Remembering the Magic: CommuniCore

by Jonathan Heigl, contributing writer

This month, we explore the history of CommuniCore. CommuniCore did not have any rides. It also was the only pavilion in Future World to be split up between two buildings that are not connected together. Let’s have some fun as we remember the history of CommuniCore.

CommuniCore logo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

CommuniCore (October 1, 1982 to January 30, 1994)

CommuniCore was an original pavilion of EPCOT Center, opening on the first day of operation for the park. CommuniCore was split between two identically shaped buildings that each formed a semicircle, as depicted in the pavilion’s logo, with the left side (if you are coming from the park entrance) called CommuniCore East, and the right side (if you are coming from the park entrance) being CommuniCore West.

CommuniCore was the central hub of Epcot Center. All of the concepts the other Future World pavilions covered were covered in CommuniCore as well, in a hands-on way. The pavilion used computers for practically every exhibit as a way to educate Guests not only on the concepts they were covering, but also on computers themselves, since this was the beginning of the computer era.

CommuniCore West (The Land side of Future World)

  • Expo Robotics – a show where robotic arms (like in an industrial plant) would do stunts, such as precision top spinning (spinning a top on a wire). Also here were Portrait Robots, which would draw a portrait for guests, and T-shirt Robots, which would airbrush Disney characters onto T-shirts that were offered for sale.
  • FutureCom – a communications-themed area that was originally sponsored by Bell, then by AT&T.
Inside of this area was:
  • A-mazing Microchip – a microchip-themed maze for kids.
  • The Age of Information – a large, animated mural with games and computers surrounding it. One game, Network Control, allowed guests to simulate the flow of long distance calls. A second game, Phraser, would speak out what the user typed in.
  • The Intelligent Network – a map 20 feet by 30 feet map that showed long-distance phone routes.
  • Face-to-Face – an interactive Picturephone screen.
  • Teleconferencing – a series of monitors that would demonstrate teleconferencing.
  • The Fountain of Information – a “fountain” made of several different information media, such as TVs, radios, magazines, phones, and traffic signs.

The pavilion also featured a few services and a restaurant, including:

  • EPCOT Outreach – a service that showed plans and feature art for future pavilions.
  • Teacher Center – had educational material related to EPCOT.
  • Sunrise Terrace Restaurant – served fried chicken, salads, and seafood.

CommuniCore East (Universe of Energy side of Future World)

  • EPCOT Computer Central – Epcot’s backstage computer area. Astuter Computer Revue was a show where a shrunken dancing man sang “The Computer Song” and danced around computers. Backstage Magic replaced Astuter Computer Revue in 1984, and featured Julie (a computer operator) and her sidekick I/O, and simulated how Audio-Animatronics are operated. SMRT-1 was a voice operated robot who would play guessing games with Guests. Compute-a-Coaster was a build your own coaster exhibit in which Guests built their own track and then the monitor would give you a first person view as you “rode” it. The area also had a few other minor interactive games.
  • Travelport –  “Vacation stations” in which guests could see slideshows of various vacation destinations.
  • Electronic Forum – an area where guests could see various news and information, including sports, Disney news, and so on, on various TVs.
  • Energy Exchange – a pretty hands-on area with different games. In this area was:
  • Blowout-Preventer – displayed and detailed how it prevents gushes of oil.
    • Coal Locator – a set of rings that would light up different colors to show which countries had the most coal.
    • Driving Machine – showed how the miles per gallon for a car depended on many factors, such as air conditioning and wind resistance.
    • Energy Facility Models – scale models of energy facilities.
    • Hundred-Watt Bulb – guests could crank a lever to power the lightbulb.
    • Offshore Drilling – a large model of a deep sea drilling platform.
    • Oil Shale – a 30,000-pound chunk of oil shale. Near the display were drilling equipment.
    • Photovoltaic Cells – moved under light but would stop if a guest were to block the light from getting to the cells.
    • Video Bicycle – allowed guests to see how much human power it would take to create one gallon of gas.
The pavilion also included the Stargate Restaurant, which served typical American quick-service food, and also Centorium, which was Epcot’s largest shop.

CommuniCore closed in January of 1994 to make way for Innoventions.

Innoventions (September 1994 to Present)

Innoventions was the next stop of CommuniCore. Innoventions was a lot more hands-on and focused a lot on video games in its early days. Guests could find Sega Genesis, Game Gear, virtual reality simulators, and so on. IBM, Lego, Xerox, GE, and other companies all sponsored exhibits over the years. The exhibits changed more rapidly and were rotated in and out more frequently, therefore I will not list them all here. Most will remember the early days of Innoventions as being the place to play Sonic the Hedgehog on the multiple Sega Genesis machines in the pavilion. There were also computer games that were played throughout the pavilion, leading to this being sort of like an arcade style area for kids.

The Centorium would eventually shut down in 1999 and was transformed into Mouse Gear, which is still there today. The Stargate Restaurant turned into the Electric Umbrella when Innoventions opened.

My verdict – revert, update, leave alone, or re-imagine?

My verdict on Innoventions is to re-imagine. I understand the purpose of this pavilion, and when it first opened, I think it fit that purpose. However, nowadays, I think it has veered too far away from its original purpose—and with the speed at which technology advances, I think it would be difficult for Disney to keep the pavilion "futuristic." I would suggest a re-imagine.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with re-magine? If so, what would you suggest they do? Feel free to discuss with me and others! I’d love to hear your opinions on the article and YOUR verdict!


