Before the Dawn of a New Disney Era

On Day 1 of EPCOT365, I remarked about the perfect timing of EPCOT Center. Unfortunately my family didn't have the best timing with our first trip to Walt Disney World in the Summer of 1982. However, this missed opportunity only served to strengthen our anticipation for EPCOT Center when we returned in 1984 and that was due, in large part, to the EPCOT Center monorail preview offered to guests in 1982. 
At this time, there really wasn't a lot of promotion and advertising beyond what you'd read in a magazine or see on television. But Disney had a long history of aggressive marketing of their theme parks and would continue to do that with future theme parks. It started with Disneyland, which was rather ingeniously marketed via its own television show and paved the way for Disney's growth as a multimedia corporation.  But with EPCOT Center, they had a unique opportunity to offer a preview to guests that took them inside the park, taking them as close to some of the attractions as possible without actually entering the park.

The trip to EPCOT from the Ticket and Transportation Center was exactly as it would be now, including the loop around Future World. The key difference was that was as close as you were going to get to those pavilions at that moment (and World Showcase was still going to be a very distant visual). After you disembarked, you could get an up-close view of Spaceship Earth and listen to a brief discussion with a cast member. After that, you returned to the TTC with those quick glimpses, a brochure, and an inspired imagination.

Guests received the pre-opening magazine The Dawn of A New Disney Era which contained a wonderful illustration of the park layout, as well as construction photos and descriptions of what was to come for Future World and World Showcase. (A good scan of this magazine can be found here) I distinctly remember being enthralled with this brochure as a kid, taking in all the artwork and details, and forming visions of future experiences in my relatively malleable brain. In fact, it's easily the foundation of what would become an obsession with concept art, maps and guides, and construction photos. 

Though only 8 years old at the time, I very much have a vivid memory of taking the EPCOT Center monorail preview trip and that sense of this next big thing we had just missed out on. It was such a major thread of the next two years of my life as EPCOT Center soon opened and was becoming a well-known destination. I don't recall having much of an awareness of Disney or Walt Disney World when I was that age; it almost seems like my fandom started the day we visited the Magic Kingdom. After that, everything else was just the things you do in life between trips to Walt Disney World. And while I enjoyed the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center was the bigger draw for us to keep returning to.