Wednesday, October 03, 2007

EPCOT 25 - One Little Spark . . .

One little spark . . .

These were the three words that kept emerging very tangibly from the happy chaos that filled Epcot on October 1, 2007. Three words that ignite the anthem of Imagination and connect EPCOT Center past to Epcot present, it is a phrase that came to embody and represent so much of what transpired on the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World’s second gate.

One little spark of inspiration . . . that grew out of a forum thread and into Celebration 25. Adam Roth and Jenn Waitt began a grass roots effort to celebrate Epcot’s 25th that was recognized by mainstream media and ultimately encouraged and supported by Disney itself. That spark ignited fully over the course of Celebration 25’s two days of events. I was very proud and excited to be one of the sponsors for this incredible gathering of the EPCOT passionate. Strangers became friends, online friends were able to finally enjoy handshakes and embraces, and podcast voices suddenly had corresponding faces and smiles. Kudos to Adam and his team for all their hard work in putting together this very exciting and memorable experience.

Musical notes, what a delightful melody those will make . . . A fun and engaging cast member named Norm entertained my sons with jokes and card tricks while we all waited for the 9:00 AM rope drop. Inspired by the day, Norm encouraged them to sing an EPCOT song, and was pleasantly surprised when they launched into (you guessed it) the original “One Little Spark.” It was a few moments thereafter when we were invited to be the Epcot Family of the Day. As we waited for the countdown, numerous cast members came up to congratulate us, and their happiness and excitement about this very special day was every bit as joyful and tangible as that of the ever-growing crowd around them. We were then escorted via Test Track vehicle to that attraction. I will never forget the wide eyes and broad smiles on my sons’ faces.

. . . Is at the heart of all creation. The current stewards of Epcot clearly celebrated the park’s unique nature and rich history via the 10:01 Re-dedication ceremony, Marty Sklar’s presentations, the EPCOT Gallery and a 25th Anniversary finale that was added to the already spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. EPCOT Center’s original opening theme of “We’ve Just Begun to Dream” was reintroduced at the re-dedication, and later reinforced at the Illuminations finale. But it was still the spirit of Dreamfinder that would pop up unexpectedly. When Marty Sklar presented a medley of EPCOT music during the course of his presentation, an enthusiastic audience responded with applause and cheers when the strains of One Little Spark emerged from the speakers.

But it was the small things that truly demonstrated a passion on the part of Disney managers that easily equaled that of the many fans who poured through the gates that morning-- reproductions of original EPCOT Center guidebooks, restaurants in World Showcase featuring original opening day menus, and a very sentimental collection of original EPCOT music that followed Illuminations and provided an appropriate and emotional ending to a terrific day. And again, when One Little Spark played as part of the repertoire, a sudden and emotional sing-along spontaneously erupted.

In regards to the management of Epcot, I cannot say enough about Epcot VP Jim McPhee. Accessible, genuine and himself a passionate EPCOT veteran of twenty-five years, Jim went out of his way during what was clearly a hectic and busy time, to greet and interact with the many participants of Celebration 25--at the Sunday history walks, following the re-dedication ceremony, and finally at the conclusion of the Illuminations dessert party Monday night.

On a personal note, I was thrilled to finally meet folks with whom I have established online friendships but had yet to meet in person. John Frost of the Disney Blog has long been a friend and supporter of 2719 and it was great to finally be able to express my thanks and gratitude to him person.

I was also very thrilled to finally meet in person fellow blogger and crate-detective Jessica Levenson from If We Can Dream It . . . To say that Jessica and I are kindred spirits when it comes to park details would be a major understatement, and it was a real joy to be able to spend time with her as well her wonderful mom Mim Levenson. We had an especially fun conversation about the challenges of photographing the details of Restrauntosaurus in Animal Kingdom amidst the stares and glares of dining guests.

To the many, many other individuals who went out of their way to say hi and share kind words and compliments, your enthusiasm and support for my efforts here are appreciated more than you know. It is a joy and a privilege to share this passion with so many wonderful, sincere and like-minded folks. I would like to send thanks especially to Deb Wills of All Ears Net, Bryan Ripper from the All About the Mouse podcast and Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel for taking time out of their busy days to share conversations and extend support and encouragement.

This is easily the most disjointed and rambling posts I’ve ever written. Those wonderful little sparks tend to fly off in many different directions, but hopefully you can still see that, at least for me, Epcot’s 25th Anniversary celebration represented yet another Disney dream come true.

It was a great day.


Epcot Family of the Day photo courtesy of Orlando Attractions Magazine

9 comments:

Jeff Pepper said...

To Anonymous Who Had Posted a Comment here--

The original post had a formating problem I needed to correct and I was forced to reconstruct from the beginning. In doing so, your very nice comment was lost. I apologize for that happening and I wanted to make sure you knew that it was not deliberately removed.

Grumpwurst (Ray) said...

Congrats on being picked "The Family" for rope drop.

I'm sure that was just additional icing on the wonderful cake.

BTW, did you get grief from your kids' schools for pulling them out?

I guess you just got a sampling of what MouseFest is going to be like

Disneyana World said...

it was the best day any disney fan could ask for.

Klark Kent 007 said...

We were there, but got wrapped up in just being there and didn't meet up with the group.

Never the less, it was wonderful to see so many people there who actually enjoy EPCOT, and the things that made us enjoy it.

I still wish there was more from the "old" days, but I can hope.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the note Jeff. No problem on the comment, glad you liked it. So what's the answer to the question - is the arm gone?

Jeff Pepper said...

As EPCOT VP Jim McPhee stated in a recent interview--Spaceship Earth has been restored to its original state.

It looks awesome, and in an ironic twist, it actually makes the Leave a Legacy monoliths look pretty good as well.

Lillian said...

Jeff,

What a special day, indeed.... savor the moment and the memories....

DrGaellon said...

Congrats on your day at Epcot... wish I could have been there...

Do you know if there's an mp3 of "One Little Spark" floating around anywhere? I found a 25-second clip, but I'd love to find the whole thing...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff.. I wish I could have been at Epcot but I had to work (at the Magic Kingdom, poor me!). I should've thought to ask you to come by Liberty Square and say hello!

If I had a blog, the biggest thing I would want to tell the world about Epcot 25 was the amazing people that came to WDW. I have had such incredible guest experiences over the past week or so and most of them came for Epcot. What I really love is reading on the blogs and hearing on the podcasts about Guests and Cast interacting. Cast Members spend their time making Guests feel special. Guests repay the favor every day ... everytime I read a story I feel special for being a part of the magic. Thanks for everything you do, and thanks for being such a big force for Epcot's 25th.