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?
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!
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?
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!
Apparently, strollers have always been a need at the Magic Kingdom, even during the first few years. In the July 29, 1972 Eyes & Ears Cast Member Newsletter, we meet Mark Meyers of the Magic Kingdom stroller shop.
Backstage at our Magic Kingdom stroller shop Mark Meyers assembles one of 1,260 baby buggies available to daily guests. Over 50 wheelchairs also make up the fleet that spends most of its time not in storage, but in the Magic Kingdom’s themed lands. Mark tells EYES & EARS that on a busy day well over 1,000 strollers are rented to our guests. Employees on presentation ofan ID card can use them free!
The October/November 1973 Walt Disney World News shares information for the guests on renting wheel chairs and strollers:
STROLLERS AND WHEELCHAIRS Strollers and wheelchairs are available for your use within the Magic Kingdom. They may be rented at the Stroller Shop at the Magic Kingdom Main Entrance. Wheelchairs – $1 per day. Strollers – 75¢ per day.
75 cents in 1972 is equivalent to $4.68 today. Inflation has not kept up with the actual price of strollers!
In this image from 1985, you cal see that the strollers have not changes, except for the addition of the small canopy. Isn’t it neat to see the Universe of Energy sign and the mirrored tiles of the front of the building?
These don’t look very comfortable…
Magic Kingdom Stroller In Action!
The 1974 Disney Productions Annual Report has a photo of a stroller in action on the second-to-last-page of the report.
Where Was The Magic Kingdom Stroller Shop?
The same 1973 WDW News has a map of the Magic Kingdom which shows the location of the stroller shop. It was located just inside the turnstiles on the righthand side, just before heading into the park under the railroad.
FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). 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!
Sunday, March 15, 2020, was the last day to visit any of the Disney Parks. Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were open normal hours and crowds were light. Rumor was that the college program kids were unblocked from Hollywood Studios for that day before they were sent home this week. I hope they got to enjoy Rise of the Resistance.
Epcot is in a weird transitional period with walls, new signage and new pathways appearing almost daily. I spent most of the last day washing my hands and maintaining social distance while touring what remains of Future World. Check out my video from October 2019 about the walls and construction at Epcot.
This is the promenade that leads from the tram pick up area to the handicap and employee parking. The Guardians of the Galaxy show building is hidden by the clubmp of trees on the right side.
This is the new security and bag check to the left of the monorail. It’s similar to the new security check at Hollywood Studios. I imagine that Epcot will have three distinct stations: parking lot, monorail and buses. You can see how empty the park was at 10:30 in the morning.
Even with all of the walls, you can still get some great shots of the park.
There were many hand washing stations throughout the walkways. People seemed to be using the hand sanitizers more than these stations, but I wangled to see them and use them.
The Outdoor Escapes presented by OFF! was new and a nice temporary re-do of an area. It is located across from Test Track, sort of. There were seating areas, shade and lots of plants (that I’m assuming repel mosquitos).
I’m glad that Imagineering and Operations are able to plan areas like this, especially when the park is in such upheaval.
This is the former Mouse Gear entrance near the children’s play area (leading to Test Track).
It is amazing to see the Communicore, er, uh, Innoventions…wait…what are they called? Anyway, it’s difficult to see these buildings come down after 38 years.
Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Grounds takes over the former Wall-E area which was just a play ground before that. It’s a great use of a current IP, but does show how much Epcot is changing.
Monkey in a tree!
The planters are pretty freaking adorable!
I love seeing how the construction walls are taking advantage of the themes and characters of the past, present and future of Epcot. And I love the font!
Another hand washing station. I don’t know if the color is on purpose or just what was available.
Another shot of the changes happening to the central buildings of Communicore (I know) and the Fountain of Nations area.
There’s new signage inside the Living Seas Pavilion. Again, it feels modern yet still harkens back to the days of early EPCOT Center.
So, there was no line for Spaceship Earth. It did stop a few times during my ride and I assume it was for loading and unloading. Still, the attraction is supposed to go down for an almost two-year rehab and at this point, it might not be open when the parks are open again.
There are more cast members than guests at in the queue.
Kudos to the team that created the new signage and graphics for the park. I love how the hard science side is red (World Discovery) and the softer science side (World Nature—The Land, Imagination and Seas) are green. They’ve even created blue signage for Spaceship Earth and the Park Exit, which will eventually be World Celebration.
I even waited less than five minutes for the Green side of Mission Space.
Yeah…I didn’t think I was going to see anyone playing in the Mission Control play area of Mission Space.
The Central Florida skies really are breathtaking. But, if I have to be honest, I’m not a fa of the paint job for the Odyssey building. It’s just a little too stark to be the transition from Future World to World Showcase.
So, I’ve never seen the Mexico Pavilion this empty. The line for the La Cava del Tequila had at least 20 people. There aren’t enough guests in this shot to fill a boat on the Gran FiestaTour.
There were plenty of spots for Epcot Forever. I had friends that said the final showing of Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom had people in tears. And no, I didn’t hang out to watch Epcot Forever. I’ve seen it twice and that was more than enough.
With the new pathways surrounding Spaceship Earth, I feel like I’m running into new angles and shots of the geosphere. Plus, the monorail zooming by is kind of cool.
Farewell, Epcot. At least for a Few Months.
It took me along time to get this shot to line up so well.
The Epcot Experience and Epcot Forever are two new attractions at Epcot that seem to be in opposition to each other. Sort of. One talks about the future of the theme park while the other reminisces about everything that is gone; it’s a weird juxtaposition.
Big changes are coming to Epcot and Disney has started (slowly) rolling out their plans and new developments. The Epcot Experience is a multimedia preview that (sort of) debuted at this year’s D23 in Anaheim. The version at the Odyssey is a 360 degree experience that allows you to get closer to the Epcot model.
They also debuted Epcot Forever, a temporary nighttime spectacular that hearkens to the early days of Epcot Center. Except Soarin’ doesn’t really feel like classic Epcot Center to me.
Check Out My Video Featuring the Epcot Experience and Epcot Forever
The Epcot Experience surprised me and I didn’t expect to be so enthralled with an attraction that was simply supposed to be a preview.
The Epcot Experience is located in the Odyssey Events Pavilion and takes up a majority, minus the food services area.
Disney has staged an impressive preview of the future of Epcot, especially highlighting all of the pavilions and themes through projection mapping.
The Epcot Experience is something that you need to see to truly understand. Epcot will be an experience like no other if Disney can manage to pull off half of what is promised. Although, the videos and models show a relatively uncrowded park…
Epcot Forever is a gorgeous nighttime spectacular, but the majesty of Illuminations is missing. Based on the preview of HARMONIOUS, it is going to be a crowdpleaser as it is based on the much-loved Disney films. I can’t really say I’m against that, but I do miss the fact that Epcot wasn’t a traditional theme park.
Have You Seen the Epcot Experience or Epcot Forever? What Do You Think About Them? Are You Excited About the Changes?