Good Old Days: Happy Times in Epcot

It’s going to be an Epcot-centric week at This Happy Place Blog, and there’s nothing like celebrating a big birthday with some embarrassing pictures. Since 1996, my parents and I visited Epcot every August (yes it was scorching) so I just missed out on EPCOT Center, World of Motion, and Horizons. But I did get to see the original Journey into Imagination (once) and spent much hangout time with Buzzy, my favorite brain captain, over at Cranium Command.

Back then, Epcot was never my favorite park. (I was more a fan of Hollywood Studios.) But over time, I enjoyed watching British Invasion over in England with the family, scouting out the best spot for Illuminations, having a dark meal in San Angel Inn (we all felt like we needed little flashlights), and hearing my mom scream during Honey I Shrunk the Audience.

This past weekend, my parents came to visit and we went through a bunch of albums to pick out a few shots from our Epcot visits. I’m a picture taking fiend and I have a ton from our recent trips so I’m going to share a few of the keepsakes (ranging from the humiliating to the fun) that my mom took from the pre-digital camera era.

Here we go:

1996.

Here are my sister and I meeting Dreamfinder and Figment for the first time. Of course, we had no idea who they were but it was our first trip and armed with our autograph books, we wanted to get them all filled up. Since the Dreamfinder disappeared pretty much right after that first trip, I forgot about him. (I’m sorry, everyone!) But Figment was always one of my favorite characters and I was always browsing the shops for anything and everything with him on it. In fact, I still have a little figurine from that first trip that I keep on my desk.

1998.

I was so thrilled to find this picture! I love that the ceiling gives away that we are standing in the Wonders of Life. I vaguely remember hanging out in here and seeing the different exercise contraptions. We always checked out Cranium Command (a family favorite) but never “The Making of Me”. (Frankly, I’m not too disappointed about that one.) It looks so “It’s a Small World” in there. Maybe someday we’ll see it in full operation again…

One of my pals on Twitter told me my sister is standing in a “forced perspective room” in the Wonders of Life. I don’t remember these at all but my sister must have loved it!

The EPCOT symbol water sculpture! Unfortunately you can’t find this these days in the park, which is sad because it’s beautiful.

2000.

Now this sight from Canada isn’t anything new, but I remember this day so well. We actually took our photos for “Leave a Legacy”… yes, we are on those mountains in the front of the park. But anyway… it rained so much I had to buy this oversized Mickey and Minnie hoodie and we still stayed in the park all day. I remember catching Illuminations that night, finally able to take my hoodie off and enjoy the summer weather. (Also there were a ton of bees over in this spot, and my dad almost got stung to take this picture! What a sacrifice!)

Good old Spaceship Earth in the background, decorated for theΒ millennium. How great is this picture? We’re all full of Japanese food and using our little paper umbrellas as hair accessories. (Well, not my dad.) I also like how my sister and I are wearing the same pink that matches the umbrellas.

2002.

I know, I know. There aren’t a ton of Mission Space fans but I thought this picture was a great find anyway. Not yet open this particular summer, my family and I did participate in a soft opening the year after and whoa — that was before they had two separate ride strengths and it was intense. My mom isn’t one for crazy rides but she felt off all day afterwards, and even me, who gets all scared about rides but does them anyway — I did not feel right at all. Oh the joys. I still feel a little claustrophobic when James drags me on this attraction.

Always a fan of theatrics, we had a great time seeing this little “play” put on in Italy. Do they do this anymore? I haven’t seen it in awhile but it was a great way to experience culture and be entertained while taking a break from running around Epcot.

My mom was a huge, mega-fan of Tapestry of Nations and I have so many pictures. I’ve decided just to go with this one, but we were all laughing this weekend, remembering how my mom would chase down this parade to video tape it (yes video tape) and snap pictures. It almost seemed like she wanted to be in it if she could. Maybe she could have been this lady:

These pictures make me really happy. Those initial trips down to Florida with my family sort of cemented the relaxed and homey feeling I have whenever I visit Epcot today. It’s a time for food, winding down, and searching the stores for that little purple dragon.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane… maybe next time I’ll share the poem I wrote, inspired by the light up sidewalks in Future World… oh yes. That’s a true story.

10 thoughts on “Good Old Days: Happy Times in Epcot

  1. Wonderful pictures! As a group these really capture the fun and spontaneity of a great family vacation, as well as the diversity of Epcot! Thank you for sharing these! πŸ™‚

  2. So true daughter, I would have gladly put on a costume and walked in the parade. Thanks for sharing the photos and the wonderful memories that it brought back. Love you. MOM

  3. These are some awesome pictures! Really brought back some memories (my first trip to Epcot was in 1996, too). I had actually completely forgotten about the old theater troupe in Italy. I do vaguely remember the forced perspective room though. I think depending on where you stood it could make you look like really tall or really short in comparison to the rest of the room. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hey Stitch! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping in! I love that we both visited Epcot for the first time around the same year. I can’t believe how clueless I am about that forced perspective room. My brain does not want to remember it. πŸ™‚ You should share some pics on your blog if you get a chance!!

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