Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Garden Grill

One of my absolute favorite restaurants in all of WDW is the Garden Grill at the Land pavillion. I last ate there in October for my son's first birthday and we are already planning on eating there next year. The food is excellent and fresh and the fact that it's an all you can eat family style serving means the friendly cast members keep you filled up. The flank steak is my favorite but I love the catfish too.Oh, we can't forget the fact that Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale all make appearances as you eat. But even with all this my favorite aspects of the restaurant are the fact that it rotates and offers views of the Living with the Land boat ride. I love how the seats face outward and you pass the desert, rain forest, and my personal favorite the farmhouse from the ride. PLEASE make sure to check this restaurant out even if it's something you normally wouldn't do. I think it will become one of your favorites too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Open Air of CommuniCore

One thing that I loved about CommuniCore was the fact that it was so open and full of light. Compare this to Innoventions now and it leaves the complete opposite impression. Above you can see the Energy Exchange sponsored by Exxon that served as the post-show for the Universe of Energy. Something that stands out is the fact that all of the exhibits are not blocked off from one another by walls, but is has more of a market type atmosphere with its openness. I remember as a kid eating at the Stargate Restaurant and sitting at the table just chomping at the bit to get at all the exhibits that lie below me. I think that while I still enjoy Innoventions, perhaps an opening up of the area will help to invite in more guests and keep them involved with the pavilion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Balloons in The Land

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I would publish a picture I took af the hot air balloons representing the seasons in The Land. I absolutely love the balloons and the open feeling of the pavillion and I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy the pavillion soon!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Land Seating

Prior to being renovated with the addition of Soarin' the Sunshine Seasons food court in The Land used to look like this. One thing that sticks out in my mind is having to manouver amongst the stools and then find enough stools for your party while trying to squeeze all your food onto the smallish tables. I definitely like the seating arrangement how it is now as it is more open and allows for more people to be seated. However, there is something charming about the stools and tables that lent a relaxed informal feel to The Land's large dining area underneath the atrium.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Missing Canada

While visiting Epcot on our last visit, I spent a good amount of time at the Canada pavilion. As I was strolling through, I realized that it has been some time since anything open to guests has occupied the chateau building pictured above on the left. There used to be shops here that I seem to remember sold jewelry and crystal goods perhaps. If anyone remembers for sure what various things were sold here feel free to respond. Also, if anyone hears if the building may open with new shops or anything else to the public please feel free to comment. It's a beautiful building as is the whole pavilion and it's a shame that the shops that were once open there are now closed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Characters in Epcot

There has been a debate for some time now regarding whether traditional Disney characters should be used prominently in Epcot. When EPCOT Center first opened there was a distinct lack of the traditional characters. There has always been characters with the notable one being Figment, but the Fab Five were for the most part conspicuous except for Mickey at certain special events and the odd piece of memorabilia. The above photo represented a time when a small shift took place. When Wonders of Life opened in about 1989 several exhibits featured the expected Disney characters including the Goofy About Health exhibit. I remember seeing more of Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto in costume around the park at that time too. Now you can find character merchandise everywhere and other non-Epcot originated characters have made their way into attractions (i.e. Nemo, Simba and Lion King characters at Circle of Life). I think this shift was inevitable, and I don't mind it as long as it's done well. I'm sure with the success of The Seas with Nemo and Friends that we will see more of this in the future.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Camera Center

I recently posted about Gateway Gifts located at Spaceship Earth in Future World. I mentioned how cool I thought the location of that shop was in relation to the actual attraction Spaceship Earth. Here is a photo of the Camera Center which is located in the other front "leg" of Spaceship Earth. Not much has changed as far as the exterior of these locations since my first visit in 1989. I think the 1980's vision of the future for these locations is still cool today and love taking a quick browse through both locations.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Living Seas Queue

Another reason I used to love the old Living Seas pavilion was the queue that featured all the great nautical memorabilia. This is a model of the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that was in the queue, and there was a poster for the live action Disney film as well. These items really helped to invoke a bit of science fiction feel to the pavilion that is no longer there. Please see my previous post on Seabase Alpha for more on the pre-Nemo Living Seas pavilion.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gateway Gifts

