||Last revised Tue, 04-Jul-2006 5:09|
The two huge buildings of CommuniCore East and CommuniCore West were designed to be the central hub of Epcot, and were in place for the park opening on the 1st October 1982.
They were described by Walt Disney as "Future World's global Main Street of ideas and inventions", partly because in Epcot's original format all guests had to travel between the Communicore buildings to enter the main area of the park, just as guests have to travel down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This changed of course when the International Gateway was added in between the United Kingdom and Frence pavillions of the World Showcase.
As with most areas of Epcot, Communicore was heavily sponsored by third party companies, however the advertising was a great deal more subtle than is the case now at Innoventions, and it served as a introduction to many of Epcot's major themes, whereas now it's a far more brash marketing forum for the sponsors involved.
Communicore's name was a combination of "community" and "core," and reflects on Walt's original dreams of Epcot being an experimental community living in a carefully controlled idealistic environment, with Communicore being right at the very center of the area.
Technically the area consisted of two parts, Communicore East and Communicore West. but each half was effectively divided into northern and southern sections, separated by exterior walkways. Over the years the northern quadrants were by far the busiest and most changed.
The northeast quadrant contained EPCOT Computer Central, Travelport, Energy Exchange and the Stargate Restaurant.
EPCOT Computer Central, originally presented by Sperry and later by UNISYS, was home to the first EPCOT Center attraction to disappear. At its entrance the Population Clock depicted the expanding population of the U.S.A via a series of increasing revolving numbers.
The Astuter Computer Revue took place on a second-floor terraced theater that overlooked a large room housing some of the computers used to operate the park. It was hosted by an irritating projected host who sang and danced his way across computer banks in the foreground of the room in an attempt to explain the role of computers at Walt Disney World. The relatively poor nature of the show was backed by even poorer attendance figures, and it was closed fairly quickly on 2nd January 1984.
The Astuter Computer Revue was replaced in Feb 1984 by Backstage Magic, in which a holographic hostess complete with electronic sidekick I/O took guests on a virtual tour of some of the computer systems that were used to operate the park. Although an interesting show, it was standing room only which put people off a little. Backstage Magic finally closed in October 1993
SMRT-1, a purple and chrome robot set on a rotating pedestal surrounded by telephones, was a much more popular attraction, splurging out an endless stream of trivia and guessing games for guests to compete against others via the phone handsets.
The "Compute-A-Coaster" attraction enabled guests to design and construct their own virtual roller coaster on a video screen, coached by a lisping cartoon beaver who sounded just like the gopher from Winnie-the-Pooh. This was a precursor to the current much more up to date attraction at the Disney Quest.
Other displays in this area included the Great American Census Quiz, Get Set Jet Game and the Flag Game, all of which used touch-screen technology which was quite new and exciting back in 1982 when it all opened, but seemed very much outdated and commonplace by the time the attractions were being closed.
Some of the exhibits at Communicore included an audio-animatronic robot going under the name of "SMRT-1", that could be asked questions. Airbrush Robots spray-painted images onto T-Shirts for guests, whilst another exhibit allowed guests to design their own ideal roller-coaster on a computer. Once complete it was possible to watch a trial run of the completed coaster.
Travelport was located on the other side of the hall from the Astuter Computer Revue. Presented by American Express it featured a large red globe at the entrance with images of foreign sights projected onto its surface from inside the globe. Once into the attraction guests entered booths where they could access touch-screen based previews of travel destinations around the world. The American Express Travel Service desk was located close by, where guests could obtain more detailed information from live hosts and hostesses
Exxon's Energy Exchange, in the same building was a large room full of computerized and three-dimensional displays revolving around the Energy theme.Guests could pedal bicycles and see how much energy they had expended. Another exhibit allowed guests the chance to generate electricity to light a bulb via a hand turned generator, Other minor attractions included a large detailed model of an oil rig, and a touch screen video game where guests had to guide a car around a digitised city.
Nearby the Stargate Restaurant is the only section of the northeast quadrant that hasn't been completely removed, although it has undergone a revamp, and a name change to the Electric Umbrella.
On the other side of the central plaza, the northwest part of Communicore was home to EPCOT Outreach and FutureCom.
EPCOT Outreach, later Ask EPCOT was an educational cul-area where guests could find more information about any of Epcot's major themes. Graphic displays lined the walls leading up to an information desk where a staff of researchers including a librarian would attempt to answer any queries from guests, irrespective of whether they were about the theme park, the Disney company, or any of the many films and TV shows produced by the company. If the answer couldn't be given immediately the staff would take a contact address, and send the answer later on by mail.
The area also featured a "Teacher's Lounge" which was hidden away and allowed people to watch guests from behind darkened glass.
FutureCom, first sponsored by the Bell System and later by AT&T, was similar to EPCOT Computer Central and Energy Exchange in that it was a large room filled with interactive exhibits. The theme linking everythign together was communications technologies. On the north wall of the room was a sprawling animated diorama called the "Age Of Information."
FutureCom was also home to the Fountain of Information, another kind of kinetic sculpture. Here objects culled from all fields of communication media were thrown together into a pileup of lights, color and motion. Nearby, a wall-sized electronic map of the U.S.A. illustrated the country's network of phone lines and demonstrated the concept of teleconferencing. A series of yet more touch-screen games gave guests some insight on the relationship between phones and computers.
The southwest quadrant of Communicore spent many years occupied by nothing other than the Sunrise Terrace restaurant.
A large part of this area was initially supposed to become the Tron Arcade, but it never went beyond the planning stage, probably because the film itself flopped fairly abysmally when it was released. Instead the area became the home of Expo Robotics in February 1988, featuring robots performing feats of precision maneuvering and "artistry,". This included the reasonably well liked T-Shirt painting animatronics, which would follow a pattern created by guests, translating it into an airbrushed-image on a T-Shirt.
The Sunrise Terrace restaurant has been replaced by a combination of the Pasta Piazza Ristorante and Fountain View Espresso and Bakery.
Communicore was eventually closed to make way for what is now Innoventions which opened in July 1994, and although redesigned, the only part of Communicore that still remains after a fashion is Centorium, Epcot's largest store which is located in the southeast quadrant. Centorium ramins pretty much unchanged, and still bears the original design on the carpeting featuring the Communicore logo.