Disney's Epcot Celebrates Its 30th Birthday (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

When the turnstiles first clicked at Walt Disney World's Epcot on October 1, 1982, Ronald Reagan was in office, the U.S. had just experienced a Tylenol scare, and Italy had triumphed over West Germany for the FIFA World Cup.

Back then, Walt Disney World's second park was known as EPCOT Center -- an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The original inspiration for the park, which is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, came from Disney's vision of the ideal city of the future, which would be built in Central Florida. His plan was for a model community of 20,000 residents where ideas about urban planning and organization could be tested.

Unfortunately he couldn't get permissions for the plan before building the Magic Kingdom, and he died before seeing his vision realized.

Legend has it that imagineers at first couldn't decide on a concept for the park inspired by Disney's idea -- they were stuck between one celebrating futuristic advancements and another celebrating world cultures. As the story goes, some of the imagineers took two tables, each holding a model of one of the proposed concepts, and pushed them together to create one park. Voila!

Over the years Epcot has evolved into not only a theme park, but a destination for shopping, dining and events. It plays host annually to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and corresponding Wine & Dine Half Marathon, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, and the celebrity-hosted holiday Candlelight Processional.

Take a look back at Epcot in the slideshow below. For a listing of celebratory events at the park, head over to the DisneyParks Blog.

30 Years of Epcot