Thursday, September 06, 2007

Disney News - Fall 1982

As October 1st rapidly approaches, we're ramping up our efforts here at 2719 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of EPCOT Center. Today we revisit this very interesting and somewhat obscure piece of Disneyana, the Fall 1982 issue of Disney News.

Disney News at that time was still a subscription-only magazine that was distributed to members of the Magic Kingdom Club, an employee benefits program that Disney made available to employers. In an article introducing EPCOT Center to the magazine's readership, editor Stephen Birnbaum described the scope and significance of Walt Disney World's soon to be opened second gate:

Walt Disney's dream has become reality. It's impossible to say whether the Epcot Center that opens on October 1,1982, is consistent in every detail with what Walt himself might have wrought. but there's no doubt whatsoever that it embodies the spirit that its originator intended.

Epcot Center represents a unique combination of innovative imagination and technical virtuosity. Disney's "Imagineers" have created a new dimension of pleasure, excitement, amusement, and education. From Opening Day onward, Epcot Center will be the standard by which all such undertakings will be measured, and future phases will further expand even the current level of appeal. Until now, there's never been anything remotely like Epcot Center; and it's unlikely there ever will be again.

Even then, Disney was already working to extend the EPCOT brand beyond just its incarnation as a theme park. The same issue of Disney News featured an article previewing the Disney Channel which was set to debut in 1983. Among it's interesting revelations:

But there'll also be new faces, such as a wizard named Dreamfinder, who will personify the spirit of imagination and creativity, and his sidekick, Figment, a miniature dragon (both are characters from Epcot Center's Journey Into Imagination).

According to Jim Jimirro, president of Walt Disney Telecommunications, "There will, of course, be a large children's component in what we are doing, but we're not going to stop there. Our goal is to have the Disney Channel represent a force in the family that becomes important to its members not only because the channel presents pleasurable programs but because these programs can make a difference in people's lives.

"The most logical starting point will be Epcot Center pavilion-inspired ideas. But the programming will go far beyond the specifics of each pavilion —be it energy, transportation, or imagination— to the real underlying values of Epcot, such as the need for effective communication and the necessity for people to work together to achieve their goals."

EPCOT Center was featured quite prominently on the Disney Channel during its initial few years of operation, although Dreamfinder and Figment never quite materialized in the way that the article seemed to describe. The channel's most obvious EPCOT connection was EPCOT Magazine, a daily thirty-minute program that debuted in April 1983.


Joey V said...

Excellent summary, Jeff. Ironically, I was doing some cleaning last night and came across this very same issue (along with those cool rotating guide maps from early EPCOT Center days.) Amazing how that magazine article said the very same things you all have been saying recently. Maybe you all have just been hitting them over the head, saying "Hey! Remember what you said 25 years ago? That was a promise - you better keep it!"

Disneyana World said...

I think I have this too.

edyensid said...

i really wish someone out there had those EPCOT Magazine episodes on tape. i have searched the internet, but can find very little interest in the shows, but they were my favorite thing on the Disney Channel.