EPCOT turning points, part 2

In an earlier article, I speculated a bit on when EPCOT Center became the Epcot we know today. Today I’ll dive a bit deeper and include some comments from others.

Derek Mullins on Twitter commented:

From my observation, it was most likely the beginning of the sponsor losses, and the changes to be more thrilling (Test Track) and ‘hipper’ (Ellen’s Energy Adventure) in the mid-90’s. Of course, it’s all subjective, so I’m curious what answers you get.

Derek Mullins, @mewhunter67

Sponsor losses. That’s interesting, because sponsors go both ways. An existing ride could get a new sponsor which causes big changes… Or a ride could become sponsor less, and stay frozen as-is.

The comedic additions of Ellen and Bill Nye the Science Guy to Universe of Energy were certainly a change in feeling. That began in 1996.

Ellen is coming to Epcot! August 29, 1996.

World of Motion had closed and was to become Test Track in 1997.

Test Track opening spring 1997 on August 29, 1996.

The times they were a changing…

Howard Bowers on Twitter commented:

1999. Horizons is closed for the second time. Journey into Imagination is closed. Test Track is finally operational, having replaced World of Motion. And the 2000 wand is up next to Spaceship Earth.

Howard Bowers, @GoAwayGreen 

At this point in time, the park looked like this:

The ride’s closed. Mouse outside shoulda told you. November 11, 1999.
Lines out the door for the newly-opened Journey into YOUR Imagination. November 8, 1999.
The new Test Track with a 1 hour wait. November 11, 1999.
Epcot 2000?

Four notable changes certainly is a good percentage of the original attraction lineup. Howard also added…

Original Epcot took some hits in 1994 with the closing of Kitchen Kabaret and the addition of Food Rocks and the switch to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, along with Innoventions, but all of that still felt like Epcot, just the next generation. / Taking out Journey into Imagination and Horizons basically removed the Heart and Soul of Future World.

Howard Bowers

Ah, Kitchen Kabaret! Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit was the “it’s a small world” song of EPCOT Center… During my first visit with a digital camera, Food Rocks had already taken over:

Food Rock on August 29, 1996.

That was part of the sponsorship change from Kraft to Nestle.

The Land, presented by … the chocolate company? August 29, 1996

I recall many of “us” joked at the time that having a chocolate company take over the “healthy” pavilion made little sense. But it’s not about finding a sponsor that fits — it’s about finding a sponsor that will spend the money. At least Listen to the Land didn’t become a chocolate boat ride ala Willy Wonka! (Hmmm, that would have made great sense and fit the sponsor… It just would have not fit at Epcot…)

The loss of Imagination was sad, since no other attraction ever embodied just what “imagination” really was like better than that original dark ride. Still, the two updates (Journey into YOUR Imagination, and Journey into Imagination with Figment) at least tried to keep the theme rather than becoming, say, a Wreck It Ralph ride through.

But Horizons, well, that was just a total loss. Nothing put the “future” in Future World better than Horizons. And, unlike updates done to Tomorrowland, or the final scene of Carousel of Progress, the futures presented in Horizons would still be as futuristic today as they were in the 1980s. I think it had much more life left… Pity the crowds disagreed, and it was almost always a walk on when I visited.

The closed building made a nice backdrop for Cast in Bronze, at least.

Cast in Bronze performs in front of the closed Horizons on November 8, 1999.

I think this needs “to be continued”…

Until next time…

Final year Horizons cast member on October 24, 1998.

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