Behind the Camera: EPCOT Prepares for Its Grand Opening in 1982

From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: David Roark

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a new series here on the Disney Parks Blog where Disney photographers share the stories behind some of their favorite pictures.

I started my career as a Disney photographer in April of 1982, six months before the grand opening of EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort. The park was still a massive construction site at that time, and my main assignment as a new Disney cast member was to “make EPCOT look finished.” Our marketing department needed beautiful photos for travel agents, guidebooks, etc., to get people excited about visiting the new park … all well in advance of opening day on Oct. 1, 1982. Easier said than done!

That was one long, hot summer, as I would start at sunrise and go until dark, searching for unique angles that would obscure any equipment and unfinished work throughout the park. One afternoon, I made my way up onto the roof of the France pavilion in World Showcase, a day or two before the Eiffel Tower was being installed. I looked off to the north and … there it was! The photo I had been searching for, with the Canada pavilion in the foreground with Spaceship Earth framed majestically in the background – a perfect composition to illustrate the scope of EPCOT.


The image you see here was captured from that spot, nearly 40 years ago now. I’ve always loved how beautifully the late-afternoon light reflects off the surfaces of each structure – the earthy vibe of the Canada pavilion contrasting against the futuristic metal of Spaceship Earth. But if I went back out to this same spot today, the image would look completely different – the trees have grown in so thick you wouldn’t even see the Canada pavilion anymore.

Now as EPCOT continues its historic transformation, I imagine I’ll be out there again looking for some more unique angles that tell the next chapter in this park’s amazing story!  

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