There is so much to appreciate when you think about the original EPCOT Center. For its second Walt Disney World park, Disney took a completely different approach and built something remarkable. Looking beyond the massive pavilions and stunning attractions, there are so many little touches that made EPCOT Center a success. Legendary Imagineers ensured that nothing looked too familiar or didn’t match the pavilion’s theme. In the Land pavilion, a beautiful fountain set the right mood and connected well to the natural world. Designed by Walt Peregoy and sculpted by Jim Sarno, the fountain is forgotten or unknown to many guests today.
Sarno is my guest on this episode of The Tomorrow Society Podcast to talk about that fountain and his many other projects for Disney. He started at the Model Shop in 1979 and worked closely on memorable parts of EPCOT Center. Sarno also created the model for SMRT-1, the talking robot in the CommuniCore pavilion. Located in the Computer Central area, SMRT-1 played games and understood our voices while answering questions. A key part of the robot was its friendly look, which Sarno designed at the direction of George McGinnis.
During this episode, Sarno and I also talk about his relationships with legendary Imagineers that worked directly with Walt. He became friends with Peregoy and Harriet Burns and has great stories about fun times in the Model Shop. Sarno offers a peek at the enjoyable atmosphere while under the tight deadlines for EPCOT Center. He also worked on scenes for Spaceship Earth and Journey Into Imagination plus other non-Disney projects like Treasure Island in Las Vegas. I really enjoyed the change to learn more about Sarno’s time at Disney and stories beyond that era.