pavilion. Every country has at least one restaurant, too, making Epcot home to the most diverse set of dining options on property. Combined with top notch attractions, Epcot may be the best of Disney’s theme parks.