Monday, May 15, 2006

Last Traces of Greatness


All’s right with the World? Sadly, that’s not the case. Readers of websites like Mouseplanet, Miceage and Re-Imagineering know all too well that there are many, many things wrong with Walt Disney World.

As in life, it’s the little things that did it. One little tweak in the wrong place – or, worse, one little thing left undone (an attraction not refurbished, a cast member allowed to be lazy) – results in a house-of-cards effect and, ultimately, the whole thing comes crashing down.

Still, there are a lot of things for which we can be grateful, both at Walt Disney World as a whole and at Epcot. So, for just a moment, let’s take a break from complaining and pay compliments to those things done right:

* The fun, bouncy, vaguely futuristic music that plays throughout Future World, which you can hear here, and which seems the perfect soundtrack for happy discovery;

* The dinosaurs in the Universe of Energy, one of the last remaining vestiges of what Future World once was;

* The jumping fountains outside Imagination, which, 25 years later, prove that just because something is a quarter of a century old it’s not outdated;

* The beautifully maintained and manicured gardens of Epcot, which with their simple undulations and lovely mix of flowers and shrubbery, showcase a kind of perfection that was once one of Epcot’s hallmarks;

* The hidden meaning of the old Epcot logo in the ground where the two halves of Innovations (formerly Communicore West and Communicore East) come together – the geographical center of Walt Disney World, something almost no guest realizes;

* The American Adventure, which, despite the tinkering over the years, maintains a bold vision of showmanship through technology and also (whatever your political leanings may be) is a wonderful display of American patriotism;

* The cast members in the College Program from around the world, who always seem eager and happy to be working at Walt Disney World – many other cast members could learn from them;

* The view of Spaceship Earth from underneath, when the Mickey hand can’t be seen and the enormity of the engineering feat and its stark beauty can be appreciated;

* Illuminations, a tiny slice of Disney perfection – it plays to cheers and tears every night, and I’ve never heard a guest complain that it contains no Disney characters;

* World Showcase, which somehow (for the most part) has escaped the tinkering of Disney “management” and has maintained the vision set for it 30 years ago without becoming an ungodly mess of thrill rides and Disney characters;

* Living With the Land – how has this escaped “Disneyfication” over the years and been allowed to quietly remain as an example of what Epcot was meant to be … wonderfully, happily so?

Perhaps Epcot is a little like Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars -- deep down, there is still some good there.

Next time you go, open your ears (the ones on your head, not perched atop!) and eyes and find little things to enjoy. They’re last traces of greatness.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of those except:

"The cast members in the College Program from around the world, who always seem eager and happy to be working at Walt Disney World – many other cast members could learn from them"

I heartily disagree. While some of the BEST WDW CMs are College Program students (CPs), most of the -worst- CMs are CPs. I could give instance after instance, but to keep it simple, the good majority of CPs are only here to... yep... party.

Good post, though!

epkat said...

By the way, you might want to blog about this photo set of EPCOT's construction which Cory Doctorow from BoingBoing.net posted about today:
http://www.vonjohnson.com/slideshow/slideshow.asp?Show=29&Auto=no&Slide=507

Epcot82 said...

Could be true about the college students, but as a non-CM, I have to say that I've always found them to put on one of the best "shows" in Disney.

Jaques said...

Speaking of using one's ears, I miss John Denver's theme from the land. It fit the mood pretty well.

Intempesta-Nox said...

I'm glad you brought up "Living With the Land". I've always enjoyed this attraction, and even utilized its concepts for a college project.

With the Universe of Energy, I've always gotten gotten a kick out of the dinosaurs, but not for the obvious (to some). In short...why the stripes? :)

I agree that the World Showcase has maintained itself well over the years, virtually unscathed while other parts of Epcot have been redone again and again. However, I do see room for little improvements here and there (perhaps a little more Scottish and Irish decore and swag in the UK pavilion?).

SilentSpectre said...

Yeah, there's been some mistakes made, especially at EPCOT, but I still enjoy it. I'd love to see the wand come down and the clear prism-like objects return to in front of SSE. I'd also like to see Future Corps return, but I also can't say that I dislike EPCOT because of those things.

I think we're going to see something nice happen for the 25th anniversary. Hopefully something will be announced once the Happiest Celebration on Earth ends.

Cliff cot? said...

Nice post. It's easy to find things to complain about, and express the epcot we would build, but it's important to remember why we love the place.

I'm wondering if you could address the following in a post. I loved Horizons and World of Motion, but I believe that epcot needed some change of pace and thrill rides to generate attendance. I'm not an industry insider, but I belive that with only dark ride experiences and zero characters the parks attendance was hurt. I'm not suggesting a Dumbo ride replace the fountains and a California Adventure roller coaster in the energy pavillion. Epcot isn't like other parks. It's uniqueness makes it special. Let me know how you see this balance.

Mags said...

I'm going to link this post on my blog sometime soon.

I have a passion or WDW, Especially Epcot and MK from when I was a Cast Member. I started as a CP and I can say that everyone I surrounded myself with loved the magic of the World just as much as I did.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but thank you for proving that other people love the little things just like me.