Epcot's Astuter Computer Revue

Epcot Center at Walt Disney World opened on October 1st 1982. While not quite the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" that Walt originally imagined, Epcot gave the world a beautiful, swoopy-plastic and synthesizer-powered optimistic 80's vision of the future, one that I'm extremely fond of. I love it all. From the beautifully designed circular logos for each land, to the weird wonder of Spaceship Earth (the big geodesic dome), to the just-leaving-the-psychedelic-era bizarreness of Figment and The Dreamfinder, I genuinely wish Epcot could be trapped in some kind of magic space-time continububble and always remain forever in the 80's.

Anyway, on January 2th, 1984, one particular attraction a dubious honor: it was the shortest-lived attraction at the park, removed and totally reworked a little over one year after opening1.

What was it? The Astuter Computer Revue. It was all about computers. And it featured a song. Oh, did it.

Epcot Computer Song.mp3 (3.40 MB)

Written by Disney's venerable and talented Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins, It's A Small World), and long since out of print, The Computer Song, in the opinion of someone who loves all things Imagineering, isn't their best work. OK, it basically sucks Walt Disney Balls®. Even in an awesome 1983 frame of mind, it seems... odd. "Hey guys, how should we teach the world about the potential power of computers?" "I know! I know! An zany old-timey vaudeville-style song sung by a faux-British gentleman and a computer that sounds like it has awful cyber-indigestion!"

But beyond being cheesy, it's also fun to realize how even the most imaginative people on earth couldn't (understandably) imagine what computers would eventually do in our lives. Number crunchin', memory storin' — hooray computers! It's perfectly ironic that a song designed to be kind-of ironic by sounding quaint while being about something completely non-quaint turned out to ultimately be entirely quaint.

Still, it's an awesome piece of history. Or terrible. So, enjoy! Or probably don't.

1. The Astuter Computer Revue, incidentally, was replaced by "Backstage Magic", a holographic tour of Epcot's computer systems. I actually saw this, and seeing those giant mainframe computers, pictured above, was freakin' awesome.


Wasn't it rather January 24th?

"On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh, and you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984""
Anonymous SeoxyS 9/29/2006 3:21 AM  
Oh my. Just awesome. Keep bringing us this crazy shiz, Cabel. Your blog is always full of surprises.
Anonymous Mr Malaise 9/29/2006 3:33 AM  
Hey C-note -- earlier this year I had the pleasure of getting to see Epcot again for the first time since 1989. Sadly, Disney has kind of ruined it. They've tried to tie their animated characters to each of the Future World attractions in some way, so you have Nemo at the Undersea attraction, etc. And it's not subtle -- often the character becomes a major part of the attraction, so the park is less science-oriented than it used to be. In fact, if you've seen a recent picture of the iconic Spaceship Earth, you'll notice a big giant Mickey hand holding a magic wand next to it, and the word "Epcot" written along the periphery of the sphere in Disneyesque cursive[1]. Of course, in each of the attractions is a complete store dedicated to merchandise related to its corresponding cartoon character. It was actually a pretty big disappointment.


Fortunately, World Showcase was still just as cool as (if a little smaller than)
Anonymous Erik 9/29/2006 5:35 AM  
Oh man, that's a really Bad song... It'll probably be stuck in my head all day.
Anonymous Eamon Ford 9/29/2006 7:30 AM  
I get asked for "Technical" support in my office a lot. Mostly things like "My email is double spaced. Can you come over and fix it?"

Listining to this song is going to be new price for for my assistance.... he he (insert evil laugh)
Anonymous Marshall 9/29/2006 8:28 AM  
A cockney Ethel Merman . . .
where do you find this stuff?
Anonymous Anonymous 9/29/2006 10:23 AM  
I get the feeling you read a bit of Douglas Adams now and then?

Anonymous Wonotch! 9/29/2006 2:53 PM  
Yeah, from all accounts Epcot has become a lot more Disneyriffic lately, and a lot less of a place to indulge your inner geek. I, too, am disappointed at this.
Anonymous Kevin Buchanan 9/29/2006 3:16 PM  
I'm just as sad about the recent de-science-ifying of EPCOT. The saddest thing is what they're doing to The Living Seas. What once was a fantastic voyage to an undersea research station is now FUN WITH NEMO (read: not as fun as an undersea research station.)

ALTHOUGH, some of the stuff they've done are actually enhancing EPCOT! Mission: Space is really great, and The Land actually has living, breathing people in it now.
Blogger Alex 9/29/2006 5:04 PM  
It sounds too much like "Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins.
Anonymous Dan 9/29/2006 9:51 PM  
Thank you so much of making me aware of this!! Terrible fabulous computer history - I love it.
Blogger Mathieu 10/01/2006 3:00 PM  
Of course you know my fondness for the original EPCOT Center, therefore this post was quite a treat. I've not been down there since around '98 and I'm almost scared to go back after reading all the changes that have been made. I can only hope we invent the Holodeck someday so some ├╝ber geek like yourself can write a program that will let us relive the original EPCOT experience. Ah, what a human adventure that would be!
Anonymous Gedeon Maheux 10/01/2006 9:26 PM  
Man, I loved EPCOT. I still do. But I haven't been there in years. Still, I love it. And the 80's version of the future still rocks. As does the original Tomorrowland at Disney World before they updated it years ago to be more of a 90's version of the future. I'm sure they've updated it again to be more of a 2000's version and is probably sponsored by MS or someone, but I'll never forget the old past visions of the future.
Anonymous Jason Anderson 10/03/2006 6:37 PM  
THose same guys wrote "Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins.
Blogger heather gold 10/04/2006 2:48 PM  
You make some really awesome DS reviews.

Kudos to you!
Anonymous Thedrelle 10/09/2006 4:49 PM  
I remember going to EPCOT for so many year as a kid. In the beginning, I hated it.. Well, I was only about 4 at the time, but I grew to appreciate it. Now, it's all about trying to get more thrill-seekers into the park, what with the addition of the General Mortos Test Track and the new Mission to Mars. I miss the old EPCOT. In particuar, I miss a show that was once in the Kraft exhibit. The Kitchen Cabaret. I know.. It sounds weird, but it's true. I loved that show as a kid and I can still remember some of the songs from it. And I remember the OLD Figment ride. The newer one has a lot less thrill for me now, but what can I do.. I'm a 25 year old with a yen for the past. BTW, thanks Cabel for the trip down memory lane. :)
Blogger WmistEressB 10/10/2006 9:05 AM  
where do knurds like you get this stuff?
Anonymous Anonymous 10/26/2006 10:53 AM  
Thanks for that bit of geeky nostalgia, I thought I was the only one who remembered this song.
Anonymous Dock Drumming 8/19/2009 5:31 PM  
Wow, that was enjoyable! I'm a "rooter for me computer" too! Incidentally, the singer on this is British actor Ken Jennings, most famous for his role in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. Great find - thanks for sharing!

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Blogger Kristanna 12/10/2009 12:40 AM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR