Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Day Disney Decided To Build EPCOT Center

By Keith Mahne

On October 2, 1978, Card Walker, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Walt Disney Productions, announced the Company's decision to move forward with the EPCOT Center project. Disney was particularly proud to be able to make the announcement before the 26th World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce meeting at Walt Disney World. Being that the ICC is perhaps one of the most respected business organizations in the world and, until that year, had never assembled outside the capital city of a host nation, it made the announcement to the world all the more special. Even then-President Jimmy Carter, who showed great interest and enthusiasm for EPCOT Center, was in attendance. It was a day to remember and that's just what we'll do in today's new article...

Disney's announcement that a brand new theme park, modeled on a promise for the future and hope of what it might be, was going to be built at Walt Disney World. The enthusiastic and euphoric state of the Company and the fans was never more present than at the announcement of EPCOT Center, the first Disney theme park to diverge from the Disneyland model. That declaration was made by then-Disney President and CEO Card Walker in late 1978 to the delegates of the 26th World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1919, the International Chamber of Commerce is an organization that seeks to be ‘the voice of world business championing the global economy as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity.’ Throughout the world, the ICC has eighty-four national committees and hosts a variety of conferences with the aim to engage the most challenging problems facing the global economy. Every two years the ICC hosts a World Congress that was, up until the year 1978, held in the capital of the host nation.

In 1978 the host nation was the United States, but the 26th World Congress would not be held in Washington D.C., instead it would venture south to Walt Disney World. It would be before this body of 2,500 business executives and political leaders that then-CEO Card Walker would make the announcement of EPCOT Center. This was a very strategic move by Disney because they realized that the members of the World Congress, with business ties around the world, would be crucial for pavilion sponsorship. One attendee who spent a good deal of time conversing with Card Walker about the plans was President Jimmy Carter, seen below with plenty of beautiful EPCOT Center concept art hanging on the walls around him...

Card Walker reviews Disney plans for EPCOT Center with President Jimmy Carter at Walt Disney World - 1978

Below you can read Card Walker's full transcript of remarks to the International Chamber of Commerce on EPCOT Center...

Disney ended their EPCOT Center announcement by sending the International Chamber of Commerce home in typical Disney fashion with a spectacular fireworks display...

A brilliant finale for the 26th World Congress of the ICC staged in the skies above Walt Disney World

Just as it did when Disney opened the doors to the Park on October 1, 1982, let us hope that Epcot will soon return as a towering achievement of American ingenuity, productivity and technology, a monumental example of what can be done in a free enterprise system with concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all... the world needs that now more than ever!

Early EPCOT Center concept art


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.

No comments:

Post a Comment