Our last day of the trip we went on The UnDISCOVERed Future World tour of EPCOT. A history lesson about the future city that was planned and a behind the scenes look at the park that it became. I was surprised to learn that the Magic Kingdom (aka Disneyland East) was not part of the original plan but a compromise to move Disney World forward after Walt’s death. The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was built later and with a different vision than Walt’s original idea. The final concept was a world’s fair type expo of technology and a showcase of international cultures.
The walking tour started in the former Communicore area that is now Innoventions where we went behind the scenes to VIP areas in The Seas with Nemo and Friends (formerly The Living Seas) and Mission: SPACE. We learned that most of the pavilions had VIP areas for their sponsoring companies that could be used by employees on vacation or for corporate events. Each pavilion started with a corporate sponsor that helped fund its construction and maintenance in return for the corporation’s logos and some marketing elements appearing throughout the pavilion. We got to see how VIPs go on rides skipping the line queue and going straight to the front of the line for Soarin’ which we learned is the most popular ride in the four parks. From there we went behind Test Track to see the track movement and hear about some of the challenges with the building and design of the ride. We moved on to the EPCOT employee center where we saw the employee lockers, the costuming section where employees pick up their costumes for the day, costume maintenance and the area where the Disney princesses prep their makeup and wigs. We ended the tour with a close-up look at the IllumiNations barge and went back into the park through a secret door in China.
You are probably asking yourself – with all of that text where are the pictures? Pictures on the tour, behind the scenes and in the VIP areas were restricted. So we only got a couple in the underwater VIP area in The Seas with Nemo and Friends. I would have loved to have taken more but it was a little risky most of the time and it was nice to just enjoy the tour. We did get some pictures before the tour when we were the only people in EPCOT. I highly encourage this tour if you want to learn more about the history of Disney World and an in-depth look at how the park works behind the scenes. Special thanks to our tour guide Robert who answered all of my questions and was brave enough to sit beside me in Soarin’. It was nice to hear about what happened to some of the attractions I remembered as a kid and to get some explanation as to why things like the pyramids in Journey into Imagination are not being used (people weren’t going upstairs) or what happened to Horizons (removed to make room for Mission: SPACE) or what is going on with the Wonders of Life pavilion (the attraction is closed due to lack of interest but the building is used occasionally for events).
Overall this was a great tour and one I would highly recommend. It didn’t change my opinion of the park but it did help create a context for some of what you see both in EPCOT and the Walt Disney World properties.