I have fond memories of leaving EPCOT Center as a kid and always having to stop in Gateway Gifts before reaching the exit to make any last minute souvenir purchases. I was always fascinated with where this shop was located as it is actually in one of the supports for the massive Spaceship Earth. Of the three supports, this shop is located in one, the Camera Center is located in another, and in the back of Spaceship Earth the ride vehicles descend and Earth Station (now Project Tomorrow) as well as the VIP area are located. Much EPCOT Center branded memorabilia used to be sold here, but now it is the typical WDW fare. I just remember being so sad that we were leaving that I would try and stick around in this shop as long as possible before facing the inevitable exit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ellen's Energy Adventure

A must do for our family in Epcot's Future World is Ellen's Energy Adventure. Many skip this attraction either due to its length or the seemingly boring subject matter. But do not underestimate this attraction as every time we see it we enjoy it more and more. The subject of energy is a pertinent one in this time we live in and the subject is presented with humor without being overly dry or boring. Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye play off of each other with wonderful comedic effect. Yes, Bill Nye may not resonate with kids today who may not know who he is, but after learning that many Bill Nye DVD box sets are available to purchase, it would be wonderful if today's children could be educated through these new DVD's.

Also, I still love the part of the attraction that moves through the prehistoric dinosaurs and am glad this part was preserved from the original attraction. Next time you visit Epcot make sure to set aside some time to experience this multisensory treasure of an attraction.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

O Canada!

At first glance, this picture looks like it came from anywhere but Walt Disney World. I acutally took this at the back of the Canada pavilion on my son's first birthday trip. This was a great place to go to relax while he napped in his stroller as the peaceful sound of water cascades down the rocks. While others in the group took in the performance of Off Kilter, I wandered up to the area above the entrance to the O Canada movie while Dylan napped and I relaxed and was able to take this great shot. If you are ever in need of some relaxing down time for you or a little one, this is a great place to go. Get yourself a snack and maybe a Moosehead Lager or something from the Rose & Crown outdoor kiosk and enjoy some much needed relaxation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This picture is a part of Spaceship Earth that no longer exists. In its place is the new garage scene depicting the invention of the personal computer. I loved this scene as I could really relate to the idea it was expressing. The main point of this scene was to show the advent of the internet and how it can span language borders as well as physical borders. This girl was supposed to be in Japan while the boy she was communicating with, Terry, was in the United States. Terry was sharing his karate skills and this girl was sharing her baseball game highlights. I have grown up with the internet and the fact that this type of communication could take place made for a perfect ending to the ascension portion of Spaceship Earth. Another interesting tidbit is the fact that the two characters are represented both by sculpted figures in the scene and as real life people on the computer screens. This was an interesting concept that also occurred in a scene from Horizons as well.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spaceship Earth Foliage

In an eariler post about Spaceship Earth and our trip in early October I had mentioned the change in trees near the icon. I took this picture to show just what that change entailed. As you can see on the left there are some new palm trees that still have bracing around them. In the past there were tall skinny palms in this spot that I thought complemented SSE beautifully. I'm not sure if these are even the same species of tree or not. If anyone has any information regarding this subject I'd greatly appreciate it. As my favorite area and attraction in all of WDW, even landscaping is a huge deal for me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nova Cite

Nova Cite was the futuristic city in the Horizons attraction that is the first scene you go to after the historical look at the future. I loved this scene from the Star Trek inspired outfits to the holgram communication, but perhaps my favorite was the elaborate background painting of the futuristic city buildings. I was unaware of the fact that the choose your own ending was going to have a Nova Cite option until I listened to Lou Mongello's WDW Radio Show episode all about Horizons. Apparently the ending would have put riders on a mag-lev train through the city. That would have been outstanding and I would definitely have voted for this ending in my vehicle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Glorious Spaceship Earth

I just returned from my first trip to WDW in over a year and got to see this wonderful sight. Of course, it's Spaceship Earth without the wand! Looking at it in person after having been years since seeing it last like this, one wonders why the decision to alter perfection such as this was ever made. Also, of note, I noticed that some of the tall palm trees around SSE had been removed and new smaller palms were there as well. My wife also noticed that some of the sqaure cut trees were missing. Now, if only we could get them to open up the entrance plaza by removing the sculptures and adding more water and greenery.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dreamcatcher's uh, Dream Catcher

