Most people know that the traditional Disney characters were deliberately kept out of EPCOT when it first opened. Looking back, this seems like a foolish move on Disney's part. How can you possibly expect to visit a Disney park for any other reason than to see Mickey and pals? Why, there weren't even any movie-based rides! Not one! Just a lot of science and world culture stuff. Really now, why would anyone visit EPCOT's France except to meet Belle? The conventional wisdom says that Michael Eisner recognized the folly of this and set about "tooning up" EPCOT, thus saving the park.
Another site has an article which shows this up for the myth that it is.
The Miami Herald newspaper of Monday, September 28, 1981 declared the following:“With the opening of EPCOT Center next fall, Disney officials hope to launch an entirely new generation of lovable, laughable characters. To that end, they have banned Mickey Mouse from the elaborate new theme park and declared it the domain of new characters.
“If Figment seems to capture the hearts of Disney guests, a well-orchestrated campaign will swing into action. Disney writers will create series of Figment adventure books. Figment T-shirts, keychains, mugs and charms will find their way onto souvenir racks.
“Dozens of other characters also will be born on the stages of EPCOT Center, and artists are now striving to develop individual personalities and voices for every one of them.
“A single character, if he captures the public imagination could be worth millions to the company,” said one artist reverently, “You feel like you’re birthing a child.”See? Mickey was banned from EPCOT because 30 years ago, Disney wanted the parks to have their own characters, not give you 25 different versions of "Finding Nemo." Personally, I liked the parks a lot more before they became recursive brand experiences. If I want to see the movie again, I'll watch the DVD.