Future World
in the Recent Past, Part 1
Yestercot at Yesterland.com
 
While at Epcot earlier this month, I noticed that Future World has had many subtle changes in recent years. Here’s part 1 of a 2-part article comparing photos of Future World from a few years ago to similar photos taken this month.
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, November 28, 2008    
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Innoventions Plaza, 2004
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Innoventions Plaza, 2008

The big difference between the two photos above is that the Mickey Glove and Wand Icon Tower, originally installed in 1999 for the Millennium Celebration, is mercifully gone in the 2008 photo. The suspended triangular and kite-shaped “shade” awnings (which don’t provide any real shade) and the massive, angled poles that support them are still left over from the Millennium Celebration. Perhaps, some day, they’ll be removed so that the focus of the Innoventions Plaza can one again be the elegant sphere of Spaceship Earth at one end, the magnificent fountain at the other end, and the graceful, curved buildings on either side.


Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Spaceship Earth, presented by AT&T, 2002
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Spaceship Earth, presented by Siemens, 2008

The entrance to Spaceship Earth has new landscaping, a new paint scheme, and new signs. Cool gray and white and an updated font on the newer sign replaced the orange text on the older sign. Of course, there’s a new sponsor logo. Interestingly, they kept space mural that goes back to the opening of EPCOT Center in 1982. It’s a majestic mural that has aged gracefully, and it works just as well with Siemens’ celebration of innovation as with AT&T’s celebration of communication.


Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Innoventions West, 2002
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Innoventions West, 2008

The two photos above show the same entrance to Innoventions—the one that you encounter after entering Epcot and taking the path on the right side of Spaceship Earth. When Disney replaced Communicore with Innoventions in 1994, they erected sign towers at several of the entrances. These busy towers clashed with the architecture of the central Future World buildings. Around the time of Epcot’s 25th anniversary on October 1, 2007, new, simpler entrances replaced the old towers and graphics.


Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Innoventions East, 2004
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Entrance to Innoventions East, 2008

The Innoventions entrance that faces Test Track (originally World of Motion) is another example of the new signage. Also, the solar cells in the 2004 photo are now gone.


Future World of the Recent Past
Universe of Energy, presented by ExxonMobil, 2004
 
Future World of the Recent Past
Universe of Energy, presented by nobody, 2008

A only real difference between the 2004 and 2008 photos of Universe of Energy (aside from a slightly different camera angle) is that the ExxonMobil logo is gone in the 2008 photo. When Universe of Energy opened in 1982, its sponsor was Exxon. After Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999, the sponsor became ExxonMobil. In 2004, ExxonMobil decided not to renew, so Universe of Energy attraction has operated without a sponsor since then.


Future World of the Recent Past
A billboard for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, 2004
 
Future World of the Recent Past
The billboard is gone, 2008

In 2004, I snapped a shot of a billboard for Ellen’s Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the “Science Guy.” The billboard, located in a landscaped area between Universe of Energy and Wonders of Life looked out-of-place between these pavilions. In September 1996, the newer Ellen’s Energy Adventure show replaced the original 1982 version of Universe of Energy, but the attraction was still called Universe of Energy and its signage remained unchanged. The billboard communcated to guests that there was a new experience inside the building, but that Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs were still part of show. Presumably, by now, very few people remember the original 1982 version, and there’s no reason to have a billboard.


Future World of the Recent Past
Wonders of Life pavilion, 2004
 
Future World of the Recent Past
The former Wonders of Life serving as the Festival Center, 2008

The “Tower of Life,” a 72-foot representation of a DNA double helix, is gone. The Wonders of Life sign is gone. Both came down in August 2007 as Disney prepared for the 2007 Epcot Food & Wine Fesival. Although the 2008 photo (taken earlier this month) shows a large sign for the 2008 Epcot Food & Wine Fesival, that sign is undoubtedly gone too.

The Wonders of Life pavilion, originally sponsored by MetLife, opened in October 1989. MetLife dropped out in 2001, and no other sponsor took over. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, the Wonders of Life operated seasonally during the busiest times of the year. Body Wars and Cranium Command are probably still present behind locked doors, but these attractions have been unavailable to guests since New Years Day 2007, when the Wonders of Life closed permanently—unless a new sponsor wants to invest in the pavilion.

Now, please continue with part 2 of this article:


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Future World Recent Past, 2
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Updated February 28, 2014.

Photos of Future World: Werner Weiss (year shown under each photo).