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Cancel Your Plans For Tonight And Watch This

So, then there’s this. It might not quite be the holy grail, but it’s plenty close enough to make me happy. A series of videos from 1983 have appeared on YouTube depicting a freshly-minted EPCOT Center. And they’re amazing. It’s rare to see video at all from this era, and even more rare to see such wonderful documentation like these videos. It’s obviously someone who cared about the landscaping, design and architecture, and they really take their time to let you soak it all in.

And there are Danish bathrooms!!

I’ve been hoping for a long, long time that the internet would render up unto us something like this. Hoping that someone, somewhere in the early 1980s had the cash for a video camera and the temperament and disposition to take tons of detailed video of EPCOT Center. Just the slow videos of the planters with that main entrance music playing in the background gives me chills.

Seriously, close the blinds and take the phone off the hook. Grab several sodas from the fridge so you won’t have to get up. Because this is going to blow your mind.

Part one is below; you can find the rest on YouTube.

Thanks to Martin Smith and Cousin Orville for bringing this to my attention…

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21 comments to Cancel Your Plans For Tonight And Watch This

  • Tim

    Absolutely wonderful stuff. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Another Voice

    Random thoughts while watching the video.

    1) You now need to search out the Moroccan restrooms. It was basically the same situation – WED badly misjudged the scale of World Showcase. The place was in a desperate need of potty capacity but lacking in available capital. The moment Disney picked up the check from the Moroccan government, Disney called in the plumbers.

    2) Doesn’t the entrance to EPCOT Center look amazing without the Tomb of the Noble Fallen of the Motherland cluttering up the way?

    3) Kids today with 1080p cameras in their cell phones will never know how much we suffered with those old, luggage sized VHS cameras.

    4) Well, okay, maybe the color scheme of opening day EPCOT Center hasn’t aged so well. What can I say, John Hench always had this thing for purple…

    5) Ahh, the old Mark IV monorails. The last time I got a seat on WDW transportation.

    6) The old ‘Bird and Robot’ show from World of Motion…more animatronics there than in the entirety of Disney’s California Adventure. Now I’ll have to go find video of ‘The Water Engine’.

    7) Kraft, American Express, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Exxon…today we get a paper towel company sponsoring the ‘lava las manos’ signs in the restrooms. sigh.

    8) How did people know they were in the Mexico pavilion before Disney put in Donald Duck? And you can’t eat with a Princess! Honestly, the old boring Epcot was just wasn’t magical at all.


    10) Another ‘kids today’ thing…you’ll never appreciate how forbidden and deeply exotic the People’s Republic of China was during the Cold War. One of the filmmakers of ‘Wonders of China’ told me the film crew was guarded by armed soldiers at all times to discourage Chinese citizens from talking to Americans. The Chinese also demanded that they develop all the film stock before giving it to Disney. The ‘raw footage’ was often returned with shots missing. It took over a year for to get permission to fly a helicopter over the Great Wall. When the appointed day came, it was foggy and rainy. The government refused permission for a second try because Disney were the first Western film to be allowed to film from the air in China and the officials on the spot weren’t allowed to make those kinds of decisions. In fact, many of the scenes in the movie were the first time Westerns had been allowed in parts of the country since the 1940s. If you think of North Korea today, that was China in 1982.

    11) World Key Terminals and the ability to make dinner reservations for that evening!!!! Die Disney Dining Plan, die!

    12) Look at how well the Eiffel Tour effect works without hideous hotels behind it. And no, it’s not a giant dolphin on top of the hotel. It’s a giant catfish that’s been dropped from a large height.

    13) ‘Impressions de France’ has been running since EPCOT opened just like the films in Canada and China did…but no one is complaining ‘Impressions’ is outdated like those films were. Says a lot about France, doesn’t it?

    14) And the most amazing thing – an hour of video from EPCOT and not a single “Disney brand re-enforcement impression” or “Pixar ancillary franchise awareness opportunity”. Just a place for adults to have a good time.

  • im the owner of these videos. if you thought these were good, just wait till i upload the rest. your gonna need ALOT more popcorn, lol

  • Chris

    I’m impressed by the audio quality of these. The entrance looks SO MUCH better than the cemetery look we see now. PLEASE DISNEY, CHANGE IT!!!!

  • Seriously. It was so far superior to what’s there now. AV’s “Tomb of the Noble Fallen of the Motherland” made me laugh out loud at my desk. It really is abysmal.

    Also note all the water and landscaping in Future World plaza between the Communicores… so different, and so much more welcoming.

    And yes, France without the Swolphin underlines how awful those really are. That was my first huge rift with Eisner. They still make me really mad. In my most blue-sky dreams I see myself as CEO pushing a big red button that makes them implode…

  • These videos are fantastic – I’m saving the rest to watch tomorrow night with a big old pizza. Can’t wait to see what else you’re uploading, LP!

