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The 21st Century Begins Again

This October 1st marks the 30th anniversary of EPCOT Center’s opening, an event that I’m sure one or two of you might be interested in. Good news, then, that D23 is holding a special event on September 30th to celebrate that anniversary with a day of intense, historical, geeky goodness. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, June 21st, and are available online to D23 members.

Tickets for the event (the “Worldpassport” level) are $65, and include all presentations on the 30th. The event will be held in the World Showplace, the former “Millennium Village” between the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions. There’s also a $185 “World Key” pass, which gets you into the presentations but also a dessert party that evening in the Spaceship Earth sponsor’s lounge. The Disney Legends and other EPCOT insiders from that day’s presentations will be on hand for the reception. If you’re just there for the history and info, though, the $65 ticket should have you covered.

Here are the highlights from the event on the 30th, taken from Disney’s press release:

  • Hooray for the 21st Century – Disney Legend and former Walt Disney Imagineering Principal Creative Executive Marty Sklar joins D23 guests via a virtual presentation, where we see and hear what it was like to work with Walt Disney on his original vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Along the way, learn about Marty’s favorite memories working on the EPCOT Center project with a team of passionate Imagineers.
  • The Music of EPCOT Center – Some of Epcot’s most passionate fans agree that the park’s soundtrack has created one of its most lasting legacies that continue to help “makin’ memories” around the world. Join Disney historians and songwriters as we explore the incredible world of Epcot music, celebrating the talents of such Epcot songwriters and composers as Bob Moline, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, George Wilkins, Buddy Baker, X. Atencio, Peter Stougaard, Russell Brower, Edo Guidotti and others who have left a permanent musical mark on the park’s creative legacy. Along the way, hear stories about the recording sessions, learn about some fascinating alternate versions of some of your favorite melodies, and sing along to your favorite Epcot tunes!
  • “We Can Do It!” – Disney Legends and EPCOT Center creators review the immense challenge that loomed ahead of them when bringing Epcot to reality in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Guests will hear stories of trips to foreign countries to secure participants in the World Showcase concept, what life was like inside the largest private construction project in the world, and how they readied its highly anticipated opening day.
  • “We’ve Just Begun to Dream” – Join Disney Legend Ron Logan and other key Disney entertainment veterans as they reminisce about the official EPCOT Center opening festivities that remain among the most elaborate Disney has ever staged. This presentation will include rare footage from the grand openings of various Future World and World Showcase pavilions, which were held throughout October 1982.
  • “Makin’ Memories: Epcot on Film” – Join former Disney Imagineer Bob Garner and Disney author and historian Tim O’Day as they cast a “Magic Eye” on the marvelous world of Epcot on film. Bob was closely involved in the creation of film documentation and production at Epcot, including special video elements of Future World and World Showcase pavilions and such promotional films as EPCOT Center: The Opening Celebration.
  • “Looking Back at Tomorrow” – Few Epcot visitors, even its most avid fans, realize The Land pavilion was almost called “Harvest Tomorrow” or that Figment was slated to co-host an “Images & Imagination” pavilion with “Professor Marvel.” With recently discovered materials from the Walt Disney Archives, join Disney archivists as they examine how the “dreamers and doers” developed favorite Epcot attractions of the past including Horizons, Journey into Imagination, Kitchen Kabaret, World of Motion, the Astuter Computer Revue, and the original Universe of Energy.
  • “The EPCOT Center That Never Was” – Using rare concept artwork, guests will glimpse what it was like to design Epcot with Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Vice President Tony Baxter, designer and producer for several beloved Epcot pavilions, and explore early versions of Epcot attractions that never made it off the drawing board.
  • “Imagineering Epcot: An Extra Perceptive Close-up Of Things” – Fans of wall carpet and leapfrog fountains unite! Disney Imagineers Jason Surrell, Jason Grandt, and Alex Wright return with a humorous exploration of the details that make Epcot so unique. From miniature gardens to massive buildings (and every international food and beverage offering in between), they’ll show what makes Future World and World Showcase like no place else on earth.

