Way back in 1786, when this country was just being born, Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote:
"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men /
Gang aft a-gley, /
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, /
For promised joy."
Or, better known to us, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
In the case of EPCOT Center, we know who the mouse is, and we know who the men (and women) were, and still we're left with some sadness over the promised joy that never came.
Here's a look at a commemorative 1982 booklet that previews EPCOT Center and ends with a promise of much more to come.
We know the endgame here. Horizons is only a fondly held memory, replaced with a thrill ride that, anecdotally, at least, more than half of EPCOT's visitors won't even attempt to experience. The Living Seas, which only mildly fulfilled its original vision, has been turned into a Fantasyland dark ride with an aquarium now seemingly haphazardly attached. (Or is it the other way around?)
The Morocco pavilion may be one of the most exquisite, but it is also one of the most ignored and overlooked by guests (again, that's anecdotal). Those who do venture into its "back areas" and the prayer room often find they are overwhelmed by its beauty and detail. But for the most part, it's wasted space waiting for something grand to happen there, as it has waited for two decades.
Spain and Israel never came to fruition, and though they've never been directly addressed by Disney management or Imagineers (to my knowledge), they likely were a victim of the September 1984 regime change, hardball negotiations by capital-infusion-averse Disney, and the political climate of the 1980s and 1990s.
Equatorial Africa always seemed a bit of a stretch to me, more confirming that geographically illiterate guests (of which there are many, and sadly mostly Americans) would be led to believe "Africa" is a country. Ultimately, it morphed into Animal Kingdom, which has been a terrific addition to Walt Disney World -- and, with the continuing slump of EPCOT, is probably my favorite park to visit, as it gets more beautiful with every year (except the Dino Land area).
It's just sad to see how much enthusiasm there originally was for EPCOT Center, how much the park really did seem poised for growth that upheld and expanded its core theme.
Today, there's little "theme" left in what was once the ultimate "theme park," and many of us are left, it's true (yes, critics of EPCOT Central, come to the fore!), wondering what would have happened had those plans of mice and men actually come to pass.