Friday, June 09, 2006
Bold. Exciting. Fun. Forgotten.
When I was 11 years old, this was the image that hooked me.
It wasn't the conceptual drawing of Spaceship Earth or of a space pavilion or a ride through the human body -- it was this strangely moody rendering of a "Rhine River Cruise" ride that appeared in the Walt Disney Productions Annual Report circa 1976 that got me hooked on EPCOT Center.
It seemed so strangely exotic, it seemed so adventurous, it seemed so perfectly in keeping with the Disney theme-park attractions I had come to love like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Adventures Thru Inner Space: a ride that would take you somewhere you had never been, and that would show you sights that your little 12-year-old mind could hardly comprehend:
Boats wait to be boarded across the river from a darkened German village at twilight. Large mountains loom in the backround -- the Alps, perhaps? A child implores her mother to hurry to the ride, and the mind reels -- what exotic adventures await? Please let us see!
EPCOT Center was going to be more than words could possibly describe. It was going to be the most wonderful place that ever existed.
For a while, it came pretty close.
Whatever happened to bold Imagineering concepts like this one, or the Japanese bullet train, or the immense Space pavilion? Jim Hill Media has a wonderful article about the Epcot that could have been -- well worth checking out and exploring at great length.
As for the Epcot that is ...
I just read a reader comment that El Rio del Tiempo is going to become El Rio de los Cartoons thanks to a renovation that will incorporate The Three Caballeros.
Now, many of you are right, it is a specious argument to say Epcot needs more exciting, innovative attractions on one hand, but on the other to complain when Imagineers actually deliver something new.
So, I'll give 'em credit for updating a 24-year-old ride. But, come on, do we really need more Disney cartoon characters in Epcot? Is that the best that Imagineering can do these days?
What happened to the bold, exciting ideas that didn't rely on Disney cartoons but instead relied on a sense of excitement, fun and adventure? Whatever happened to attractions that take you places you've never been but always dreamed of experiencing (whether real or imagined)? What, I guess I'm asking, ever happened to the minds that brought us the Rhine River Cruise?