Welcome to Disney Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole, and I’ll be your guide through some of Epcot’s earliest days.
This week, many eyes in the Disney world are focused on Avengers: Infinity War as it is poised to become one of the highest grossing movies of all-time. The current opening weekend record is held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened to $248 million, so we’ll have to see if Infinity War can top that. It would be a challenge, but I would not be at all surprised if it manages to pull it off (and if it doesn’t Avengers 4 almost definitely will).
That being said, Disney is trying to capitalize on Marvel’s success by integrating the characters into the parks more often. We have already seen The Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong Disneyland and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! in Disney California Adventure, as well as expansions coming to California Adventure, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris in 2020. Perhaps the most intriguing of these future attractions is the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction coming to Epcot. Many Epcot fans are still upset about the increased IP presence in the park that never seems to stop growing, so we’ll have to see how the attraction is received when it opens in the next couple of years.
Now that we have Epcot on our minds, let’s jump back in time a few years to the earliest days of Epcot and look at a few attractions that were around at the time.
Debuting on October 23rd, 1982, Carnival de Lumiere (no correlation with Beauty and the Beast) began the tradition of nighttime spectaculars within Epcot that is still seen today with IllumiNations. Unfortunately, there is very little recorded evidence of this show either through video or writing, but I did learn that the show was extremely simplistic. The show consisted of water fountains, lighting and some simple fireworks effects, but at the time, nighttime spectaculars were not nearly the spectacle that they are today. Each of the barges held the fountains and were placed in front of a pavilion, meaning that you could not get a great view of the show from closer to Future World.
The show was also a celebration of world festivals, starting the world celebration idea furthered by future Epcot shows. Outside of that, the show only lasted a couple of months before making way for a new show called A New World Fantasy during the summer of 1983.
A New World Fantasy kept the same barges and style as Carnival de Lumiere. Unfortunately, this show also does not have much information out there, lacking a video, as well. From what I can tell, it followed a similar theme to its predecessor, but also featured classical music that was played on a synthesizer in true 80s fashion.
Sadly, there isn’t much more to say other than that the show only performed during 1983 before making way for Laserphonic Fantasy, the true predecessor to IllumiNations that had a lot more longevity in the parks, but that is a story for another day.
Thinking about Epcot, the first image that pops into my head is Spaceship Earth as I’m sure is the case for nearly everyone reading this article. (Especially after I posted that picture of it above.) Spaceship Earth is definitely my favorite attraction in the park simply because of how incredibly impressive it is. To be able to construct an entire attraction within a gigantic ball is an amazing technical feat that truly amazes the Civil Engineer in me. But today, we aren’t here to talk about Spaceship Earth, but rather the exhibits that lie at the end of that incredible journey.
Opening with the park and Spaceship Earth on October 1st, 1982, Earth Station served as an information hub within the EPCOT Center. Using what they called World Key Information kiosks, these areas were really just previews of the attractions from around the park. Additionally, Guest Relations was also located within the Earth Station, a situation that would prove extremely problematic today with the sheer amount of guests who visit the parks.
Overall, though, Earth Station sounded really cool in that it was a true hub for the park. You could learn about any of the attractions while also getting helpful feedback from Guest Relations representatives. Spaceship Earth serves as a great introduction to the rest of the park, so having an area like Earth Station at the end of the attraction was extremely fitting.
But Earth Station would not last forever, so when Spaceship Earth underwent its first major set of changes in 1994, Earth Station was also closed to make way for the Global Neighborhood exhibit.
The Global Neighborhood looked a lot closer to the Project Tomorrow exhibit that we see today at the end of the end of Spaceship Earth. It featured a lot of fun activities like the one above where you could stand in a simulator that would take you on a ride through an AT&T network. With AT&T as the sponsor, Spaceship Earth’s communications theme was even more relevant, and it was awesome that the theme was continued for even longer than the attraction.
In 1999, Epcot began its Millennium Celebration and decided to rename Global Neighborhood to the clever new name of New Global Neighborhood. Much of the area remained the same, but the Network Tree, seen above, was added. Made up of over 111 miles of steel cable, I was particularly impressed by this engineering marvel that has to be one of the most unique looking things added to a Disney Park.
Eventually, the New Global Neighborhood was not quite popular enough to remain open, so it closed in 2004. Interestingly enough, the exhibits were not demolished for another three years until 2007 when Spaceship Earth went through another overhaul. It must have been super odd to leave the attraction and simply see shuttered up exhibits for three whole years. For some reason, Epcot has a habit of leaving their closed attractions abandoned for long periods of time, which I think is cool, but also not a common practice within Disney Parks in general.
Overall, I thought all the attractions that were discussed today were interesting, but I wish we had more information about them or videos, at least. So without further ado, here is our look at next week’s article.
- These attractions were all parades.
- Two of these parades were at Hong Kong Disneyland and one was at Tokyo Disneyland.
- All these parades were direct predecessors to the parades there today.
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.