This press photo from October 1, 1982, appeared on the front page of The Morning Call, marking the grand opening of the Walt Disney World Resort’s second theme park, EPCOT Center.
EPCOT Center, the idea for which had originally been Walt Disney’s ambitious pet project—the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow—finally came into being nearly sixteen years after Walt’s death. The living, breathing, technologically-driven Progress City that Walt had dreamed of creating would never be realized without the studio head at the helm, and instead, over time, devolved into a World’s-Fair-style theme park, comprised of the technology-based Future World and the culturally-immersive World Showcase. The park’s opening-day festivities, which took place eleven years to the day after the Magic Kingdom first welcomed guests, included performances of varying nature from groups all over the world. The Sherman Brothers penned a song for the occasion, entitled “World Showcase March.” Water from rivers around the globe was gathered and emptied into the Fountain of Nations, as a symbol of unity and goodwill. The park would be dedicated a few weeks later with the following remarks by Disney Chairman and CEO E. Cardon Walker:
To all who come to this Place of Joy, Hope and Friendship
Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.
May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.
The press photo’s accompanying caption describes the opening-day scene as follows:
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 1—OFF TO A FLYING START—Doves and balloons fly around the geosphere Spaceship Earth, during the opening ceremonies for the EPCOT Center Friday. The geosphere weighs 15.5 million pounds and can hold 2,800 people per hour. The $1 billion park is designed to stimulate scientific thinking about the future.
The photo has been marked and annotated in spots on both sides by employees of The Morning Call, a newspaper based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which continues to be among the nation’s top-one-hundred publications, in terms of circulation.
This original black-and-white press photo marks the culmination of the company’s last project in which Walt had any personal involvement, and therefore represents a unique collectible that pays tribute both to him and his boundless imagination that forever changed the world of themed entertainment.