This photo from the original Journey Into Imagination features the vehicle that we first see Dreamcatcher and Figment on the attraction. This is a very Jules Verne inspired contraption. The father of science fiction also had an influence on a part of the Horizons attraction where an audio-animatronic figure was even made of him. When thinking about it he also inspired parts of the Living Seas and probably countless other ideas in Future World. I'll look at some of these other Verne-inspired ideas in later posts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Leaving a Legacy

Just a quick comment about the Leaving a Legacy monoliths in Future World. I sorely miss the old fountain and open areas in the plaza in front of Spaceship Earth. I think the Leaving a Legacy plans were a good idea in thought but the look was very wrong for Epcot. Looking at the rest of Future World, water and green spaces are prominent. The one place this isn't true is the Leaving a Legacy area now. Hopefully one day this area will be restored.

Friday, September 19, 2008

World of Motion

I believe that World of Motion was only open the first time I went to Disney, and maybe twice, but as I was only eight on that first visit I really don't remember much about the attraction. I do really love the futuristic look of the pavilion, and there was one distinct part of the attraction that I remember. The cool way that after you loaded onto the omnimover vehicle it actually went outside the show building before going back in as seen above. I thought that was so cool and looked so futuristic that I guess it overtook any other real memories I have of World of Motion. I enjoy Test Track now, but I don't think it has the same futuristic look that World of Motion had.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


This shot was taken on a rainy night at Epcot last year. Even in the gloom of the Florida rain the pyramids of the Imagination pavilion are still a wonderful sight. The main attraction in the pyramid has now gone through a couple of changes and the current incarnation "Journey Into Imagination with Figment" has suffered some criticism. Yes, while this isn't the original incarnation it's a lot better than the last version and has become one of my family's favorites at Epcot. After all, when at Disney cares should disappear and everyone should be a kid. That advice helps to enjoy this ride fully. While hardly ever a long queue for this ride, it is one that can be enjoyed in rain or shine and mulitple times.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


When one thinks of old attractions at Epcot, Horizons, World of Motion, and the Wonders of Life pavillions often come to mind first. However, the one that as time has passed seems to be the most missed by me is CommuniCore. Off the top of my mind I would probably say I miss Horizons the most, but the more I remember, and the more pictures I see I think I may miss CommuniCore even more. For the younger audience and those that didn't visit Epcot before the mid '90's Innoventions now exists where CommuniCore is and there are not many similarities between the two.

CommuniCore was divided between the two Innoventions buildings and consisted of restaurants, exhibits and perhaps one of the greatest shops in Disney park history, the Centorium. The above shot of the CommuniCore area at night makes me remember fond childhood memories of family trips to Disney. The buildings were much more open than they are now and helped convey the vast expanse of the park. The exhibits where immersive and educational while maintiaing a sense of Disney entertainment.

CommuniCore was a true Main Street equivalent for EPCOT Center. With restaurants like the Stargate Restaurant and Sunrise Terrace to the Centorium and a drink station called Beverage Base, the area had that futuristic almost sci-fi feel to it that I loved. If you get the chance visit the website Lost Epcot (link is to the left) and also listen to the CommuniCore show on Lou Mongello's WDW Radio Show (link also at the left) for a complete and wonderful look back at CommuniCore.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Norway's Stave Church

An often overlooked exhibit at Epcot is the Vikings exhibit inside the old Stave church in the Norway pavilion. While everyone sees the beautiful exterior of the church, many often just admire the architecture and walk on past as they proceed to Maelstrom or to the Akershus restaurant. Next time you get a chance to visit Norway make sure to visit the inside exhibit here. It's a cool, quiet break from the crowds and there are beautiful Viking artifacts and historical facts to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vintage Land

The Land in Epcot's Future World has always been a pavilion in the true sense of the word ever since the park opened. It doesn't just contain one attraction and maybe a pre-show, but has always had a few attractions, eateries, and merchandise available to buy. Today the pavilion is know and well-liked for the location of Soarin' inside of it. Soarin' is one of my top five attractions in all of WDW. However, after stumbling upon the picture of this tray, I recalled a time when The Land pavilion was less crowded but still an entertaining and informative area. I enjoyed and still do enjoy the Living with the Land boat ride. The Circle of Life film which was preceded by the Symbiosis film is a nice relaxing diversion from the Florida heat. But perhaps the best of these old Land attractions was the singing audio-animatronic food shows, first Kitchen Kabaret, and then Food Rocks. These were always entertaining if not somewhat corny (sorry, had to say it). The audio-animatronics were excellent and the tunes stuck in the head.

