Walt Disney World’s second theme park celebrated its 35th Anniversary on October 1, 2017. That was also the Magic Kingdom’s 46th Anniversary, but the party took place at Epcot. The day featured special merchandise, three new cupcakes to honor the celebration, and more.
Not long after rope drop the skies opened up and it started to pour, but the rain moved out just minutes before the Epcot 35th Anniversary Fountain Stage Ceremony was set to begin. The ceremony started with a performance by Mariachi Cobre. That was followed by a welcome from 2017-2018 Walt Disney World Ambassador, Brandon Peters. Next, a brief 35th Anniversary Procession took place. Peters then introduced Melissa Valiquette, who is the Vice President of Epcot. She talked about how Epcot relies on its Cast Members. She then said that there are nearly 100 current Cast Members who have worked at Epcot since opening day. She thanked them for their 35 years of service. Next to speak was George Kalogridis. He is the former Vice President of Epcot, and the current President of Walt Disney World Resort. He spoke about the future of Epcot. He briefly mentioned the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille rides, as well as the space themed restaurant that is planned. He didn’t give any new information, as some had hoped. The ceremony ended with a Voices of Liberty performance. They sang a new Disney tribute medley. They were joined on stage by several Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie.
Exclusive merchandise to celebrate Epcot’s 35th Anniversary was a highlight for many guests. Special items included T-shirts, hats, and a pin. The line for the pop-up store was estimated at a 2 1/2 hour wait by 10:30am, and continued to be long as the day went on. Some of the “35th Anniversary I Was There” items sold out well before the end of the evening.
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The 35th Anniversary Celebration took place in the middle of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The Eat to the Beat performer for the special day was Mark Wills. His career traces back to 2000, and the country artist might best be known for his song 19 Somethin. It was Wills’ first time performing at Eat to the Beat.
The evening ended with a special version of IllumiNations. The first part was the normal show, but after that finished an announcement was made that a celebratory addition was about to take place in honor of the anniversary. The fireworks were then extended over five extra minutes. As guests were leaving, projections on Spaceship Earth showed a globe or the number 35, while classic Epcot music played in the background. It was a fitting end to the 35th Anniversary Celebration.
Here’s to another 35+++ years Epcot!