In his recent Imaginerding review of Steve Alcorn’s excellent Building A Better Mouse: The Story Of The Electronic Imagineers Who Designed Epcot, George Taylor linked a number of fantastic snapshots on Alcorn’s site that depict the creation of EPCOT Center.
You should head over to Alcorn’s site posthaste to investigate, but I’m going to reprint a couple of the photos here because one of them depicts something that I never, ever thought I’d see.
EPCOT’s construction is full of intriguing details, as the inner workings of the park are so massive and elaborate and hidden from the public. Everyone knows about the Magic Kingdom’s Utilidors, but few have seen EPCOT’s Utilidor that runs beneath Communicore:
Also hidden is the massive carriage that contains all the show scenes and animatronics for the American Adventure; this picture just shows a small part of the machine – it’s a wonder they ever got it to work!
Of course back in the day the commands that ran that show came streaming from EPCOT Computer Central in Communicore. Here’s a picture of the very first equipment being installed in Computer Central; the large box you see on the left is one of the binloop machines that used to stream audio in an endless loop to the far corners of the park.
But what really caught my eye was this picture. See what you think:
What do you see? Well, it’s obviously large trees under construction, and if you read Alcorn’s caption you’ll realize it’s at the Canada pavilion. So what? “But wait,” you might say in a moment of quiet reflection, “where are the giant fake trees in the Canada pavilion?” That’s the thing – there aren’t any. But there were supposed to be. Look at this early concept art for the pavilion, which I appropriated from the fantastic Imagineering Disney:
I always thought those towering pines were just artistic license, but there were actually plans to partially conceal the pavilion in a grove of lofty, artificial timber. As you can see in Alcorn’s photo, the trees were even built. But the issue of scale – as you can tell, they were designed to use forced perspective to fit in with their scaled-down surroundings – proved a problem, and they never looked quite right in the eyes of the project’s managers. Eventually Dick Nunis called for the metaphorical and literal axe, and the fake trees of Canada were removed before the park even opened. This makes them an even more ephemeral relic of EPCOTology than the fabled Danish bathrooms.
Looking for some real trees? Well check out this picture, which shows what a cabin at Fort Wilderness looked like circa 1982. Fleetwood!
Be sure to drop in and check out the rest.