I think that The Land is an ideal pavilion to look at as far as how Epcot should be managed. Yes, there were great old attractions that started to show age and these were replaced by new attention grabbing attractions (Soarin') that also helped pump new enthusiasm into old favorites (Living with the Land). The Sunshine Seasons food area has excellent options and The Garden Grill is perhaps my favorite character meal at WDW. Make sure to explore all that The Land has to offer next time you're at WDW.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This shot that I took on our 2007 trip gives a good idea of the attention to detail that the Imagineers put into the World Showcase pavilions. The German pavilion has exquisite details that are just beautiful to look at. One of my favorites is the statue of St. George slaying the dragon which can be seen in the picture just below the shop sign and above the green awning. Make sure to notice all the great details in each country on your next visit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lost Wonders

It's now common knowledge that the Wonders of Life is closed and is/will be/has been gutted. I was happy to hear though recently on Lou Mongello's WDW Radio Show that the huge mural that was above the entrance to the queue for Body Wars is being saved. I'm guessing the mural will remain where it is, but if anyone knows if it's being relocated please let me know. I remember going to EPCOT Center as a kid for the first time and the long lines for this attraction. Over the years the crowds dwindled and the sponsorship of MetLife was pulled. I am glad that this beautiful piece of art is being kept in tact and will remain for some to enjoy (by some I know that the pavilion will still be used for private functions and special occasions). I hope one day that the loss of this once great pavilion will be replaced by a new pavilion. New Horizons sounds great!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Project Tomorrow

It's just about 42 days until my next trip to WDW and one of the things I'm most excited about is getting to ride Spaceship Earth for the first time since the refurb. Not only am I excited about the ride, but also the new post-show. Project Tomorrow is the new pre-show and it is sponsored by Siemens just as the attraction is. I did get a chance to see the globe that was installed however it was not in operation when we last visited. The only thing that was up at that time was the medical game which I thought was very cool.

I have heard good things from people who have already seen the post-show and this has fuelled my excitement. I hope that this is a return to the excitement of the original Earth Station, which was truly a great post-show. I plan on taking photos and coming back with not only my review of the attraction, but also the post-show.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seabase Alpha

As my wife and friends will attest, I'm a huge science fiction fan. I think one of the seeds that was planted inside of me that caused this fascination to grow was The Living Seas at EPCOT Center. To a young adolescent boy this pavilion was right up my alley. The pavilion's appeal started off right away to me. As you approach the outside of the building, a huge rock formation with the words LIVING SEAS stood. Every few seconds a huge wave of water came crashing against this formation. I loved that "effect" of the water slapping against the rock.

Once inside the show building the queue was decorated with artifacts of the history of sea exploration and many items that looked like they came straight from one of my favorite Disney movies, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In fact there was a film poster in the queue.

A short preshow film about the formation of the Earth's oceans (which I loved, and never understood why people chose not to view it when given the option) was followed by a trip aboard the SeaCabs. While a short ride the voyage on the SeaCabs was one that gave a small introduction of what was to come at the center of The Living Seas, Seabase Alpha.

Like everything at Disney, Seabase Alpha has a backstory. Seabase Alpha was supposed to be a sort of underwater research colony that was a real working community. I absolutely love the Seabase Alpha logo that is included in this post and am sorry to see it slowly fade away. I was a huge fan of the show SeaQuest DSV and the reason for my love of this show was probably directly thanks to my love of Seabase Alpha. If the show wasn't a Universal project I might have thought that the Disney company had used this show as an offshoot of Seabase Alpha. Even though this wasn't the case, I'm sure in some part, small or large, The Living Seas had an influence on the creators of the show. One has to do no more than look at the dolphin in the logo and then look at Darwin the talking dolphin.

