Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Your Birthday ...

Dear EPCOT Center,

You're almost 25.

You're ready to move comfortably into adulthood, even if some of your reckless teen-aged years still lingers rather awkwardly.

Maybe you don't remember, but you were so pleased with yourself when you were born, so excited about the future, that you made us proud -- and excited for you.

Let me be the first to say, we're still both.

Back then, you were the harbinger of the 21st century, and those of us who knew you when you were brand new couldn't help but believe in your proposition that when the 19s gave way to the 20s, we'd be living in a world of promise fulfilled, of untapped knowledge explored, of far-flung cultures brought together.

Of course you had to grow up. Despite the plot of Peter Pan, everyone does.

You're a bit unfocused now. That's not unusual at 25. You're not quite sure why you were made or what you're meant to be. That's got your parents pretty worried. Maybe they just need to relax a little bit. It's OK. They don't need to force you to be what they are. Whlietheir efforts to mold you to look just like them may be natural, they're also uncomfortable and counter-productive. They need to trust.

The funny thing is, do you remember all of those optimstic things you used to say about what you'd be when you grew up? Do you remember how you used to say the world was going to be an amazing place? That those of us who played with you when you were young were all going to lead lives of excitement and discovery?

I know, I know -- once you became a teen-ager, you turned your back on those sentiments. You wanted things that were flashy and fun. You wanted to impress everyone with how slick you were.

But, you know what? You were right.

You promised that the 21st century would "begin" back when you came into the world, and the odd thing is just how right you were. Out of the mouths of babes.

When you were born, you brought with you things like fiber-optic communications, touch-screen computers, remote-guided vehicles, deep-sea exploration, hydroponic farming, aerodynamic cars, alternate forms of energy, and a vision of a world in which communication was instantaneous and free. You envisioned that we would know more about each other than we ever had, that many borders would be opened between nations -- both literally and figuratively.

Now that we're actually here in the 21st century, it's rather astonishing to reflect on what a precocious, inquisitive and, well, correct little youngster you were.

You dazzled us with ideas that seemed far-fetched. I mean, back when you were just a wee thing, we used to call "Uncle Ernie" across the country and talk for exactly three minutes and it was still expensive. We'd even have to wait until after 9 p.m. so we could afford it, and while we talked we'd twirl the telephone cord in our fingers. Now, we can call Uncle Ernie all we want, any time of day, even if we're sitting by the ocean.

We're exploring, truly exploring, many of the things you claimed we would. Various trade and unification agreements have quite literally opened borders. No matter what time of day, where we are or what we need to know, we can find it -- never venturing further than our home computers (which are getting, every day, astuter and astuter).

I could go on, but you know and I know what I'm trying to say:

You had it right all along.

OK, so it's true that we dressed you in clothing that now seems a little outdated, and over the years you've wanted cooler duds. Frankly, you insisted, despite our protestations. Well, you've still got a lot of the same stuff, and the not-so-surprising thing is, it's coming back into vogue. Stick around long enough, everything comes back into fashion. Even in the 21st century.

As you turn 25, then, I just ask one thing of you -- and it's fair of you to ask me for the same: Be patient.

You'll grow and change. You have to; no that's not a directive, it's an inevitability.

Pretty soon, you'll realize that all of those friends you've been trying to impress have something in common. They're all trying to be just like each other.

Whether you like it or not, you were born to be different. Your very birthright is being astonishingly, wonderfully unique.

Frankly, that sucks. No 25 year old likes to hear that, because you're still very aware that it's much more comfortable to be like everyone else. Be patient. You're going to figure out it. We all do.

When you were young, you showed remarkable (awesome, to be blunt) intelligence and capability. You loved being different. Anymore, you don't so much. You will. So, we can wait for a while longer while you figure it out.

Make no mistake -- a lot of the things you've done to change yourself have been extraordinary and wonderful. You've seen things you didn't like, and you've fixed them, and that takes courage, confidence and vision. Now it's your chance to keep moving along that path.

You don't need celebrity friends to be well-liked.

You don't need the trendiest fashions to look good.

You don't need to rush around and be fast in order to accomplish your goals.

And even if you change your name, which you've tried to do a couple of times (a bit half-heartedly, I must observe), you'll still be you.

