Need a quick and relaxing trip to Epcot? Check out my video featuring the new entrance plaza, World Showcase, the Friendship, the Italy Pavilion, the Norway Pavilion, Spaceship Earth, and the Imagination Pavilion. Just a video for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few moments or respite in your busy day.
Quiet Moments at Epcot at Walt Disney World
George shares short videos from around the World Showcase at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.
Where is your favorite place to relax at Walt Disney World?
What is the Best Disney World Book Ever Published?
This is sort of like asking who your favorite child is. Well, kinda.
I have over 1,400 Disney- and theme park-related books in my collection. A frequently asked question is which book is my favorite? Many of my favorite or recommended Disney titles offer something unique that you can’t find anywhere else. Does the book contain a unique history or photos? Does the Disney book have a unique perspective?
Back in 2008, I posted about a surprising tableaux on the bridge between the UK and the France Pavilions at Epcot. During subsequent visits, I would check on the area to see if the painting was still there. For a few years, the painting disappeared but returned some time in the past year or so.
The subtitle, Making EPCOT’s “Wonders of China,” relates to the Circle-Vision 360 film that played for more than 20 years in the China Pavilion at Epcot. But maybe you’re only familiar with the current film Reflections of China?
Still, I know what you’re thinking…
A whole book about the making of a Circle-Vision 360 film?
Leonard Kinsey reached out to me about reviewing the latest release from Bamboo Forest Publishing; pretty much every Bamboo Forest Publishing book has risen to the top of my favorites list. Leonard and his crew pay incredible attention to detail and have some of the most evocative layouts of any Disney-related book (plus a special shoutout to the mad genius Hugh for his impeccable editing).
What is Polishing the Dragons?
As inferred, the book is about the making of the Wonders of China film that played in EPCOT from the grand opening in 1982 until March 23, 2003 (it also played at Disneyland). The title refers to the extreme steps that the author and film crew took to make Wonders of China. And not just polishing dragons.
As a Disney book nerd, it shocked me that someone could write a book about this. But the book equally shocked me in that Jeff could remember enough about the experience to pen a 248 page work. Polishing the Dragons will surprise you! (And maybe shock you—in a great way!)
Polishing the Dragons starts before the advent of the filming process and offers background on Jeff and his early career. We accompany Jeff as he follows his passion of filmmaking and storytelling. And that’s important to know: Jeff is a storyteller, as it comes through in this book and the projects he has worked on. After completing an IMAX project, the company Jeff worked for came to the attention of Disney. Imagine needing to coordinate the opening of the world’s largest theme park (at the time); you would need to get the best people you can. In this case, Jeff became the best person to coordinate the hauling of a massive Circle-Vision camera around China.
What Is Circle-Vision?
If you’re not familiar with Circle-Vision, it’s a massive camera set-up with nine cameras that offers a 360 degree view. The nine cameras have to be focused and synced (along with other camera and filmmaking techniques). You also have to ensure that you don’t have anything extra that you don’t want in any of the nine images is in the frame. Other Circle-Vision films include the current Oh Canada, Reflections of China, and the former Time Keeper.
The book spends a majority of the time in China as Jeff negotiates (on a daily basis) getting the shots needed. In some cases, the nine camera set-up would be hauled all day for just a few seconds of film. Imagine spending 7-8 hours of physcal labor and hiking to get a few moments captured. This book almost acts as a guide for making a film in a foreign country.
Most modern readers will probably be unfamiliar with the post-Mao China. It’s quite eye-opening to read about how closed off the country was and how difficult it was to complete the project. There were many times it seemed as if the project were going to be stopped.
From what I understand, Jeff kept an incredibly detailed journal, which explains the crazy amount of detail presented to us almost 40 years later. Jeff goes surprisingly in-depth in an almost day-to-day basis. It might seem like overkill, but it’s fascinating to relate his experiences to the finished film.
Why Should You Read This Disney History Book?
Bamboo Forest Publishing has a strong record of publishing engaging, creative, and authoritative books. The Charlie Walker books by Nick Pobursky are some of the best fiction titles related to Disney and the Drinking at Disney title was my favorite book from 2016. And with Polishing the Dragons, they’ve knocked it way out of the park. Who could imagine a 248 page book dedicated solely to one singular attraction (well, besides the Haunted Mansion).
Jeff has a fantastic writing style and I felt like I was on the trip with him (minus the cold, heat, rain, and unfamiliar food). The book never bogged you down with useless information about the process; he actually keeps you fairly entertained during the multiple visits to China to scout and film. A circle-vision film takes so much work and time! You will never take another Circle-Vision film for granted.