While I still love the Nemo-ization of the pavilion today, the lack of that scientific (some say scientific fiction) element of the pavilion is now gone for the most part.

Friday, August 8, 2008

UK Bound

The United Kingdom in Epcot's World Showcase is one of my favorite places in the park. This shot that I took on our 2007 trip could have been taken in a small country town in England if you weren't familiar with the Epcot version of the country. Being a huge fan of English football (that's soccer to most Americans) I love the merchadise in the shops and I also love the area of the shops that has the chess boards on display as well as the family crests. There's nothing better than getting a pint and walking through the shops before ending up in the courtyard toward the rear of the pavilion to watch a British Invasion performance. The Rose and Crown is also one of my favorite restaurants in all of WDW. Whether you eat inside or outside there is plenty of great atmosphere to take in. In what might seem like heresy to many in the Disney community I actually prefer eating here over Le Cellier. I always enjoy conversing with the cast members here as well. They may see me wearing my Arsenal Football Club shirt and just strike up a conversation that really is a joy. For my next post we'll head back over to Future World for a trip to Seabase Alpha.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Good Luck to Everyone

I have to say that I'm pretty excited now. I found out yesterday that I am one of 25 contestants that have advanced to Round 2 of Lou Mongello and the WDW Radio Show's Adventureland Challenge Contest!! Now I know Round 2 involves a picture that we have to come up with some kind of caption (I think). I hope people vote for mine, but more importantly I hope that people just vote in general. Lou has put together such a great contest and Round 1 was just so much fun going through I was happy just playing without the thought that I might advance. Please show support for Lou and his contest as well as his podcast, the WDW Radio Show to show appreciation for the fact that he has put in the work to put together such a great contest and podcast for all of us, the Disney fan community. I know what you may be saying. "Don't try to butter Lou up so you can win." The good thing about this contest though is that Lou isn't picking as it will be the fans that vote.

I'll be back to Epcot postings shortly, but I just wanted to share the great news and with all the other contestants the best of luck!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If We Can Dream It...

I can think of no other place in Epcot's history to start blogging about than with Horizons. I know this is a favorite of many fans of Epcot and a much missed and longed for attraction. It embodied all that EPCOT Center was about. It sparked wonder and encouraged people to think about the future. It included beautiful scenes and wonderful audio animatronics. It featured themed music that EPCOT Center was known for, something that is missing for the most part now.

I plan on looking at specific aspects of Horizons in the future, but I just wanted to start off by sharing my favorite extinct attraction at Epcot first of all. I first rode this in 1989 as an eight year old boy who wasn't sure what to expect when I saw this building from the outside.

When I emerged into the bright Florida sunshine after riding, my parents probably had to push my lower jaw up. This attraction influenced many of my passions and fascinations in my life that I continue to hold to this day.

Stay tuned for more on Horizons.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Hello EPCOT and Disney fans. I've finally decided to start this blog all about one of my most favorite places on Earth. That place is now called Epcot. I wanted a place where fans of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow could share thoughts, memories, express ideas about the past, present, and future of Epcot. I've been inspired by other Disney blogs out there like Jeff Pepper at 2719 Hyperion, the Taylor brothers at Imaginerding, and probably most importantly due to the great EPCOT retrospective series he does on his podcast including my favorites, Horizons and CommuniCore, Lou Mongello at WDW Radio Show and I don't know these guys personally, but I can tell that they truly enjoy Disney and Epcot as well and share that passion with the fans.

I plan to make enhancements to this site as time permits and plan on posting many of my own photos of Epcot as well as hopefully the chance to share other images. Feel free to pass along any ideas as I'm open to anything. You'll also notice my spellings of Epcot (EPCOT, Epcot, EPCOT Center) will be fairly interchangeable as you all know old habits die hard, but I will try to use the correct name for the situation in the future. This will NOT be a site that criticizes everything new that the Imagineers do at Epcot, as I feel everything deserves fair discussion and time to grow on people. I am very fond of Epcot's past, but also hopeful about the future.

Until next time, I can't wait to share some of my Epcot iDeas.