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.

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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