Less than a week from now, Epcot will be buzzing with all the excitement! Yes, the Food and Wine Festival begins this weekend, but also Epcot turns 25 on Monday, October 1st and there is a very special 2 day event called Celebration 25.
I had the pleasure recently to chat with Adam Roth, one of the co-founders of Celebration 25, an event designed to celebrate 25 years of Epcot. Adam is a 16 year old high school junior who lives in the Orlando area. Adam wasn't even born when Epcot opened. However, there is an Epcot connection with his family. Adam's father was a reporter who covered Epcot's opening and still has a pre-opening Epcot press kit!
Adam recalled for me one of his early visits to Horizons and also talked about the Journey Into Imagination attraction, especially how much he enjoyed the Image Works. In fact, his website (Dreamfinder Forever) started as a campaign to bring back Figment's buddy the Dreamfinder.
When asked what makes Disney special, Adam explained: "I'm a passholder for many of the local parks. When I look and try to compare...I can't honestly go to Universal or Sea World every weekend, but for some reason, I can go back to Disney every weekend! With Disney, I don't get bored. It's always something new for me - something new to find and to do"
Celebration 25 was actually the idea of Jenn Waitt who started a discussion on the WDWMagic message boards. She wanted to organize something to pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of Epcot. Adam offered space on his website, Dreamfinder Forever, and that was the start.
As more people registered, Jenn and Adam were busy adding more folks to their team. "It's amazing to think that 8 months have passed since we started this and we are over 1,000 people past what we imagined," Adam explained.
The Celebration 25 team is comprised of many folks. "Jenn - came up with the idea; Jason is in charge of the IllumiNations dessert party; John Corigliano is doing several history walks; Lou Mongello is an official sponsor and has provided name tags and lanyards in addition to lots of support; Jeff Pepper another sponsor is providing the printed schedule; and there are many partner websites too."
One would think Adam had lots of experience planning events, but this is the first time he's ever done anything like this. It's amazing especially when you consider that he is also keeping up with his high school AP classes and preparing for a school trip to France at the end of October.
"What about your folks?", I inquired, "What do they think of all this?" "They're amazed!", Adam said excitedly. "I first told them about it 8 months ago, that I was going to miss school on October 1st. After I explained they said 'that's fine'. As it started to grow, they said, 'We're not missing this!"
Initial plans for the event were very small with hopes to get 200 persons signed up. The IllumiNations dessert party was the first thing the group officially organized. That was the foot in the door at Epcot. Scott Powers wrote about Celebration 25 in the Orlando Sentinel and then things really took off.
All along, it's been very important to Adam that Epcot officials be aware of the group's activities. He didn't want any issues during the event. Working closely with Epcot cast members, space has even been provided near Epcot's Kennel Club for the Celebration 25 registration tables. All registered attendees will receive a lanyard/nametag and IllumiNations dessert party attendees will have a separate identifier.
And if this isn't enough, Adam made it clear to me how important having a charity associated with the event was to him and the team. Lou Mongello's Dream Team fundraiser for Make a Wish will be the charity associated with Celebration 25. All proceeds from the Celebration 25 DVD and Scrapbook and any extra from the IllumiNations dessert party will go to the Dream Team fundraiser. "Now we can do something for the community and not just Epcot."
Adam isn't sure if all 50 states are represented in the registered attendees, but he does know that there is a large group coming from the United Kingdom. There is also a couple getting married on October 1st and rather than head off to their honeymoon, they are coming to the Celebration 25 activities and the dessert party.
According to Adam, and most of this has also been reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Epcot will have several special displays/activities to celebrate 25 years!
The Epcot Gallery in Innoventions West opens October 1st for guests and promises to be a step back through the years of Epcot's history. While it is unclear how long the gallery will be open, it sounds like through the end of this year. There will be 2 sessions with Marty Sklar. All Celebration 25 registered IllumiNations dessert party attendees will have a ticket to one of the two sessions. Disney is also planning special 25th Anniversary merchandise including t-shirts and pins.
IllumiNations will have a special "tag" after the regular show which will be a one time only tribute that's 5 minutes long. Adam shared that there will be additional fireworks, lasers, music from Epcot's past (Tapestry of Nations) and possibly Spaceship Earth used as a canvas.
And....when it's all said and done, Adam wants "to remember this as something I had a part in. I think that everyone who has been involved and everyone who has signed up has made this event so strong... I"m proud to be involved. This is one of those times we can say to Disney; this does mean something to us! I know that our presence has reminded them in a friendly way, that we do care."
I, and many others, will be in Epcot Sunday and Monday to be part of all the excitement! See you there!
The previous post in this blog was Journey Into Imagination - Epcot Center - Celebrating 25 Years!.
The next post in this blog is Epcot and more....