But, EPCOT has seen some MAJOR changes since the park opened back in 1982. And, since we can’t visit the parks in person, we’re taking you back on a journey through time and space to EPCOT’s beginnings!
Everybody got their Walkmans, Jordache jean shorts, and Reebok Pumps ready to go?? Then, let’s cruise on back to 1985 for a most excellent adventure in EPCOT!!
Universe of Energy
While we all know the version of the attraction that was hosted by Ellen Degeneres, the Universe of Energy had a completely different theme before its revamp in 1996. The original Universe of Energy was all about how energy was created throughout time by nature and man.
Although the attraction’s 80s bops like “Energy (You Make the World Go ‘Round)” and “Universe of Energy” were definitely reason enough to visit, the interactive simulation of the ride was totally new.
The effect of the ride vehicles going through the screens and taking you on a journey was something that had really never done before.
In the first theater, there was a mosaic screen that consisted of 100 different rotating prism-shaped flip screens that would move along with the film. The next section of the ride introduced the dinosaurs and volcano that were “realistic” depictions of the prehistoric period (and were still used in the Ellen version of the attraction). Remember the smell???!!
The coolest part of the attraction, though, were the panels on top of the building. Although they might just look like regular roof shackles, they were actually an energy source themselves (wicked!!).
The roof had 80,000 photovoltaic solar cells that helped power the ride vehicles! So, every time you would ride the Universe of Energy, you were witnessing energy being made WHILE learning about it (mind = blown!!).
World of Motion
Although World of Motion became Test Track in 1996, the original attraction was more like Spaceship Earth than modern day Test Track. While the Universe of Energy gave details about energy, the World of Motion took a dive into the history of transportation.
Guests would ride in a 6-person Omnimover vehicle through ride scenes featuring Leonardo da Vinci, the Mississippi River, and the world’s first traffic jam that was populated with different projection effects.
After loading the ride, it would travel up a spiral that was located in the open-air entrance to the ride before beginning the interior ride scenes.
But, the best part of World of Motion was the ending that took guests to the CenterCore. Since Walt had a dream for the community that EPCOT could have been, the CenterCore showcased a “city of the future” that always seemed to be in motion.
After exiting the ride, guests would go into the TransCenter that had different ride vehicles brought to life like the “Lean Machine” and a show called “The Bird and the Robot.” It was both an educational spot and a way for people to also learn about new products being built by GM.
Journey Into Imagination
While we currently know it as the Imagination! Pavilion, Journey into Imagination was quite possibly the MOST iconic part of EPCOT in the 80s (sorry, Spaceship Earth). The pavilion has housed many attractions over the years, but since we are in 1985…that means you could visit Magic Journeys (a 3D film), ImageWorks, and Journey into Imagination.
Journey into Imagination originally told the story of the Dreamfinder who was looking to harness the power of humans’ dreams and ideas. The Omnimover ride vehicle would take guests into the “Dreamport” to look at how Art, Literature, the Performing Arts, and Science are “created.”
Early on in the ride, the Dreamfinder uses his imagination to dream up a literal “figment of imagination” — the purple unofficial mascot of EPCOT, Figment! Towards the end of the ride, the Dreamfinder told everyone that using their imaginations help to unlock the hidden wonders of the world.
But the end of the ride was easily the BEST PART. Guests were led into ImageWorks, where people could put their new-found creativity to the test. The most famous part of ImageWorks was the Rainbow Corridor all lit up with different colors (Look familiar? Michael Jackson took some pretty awesome photos here!).
The interactive exhibit allowed guests to put themselves in a movie, color Figment and the Dreamfinder on the ceiling with “paintbrush guns,” and even conduct an orchestra. How very!!
Guests could also walk outside and experiencing the Jumping Fountains after visiting Journey into Imagination (which are still there today, so we have a bit of the original EPCOT still!).
(We’re totally the ladies ducking to avoid getting soaked. 😉 )
These fountains are still total magic for children to play in. We played in them as kids and now our kids can still play in the SAME fountains! We still avoid getting hit by them!!
The Land Pavilion
Originally, Kraft Foods was one of the primary sponsors of The Land Pavilion and helped fund the attractions inside. One of the most well-known retired attractions was the Kitchen Kabaret. A group of audio-animatronics would jam out and sing songs about nutrition. Anybody else still know all the words to “Veggie FRUIT FRUIT?”
There was no trace of crowds rushing to Soarin‘ here back in the 80s! The space was always super popular though — it was indoors and air-conditioned, after all! Sunshine Seasons used to be the “Farmers Market” to go along with the atmosphere in the pavilion.
Some of the other former attractions include the Symbiosis film, Listen to the Land (which became Living with the Land and sadly lost that rockin’ jam of the same name), and The Good Turn Restaurant, which ended up being switched to the Land Grille Room, and then became the Garden Grill we know today.
It surprises us how much an area can change, but still look…well…exactly the same. The World Showcase is one of those timeless places in EPCOT, and we don’t mind it one bit!
Although it may not appear like there have been big changes, many of the pavilions didn’t have rides when EPCOT first opened (Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure was just a distant dream in 1985!).
There were also plans for multiple pavilions, like Spain and Israel, that were announced but never actually built (we highly recommend watching “The Imagineering Story” on Disney+ if you want all the details on EPCOT’s journey!).
Wonder where this next photo was taken from?? Back in the 80s Omnibuses traveled around World Showcase that guests could hop on and off to (slowly) get to the different pavilions.
Although there are a lot of different opinions when the double-decker buses stopped operating in EPCOT, we kind of wish they would come back. Walking around the World Showcase can be pretty exhausting.
You could hop off at pavilions to check out things like the Morocco Pavilion performers…
…or wear some fabulously oversized sombreros in the Mexico Pavilion (you can still do this btw).
So much has changed in EPCOT but one constant remains — we can all still go put on the big giant oversized hats no one ever seems to actually buy! 🙂
Laserphonic Fantasy Fireworks
Before IllumiNations became one of the longest-running shows in EPCOT, the park had the Laserphonic Fantasy Fireworks (yes, they’re just as epic as the name suggests).
The show replaced A New World Fantasy in 1984 with synthesized music, projections, and fireworks that could be viewed all around the World Showcase Lagoon. But, it was MEGA 80s, so IllumiNations was built as a more timeless bit of entertainment (which ran for 23 years before it ended in 2019).
And, with that end to our day in EPCOT, we’re going to have to go back to the future from 1985! Although we definitely feel nostalgic for some of the past attractions and entertainment, we are so excited to see everything new coming soon with the EPCOT Transformation!
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Where other Disney Park would you like to see from 1985? Let us know in the comments below!