The First Thirty Years; An Unofficial Retrospective”
by Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee
Just in time for Epcot’s 30th Anniversary, Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee have written a new book that provides a panoramic overview of its attractions, both past and present. The book is not exactly a history of the park—although it does start with an introduction that takes the reader through the basics of Epcot’s creation—but is more of a “look back” at the various attractions that have surfaced in the park over the years. As the “retrospective” in the subtitle points to, the book provides the reader, both in words and photographs, a survey of Epcot over the years.
Unearthing Hidden Treasures takes readers on a journey through each of Epcot’s pavilions, first in Future World, then World Showcase. Each current and historic pavilion has an entry—in alphabetical order—that includes a description of the pavilion and its attractions, and is accompanied by a number of color photographs. (The print edition that I reviewed included color photographs, but I understand that there are both print and Kindle editions, that include black and white photos instead.) While the alphabetic order is useful for letting readers find the descriptions of favorite attractions quickly, I found it a bit hard to follow, for instance, when the Test Track and World of Motion attractions were not described together (as they occupy the same pavilion space).
As a relatively recent visitor to Epcot (my first visit was in 1999), I found the accounts and photos of attractions no longer in existence to be fascinating. For instance, I have heard many Disney fans lament the demise of Horizons, but I never understood what the attraction was about, or how it worked (multiple endings?), but after reading the description of the attraction, and seeing the amazing pictures, I can now see what it is that others miss.
I was also happy to revisit in the book’s pages long-shuttered attractions that I did have the good fortune to experience before they were closed (Body Wars, anyone?), and to read about the evolution of pavilions that have not been shuttered, but rather have transformed substantially over time (for instance, The Land and The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends).
Not only did I get a glimpse of attractions that I never got to experience, but the book is chock-a-block with Epcot trivia. For instance, did you know that there was once a show called “The Magical World of Barbie” in the America Gardens Theatre (alas, no pictures!) or that Canada is the only pavilion in the World Showcase built with neither funding nor support from the country that it represents (oh, Canada, tsk, tsk)? Neither did I! I also now have a better understanding of why some of the attractions that I never quite understood are the way they are (Journey into Imagination with Figment—I still don’t get that one).
Lange and Yee also include sections on Entertainment (including my personal favorite, the now-defunct Tapestry of Nations parade), Events (Flower and Garden Festival, International Food and Wine Festival) and several Epcot Tribute Displays. They conclude with a helpful Timeline and a full Index.
What I really liked about this book: It was like an Epcot travelogue! The hundreds of beautiful photos will provide readers with an illustrated trip around the park any time they feel the need for an Epcot fix.
What I wish was included: For me, more than any other of the Disney Parks, Epcot is about shopping and eating. I wish that the authors had dedicated some space to coverage of the various shops and restaurants, as many of those are destinations in themselves, and I’m sure must have changed and evolved over time, just like the attractions housed in the pavilions.
Happy 30th Anniversary, Epcot! And thanks to Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee for producing such a lovely tribute.
Images provided by the authors. Links go to Amazon Affiliate Book Store for AllEars.
Alice McNutt Miller is a lifelong Disney fan whose fondest childhood memories include “The Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday nights and her first trip to Disneyland when she was ten years old. Alice and her family are Disney Vacation Club members, and have visited Disney parks all over the world. They live in Vienna, Virginia.
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