It’s quite a slate, and a lot of history packed into one day. Hopefully it’ll be nirvana for the EPCOT nerd. While I’ve been generally supportive of D23 since its inception, we all know that they’ve had their hits and their misses. All I can say in favor of this event is that it is “from the minds that brought you Destination D: Florida”; that celebration of Walt Disney World history was definitely my favorite D23 event to date.

Do you hear Danny Kaye in your head? You do now!

Also, and your mileage may vary as to whether this adds any appeal to the event or not, I’ve been something of a (very) informal adviser with regards to this specific event and I can give you an ironclad guarantee that not only will it be geek-friendly, but it will feature things that you have never seen. It certainly will feature things that I had never seen. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know I wouldn’t bother helping out if this was going to be a Radio Disney Glowfest Dance Party featuring the cast of Prom, so if you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll probably find something to enjoy.

Of course this event takes place on the 30th; this ensures that attendees won’t be stuck in sessions all day on the 1st (the actual anniversary) and will be able to get out and enjoy the park, the fan gatherings, and everything else the park might have planned. I’ve no clue what Epcot has planned for the day; as we’ve seen in the past, the parks like to cut it a little close with announcing their intentions. Hopefully, however, they’ll whip up something cool and we’ll have two days of EPCOT shenanigans. And it’s Food and Wine Festival too. So… all that. Seize the future, with XS.

So camp out or whatever the kids are doing today and get your tickets tomorrow. Then get working on your Earlie the Pearlie cosplay ensemble – it’s going to be a party.

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6 comments to The 21st Century Begins Again

  • Man I so wish I could attend this.

  • I’m going to guess they aren’t going to video tape the sessions, then release them at some later date? I’ve never seen Disney do that…but they should.

  • Mark W

    Well, as one can tell from the meltdown on twitter right now, the ticket distribution process kinda sucked.

    I was on the Epcot 30 event page at around 12:58pm ET, refreshing literally non-stop, with my D23 member number already copied onto my computer’s clipboard, ready to get World Key tickets for myself and my brother as my guest. The instant I saw tickets were available, I clicked the link, typed my last name, pasted my D23 number, selected 2 people for my party, and clicked Search. I was surprised to see a Confirmation Page show up as I hadn’t been prompted to enter any payment information. Then I saw the price was 0, and was wondering if payment was separate. Then I saw waitlist and my jaw hung open.

    I instantly went back to the event page, re-entered all my info, but this time selected World Passport, and clicked Search. I see the same confirmation page. Apparently as I was on the wait list for World Key, I was ineligible to purchase World Passport.

    Thankfully, my brother – the one I was buying a ticket for – is also a D23 member, so I called him and asked him to give me his D23 member number immediately. Using his number, I was able to get us both World Passport tickets, though I had to interrupt him at work and I think I about doubled my blood pressure in the process.

    But here’s the thing. I would argue that it wasn’t even possible to order the World Key tickets faster than I did (and if it was, we’re talking like one or two seconds faster, max). So one or some combination of the following occurred:
    -Some people were pre-selected for World Key
    -Disney allotted about 10 World Key tickets for the event
    -The ordering system got screwed up

    And here’s a couple questions:
    -What is the purpose of a “Wait List” when, according to the D23 event page, “There are no cancellations or refunds, and tickets are not transferable.”
    -Why weren’t people on the World Key wait list able to change to World Passport?
    -I now have a World Passport and am on the World Key wait list. I doubt I’m the only person in this position. If – by some unexplained process – people from the wait list are able to purchase World Key tickets, what do we do about our World Passports? Will we be able to “upgrade” our World Passports by paying the difference or get a refund for the World Passports so we can purchase the World Keys? Or will we just be out the money for the World Passports if we choose to purchase the World Keys? (Sadly, the latter seems most likely.)

    This was just a very, very poorly thought out and executed ticket distribution. It’s unfortunate that D23 puts on such awesome events, but seems to be so terrible at managing demand for them.

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  • [...] – June 29th, 2012 I know a lot of folks have joined Disney’s D23 fan club specifically for this Fall’s EPCOT event; those of you who have held out might be interested to know that Friday, June 29th, memberships [...]

  • Lorange

    This just shows you the great demand the d23-ers have for shows that -aren’t- in California.

    (That and a sign people do love EPCOT, Regardless of what TPTB Might think.)

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