    You know, my dad and I got our picture taken years ago for the Tomb of the Noble Fallen (it was free with our vacation package, I swear). As much as my heart skips every time I walk past and see us there, frozen in time in the middle of my favorite Disney park, I just hate the look of those things. They really do destroy the look of the entrance.

    I want to push a big red button that launches the towering awful slabs into orbit, only to come crashing back down to demolish the Swan and Dolphin. And if one or two should break free and take out the Sorcerer’s Hat at the Studios, well, that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  • Man, I never knew that the America on Parade people could blink and move their eyes…. makes the whole thing more charming, but also a little creepy, honestly.

  • I hadn’t even known that either… disturbing…

  • philphoggs

    OMG… the big heads! And they look so comfortable too :)
    Absoluteluy great stuff

  • im glad i wasnt the only one who thought that they were weird, which explains why we havent seen them in 20 years, lol

  • chum

    Good stuff!
    Thank you for uploading.
    Was the original footage Beta or VHS?

  • vhs. there isnt enough room on youtube to write in descriptions about everything. but there is a thread on another site that has descriptions, but i wont post the link here, i think it would be rude to the host to get everyone to go to another site, lol.

    the camera was a tv show sized shoulder cam with 100 lbs of batteries, (the size of motercycle batteries, EACH) on the other shoulder

  • Don’t be silly! Progress City is an open society. :)

    The thread is here; I appreciate the thought, though!

  • Another Voice

    First, thank you Lord_Pheonix for posting these videos. They bring back great memories to those of us who remember the good times, and let’s others know how the park was really supposed to be. It’s nice to “wander” through EPCOT Center again when you didn’t have to dodge swap meet stands selling giant rubber balls and when ‘Germany’ meant “beer” and not “this is where we can buy Snow White princess dresses”.

    The Giant Headed Characters were, as probably most people know, created for the Bicentennial Parade. The design idea, if my memory is correct after all these years, was that these characters were like old Victorian era porcelain dolls. They didn’t really come off that well, however, coming off more as an episode of ‘Night Gallery’ when the dolls came out of ‘Small World’ to seek their revenge. The parade was a series of scenes from American history such as the Pilgrims, the Old West, etc. It was all very patriotic in an era when it wasn’t cool to be so.

    They ended up in EPCOT Center at the last minute. The original idea was that the cast members of the individual pavilions were supposed to interact and talk with the guests – I guess it was kind of like “meet a real life French person” was supposed to be the adult version of “meet a community theater actress pretending to be Cinderella” works today.

    That was all well and good, but someone realized that what most guests really did was to take pictures (appropriately enough for this thread). Guests needed a “human face” to take all these still pictures of. Disney DID NOT want to push its cartoon characters into EPCOT Center, so the Bicentennial characters were redressed in various national dress.

    The whole lie about “Epcot was a failure” has been dubunked so many times the Mythbusters really ought to put it on their website’s FAQ. Still, people who want to believe will still do…they should eat Pop Rocks and drink a Pepsi at the same time.

  • Another Voice

    By the way, I have a very distinct memory of standing on the shore of the lagoon and seeing the construction cranes looming over the France pavilion across the way. There were a bunch of suits trying to convince themselves that the guests wouldn’t mind the visual intrusion. EPCOT Center wasn’t a “fantasy park” like the Magic Kingdom, guests expected to see the “real world” in a “real world-based” park and so everything was going to be okay.

    Little did anyone realize at the time that this was the start of the “I’ll save my job at the cost of my integrity” rationalizations that ended up killing Imagineering.

  • philphoggs

    Now theres some circler reasoning for you! (guests expected to see the “real world”).. jeesh
    Have just finished the Realityland book, and the snippets about the about the doll characters, although not intended to funny, can’t help but bring a chuckle of how unmanageable those must have been..
    In Lord_Pheonix’s videos though they move like a second skin… do dee do do – do dee do do
    All kidding aside, we miss that EPCOT

  • wow, now thats one hell of a comment!
    i was under the impression that the charectors wernt supposed to talk at all, but in one of those clips i remember one of then whispering something to my mother.
    in another note, i was spliting up more clips last night of the mk in 81 and i had forgotten that the frontierland trainstation was still in its original place in the clips, but i also realized that the parades today actually run backwards. i never realized it before, but then they used to start at the firehouse on main and end somewhere in frontierland. my guess is that both of these things are related, being that after splash, they changed it. swan boats running with big lines was cool too.

  • Lord_Pheonix (A.K.A Allmighty)

    lol, no its not. i love these vids and i know others do to, thats why i put them up. curious tho, what did i clear up for you?

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