The Epcot Thing, 5 Years Later
A Look Back at Epcot’s 25th Anniversary
On October 1, 2007, Epcot celebrated its 25th anniversary. Although it was originally planned to be of little fanfare, the energy and dedication of the Disney fan communities led to some special events throughout the day. One group, known as Celebration 25, amassed a huge gathering and had a great time. Another group, The Magical Definition Podcast, decided to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Epcot in their own way.
At the time, I was a podcaster with Magical Definition and we wanted to come up with something fun, zany, and memorable. With the help of some awesome special guests and honored attendees, we did just that. We even went all out and came up with our own special name for the day, The Epcot Thing. Ok, so we didn’t exactly hire a P.R. firm to come up with the name, but it was short, sweet, and descriptive so we ran with it.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and relive some of the fun moments of that day.
On September 30, 2007, The Epcot Thing kicked off with an awesome party at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. We were able to secure the entire back room and had a fantastic time partying it up with great food, drink, and friends. Lots of cool prizes were awarded to the attendees, including shirts, Epcot prints from The Magic in Pixels, and a suite of Disney Resort furniture that a lucky attendee won, compliments of Brian Ramsey and Surplus Kingdom. Topping it off, the young man that won the furniture was there for his birthday and went home with a heck of a present.
We then started The Epcot Thing main event early in the morning with a meetup on the Disney Boardwalk for some coffee and my favorite WDW guilty pleasure, cheesecake brownies at the Boardwalk Bakery. After a chance to meet some friends old and new, we entered Epcot through the International Gateway and meandered to the Fountain of Nations where a podium was set up on the back of the fountain for the re-dedication. With a little help from my friends, and a whole lot of luck, I was able to secure a spot front and center right next to Jeff Lange (Jeff Lange DVD) to photograph the re-dedication.
After some opening remarks from then Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton and then Epcot Vice President Jim McPhee, the microphone was turned over to former Walt Disney World Imagineer Marty Sklar. After coming out with a big thumbs-up, reminiscent of his actions when the park was first dedicated in 1982, Marty took the over the stage and wowed the throng that amassed to hear him speak. Marty was, in one word, Marty, and it was awesome and a pleasure to hear him speak. Topping it off, I was able to score two tickets to go hear Marty give a presentation on the history of Epcot in the Circle of Life Theater inside of The Land Pavilion. These tickets were very difficult to come across, but with some charm and flattery (and a whole lot of begging) I was able to get a pair and got to hear Marty speak for about an hour; his presentation had lots of old photos and video clips and was an absolute treasure to have attended.
Shortly after the presentation was over, it was time for the signature event of The Epcot Thing, “BeverlyFest”! After assuring Nathan Rose that I did not forget about BeverlyFest and was not going to be late for the event, I made my way over to Club Cool and met back up with the group. BeverlyFest was a simple premise: drink 25 cups of Beverly at Club Cool in Future World in honor of 25 years of magic at Epcot. Sounds easy enough but if you’ve “enjoyed” just ONE cup of Beverly, you know how much an experience 25 cups would be. Adding to the fun was the aforementioned Vice President of Epcot Jim McPhee and the area coordinator, Fred, who offered their personal opinions and predictions on BeverlyFest.
In an event that packed the fountain-side area of Club Cool, Nathan Rose (Magical Definition, Flick Direct) took on Robert Bish in a race to see who could polish off 25 cups of Beverly as a large crowd looked on. The event was captured by several spectators on video and Jackie O and I podcasted the entire event for the Magical Definition Podcast. There were many cheers, laughs, and a few burps along the way, making for a most memorable event. If you listen to the podcast of the event, you can hear how rowdy and funny this event really was. A player is attached to the top of this page and a download link is provided toward the bottom.
After a quick lunch in the part, it was time for a very special treat that we were able to provide for the attendees of The Epcot Thing. Former Walt Disney World Cast Member Ron Schneider (who played the former Dreamfinder from the Imagination attraction) joined Jeff Lange and Jim Hill (Jim Hill Media) and took the group down memory lane with lots of fun stories, anecdotes, and an even an impression or two. We started out near the still under refurbishment Spaceship Earth (now without the Mickey Wand and word “Epcot” on the top) and made our way through Future World to the Imagination Pavilion where Ron reminisced about his time as Dreamfinder and lamented about how Dreamfinder is no longer used as a character in Epcot. We then started strolling through the western side of World Showcase (Canada side) as the history tour continued. Pop Quiz – what is the only attraction in Epcot that is still in the original version as when the park opened in 1982? If you were an attendee of The Epcot Thing five years ago, you will know the answer to this. The answer is posted at the bottom of this article.
As we meandered around World Showcase, we decided to take in a showing of The American Adventure. In an attempt to honor Marty Sklar, some of us decided to view what many consider to be his finest attraction and one of the crowning achievements of his career. But, the honors were for us because after we ascended the escalator to the second floor we saw none other than Marty Sklar standing by himself off to the side, watching as guests streamed into the theater. After he so graciously granted me an interview with him for Magical Definition, he entered the theater by himself with little fanfare and watched the attraction with tears streaming down his cheeks. It was very clear that he cared and he “got it”.
Finally, it was time for dinner and we had a fantastic meal at the Rose and Crown in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Unfortunately, the weather in Florida doesn’t always cooperate and it showed its ugly head in the early evening on October 1, 2007. As we were enjoying the fun and fellowship and food of a fantastic dinner, the skies opened up and it rained… and rained… and rained. It POURED!
It rained so hard we were worried that IllumiNations was going to be rained out and the much rumored anniversary “tag” at the end would be cancelled. But, not to worry, as about 10 minutes before IllumiNations was to begin, the clouds dissolved and the skies cleared and the fireworks began. Due to the heavy rain, the crowds thinned out considerably and a bunch of us were able to secure last minute spots on the railing of the pier in front of the Italy Pavilion in World Showcase for some prime viewing and photography angles. The “tag” did not disappoint; for about five minutes, the skies over Epcot erupted with more fireworks, lasers, special effects, and magic than I have ever seen in one place at one time. Quite literally, the ground shook for the entire presentation.
And just as quick as it started, The Epcot Thing was over. It was time to exchange handshakes and hugs, and say goodbye to our friends and the park that we all love so much. I truly hope this retrospective brought back some happy memories and laughs and will inspire you to dream and imagine. Remember, If You Can Dream It, Then You Can Do It!
Quiz answer: Impressions de France