It's your uniqueness we celebrate today. It's your potential. And it's the vision you showed early on ... and which we know you'll show again. We look forward to seeing what you become.

And no matter what suggestions, what criticism, what comments we direct to you, know this: We love you as much today as we did back on Oct. 1, 1982.

Happy birthday.


Tim said...

Very well said!

I had the "preview book" that you have illustrated at the top of this page. I can remember being 11 years old and wishing I could be there on October 1. I think it was the next summer before I visited EPCOT Center (as it will always be to me). I remember we purchased me a t-shirt with the EPCOT logo on it.

What I would give for that t-shirt and that book now.

Brian said...

wow - I got goosebumps as I neared the end of this text. EPCOT & I have been intertwined since I fell in love with it in 1984 - and my life has mirrored its trajectory. I identify with it because it reflects back at me what I consider to be my core values - created, in part, because of its existence.

I can only imagine what opening day must have been like - thankfully, I am able to attend the 25th anniversary on 10-1 and am really excited.

Anonymous said...

I've visited the Florida property many times since 1972, and I remember my first trip to Epcot back in the summer of 1983. I was 17 then. One of my most vivid memories is driving through the parking lot and seeing the geodesic sphere in all its glory. The excitment I felt for Epcot then is still strong today, even though Epcot has evolved (not for the better in some cases). I'm going to visit Florida this December and I'm excited to see what is being done for the Epcot's 25th. I think the future looks bright once again.


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful.Thank you for showing what EPCOT Center was and WILL be again.

Here's to the 21st Century!

matagin said...

I started a thread on if you are interested about how other Disney rides are preserved in other parks but not in EPCOT. I understand now that EPCOT was always meant to change and evolve but some of the rides completely drop their old story or idea in favor of a thrill ride (Horizons/Mission:Space). Read through the thread. Some great ideas and thoughts from everyone. I would love to hear your perspective.

Anonymous said...

I've heard this analogy before--EPCOT as a growing human--but this is a really nicely written take on that. It's the perfect sentiment for the anniversary. I always like to say that teenage EPCOT did what all rebellious teenagers do--got a fast car (known as Test Track) at 16, and at 17 got an embarrassing tattoo in the shape of a wand...

Anonymous said...

A little bit off topic, but did anyone see this article on the AP wire this week... nice to see some actual research (beyond that we see from the boat) is being done at The Land:

And happy 25, Epcot! Wish I could celebrate in person.

JStone423 said...

Being today what it is, I thought I'd look you up to see if you, well ya know, wished Epcot a Happy Birthday. Glad, I dropped by.
Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, EPCOT!

I couldn't be there today, but the anniversary has been in my mind throughout the day. I have to congratulate EPCOT somewhere!

Epcot82, thanks for keeping the flame. And no - it's not a flame fueled by inner-looking backwardness and nostalgia. It is all about an enduring love for the spirit of the park.

Thanks for sharing the love. Good to have you back.

Charles G said...

Great words! I posted a link to your blog on my Epcot story. Glad to see you're back.

Anonymous said...

omg... that was amazingly written. Great perspective to write from and every word of it is true. This practically brought tears to my eyes.

Greg said...

Thank you for sharing your passion for EPCOT Center. Even though you were not there, I look forward to reading your comments about the 25th Anniversary Celebration. I will be visiting in 16 days and look forward to seeing the exhibit in Innoventions.

Anonymous said...

About Uncle that something from Communicore? I was born in 89, didn't visit Epcot until 98, that's probably why I don't get it.

Scott said...

Didn't realize you were back until today. Glad to see new posts, EPCOT has definitely made a few strides since you've been gone.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind a small plug, but I was an Imaginer at EPCOT Center back in 1982, and I co-wrote a book, with a fellow Imagineer, about what it was like to be there, which was published last month.

We don't have a big publisher, and we are making literally NO money on this at all, but if you go to you will find it, and I think anyone who reads this site might enjoy it.


Anonymous said...

Harry Potter had the same crap treatment over the initial director (comparable to Walt Disney) and the others who continued the serie. Let me just ask you this question: How can there be hope when it's about something already dead?

Blog said...

Hey, Dreamfinder came back! Albeit only for three weeks, and only as a character in South Park...

Anonymous said...

No more new posts?

Anonymous said...

Is he coming back?

Anonymous said...


not again....