Again, a single book dedicated a theme park attraction seems like overkill, but Jeff makes voyage very entertaining. You will never take the Circle-Vision film for granted. You will also walk away with a deeper knowledge of how a large project comes together and the multitude of people that partook in it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and reading about all of the details that went into the film. If you’re a fan of EPCOT Center or a filmmaker, then you will devour Jeff’s book.
Are You Going to Pick Up Polishing the Dragons?
FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the author for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!
Disney Publishing sent a review copy and I couldn’t wait to make a preview video for you.
Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review
If you won’t be able to visit this parks this year, is this book a good substitute?
This large-format coffee table-sized book will enchant you with photos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and more. It’s hard to imagine that Disney could capture all of the magical details of their celebrations worldwide. They cover the twelve parks, cruise ships, resorts, and shopping districts. There is something for every fan of the parks, including a rich look at the history of the holidays starting at Disneyland.
The price tag seems hefty at first, until you crack it open and leaf through the pages. You’ll notice that there are four to five pictures per page. And at 384 pages, that’s almost as many photos as I take each visit!
Along with the Disney Monorail book, you have two fantastic reads for this holiday season. Are you going to get both? As a general rule, Disney books have small print runs and go out-of-print fairly quickly. If you wait too long, the price will skyrocket.
Are you going to order the holiday book for yourself or as a gift?
FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!
In a previous video, I looked at a proposed concept for a redo of the Horizons pavilion. This 1996 concept would have kept the original Horizons building intact and kept most of the interior attraction layout…and added a second attraction with it’s own pre-show: The Speculator.
This concept for a Space Pavilion would have straddled pre- and post-millennium Epcot with an attraction that, well, had the best of both worlds. The first segment, which would have retained a major portion of the original attraction layout showed us how we saw space throughout our history. It would have been a bit slower, like World of Motion and Spaceship Earth, as it explained how we came to understand outer space. The second half of the attraction took us into another pre-show and debuted a fairly new style of vehicle that would have been a cross between Soarin’ and Flight of Passage. Sort of…
Back in the mid-1990s, Disney was looking to redo the Horizons Pavilion. G.E. decided not to renew their corporate sponsorship back in 1993. This left the pavilion without the deep corporate pockets to spring for a refurbishment. The original EPCOT Center sponsorship contracts were for ten years and only Exxon signed up for affectional terms with the Universe of Energy. Horizons officially closed December of 1994, but was brought back online a year later since the World of Motion and the Universe of Energy both went down for refurbishment (and more, in the case of the World of Motion).
One idea kicked around since the beginning planning stages for EPCOT Center has been a Space Pavilion. The lack of a sponsor and an unattainable scale kept this pavilion firmly grounded. I ran across an amazing 26-page document from 1996 that offered a vision for a Space Pavilion that re-used most of the Horizons building and ride system. And offered a tantalizing new ride system called The Speculator. So why didn’t we see a Space Pavilion until 2003 with the opening of Mission: Space (still one of my least favorite attractions)?
Space Pavilion Concept Video Part One
Part two of the video will take us to the Digital Imaging Center of the Space Pavilion and we’ll take a ride on the attraction’s new experience: The Speculator.
What Do You Think About This Concept for the Space Pavilion at Epcot?
Disney produced a massive amount of guidebooks, souvenir guides and retrospective books about Disneyland, yet struggled to properly convey what the Vacation Kingdom of the World was really about. With publishing plenty of titles in the 1970s, they still focused on trying get the idea of Walt Disney World across. How do you promote 43 square miles? Especially during pre-internet times?
1983 Walt Disney World Pictorial Souvenir Video Review
Disney found themselves promoting two theme parks, three hotels, a campground, and various recreation activities in a 36-38 page book. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for details, but does show what Disney felt was important about the Central Florida resort.
I still think of how many kids bought these books at the Emporium on Main Street or at their hotels as their souvenir from the family vacation. And then they spent hours just being mesmerized by the photos and brief text. Just a way to relive a past vacation and dream of the next one.
It took the Imagineers and Disney Executives years to nail down a viable concept for EPCOT Center. Multiple plans were created, revised, shelved, and the process started over. Check out my video for EPCOT Center Master Plan 5. The Spring 1976 Disney News magazine offers a tantalizing view of the progress of EPCOT Center thus far.
In explaining how the company proceeded with Walt’s plans for EPCOT Center after his passing, then-Disney President Card Walker stated:
“The first phase has been the recreational community,” he said. “The Magic Kingdom, the hotels and lakes and campgrounds. Now we are launching the second phase of Walt’s idea: the scientific, industrial, communication, world co-operation aspects of EPCOT.”
Most of the original plans called for EPCOT Center to be broken into multiple areas. Most incarnations had an EPCOT Theme Center, which would be equivalent to what we know as Future World. World Showcase evolved from the World’s Fair idea and International Village would be housing and public areas for international cast members.
