'Walt would be very happy with what we have here'; Disney president sees Epcot as showcase for new ideas, technology

What does Epcot mean to Disney? How does it fit in?

It fits in in a lot of areas. It's not only entertaining, but it's educational. I think this is the beginning of something that's great because out of this, hopefully, will come new technology, new methods, new forms of education.

Seminars, hopefully with the great minds getting together to discuss the problems of the world and the problems for mankind.. . .

This certainly is a complement to Magic Kingdom across the road. . . . Within each pavilion you're seeing where we were, where we are today, and our alternatives for the future. We're not preaching to them. We're just telling them what the alternatives are in the future.

Do you think what you've created here is in the spirit of what Walt Disney had in mind 20 years ago?

Definitely. What Walt had initially was an idea. And like all ideas with this company, when other minds get involved in that idea, certain things evolve. This is what evolved from Walt's original conception. But I think Walt would be very, very happy with what we have here today.

In what areas did the company have to learn new things to build Epcot?

If you look at our rides, certainly there. In film, we've never made a 3-D film before. We built a 3-D camera. Just the technology that went into the films (41/2 hours, 11 different formats including 35mm, 70mm, 3-D, computer animation, and laser animation) is something amazing.

Is the World Showcase designed to attract more foreign visitors.

It already has. I was in the German pavilion the other night (during previews) about 11 p.m. and right above me were seven Germans. They'd been there about 31/2 hours already and they were having a ball.

We're putting more emphasis on the European market. We've just opened a marketing office in Great Britain.

Isn't the serving of alcohol in some of the Epcot pavilions a departure for Disney?

Not really. A lot of people aren't aware of it, but we have a private club in Disneyland that serves alcohol. It's been there for years. . . . (In the Epcot pavilions), you couldn't have an English pub and serve Cokes.

Will Disney be diversifying into any other areas?

I want to see us diversify. I want to see us get into an outdoor recreational area, a resort area. We tried twice and lost both times. We had what would have been the finest ski area in the world, but the environmentalists shot us down. But we'll be back.

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