EPCOT Moves to Pasadena, California, as Disney Brings Back an Extinct Transportation Offering to Celebrate the New Year

spaceship earth at night
Credit: Becky Burkett

One of Disney World’s extinct transportation offerings has been gone for so long that many fans of the Central Florida Disney parks didn’t know it existed, but in celebration of the new year, Disney surprised fans by bringing it back–more than 25 years after it stopped being offered to guests at EPCOT.

epcot omnibus in the 135th annual rose parade

Credit: X/GuySelga

A Familiar Piece of EPCOT Nostalgia in Pasadena

On Monday, Disney brought back an extinct transportation offering–the EPCOT Omnibus–in celebration of the new year, but guests likely won’t have access to its services in the parks. That’s because the omnibus wasn’t brought back to Disney World’s second park on New Year’s Day; rather, it was part of the 135th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

During the parade, which began at 8:00 a.m. Eastern and was televised on multiple networks, including NBC and ABC, the president and chairman of the board for the 2024 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, Alex Aghajanian, and his family rode in the World Showcase Omnibus, which originally debuted at EPCOT when the park first opened at Disney World in October 1982.

The omnibus was easily recognizable as the double-decker vehicle that once couriered guests around World Showcase at EPCOT, as it still bares the words World Showcase Transportation on the side, as well as a list of World Showcase pavilions to which transportation is available via the omnibus on a sign on the front of the bus.

epcot omnibus at rose parade

Credit: YouTube/MainStreetRandyland

What Was the World Showcase Omnibus?

When EPCOT opened, the omnibus was available to guests as a means of transportation around World Showcase, a 1.3-mile-long loop that features multiple pavilions, each one featuring a specific country around the globe. But the omnibus was listed in the EPCOT brochure as a service rather than as an attraction, and information about the omnibus was included alongside other services offered to guests in the park, such as first aid, lockers, telephones, and other offerings for guests.

epcot park map with omnibus on it

Part of the original map of EPCOT, which includes an illustration of the World Showcase omnibus/Credit: Walt Disney World

EPCOT ceased operations of the omnibus at World Showcase before the turn of the century, but before the buses disappeared completely, at least one was used at EPCOT for a presentation called “Characters on Holiday,” which featured beloved Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and Chip & Dale, as well as Donald Duck, Mr. Smee, Pinocchio, Br’er Bear, Baloo, Mushu, Winnie the Pooh, Genie, and Stitch.

epcot omnibus characters on holiday

Credit: Flickr/William Warby

Years later, the vehicle was found in Central Florida by Milwaukee Bucks basketball players and brothers Robin and Brook Lopez, who initiated a three-year restoration of the omnibus, according to the Tournament of Roses website.

The first Disney omnibus rolled out in 1956 and was designed by Disney Legend and Imagineer Bob Gurr, who was instrumental in the design of the cars in Disneyland’s Autopia attraction, the doom buggies in the Haunted Mansion attraction, and other Disney transportation systems. Gurr is also known as the Imagineer responsible for kidnapping then-Vice President Richard Nixon in June 1959.

richard nixon and walt disney at disneyland monorail june 1959

Credit: Walt Disney Archives

It’s been decades since guests at EPCOT have had the opportunity to board an omnibus and take in the sights and sounds of World Showcase during their visit to Disney World, and there’s no indication at this time that the transportation service is returning to the Central Florida parks, especially as Disney World doesn’t own the double-decker buses that were used at EPCOT in the 1980s and 1990s.

Regardless, it was exciting for fans to see a piece of Disney Parks nostalgia rolling along the Tournament of Roses Parade route on Monday, and it made for a festive and hopeful kickoff to the new year indeed, especially for Disney World fans who knew exactly what they were looking at when the omnibus debuted on live television.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!