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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Epcot Parades



By Dave Shute

THE EPCOT PARADES

By Jim Korkis

There was a short-lived World Showcase Parade that started in October 1982 to celebrate the grand opening of Epcot. It included dancers, musicians and costumed characters on the World Showcase Promenade to the music of the Sherman Brothers’ The World Showcase March, but it was performed only a handful of times. This parade was followed by the longer-lived Tapestry of Nations and Tapestry of Dreams parades.

Tapestry of Nations Parade (1999 – 2001)

Tapestry of Nations was selected as the theme to embrace an international audience and to reaffirm the World Showcase commitment.

“A tapestry has many threads and our tapestry symbolically represents the diversity of planet Earth, and our hope for a better world woven with compassion, love, kindness and joy,” explained Show Director Gary Paben. “When you weave all of these elements into it, you have a magnificent image, and that image represents the human spirit.”

The parade’s forty huge puppet characters were designed by Michael Curry, who also designed the puppets for the Broadway stage version of The Lion King. Each puppet weighed between eight and eighteen pounds, and added an additional fifteen to eighteen feet in height to its puppeteer.

The impressionistically-styled puppets were not meant to represent any particular culture, and included Aztec Man, Bird Man, Inverted (or Reverse) Marionette, Angel Girl, Wiggle Girl, Disc Man, Hammered Man and The Sprite.

The puppets were interspersed with fifteen identical rolling percussion units called Millennium Clocks that were 19 feet tall and 16 feet wide, with drummers on each side.

In order to effectively control the time of the parade around the lengthy World Showcase Promenade walkway to roughly twenty minutes, three separate identical units were released simultaneously at different locations along the parade route.

One unit started from the area between the Millennium Village and the UK pavilion; another from between Morocco and Japan and the third from the gate between Germany and the Refreshment Outpost. Sometimes the route would be reversed, and over the years, as Tapestry of Nations changed into Tapestry of Dreams, were reduced to two processions and finally just one.

The parade began with the Sage of Time, who was represented by a stilt walker wearing a white robe with gold trim that had designs of timepieces and alchemy symbols as well as a headpiece resembling a sun with a face.

The music was composed by Gavin Greenaway, who also scored IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth.  The parade included the song Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand.

There were actually three versions of Tapestry of Nations, primarily with differences in the audio, like changing the more serious narration of the Sage of Time into a more gentle interpretation, and later incorporating the idea of dreams. Tapestry of Nations served as the theme of the 2000 Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show with the Sage of Time and huge puppets.

Tapestry of Dreams Parade (2001 – 2003)

Because of its popularity, the parade was re-themed into the Tapestry of Dreams Parade and traveled from Mexico to Morocco twice a day.

The Sage of Time was replaced by three Dream Seekers: Elfen (nature, magic, emotion), Cosmos (space, the universe, infinity) and Leonardo Columbus (discovery, invention and genius). The parade concept was re-themed to be a “visible dream” in which ideas, images, and emotions are evoked and the dreams of the guests, especially the children, are collected in the hope that they will spring to life.

The music (with additional contributions from Jonathon Barr) now featured new spoken introductions by the Dream Seekers and the voices of children speaking their dreams in many different languages. The parade also had a tribute to Walt Disney who it proclaimed was “…the greatest and most wonderful dreamer of all!”

Children would write their dreams down on a piece of paper and place them in the butterfly style nets of the Dreamkeepers as they harvested them as they passed by those along the parade route.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, and about planned but unbuilt concepts, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

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