Epcot: The First Thirty Years, An Unofficial Retrospective

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney History, Features, Imaginerding

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Published on October 07, 2012 at 10:22 pm with 6 Comments

Any Disney historian knows how difficult it is to find photos of Walt Disney World from the 1970s and 1980s. Whether it was due to the temporal nature of the cameras and film from that period or the fact that most of the photos are still packed away in scrapbooks, there aren’t a lot of images for the first two decades of Walt Disney World. Disney struggled with promoting EPCOT Center in its first years. The initial offerings for parades was slim and there isn’t a lot published on them. So, any work related to the early days of the resort are welcome!

Looking for more Walt Disney World books? Check out my list of Walt Disney World history titles!

Jeff Lange and Kevin Yee are two of the bigger names in the blogging/history community. Kevin (who is also a Mice Chat columnist) has written a multitude of Disney-related books; Jeff Lange is well known for his video compilations. When I heard that Yee and Lange were working together on a project about Epcot’s history, I was pretty excited!

Epcot: The First Thirty Years, An Unofficial Retrospective is 157 pages and clocks in with over 500 images. The book is self-published, which offers some advantages and disadvantages. The guys had to fund the book, so there are certain restrictions which relate to the final product. That being said, I really loved the book. Jeff and Kevin do a good job straddling the line between casual Disney fan and hardcore enthusiast.

Any good book on the history of Epcot is going to have to be encyclopedic in nature. There have been a lot of changes over the past thirty years and many of the changes haven’t been well documented (if at all). The guys take a broad overview of the park and its pavilions. It’s enough to keep you reading and you are bound to learn a few things. Looking closely at the Table of Contents, you can see that some of the pavilions are better represented than others. Obviously, this is due to the amount of images they had at their disposal. Still, there has not been a definitive work on Epcot, but the Lange/Yee title does add a lot to the body of knowledge.

The expense comes from the 500 color photos in the book. It is really a treasure trove of photos that you won’t find in a lot of other places. Each page has between 3-5 photos or more and range from the early 1980s to more contemporary. Some of the photos are from home videos but the quality doesn’t suffer. It really is a great look at parts of Epcot that are long gone. My only complaint is that I wanted much larger images and more of them! Lange and Yee have presented a large number of their own personal photographs and therein lies the charm. Because Lange was prescient enough to videotape a lot of his early visits, we have stills from video of the early years of Epcot.

The text is limited, but the real reason to buy the book is for the images. There are some sections dedicated to the more obscure parts of Epcot history like Skyleidoscope, Surprise in the Skies and the Daredevil Circus Spectacular. There aren’t as many images of those on the net so it’s great to have a few photographic resources. You’ll spend a lot of time flipping the through the book reminiscing and thinking about the changes of Epcot. Plus, there is an image for the sign for Communicore West!

They’ve also included a timeline of Epcot Center history that starts in 1965 and ends at the 30th Anniversary Celebration. It’s a handy reference for attraction openings and closings. There is also a fairly in-depth index, too. I’m hard-pressed to pick out a favorite section since there are so many great photos of all of the pavilions, including a few construction photos and in-ride images. Although, I was surprised that there was no mention of the Ep-ity-cot celebration.

There are two versions of the book: a black & white version and full color. Honestly, with the images, there is no reason to buy the black & white version of the book. The text is worthwhile, but the images are the real reason to pick it up.

Have you read this book? What did you think about it?

Are you looking forward to picking it up?


ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

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I am one half of the incredibly talented, handsome, charming, sanguine, lucent, refulgent, beguiling, hilarious, perturbable, welcoming, sentient, loquacious, side-splitting, mesmerizing, scintillating, lustrous, invigorating, incandescent, inescapable, rollicking, perceiving, wayfaring, devastating, steadfast, cinematic, whelming, imposing,irrefutable and intelligent duo behind Communicore Weekly. You can find them on the Mice Chat Youtube Channel.

About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • mratigan

    I love the book
    But you need to get it in color

    • George Taylor

      Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it. I agree that you need to get the color version.

  • Rideongprcs

    Great book. The photos really captures the early days of Epcot and the show quality of the rides 30 years ago. I was saddened to see how the current quality of the shows has been lowered. It seems that economics are winning out over show quality.

    • George Taylor

      Thanks for the comment!

      I agree that the photos do a great job of showing what Epcot was.

  • BigPigletFan

    Ha, Ep-ity-cot!!!

    I got to page through the book Kevin brought before George showed up. I really enjoyed the pages I viewed and the way attractions were highlighted. I look forward to reading it.

    • George Taylor

      You mean I stole your copy of the book?