Linda joined WED (now Walt Disney Imagineering) as a wirelister in 1979. By October 1, 1982 she was the show control engineer for nearly half the pavilions at Epcot Center: World of Motion, China, Italy, Germany, France, UK, Canada, Denmark, and Communicore East and West. I began consulting for WED in early 1982, and worked for Glenn Birket on the American Adventure pavilion. In 1983 I was made the Ride Systems Engineer for the Imagination pavilion.
Here’s one of many interviews I’ve done about building Epcot:
These pictures are mostly from the construction and opening of Epcot Center in 1982. A number of them were taken by Martin Chaney. Artwork (c) Disney. There’s also some Epcot Memorabilia on another page.
The picture above is a 180 degree panorama of Epcot under construction, shot from the roof of American Adventure in August 1982. It is a composite of 15 separate hand-held shots. The frenetic pace of activity is apparent from the many tiny construction workers scattered around the pictures. Epcot opened to construction worker’s families for a preview on Labor Day, less than a month after this picture was shot.
Read more about the building of Epcot here:
Around the Site
Pictures taken during the summer of 1982.
Linda in front of a partly covered Spaceship Earth. She was among the first engineers to make it to the site, and was ultimately responsible for the control systems in ten of the pavilions. And yes, it does look like Pacman.
My fourth floor office in the Sun Bank building overlooking Lake Buena Vista and the Empress Lilly. We were given these luxurious offices, just one floor away from Dick Nunis’ office, because the space had never been finished: bare stud walls and concrete floors seemed fitting for engineers wearing construction garb. Still, we were an incongruous site strolling across the lobby of the bank. I retired to this desk to spend the weeks before opening frantically programming the monitor cabinet to cycle American Adventure. Each afternoon I’d watch the thunderstorms roll in, saving my code to floppy disk after every line.
Epcot Central opened with a very non-informational behind-the-scenes show, The Astuter Computer Review. Look at that sea of tape binloops in the background, now replaced by offices. The Digital Binloops are in the individual pavilions, because they don’t require nightly applications of Turtle Wax!
This pavilion was the focus of my efforts from January 1982 through opening day. The most complicated attraction Disney had ever attempted, being controlled by a bunch of twenty-something engineers. They must’ve been crazy. We were.
This is a small portion of the 400,000 pound “lift carriage” which carries ten of the hydraulic lifts that elevate sets and animated figures into place on the stage. The lifts are 14 feet high, and extend that same distance out of the top of the carriage. The entire carriage rolls silently underneath the audience, to allow many different lifts to be raised in the same small space between the proscenium and the rear-projection screen. Three 10×10 foot lifts are in the center, with a 10×30 foot lift on either side. The lighting fixtures at the base of the screen appear along the right side of the photo, with some of the control equipment on the far side of the carriage. Direction of travel is left to right.
A multiple exposure done in the darkened theater. Francie Owen, Bob Frye, Sonya Bookman, Chuck Castiglione, Derek Dotson, Walt Narkowitz, Conrad Blankenzee and Steve are in this picture at least once. Photo by Glenn Birket.
Epcot from the Air
Glenn Birket is a private pilot. Several times during the summer of 1982 we flew over the Epcot construction site and photographed the progress.
These are the friends we worked with, and the things we did to stay sane while working 110 hour weeks.
Our first, and best, accommodations at Walt Disney Work. We lived in these trailers at Fort Wilderness for six months. It took the longest time to convince the travel department at Disney that Linda and I didn’t need TWO trailers! Free rental cars for two years, too.
Department 510, 1980.Photo by Chris Senchack
SEATED (left to right):
Stacey ?, Annette Tedrow, Romona (Quinn), Adrianne ?, Lee Frisius, Von Wolff, Ira Frank,
STANDING (left to right): Jim Barnhouse, Conrad Blankenzee, Bob Baumbach, Carl Bongirno, Kevin Kurio, Cindy Lee, Randy Hill, John Ruck, Ralph Rosenthal, John Noonan, Chris Senchack, Linda Alcorn, Ed Martinez, Chuck Castiglione, John Sullivan
Movie night at our home on Manhattan Place, 1980. When you had to check out a 16mm projector to see a film, because there were no VCRs. Photo by Chris Senchack.
Randy Hill, Bob Struble, ?, Andy Heller, John Noonan (behind projector), Glenn Birket, June DiRienzo, Cliff Present
Epcot Grand Opening Spaceship Earth Gala, October, 1982. Photo by Chris Senchack. The Spaceship Earth Gala was the grandest party I have ever attended. Tables were piled with thousands of pounds of fresh seafood, and we all got cleaned up for one night of festivities. Nearly every famous big band in the country was in attendance, set up on different bandstands throughout Future World. The party marked the end of an exciting period in all our lives. Who could have guessed it would be just the beginning?
Of course, Linda would be back at the Disney Studio within a few months, and I’d go on to found Alcorn McBride and work on all the world’s theme parks, so who knew the story was just beginning!
Learn more in my online Imagineering Class.