A Photo Essay at
Yester World

Yesterland.com
Walt Disney World Then and Now
Future World at Epcot, Part 1

“The 21st century begins October 1, 1982.”

In 1982, that’s how Walt Disney Productions promoted the impending opening of EPCOT Center. Back then, I had never been to Walt DIsney World. It was far from Pasadena, California, where I lived at the time. But I wanted to visit “The newest Wonder of the World.”

It didn’t take me too long. I made it to EPCOT Center in January 1983.

While visiting the park—now called Epcot—in February 2011, I went back to some of the same spots that a friend and I had captured on color slides in 1983.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, March 29, 2011


Image for then and now article about Epcot

Spaceship Earth at night (1983)

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Spaceship Earth at night (2011)

The magnificent geodesic sphere that contains the Spaceship Earth ride looks about the same in both photos, but it’s a different story at the ground level.

  • Look for the three-pronged plexiglass sculpture with the old EPCOT Center logo in front of Spaceship Earth.
  • The angled “tomb stones” in the 2011 photo are from the Leave A Legacy program, which lasted from late 1999 until the middle of 2007.
Image for then and now article about Epcot

Spaceship Earth ride entrance (1983)

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Spaceship Earth ride entrance (2011)

Spaceship Earth was originally sponsored by the Bell System, AT&T’s collection of regional Bell phone companies, long distance, Western Electric telephone manufacturing, and Bell Labs. A U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit led to a Federal court decision to break up the Bell System. When the break-up became effective January 1, 1984, AT&T remained the sponsor of Spaceship Earth, but the Bell System name went away. Since 2005, Siemens AG has been the sponsor.

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Reflecting pool (1983)

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No reflecting pool any more (2011)

Yes, EPCOT Center originally had reflecting pools adjacent to Communicore East and Communicore West. Today’s Epcot no longer has such pools. Innoventions replaced Communicore.

Image for then and now article about Epcot

World of Motion presented by General Motors (1983)

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Test Track presented by General Motors (2011)

World of Motion was a humorous look at the history of transportation; the ride lasted until January 2, 1996. After being closed around three years, the building reopened as Test Track.

  • Yes, that’s the line to get into World of Motion in the 1983 photo.
  • Look for differences between the Mark IV Monorail and the Mark VI Monorail.
Image for then and now article about Epcot

Future World directional sign (1983)

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Future World directional sign (2011)

The two signs above are not in the same location, but they show how the graphic look of the signs changed.

  • Originally, each Future World pavilion had its own logo.
  • Perhaps it’s time for Epcot to bring back the clean look of the original signs and logos.
Image for then and now article about Epcot

Future World fountain (1983)

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Future World fountain (2011)

There has been a grand fountain at the south end of Future World since the park opened. Its official name is the Fountain of Nations. The fountain shows were enhanced in 1993 with the installation of new nozzles and water “shooters” of various sizes. Unfortunately, a little-used elevated stage now partially obstructs the fountain when it’s approached from World Showcase.

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Future World fountain at night (1983)

Image for then and now article about Epcot

Future World fountain at night (2011)

The fountain looks great by day, but it’s even better at night. That was the case in 1983, and it’s still that way today.

Would you like to see more “then and now” photos of Future World? Here are articles comparing Future World in 2008 with Future World just a few years earlier. The changes are surprisingly big.

 

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© 2011 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated April 22, 2011.

Photographs of Future World at EPCOT Center in 1983: Werner Weiss and Dennis Derr, January 1983.
Photographs of Future World at Epcot in 2011: Werner Weiss, February 2011.