Sunday morning, October 1, 2017 and the sky was gray. The rain started to fall while guests were making their way into the parking lot and then into the front gates at Epcot. Large crowds of people didn’t seem to care very much about getting soaked, because it was time to celebrate. Rain or shine, Epcot turned 35 years old.
Millions of people have entered the gates of Epcot since opening on October 1, 1982. Now thousands more were coming to pay tribute to this beloved park. The Special celebration was due to begin at the fountain stage behind Spaceship Earth. Everyone was soaked, umbrellas were dripping, but that didn’t dampen the mood. Then it happened. The sea of people that had gathered in front of the stage, suddenly felt a glimmer of sunshine. Then minutes before the presentation was due to begin, the brightness shined down through the clouds. The rain stopped and would not return for the remainder of the day.
The Anniversary Celebration began as “Mariachi Cobre” took the stage. Soon after Melissa Valiquette, VP at Epcot spoke, along with George A. Kalogridis, president of the Walt Disney World Resort. The event’s finale was grand indeed as the “Voices of Liberty” were joined on stage by a full cast of Disney characters.
The highlight of the day certainly was merchandise. Disney was offering an exclusive line of “Epcot 35, I Was There” items, that would only be available at the park on that day. When everyone wants something, everyone has to wait in line. Disney opened a special pop up shop offering the collectible merchandise just past Spaceship Earth. Unfortunately the line stretched all the way to entrance of the park. Wait times were between 2-3 hours long. Other popular items were commemorative pins and of course Starbucks coffee, all rendering extremely long lines. Even though the wait was long, people still seemed happy after they made their purchase. For anyone not lucky enough to grab some merchandise goodies, special park maps, times guide and buttons were given out to everyone in attendance.
The remainder of the day was spent enjoying everything that Epcot had to offer, including the International Food and Wine Festival. The evening was capped off with Illuminations Reflections of Earth, followed by a very special 35th Anniversary fireworks Finale.
Overall, it turned out to be a great day. Now we all get to look forward to the Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. Can’t wait! Tell us your Epcot experience if you were there or just a memory from the past 35 years.