  1. By Boundyman

    I only went to CommuniCore two times when I was a kid, so I don't remember much. To me, all that has changed is what is on display. I say keep as is, just change the exhibits to something more exciting.

  2. By DisneyGator

    Let's face it. People love rides at Disney. And if it isn't a ride, there better be a live show or some characters. Just look at Journey Into Imagination. That ride loads 25 people every two minutes, but hardly any of them stay after the ride is over to do the interactive stuff. You'll only see a few little kids enjoying the fun things they have there. With Innoventions, you don't even have the "wienie", as Walt would say, to get people in the doors. With all the tech know-how that Disney has, you would think they'd come up with some cool interactive place that would attract some portion of the population. At the Innoventions in Anaheim, they've turned into the Marvel room where the tech of Iron Man and Thor and all those guys is on display. Now I'm not saying to do that in Orlando - that would be a complete departure from what Epcot is. But if they made that just a part of the attraction, Innoventions would draw in a good number of people from the other surrounding Future World rides rather than just being a big building that's right in the way of all the fun attractions.

    I like to think that Club Cool is a part of this pavilion. With that said, they really need to bring back Ice Station Whatever. With the 9 months of summer that they have in Florida, that was a great place to cool down fast that got turned into a cheap gift shop with free cola samples.

  3. By carolinakid

    I went to CommuniCore twice in the early '80s when Epcot first opened. Haven't been back in 30 years. Those type of exhibits just don't interest me...

  4. By davidgra

    CommuniCore/Innoventions has long been an area of Epcot that just never really "worked." There have always been parts that were interesting, but very little of it had a repeatability factor (meaning you didn't ever really feel the need to visit multiple times or come back to it on a later trip).

    What I liked about CommuniCore was the bright, open feel of it. I remember the big windows letting in lots of light, the open spaces. It felt like a World's Fair technology exhibit.

    Innoventions, while dark, does have some interesting exhibits. The "Home of the Future" area is usually pretty cool, although it isn't updated often enough to give it a good repeatability factor. We'll drop in to see it once maybe every five or six trips to WDW. I don't think we've ever visited any of the other exhibits in Innoventions more than once, though.

    What could be done to improve this area of Epcot? I have no idea. I think a complete re-theming of the entire area is necessary. I love the concept of "Future World," and I'd like to see that concept expanded upon. Perhaps some sort of combination exhibit/ride that gives guests a look at transportation options for the future -- self-driving cars, MagLev trains, low-Earth-orbit flight, that sort of thing. Have a queue, preshow, and boarding area on one side of the plaza, then a ride that actually takes you outside and around the plaza on some sort of elevated track, then finish up on the other side where you get a post-show area and exit.

    What do I not want to see? More character meet-and-greet locations. More fast food. More shops full of the same generic stuff that is available at every other shop.

  5. By stan4d_steph

    The current IBM exhibit is fantastic, and hearkens back to the original intent of the space: to highlight innovative technologies. Take the time to stop and watch the film and play with the touch screens that all emphasize the importance of data of all kinds in understanding the past and building a better future.

  6. By Goodnplenty

    I can think of a terribly easy fix. They should highlight technology used at WDW. A permanent display showing the evolution of AA's and what's to come. This would include a more indepth look at the workings than their usual displays. Old ride vehicles and their evolving technology would be neat to see. A "Blue Sky" area like Disneyland has would be very enjoyable. They should also include exhibits featuring the other Disney parks around the world. Now THAT would really fit in EPCOT.

  7. By mkelm44

    I'd say reimagine. I always thought that Disney should do a look on how the rides are made and on the imagineering process. I'm not saying that it should reveal the "secrets" of Disney (things like the forced perspective used to make buildings look bigger) but rather all of the work that is done. Show the evolution of a ride, from concepts to initial drawings to construction to completion, video clips with the imagineers who built it, etc. In some ways, Test Track would be a great ride to do, since it isn't an imagination ride so much as an experience ride. Let people design their own rides (similar to video game roller coaster building games) on a computer. Have games that simulate running a ride with decision making involved- how many people can you get on the ride during the day and deal with problems and solutions. Have interactive simulators similar to the ones that let you "steer the ship" on the Disney cruise line (maybe drive the monorail simulation). Have displays from past rides that show the advancement of technology- the 1984 computers versus todays computers. It could be an interesting thing, especially for kids in the 10-15 range who feel "too grown up" for the rides but not yet old enough to be "in" on the Disney magic. In some ways the things that happen to make opening and operating Epcot every single day are just as interesting as the park itself.

  8. By jheigl

    Everyone has nice ideas! To go along the lines of a few suggestions here, maybe they could turn it into a DisneyQuest type area, where you can create some of your own rides and then ride them. Then, they could also have what was suggested above, where they show the process of the creation of some of the popular attractions. I think that would be an excellent re-imagination of the pavilion and would be something that more people would visit!

  9. By LtPowers

    I was born in 1977 and Comminicore was my favorite pavilion while it existed. I never really got into Innoventions as much.

    Powers &8^]

  10. Discuss this article on MousePad.