In my first entry of this two-part story about the creation of Epcot at Walt Disney World, I identified four principal segments in its development: (1) Deciding what to do. (2) Creating the concept and convincing Disney management to fund it. (3) Selling it to corporate and international sponsors, and (4) Building it.
In this second article, I’ll provide some of the background about selling the project to sponsors, and some of the challenges of creating the Epcot Center that opened 30 years ago, on Oct. 1, 1982.
Although the size, scope, and scale differed from the Epcot Community Walt Disney originally envisioned, Walt’s belief that “… a project like this is so vast in scope that no one company alone …” can accomplish it—that it would take the support of many talents, organizations, corporations, and nations to make it a reality—was just as true about Epcot the Disney Park. Once the opening day concept and scope had been approved and funded by Disney’s board of directors, the Imagineers and our Disney Park partners began an enormous, around-the-world effort to obtain the support and participation needed from companies and countries.
We knew there would be questions about the influence of sponsors on pavilion subjects like energy and food; nevertheless, we conceived our primary role at Imagineering as storytellers—communicators of accurate information in ways that made the subjects interesting, informative, and of course, fun whenever possible.