Accordingly, Phase II will include the EPCOT Future World Theme Center, the hub where guests will first come to the 43-square-mile development, which will also include a World Showcase and International Village.
The Theme Center will be the heart of EPCOT, where 360-degree movie screens and various displays will offer guests an overview of current EPCOT projects. Guests can then visit the areas, called satellites, of particular interest to them.
These satellites will surround the Theme Center, each one devoted to research in a different area of study—energy, agriculture, communications or medicine, for example. At each satellite, dedicated men and women will work to develop new technology in their field, seeking solutions and exchanging ideas in broad areas affecting the quality of life for people throughout the world.
“EPCOT will be a forum where creative men and women of science, industry, government and the arts from around the world can present and demonstrate new concepts and systems,” said Walker. “It will be dedicated to the advancement of new technologies and approaches to meeting the challenges we face throughout the world today.”
The EPCOT Theme Center does get us closer to Future World. Based on the concept art, you could boat or take the People Mover to get there. It appears as if there is very limited parking, so the Transportation and Ticket Center would be the central area for parking and getting to your destination.
The first area to be actually built in Phase II will be the World Showcase, a permanent international exposition. Member-nations will each occupy a pavilion in one of two massive, semi-circular buildings, not far from the EPCOT Theme Center.
Each pavilion could include a ride or similar attraction designed by lmagineers at WED Enterprises in Glendale, CA. WED is the master planning, design and engineering arm of Walt Disney Productions.
The pavilion could also include cafes, shops or other displays of national wares to offer guests a foretaste of an actual visit to the country. National musical groups or other performing artists could present special entertainment.
Each country would have ample space inside its pavilion for trade center activities ranging from product exhibits and industry displays to cultural presentations and business meetings.
Construction of World Showcase is scheduled to begin by late 1977 on a tract of Walt Disney World property between the present Transportation and Ticket Center and U.S. Highway 192. The eventual size of the Showcase is estimated to cover 100 acres, with from 10 to 30 nations of the world participating.
The 200 or more people staffing each pavilion, many of them young men and women from the country represented, will be a key aspect of World Showcase. Not only will they operate the pavilions, but they will also live with representatives from other nations in the nearby International Village. A part of this “world community” could also be themed for public visits.
“We hope that the nations of the world will send their young future leaders to operate the World Showcase, and build a base for international understanding for the years to come,” said Walker.
“In World Showcase and International Village we will have an example of men and women, as citizens of the world, sharing their cultures, history and aspirations. It will be a true people-to-people exchange.”
“Walt believed that solutions to the great challenges we face are indeed possible in today’s world,” Walker continued. ” He believed that we must look not only to our past and our problems, but more significantly, to our future and our potential.”
“We’re dedicated to fulfilling the promise of Walt Disney’s greatest dream. We seek the participation and cooperation, the talents and the skills of people around the world in order to make his dream a reality.”
EPCOT Center Concept Art
The article included a few choice images of the potential displays and attractions from the EPCOT Theme Center and World Showcase.
Concept art of a pavilion in the EPCOT Theme Center, presumably the fore-runner to the Astuter Computer Revue or the WorldKey Information Center.
This is a spectacular rendering of the cope of the potential Space Pavilion for EPCOT. I am assuming that it would have been an IMAX screen with multiple ride vehicles, similar to Horizons, that would have moved around the central arm.
Concept art for a laser show .
Preliminary designs for a solar power show or pavilion that predates the Energy Pavilion sponsored by Exxon.
The Arab Pavilion concept art shows what the World Showcase would look like on the interiors of the show buildings. One version of World Showcase called for multiple countries to share equal storefront space, like at a mall, but they could purchase additional space to extend their individual pavilion.
Check out my video review of the 1982 must-have EPCOT Center book!
A relatively short-lived publication (probably preceded by The WED-Way Newsletter), the WED MAPO ImagiNews may have only been in publication for two to three years. It seems to be centered around the construction of EPCOT Center and Tokyo Disneyland and was a Disney University mouthpiece due to the large number of Imagineers hired for these projects. The March 11, 1981 edition has a front page article on Dreamfinder and his design, which is a little surprising.
Developing Our Imagination
Dreamfinder, host of the Journey into Imagination Pavilion in Epcot Center,nears the final approval stage in the Sculpture Shop. Pictured in the upper-left corner is the full-scale clay model, which recently took on a whole new look as fittings were made for his wardrobe.
The model stands 5′ 6″ and has reddish-blonde hair. Wayne Strong, who set a side his sculpting tools and dod the make-up for Dreamfinder, revealed that early conceptual drawings specified white hair, but were changed when the character began to look a bit too much like Santa Claus.
Do you know anything more about the Imaginews publication?
I’ve also never heard the story about Dreamfinder being designed with white hair. Have you?