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Leave A Legacy

“Create a Timeless Memory”
Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2006

Leave A Legacy kiosk at the base of Spaceship Earth

Would you like to be at Walt Disney World every day of the year, for at least 20 years? You—or at least your face—can be! Just have your photo etched onto a stainless steel Leave A Legacy panel at the entrance to Epcot.


At the Epcot Legacy Sculpture, there’s room for around 700,000 one-inch-square photo etchings on 35 sculpted monoliths, ranging from 3 to 19 feet tall. Don’t worry; they won’t put your photo on the really high part of a tall monolith, so you won’t need a ladder to see it.

Learn how the program works at a kiosk at the base of Spaceship Earth. There are two other kiosks in the park.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2006

Epcot Entrance Plaza Fountain

Here’s how the Epcot 2000 Commemorative Program describes this opportunity:

LEAVE A LEGACY

Throughout history, people have marked important events with special, unique creations or by dedicating something meaningful to them. At Leave A Legacy, located just inside Epcot® on the west side of the Main Entrance turnstiles, you, your family, friends, and loved ones can leave a personal record of how you celebrated the new millennium at Walt Disney World®.

Leave A Legacy was created by Walt Disney lmagineering as a tribute to this milestone occasion. It is both a work of art and a family album where guests can mark their moment in time in the form of a one-inch square digital photograph etched on a commemorative metallic tile mounted on the beautifully sculpted Leave A Legacy granite monoliths. Single and dual image tiles are available. Visit the Leave A Legacy information kiosks near the base of Spaceship Earth, on the bridge between Future World and World Showcase, and at American Adventure in World Showcase for more information. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to create a special reminder of how you celebrated this historic moment at Walt Disney World®.

Are you ready to create a timeless memory?

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

To the Photo Capture Stations

Go to one of the five Photo Capture Stations on the Epcot Entrance Plaza to snap your photo. The price is $35 for one person or $38 for two faces on the same photo. The maximum is two faces per etching.

Let’s say you want your family of five enshrined as part of the Epcot Legacy Sculpture. You’ll need at least three squares. If Junior gets an individual photo, the other two kids will probably want one too. So now you’re looking at four.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Examples of etchings

If you’re in a relationship that might not last for at least 20 years, you should think twice about Leave A Legacy. Once your photo etching is in place, there’s no option to remove it.


Leave A Legacy began as part of Walt Disney World’s Millennium Celebration, the 15-month-long party at Epcot which ran from October 1, 1999, to January 1, 2001.

The Millennium Celebration is a distant memory. The Leave A Legacy sales kiosk and the opportunity to buy new Leave A Legacy squares have “gone to Yesterland.” But the hard granite monoliths with their hard steel plaques still rise from the hard concrete plaza.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photos by Allen Huffman, 1996 (top) and 2001 (bottom)

Before (top) and after (bottom) Leave A Legacy

The Epcot Legacy Sculpture was often likened to a graveyard of monumental tombstones, a mausoleum, or a war memorial. There was some landscaping in the center of the plaza and around its edge, but not between the rows of monoliths.

Among Disney fans, the Epcot Legacy Sculpture competed with the Sorcerer Mickey Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the most hated eyesore at Walt Disney World. (The hat is gone.) Both had their fans too, especially among Leave A Legacy customers or those who have never seen the Studios park without the hat. Disney sold around 550,000 Leave A Legacy etchings over the course of almost eight years, and many of those buyers liked to visit their photos every time they went to Epcot.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Cradling Spaceship Earth

The idea behind Leave A Legacy, as reported in the Fall 1999 issue of Disney Magazine, was that guests could document the moment they “crossed into the new millennium” by “becoming one of the more than 700,000 steel-etched visages that forever, or for the foreseeable future anyway, will grace the Epcot Entrance Plaza.” These digital etchings would be mounted on a sculptural monument that was “designed to resemble foothills or rock outcroppings and appearing to cradle the looming form of Spaceship Earth.”

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Chris Bales, 2005

Explaining the Monument—with a quote from Walt Disney

The Millennium Celebration ended with plenty of blank space left on the monoliths. Leave A Legacy sales continued, just without the millennium angle.

Leave A Legacy sales finally ended June 16, 2007, despite enough unsold space for at least another 150,000 photos. The information kiosks and the Photo Capture Stations were removed, but the monoliths stayed.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2012

Former location of the Leave A Legacy kiosk at the base of Spaceship Earth

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Polished granite monoliths

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

No images above eye level

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Typical view after entering through a turnstile

Do you remember the photo earlier in this article of the bed of flowers with Spaceship Earth cradled in the monument? That’s not what guests saw when they entered Epcot because the Epcot entrance turnstiles were on the sides, while the exits were in the middle.

The result was that Epcot had an entrance that came across as cold and uninviting to many guests, in stark contrast to the entrances of the other Walt Disney World parks—the grand nostalgia of Magic Kingdom Park, the intimate charm of bygone Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the lush greenery of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2006

Mighty monoliths

The Epcot Legacy Sculpture was designed by the Disney Legend John Hench (1908-2004), working with a team of Walt Disney Imagineering interns. It was the last major Imagineering project for Hench, who celebrated his 60th year with Disney in 1999.

That raises the question, why would such a distinguished Imagineer want to fill the Epcot Entrance Plaza with giant granite slabs decorated with itty-bitty digital etchings on sheets of stainless steel?

The answer is that it was a decision by executives to make money from the plaza in front of Spaceship Earth. Hench and his team were then brought in to design the monument. With its bold angles and sweeping form, it’s a far better monument than it might have been in the hands of a lesser designer. Imagine if it had been a series of identical, rectangular walls.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2006

Some fully populated monoliths

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Loyal Disney customers

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2018

Still there in 2018

The paperwork that Leave A Legacy customers received included language indicating that Disney could replace or relocate the “image and/or sculpture” anywhere within Walt Disney World at any time. After an image has been up for 20 years, it could be removed permanently.

It seemed unlikely that Disney would want to rebuild or move the Epcot Legacy Sculpture before 20 years were up. According to Disney publicity, the heaviest monolith weighs more than 50,000 pounds. Moving or removing the granite monuments would probably cost millions of dollars—and possibly anger 550,000 loyal customers.

The last etchings were added in 2007, so it seemed unlikely that that anything would change before 2027.

On February 21, 2019, Disney announced that we won’t have to wait until 2027 after all. A multi-year transformation of Epcot would include a new entrance plaza.

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

artist concept only © Disney

Concept art for an updated entrance plaza at Epcot

Disney provided a long caption for the concept art: “In this artist rendering, a new entrance plaza in development at Epcot will greet guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a reimagined fountain. This design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements.”

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

artist concept only © Disney

Concept art details

A closer look at the rendering shows what Disney meant by “homage to the original park entrance.” Instead of being dominated by granite slabs rising from concrete, the entrance would be a welcoming garden space filled with planters, trees, paths, banners with a logo similar to the original EPCOT Center logo, and even a fountain topper in the tradition of the three-part acrylic glass sculpture that had been eliminated for Leave A Legacy.

Speaking of Leave A Legacy, what happened to all the guest photos? Disney’s announcement included the answer: “As part of this new entry experience, Leave A Legacy photos will move into a beautiful setting just outside the park’s gateway.”

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2019

Turning the concept into a reality, November 2019

Leave A Legacy at Epcot

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Left side of the entrance reopened; as it looked January 2020

The entrance to Epcot is still dominated by John Hench’s work—but it isn’t the Epcot Legacy Sculpture he was asked to design. It’s once again his brilliant, majestic Spaceship Earth.


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Updated January 22, 2020.