Epcot turns 25
On October 1, 1982, EPCOT Center opened its gates to the public for the first time. And while many things have changed over the years—like the name (it's just Epcot now) and the attractions (good-bye World of Motion, hello Test Track)—it still remains the coolest "edu-tainment" theme park you'll ever find.
When I was eight, my family was on one of its many trips to the Magic Kingdom, when my aunt, who lived in the area, had gotten us tickets to see a preview of the futuristic new park that Disney was building just a monorail trip away. I still remember standing on the monorail platform, staring out at the not-yet completed buildings, and thinking, "Wow." Twenty-five years later, I still get that feeling whenever I walk in.
Epcot elicits strong reactions from people. Some people rank it as their favorite theme park, even above the Magic Kingdom (blasphemy!). Others think it's a waste of time, and only go because Disney started swapping out some of the "educational" rides for thrill rides. As for me? There's nothing I love more than a leisurely stroll around World Showcase, popping in to hear the Voices of Liberty, or learning the importance of conservation at The Land.
Disney World marks the milestone on Monday morning with an official rededication ceremony. (It's a celebration that almost wasn't, as detailed by Jeff Pepper in his excellent blog, 2719 Hyperion.) And like anyone celebrating a birthday, Epcot has been going through some changes lately. It started with the phased refurbishment of Spaceship Earth, including the removal of the much-maligned Mickey wand. The Italy and Japan pavilions have just re-opened with new restaurants, while China and Mexico are next on the slate to get revisions. Donald Duck, along with the rest of the Three Caballeros, was added to the Mexico boat ride, and Canada just introduced a new Circlevision 360 movie, starring comedian and native son, Martin Short.
If you're thinking of visiting Epcot to join in the celebration, be sure to catch the annual Food & Wine Festival, running now through November 11. If you like to eat or drink (or in my case, both!), this is an absolute must-do. Kiosks ring World Showcase lagoon, and feature appetizer-size foods and wine by the glass from 25 international regions. Add in daily seminars and musical performances from acts like The Four Tops and Sheena Easton, and you've got yourself a rockin' good time! Entry is included in your park admission, and while the samples are not free, they're pretty reasonable. Most food items will run you under $5 and a glass of wine is around that. If you're a little skittish about trying out an unfamiliar cuisine, this is a great way to dip your toe in the water and try something new. And if wine's not your thing, stop by the United Kingdom pavilion where you can still grab a pint of beer at the Rose & Crown Pub.
Photo: Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth © Disney
Question of the Week
Travel is one of those things where if you did it all the time you'd get really good at it. Unfortunately, few people get to do it all the time—including the staff of Budget Travel. (We're stuck in office meetings like most people.) So we thought it would be smart to pool our knowledge. We ask you a question, you share your advice, and then we spotlight the most helpful tips in a future magazine issue. Here is this week's question: "I'll be visiting friends in Burlington, Vt., in November. What are some fun things to do there? I don't participate in winter sports so that can't be one of them." —Sarah Irick, associate art director Please post your answer as a comment below. Thanks! Photo of Burlington, Vt., by Jared Vincent via Flickr and Creative Commons.
Dazzling images from under the sea
Veteran photographer Jeffrey L. Rotman fills his new book, Underwater Eden: 365 Days, with glorious images of ocean creatures in the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, and elsewhere. Gawk at a shark, octopus, dolphin, turtle, and assorted fish in brilliant shades of neon and bizarre patterns and textures, in our slide show. Of course, the book is available at Amazon.
Webcomix get museum cred
MoCCA, The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City, is now showing a small but impressive exhibit on Webcomics—a label covering all types of online, serialized comics. The Internet gives artists the breathing space to be experimental, leading to some surprising inventions. For instance, a young man named Brian Fies recently wrote a webcomic about his mother's lung cancer. Another guy named Josh Neufeld has illustrated some of the stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors. The country's most famous webcomic is probably Penny Arcade, whose work is on display. Other represented artists include Jorge Cham (PhD), Pete Abrams (Sluggy Freelance), and Dan Goldman (the author behind the Eisner-nominated Shooting War and an upcoming graphic novel about the presidential campaign). The museum itself is on the fourth floor of a nondescript building on Broadway in a bustling SoHo shopping district. (By the way, if you've never visited a Japanese-inspired Uniqlo clothing store, be sure to pop in to the one a few doors down from the museum.) Hours are Friday through Monday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets $5, kids 12 and under enter free. Moccany.org.
Wistful thinking about Hawaii
Who isn't tempted by the allure of the islands? The lush flowers, the droopy palm trees ripe with coconuts, the gentle waves lapping the shore…. Sure, it's a clichéd vision of Hawaii, but it's an effective (and largely deserved!) one. Travel companies have been milking it for decades, and Hawaii remains one of the top spots for honeymooners. While on my own honeymoon in Maui, I came across a package of postcards featuring vintage art from the early 20th century—the glory days of travel to Hawaii. This was a time when airlines and cruise lines were selling the glamour of travel to the Pacific by using some of the classic art imagery that had already been seen on "luxury" items like canned pineapples. Check out the slide show I've put together, showcasing a bunch of these iconic images of Hawaii. Related While we have you in the mood, read up on your favorite island, whether it's Kauai, Maui, Oahu or the Big Island. Earlier A slide show of photographs from the book Exotic Postcards: The Lure of Distant Lands [artwork courtesy of islandartstore.com]
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