Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What’s In a Name? (or Acronym)

Recently, I got into a little bit of a Twitter argument (or Twargument) with someone over the “correct” capitalization of the word/acronym EPCOT. Now, I am not the kind of person who enjoys arguing on the Internet. I’m not one of those people on message boards who’s always single-mindedly ranting about things he doesn’t like and attacking people who disagree with him. So, this post is not an attempt to get the last word in a conversation. It’s simply an attempt to explain why I do something (in this case, spell EPCOT in all capitals rather than use the Disney Parks-approved “Epcot” spelling) without being bound by Twitter’s 140-character limit.

There are two ways to look at the EPCOT-vs.-Epcot “issue”. You could point out that the real EPCOT-Walt’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, was never built and that the name of the theme park located at Walt Disney World in Florida has been named “Epcot” by the Walt Disney Corporation which owns and operates it. And you would be correct.

I take a different view. Although Walt’s grand futuristic city was never built, EPCOT Center was founded upon the ideals it embodied. Only a small number of people would actually have lived in Walt’s EPCOT; most people would have experienced it as tourists. Concerning his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Walt Disney said “I believe we can build a community that more people will talk about and come to look at than any other area in the world.” Why did Walt think the general public would want to visit EPCOT in large numbers? To ride rollercoasters, perhaps? To meet Mickey Mouse? Of course not, that’s what the Magic Kingdom was for. People were supposed to visit EPCOT to be amazed, to be inspired, to go home feeling energized about the possibilities of the real world.

EPCOT Center was not the community Walt envisioned, but it was built with the same purpose: to inspire, educate, and amaze. I believe those things are important. The Disney executives of the mid-1990s disagreed. Lowercase Epcot, to me, represents all the worst aspects of the lowest-common-denominator approach to the park that almost ruined it in the mid-90s to early 2000s. And I refuse to surrender to that.

So I’ll continue to refer to my favorite theme park as EPCOT. Because “Epcot” is a meaningless nonsense word, but EPCOT is the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It’s an acronym that still means something to a few people out there. Including me.


  1. Dude...I was there in 82 and I'm with you 110% percent. EPCOT Center died the second Eisner got the keys to the Kingdom (as did much of WDW). The second the giant dolls were removed and the characters brought was a slippery slope to over commercialization. Epcot now is a tacky, gaudy, disorganized disaster that has no sense of it's history and no respect for it. But...I still love it and it'll always be my favorite of the bunch.

  2. I respect your position on this. Personally it doesn't bother me much either way. Maybe that's because I never went there till 04. I'm liable to use either one in a post on my blog. I don't really think of it. Agree that EPCOT seems more clearly to be the acronym instead of Epcot the made-up word for a name. Of course plenty of acronyms become common words by themselves. Laser. Scuba. That sort of thing. We know what they mean even if we don't know what the letters all stand for. (I can't remember what laser stands for.) As long as we don't forget what EPCOT means, I'm okay with Epcot. But that's just me.

  3. Couldn't agree with you more on this one. It is EPCOT. Might as well call it Epcot '11 if you wanna' use Epcot.


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