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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: CommuniCore at Epcot



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

COMMUNICORE

By Jim Korkis

Some of the announced changes for Epcot have been cancelled or will be delayed because of the losses of the 2020 closure of the parks.

Epcot has always been a park of things changing, including the disappearance of CommuniCore that debuted with the park in 1982.

(c) Disney

Disney described CommuniCore as “Future World’s global Main Street of ideas and inventions”. CommuniCore was located in two crescent-shaped, 100,000 square foot buildings (CommuniCore East and CommuniCore West) that faced a large fountain just beyond Spaceship Earth.

The name was a combination of the words “core” and “community,” not “communication” as many Disney guests believed. CommuniCore was meant to provide guests with an introduction and more information about the park’s major themes in a somewhat tranquil setting.

It was supposed to embody Walt Disney’s original plan for Epcot to be a community. The logo for CommuniCore was two crescent shapes facing each other divided into north and south quadrants.

The buildings housed rotating exhibits related to technology, and were replaced in 1994 by Innoventions which was a combination of the words “innovation” and “inventions”. The new area was louder and flashier with more upscale corporate-sponsored exhibits.

CommuniCore had a central, tall, winding corridor that ran though each of the buildings from end to end, with a number of entry/exit points to the outside.

CommuniCore officially included the largest shop in Epcot, the two-story 13,000 square foot Centorium (an Emporium for the 21st Century). It also included two restaurants, the Stargate Restaurant (that later became the Electric Umbrella) and Sunrise Terrace Restaurant (that later became Pasta Piazza and then Fountainview Expresso & Bakery) that were both open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

CommuniCore East showcased the Astuter Computer Revue (later Backstage Magic) demonstrating the use of computers at the park, and SMRT-1 (Smart One), a purple and chrome robot sitting on a revolving pedestal surrounded by telephones who played games using voice recognition technology with the guests–both exhibits sponsored by Sperry/UNISYS; Compute-A-Coaster where guests could assemble their own roller coaster on a video screen with assistance from an animated beaver;  American Express’ Travelport, a fourteen foot red sphere showing different vacation destinations as well as a Travel Service desk to make plans for a trip; Exxon’s Energy Exchange with games, demonstrations, films and interactive experiences like generating enough electricity for a light bulb and getting the optimum gas mileage from a car; and the Electronic Forum which had the Future Choice Theater registering guests’ opinions on a variety of topics.

CommuniCore West showcased a communications themed area sponsored by AT&T called FutureCom that predicted services that would later be provided by the internet; ExpoRobotics with exhibits on precision maneuvering like painting by industrial robot arms was first on display at the 1985 International Science Exposition in Takuba, Japan but purchased from the manufacturers by WDW; the EPCOT Discovery Center, a research center all about E.P.C.O.T. Center and Walt Disney World (later called “Ask EPCOT” and finally EPCOT Outreach); and a Teacher Center.

CommuniCore was packed with many other displays including the Population clock that displayed the rough population of the Earth and changed with every passing second, as well as the Manufactory where guests could assemble an American flag.

Just outside of CommuniCore were the WorldKey Information System kiosks, a digital information system created specifically for Epcot by Bell Laboratories and Western Electric. The main station was in the post-show area outside of Spaceship Earth until 1994. By accessing the touch screen, guests could learn about different attractions and connect with Guest Relations cast members via closed circuit video for assistance or making dining reservations.

Actor Dallas McKennon, known for providing the old prospector safety spiel on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the voice of Benjamin Franklin in the American Adventure, provided the host voice for the kiosks.

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Thanks, Jim!  More on CommuniCore is on the Disney Parks Blog here.

And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, 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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