Remembering the Magic: CommuniCoreby 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 (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.
- 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.
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!