A recent post on the always-entertaining Retroist blog directed us to a number of home movies that have recently been posted to YouTube as part of something called the “Elmer Gerlock Film Project.” There are several fascinating films dating from the 1950s-80s, with lots of footage of now-extinct sights from Las Vegas’s Strip, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and other notable attractions in Southern California and Florida. Lucky for us, there’s also EPCOT footage!
This clip comes from 1984, when EPCOT Center was still fresh and new. It’s remarkable to see how different the park looked with its not-yet-grown trees and shrubs; the scale of the buildings appear so much larger and more prominent. World Showcase looks completely different from across the lagoon without all the foliage, and without the awful Swan and Dolphin and the over-sized Tower of Terror looming on the horizon and thus destroying the sightlines. The pavilions themselves have changed very little in all these years, but their effect is totally different in those early surroundings. There’s no International Gateway, either!
Speaking of the park environment, it’s always bittersweet to see the clean, welcoming entrance plaza from the days before Leave a Legacy. And speaking of bittersweet, it really does tug at the heartstrings to see Horizons, World of Motion, and Journey into Imagination in all their original glory.
In World Showcase we first catch a glimpse of the long-lost and much missed double decker buses that transported guests around the promenade. We even get a peek of the fabled Danish bathrooms (at 2:55), which you might remember from our own groundbreaking expose. For a little entertainment, there’s Il Teatro di Bologna in Italy, and the rather campy looking show at the America Gardens theater. Give it up for the performers, though – this was before the theater was covered or shaded, and they were most likely staring directly into the sun!
A last point of interest is the Morocco pavilion, which is still under construction and would open later that year.
So let’s pile in the car, taking a moment to remember the great old brown “national park” style road signs on property, and head for EPCOT Center: