Thursday, August 31, 2006

World of Emotion


I bought a cool World of Motion t-shirt recently that elicits comments whenever I wear it. No doubt, most people don't know what it means, but those that do ... well, they fawn all over it and start talking about how cool EPCOT Center used to be.

They often use those words: used to be.

But the t-shirt attracts attention, I think, despite the reputation the "early" EPCOT had for being too aloof, too antiseptic. For many people who grew into the artists, engineers and writers of today, EPCOT made an enormous impact.

Far from being a place that failed to engage, it hooked many of us at a most impressionable age and left us very different people.

I really do wonder whether today's incarnation of E-lower-case-p-c-o-t has the same effect.

You already know I hated Mission: Space beyond all measure, but I do understand that there are many who get a thrill out of it. Test Track was fun for about 15 minutes, but now is garish, overloaded exterior clutter and been-there-done-that ride system feel less than exhilirating.

So, why do I still get a rush from Spaceship Earth? Why do the dinosaurs and the spectacular films (not to mention the still-very-cool vehicles) in Universe of Energy still give me a boost? Why does Living With the Land still make me curious? Why am I still absolutely captivated by The American Adventure?

I promise you that it's not just because I like to live in the past and relish the "relics" of my youth.

Rather, I think, it's because attractions like these -- despite the fact that many of them haven't been updated in, quite literally, decades -- encapsulate what makes Disney theme parks so successful: They blend story and emotion, they stir the brain cells, they provide an experience you can't find anywhere else. Like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Great Movie Ride, they rely not on visceral thrills but on engaging the senses.

Emotion.

That's what they have, in spades. Now, some will laugh and scoff and say that Spaceship Earth, for instance, is utterly devoid of emotion and has been from Day 1. The old Universe of Energy, they'll argue, needed that Ellen injection because people found it dull and boring. It's why World of Motion absolutely had to give way to Test Track.

And yet ... 20 years from now, I find it hard to believe anyone will wear or even want to buy a Test Track t-shirt. World of Motion may have been cheesy and somewhat pointless, but just like the kid whose short film lacks any flair but is still charming, it tried.

The old school EPCOT Center attractions tried to be ambitious, to be daring, to be steadfastly unlike anything else in the entire world. Universal Studios, Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Cedar Point -- they never even tried to match Disney's blend of storytelling and characters in their attractions because they knew they'd never come close. They gave up and went the all-thrills-all-the-time route, and they achieved a certain success with that.

Disney, on the other hand, remained true to itself through the 1980s and 1990s. Even when it stooped to selling "thrills," it couched them in a remarkable setting, giving way to Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, Tower of Terror at Disney-MGM Studios and Maelstrom (poor Maelstrom) at EPCOT Center.

And then, finally, inevitably, Disney gave up. Screw emotion, let's go for the jugular. If an outdoor steel track is good enough for them, we'll "plus it up" just a tiny bit, put some static figures along the track and they'll never know the difference.

But they do. I can tell every time I wear my World of Motion shirt.

People smile, they think back to those vacations, they remember what got them motivated to learn about technology and art and their world: Disney did. And EPCOT Center was a big part of that.

It's a shame when an individual or company doesn't believe in its own legacy.

I've spent many years in L.A., and I've seen what happens when people think a little cosmetic change will "correct" the effects of time. Some people realize that time allows us to learn, to grow, to improve and to highlight and be proud of what makes us unique. It gives us a chance to underscore what is best about our unique selves and make small adjustments to downplay the things that don't work so well.

To others, time simply makes you look old. It replaces the shiny new feel of youth with a broken-down body that needs a wholesale rebuilding. It's simply too much effort to examine and explore what is best about ourselves when money can buy a new appearance altogether.

EPCOT Center was a bit like a daring young adult, sometimes unsure of itself but also willing to take chances, to revel in its shiny difference, to believe in an optimistic future.

Lower-case Epcot is that young adult grown up and grown cynical. Forgetting the emotion and excitement of youth, its middle-age examination led it to believe that it had to change itself completely. It looks today almost as ridiculous as a plastic-surgery patient. The quirks, the wrinkles, the oddities that made it fascinating have been "smoothed over" ... and now, those expressive eyes, those lovely lips, that alluring smile are all gone.

On the surface, it might look better to some (certainly to itself, meaning Disney execs). To many of us, though, it looks odd and slightly silly ... and the emotion that used to run through it, that once inspired and influenced so many millions of people, is all gone.

Instead of substance, flash. Instead of inspiration, a shiny "new" face. Instead of emotion, emptiness.

The upside is that the emotion is still there, buried deep down in the core of what it means. Now that the plastic surgery has been botched, maybe its time for some serious therapy, some legitimate self-examination to get to the heart of "who" it was ... and "who," with time and effort, it can be again.

29 comments:

Brian said...

Well-stated.

I appreciate that your posts aren't of the "foaming at the mouth rabid fan" type; these are thoughtful and balanced insights. These are exactly the type of things that Disney would probably be more receptive to listening to...

AVITWeb said...

I still find it utterly amazing that someone else out there (let alone with a blog) feels the same way about EPCOT as I have since 92. Yes it still evokes emotions, but I think more of that is my brain placing an older image on top of reality. Its still cool no matter how you look at it, but, like an ex girlfriend you haven't seen in years, you really don't know them that well any more.

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

I just watched an online video of the original Universe of Energy, and I got goosebumps, especially from the pre-show and the finale (I had forgotten how kinetic and magical the ending use to be as you transitioned into the mirrored load/unload room). My eyes water at the end of The American Adventure EVERY TIME. It moves me to tears. Inspirational. Life affirming.

Yesterday's EPCOT was an engineering marvel with a soul. Today's Epcot (in places) feels more like the Vegas strip--lights and stucco.

It's funny that you mention EPCOT's relationship with artists, writers, and engineers. I agree wholeheartedly. At the end of a day at EPCOT, as I made my way through the turnstile, I couldn't wait to get back to my hotel room, grab a sketch pad, and start creating and experimenting and dreaming.

I miss the dreaming.

Brian said...

(Rough and Tumble Boy: Where did you get that original UoE video? You can e-mail me at bdp@bdpnetworks.com. Thanks!)

Epcot82 said...

I'm not sure if Rough and Tumble found his at the same place, but I got a fantastic UofE (and World of Motion) DVD from the Exinct Attractions Club.

Amazing that Disney doesn't sell this stuff. Then again, they seem to be into revisionist/denial history, so I guess I can't be too surprised. But clearly there's a market for it. (Just as there was for Vault Disney ... but that's another story, I guess!)

epkat said...

If I were the Disney park executives, I'd want to sell merchandise based on discontinued attractions in the parks that capitalize on the nostalgia. The t-shirt sold on Zazzle.com with all the old Future World logos above the slogan "OLD SCHOOL" is a perfect example.

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

I bought one myself!

The UoE video is at the Horizons Tribute Site under Media (see the links on right column of the main page).

Parts of Epcot still leave me in awe. This post is a wonderful eulogy for the awe-inspiring moments that have been lost. The latest Epcot attractions seem creatively anemic and lack the epic nature that was once a staple.

I remember the old guide maps that had the Future World pavilions represented with its logo and an overhead view of its shape. The purpose of each pavilion was clear and recognizable. And yet, the wonders that they held inside were countless and layered.

It seems like we've lost the idea of pavilions in favor of one-note rides.

Brian said...

I agree with the "one-note rides" but am going to play devil's advocate here: there is a very small but vocal crowd (us) who want EPCOT to return to "it's former glory" and would buy such shirts...

but really, do you think Disney execs see that there would be that large of an audience that would buy such a nostalgic and obscure shirt? This is a company that undoubtedly sells millions of shirts yearly through its parks - maybe a few thousand people (max) would want an obscure shirt referencing an extinct attraction?

I do think the pomp and grandiosity and awe is missing from rides such as Mission:Space and Test Track, though those rides themselves aren't necessarily bad and do in fact draw crowds.

But at the end of the day Disney is a business, and has to turn a profit. I see Test Track as an improvement over WoM simply because people will line up for hours for it (where WoM was very empty at the end of its life.) It could be MUCH better, though.

But yes, tear down that f*cking wand. :)

Anonymous said...

You're assuming, of course, that the group of "us" who loves EPCOT Center (Epcot, not as much) is small. Could be.

But the other day I watched "I Love the 80s" -- and there was EPCOT Center. Current pop-culture figures were talking (mostly positively, a little negatively) about how cool they thought EPCOT was. The original incarnation.

Let's say 5% of the people who visit Epcot in a given year are of the mindset that they would buy such shirts or merchandise. That's 450,000 shirts sold right there. Now, let's imagine that the bulk of people to whom this would attract don't actually go to Epcot annually. Using the Internet as a retail marketing tool, you could probably count on another 10,000 shirts sold (conservatively). Now, multiply 460,000 by 20 bucks a pop, you get 9 million smackers. Subtract out a healthy licensing fee, and you still have quite a chunk of change ... from those people who remember the exciting, optimistic, early 1980s Disney well, have money to revel in their nostalgia, and love to relive their youth.

Let's say I'm wrong by 60%. You still have a couple million bucks off a t-shirt, which ain't bad.

Anonymous said...

I spend a lot of time up in the Disney Gallery at Disneyland. They have art-on-demand prints of posters for attractions that have been extinct for many years. People love them and buy them in droves. They also have collectables and books that sell like hotcakes. I do honestly think there is a market for those vintage t-shirts. I'm even thinking about getting one!

When I see what EPCOT Center was, it makes me sad that I first saw it in 2004. It was still really cool, but not as cool as all the pictures from the 80s dictate. I would have loved to have seen Horizons, World of Motion, and the original Universe of Energy. I got to see Living Seas right as Nemo was creeping in and the lobby, film, and hydrolators filled with with anticipation and awe.

It's really amazing that people still remember these attractions, even though they've been gone for years. The emotion is what people were attached to, whether they know it or not. Walt didn't want a ride for the sake of being a ride. He wanted it to be an attraction or adventure, something people could emotionally invest in.

Now, TWDC is touting this new campaign called "Where Dreams Come True". It seems really ironic that they are patting themselves on the back for preserving "Walt's Legacy". Just look at Epcot. They say in this new campaign that Disney goes the extra mile, "outside the box", over the top, and all those other corporate buzzwords. But they don't really mean it.

Now, not just Epcot is going to lose its identity, but ALL the Disney Theme Parks are going to lose their individual identity. They've all been lumped together as "Disney Parks", sort of like McDonald's franchises. They're treating them all the same and that makes me nervous when it comes to Epcot.

Epcot82 said...

Hmmmm ... you raise an interesting point. I wonder how Disney would react if I wrote to all of the executives and said, "You could make MY dream come true this year by announcing that you're taking the wand off of Spaceship Earth, restoring and upgrading its attraction and Universe of Energy, and taking a good hard look at how to bring back the concept of EPCOT Center."

I don't think they'd make that dream come true!

Brian said...

Hmm... well, at least the wand.

Some of you are going to hate me, but I quickly reviewed the video compared to the UofE I rode on Tuesday and have a few thoughts on it...

When we are analyzing what EPCOT has truly lost that is irreplacable, it's important to try to be as objective as possible and not let emotional attachment to things get in the way. EPCOT, after all, is supposed to be about change and progress - and it does make sense that dated attractions should be regularly reviewed.

But I agree that some updates from the past decade have resulted in a net loss for the park. However, I don't think the original UofE was as great as everyone says it is, nor do I think the current incarnation is as bad as everyone states.

Clearly, the loss of the Radok preshow was very disappointing. I was only able to see this in person one time, and it was mesmerizing. I believe them when they say they had constant maintenance problems with it - I work in computer support and there are certain things that we will maintain to a point--if they are chronically problematic despite what we do to them we are always looking for a way to replace them with something completely different. This may really be true of the Radok blocks, and the ride mechanism at Journey into Imagination, etc...

The loss of the finale is disappointing as well. Not necessarily _that_ finale, because frankly the song is extremely dated. My parents bought me the official EPCOT song tape in 1986 (second visit to EPCOT - I was 11 years old) and I listened to it thousands and thousands of times while doing my paper route. The original UoE song is burned into my head and I like it in a nostalgic way - but really, it had to go.

The current show lacks _any_ sort of real finale- it just sort of "ends" with some balloons and stuff on a single screen. Not quite the spectacle of the previous show. This could probably be improved. The mirrored walls were cool but not _essential_ in carrying the story along.

The rest of the original UofE was, well, boring. It was chock full of information--yes, more so than the current version. (And I would argue that the current version (intentionally?) leaves out some critical information about certain energy sources). But is the current version really that bad? (I like Ellen & Bill Nye & Jamie Lee Curtis... and it's cute, and it moves along, and it's not boring, and it's somewhat tongue-in-cheek.)

One thing our Guest Relations representative told us on our Undiscovered Future World tour this week was that "Teachers ask their students to do book reports on UofE when they are on vacation." In this case, the current show does indeed cater to that audience without losing its adult audience. The prior show really was probably over most kids heads. (I know I remember very little about the content of the first show...)

So is the current incarnation that bad? We still have the cool ride vehicles, the nifty air-lifted turntables, the massive show building with multi-screen theaters, the dinosaurs (which really don't excite me that much, but kids love them), the sound system from hell... the story is just different, that's all.

I would say that the radok blocks and lack of a real finale are probably the only two things that are really missing from this incarnation. People new to EPCOT wouldn't know any better, of course, but I'd still like to see these elements restored...

Epcot82 said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ... the "B" word.

Boring, eh?

Perhaps the information was presented in a less-than-compelling way. But I find it hard to believe that it's truly boring to learn about how we use, consume, create and manage the basic building blocks of existence.

Ellen's Energy Adventure was cute for the first couple of years. Ten years later, though, Ellen has become a different personality, Bill Nye is -- well, where exactly is Bill Nye? And for the huge percentage of international travelers, what the heck is this Jeopardy!, anyway?

You're absolutely right that things needed to change, and I made that very clear in my original post. But the fact is, they changed for the worse. We're now stuck with a UofE that neither presents up-to-date information (is hybrid-vehicle technology even mentioned?) nor offers an entertainment experience that is in any way "relevant."

The answer: Try again. Invest money, time and effort into UofE. Make it spectacular. Remind everyone of why Disney is the best and Epcot remains unique. Knock our socks off.

But, please, don't give us an "update" with Ray Romano, Tim Allen and Jeff Probst from Survivor hamming it up, or one that drills (ha!) the oil-is-good message into our skulls. And PLEASE don't use the characters from Cars for a new Pixar-based attraction!

Give us something that will make us leave with eyes wide open, brain thinking and or senses stimulated. Show us that entertainment and education can be mixed, and that the promises that Epcot used to hold can still be realized. Create new characters, a new storyline, new art and technology -- again, I challenge Imagineers and Disney executives -- use the needs-to-be-updated-desperately UofE attraction as a foundation to show that, whether it's upper-case or lower-case, EPCOT Center lives on.

(By the way, I agree that the lyrics were pretty bad, but also perversely memorable. But if the UofE songs were that bad, you wouldn't be hearing instrumental versions of them around Epcot to this very day!)

randolph said...

You're completely right. EPCOT has undoubtedly affected me as an artist and person.

Brian said...

- Hybrid vehicle technology is not a form of energy. The basic forms of energy include: Solar, Wind, Gas, Coal, Nuclear - which are all covered by this attraction in its current form.

- Since 1996, Ellen came out of the closet; blazing trails for millions of GLBT people around the world and probably preventing tens of thousands of teen suicides. But is she different? I saw a promo for her show the other day and she still has the same goofy brand of humor. She really hasn't changed that much as a person...

- I did some work for Bill Nye in Seattle a few years ago; he had contract disputes with Disney and has been busy rebuilding his brand himself. (Recently moved back to LA a couple of years ago)

- The lyrics were OK, the orchestration was very dated. The reason you still hear the melody is because the melody itself is actually _good_. I like the orchestration of the current attraction though it has no real memorable melody to latch onto.

- Disney can not afford to be boring (or "less than compelling"). If people are bored, they don't come, and then there's no money left to support these attractions. The current attraction is not boring. The helicopter ride through the various forms of energy is exciting! In the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of other wands at EPCOT that need prompt attention before they turn their attention to UofE... but I have to guess that they _know_ it's dated and are trying to figure out what to do with it. (Whatever happened to that rumor of a super-pavilion?)


(Did I say wands? I meant things.)

Incidentally, I learned that Wonders of Life is, still, officially, seasonal and opened for conventions. It is not permanently closed. (I also noticed that Spaceship Earth is no longer noted as a "classic" attraction on the guidemap - this is a subtle but promising difference!)

But back to UofE - it's going to be really hard to update this attraction as long as it remains sponsorless...



What exactly would you have in mind for a UofE update?

Epcot82 said...

Wow. I'm not sure where to start. Clearly you disagree with every assertion, comment and suggestion I've made.

(By the way, sometimes I just ask rhetorical questions, like I did about the "Energy" music.)

Here's the problem I see with the current incarnation of UofE: It's just not funny. At best, it's mildly amusing, but it thinks it's engagingly quirky and funny.

A new attraction would benefit from dollops of humor, but wouldn't feel the need to try to be a comedy. It wouldn't rely on celebrities to drive its story (even the much-loved "Cranium Command" suffered from this; by 2001, it just looked weird to see Charles Grodin and "Hanz und Franz" in there).

It WOULD explore where "energy" comes from and how we use it, and would call attention to the needs of both first- and third-world countries. It would remind us, gently, that oil and coal are not the only answers, and it would present possible energy futures (and I'm not talking financial trading!).

It would utilize the entire creative spectrum of Disney, bringing back more and better animation and filmmaking. It would have an omniscient narrator to drive storytelling, but one whose voice is familiar enough to bring that "touch of celebrity."

It would upgrade and update the dinosaur area and better tie in what we're seeing to the latter half of the attraction.

It would remove the final "movie room" in favor of a kinetic, multi-media presentation that tells us why we are in control of our future, and how our energy choices are important for generations to come, leaving us with a message that is both positive and empowering, but also makes us remember that we can take actions that make a difference.

In short, it would be utterly different than the original UofE, but capture the same spirit of optimism and possibility that used to flow throughout EPCOT Center.

(And though I think she's an excellent personality and comedian, don't you agree it's time for Ellen to go? Whether you're gay, straight or somewhere in between, she's just not really funny in this presentation.)

randolph said...

"(And though I think she's an excellent personality and comedian, don't you agree it's time for Ellen to go? Whether you're gay, straight or somewhere in between, she's just not really funny in this presentation.)"

Our whole family finds her to be hilarious, especially in UoE.

Tom said...

If anything, Ellen is actually probably more relevant to the average park guest now, thanks to her daily talkshow, than she was when she was a sitcom star.

Epcot82 said...

Just to clarify, I think Ellen as a comedian is brilliant. I think her brand of comedy in UofE is less developed than it is today and comes off as rather forced. I enjoyed Ellen's Energy Adventure when it first opened, but feel that 10 years later it needs a massive overhaul, and part of that is because Ellen and Bill Nye -- as presented here -- just aren't all that good.

Ellen herself? Still love her!

Dennis said...

I found a link on the internet last night that lead me to HORIZONS and a complete audio download of the attraction as well as link to WORLD OF MOTION which included the entire video of the ride. I sat back in my chair, absorbed them both, and just remembered how fun, thrilling and just plain SPECIAL the "old" EPCOT was--before all my favorites were closed to make way for all the new rides Disney would replace them with. The "old" EPCOT---boy, that was a time when Disney REALLY knew how to build a theme park attraction!!

St. Chris said...

"The primary purpose of any of the fine arts is to arouse a purely emotional reaction in the beholder."
-- Walt Disney

When you confuse adrenaline with emotion, you completely lose the meaning.

My love for Epcot -- as I first knew it in late 1994 -- comes from the feeling I got from it. That feeling is "hope for the future." Every part of Epcot focused that feeling on its subject matter. Spaceship Earth: Hope for community through communications technology. The Land: Sustainability through advanced agriculture. The Living Sea: Conservation of the oceans. Imagination: Uh...okay, I never really connected with that one, which makes me a pariah here, probably; oh well.

I always liked Future World West more than Future World East, and it's late, so I'll wave my hands distractingly and move quickly to World Showcase, where the friendly, ambassadorial cast members made me feel that, gosh, the people of the world can actually get along with each other.

The pre-millennium Illuminations show was a pleasant spectacle of lights and music, but Reflections of Earth is a gut-punch of Big Meaning: We all share same origin, we are all partners in history as it unfolds, and each generation carries the torch and can and should be proud to hand it to the next.

That's the story. Wherever I find it absent or undermined when I visit in December, I'm gonna fill Disney's ear.

Ivonne R. said...

Wow, I was wondering who was buying my T-Shirts! lol I'm glad that you bought the World of Motion one Epcot82 and enjoy it. I really do wonder why they don't sell shirts at Disney like the ones I make. There is definitely a market out there for it considering how many people have bought from me in my little corner of the internet. I don't even advertise it that much except for her and on my MySpace. I think I might get working soon on a UOE shirt and perhaps an Imagination one but I'm working out some ideas.

I agree with what you're saying though. The problem is I'm at conflict with myself over the newer attractions like Test Track and Mission Space. On one hand I miss terribly attractions like WOM and Horizons and I still hold on to my fond memories, on the other is that I sometimes forget that Disney is a business and must move forward to keep attracting the crowd. It's sad though we can't have the best of both worlds.

St. Chris said...

Brian: With regard to basic forms of power generation, don't forget hydroelectric. Tidal and geothermal are also worth mention.

Thierry said...

If you could travel a decade in the past, you'd be less nostalgic. I know the future shock can be bothering at times, but we don't care of filtering the shocking innovations in 2006 anymore. We would be stuck with this ideal concept you protect if the new provocative mindings couldn't exist. The world has grown with indifference of the 'perfect world' defined by Disney.

However, if I could be just alone with myself and maybe Aladdin's Genie, I admit I'd block the latest idiot innovations that only serve the 'I want to control' mindset in our everyday life when the life experience itself is not optimal with love. Maybe you're right, Disney has come too far like its world society.

Where is the Land's fountain? :(

Brian said...

OK - I'm back. Thought I'd resist the urge to dive back in for a few days after my trip. :)
epcot82: I didn't disagree with every assertion you made, only the ones I listed. My point is that UofE in its current incarnation is _not that bad._ Sure, it could be worse, but the fact that it is as good as it is is amazing. Maybe I'm jaded by Big Corporations, but Disney still seems to be doing an awful lot of things right. I rediscovered this concept during the undiscovered future world tour - the cast members are just as motivated and just as optimistic as they have always been.

Personally, I loved Horizons--though in retrospect my favorite parts were the music (which definitely survives--I know it way better now than while the ride was still in operation) and the omnimax theater. I liked World of Motion (well, mainly the city of the future at the end of the ride) but think most people were probably bored by _both_ when compared to what has replaced them. Replacing them with adrenaline-based rides? Business decision- it does increase attendance, which means more money for bigger and better things. It's unfortunate that Epcot lost its preachy-optimistic-edutastic edge that it once had with the loss of those original attractions... but I am realizing more and more that those really catered to a very small audience. People line up for eons to ride Test Track and Mission:SPACE - what I remember of Horizons and WoM was mostly empty queues, not unlike the current incarnation of Imagination. (yes, I know they had HUGE capacities in comparison... but still.)

I _love_ Spaceship Earth, and still like UofE regardless of the quality of the film playing (more interested in the mechanics of that ride, really) - but am pretty much resigned to the fact that they too could change at any moment.

I like Mission:SPACE but can't ride it much, and like Test Track, but also agree that I preferred the older attractions. Again, I think I'm in the minority. I think most people really like these rides. A lot. Way more than the old ones.

I'm not sure how to finish this posting (I have way more I want to talk about eventually) but I will leave you with this: filming for the replacement film for the Canada pavilion started yesterday. I watched it again a few weeks ago - I liked it, but it is definitely in need of an update. (Apparently in 1982 Canada consisted of Montreal, Toronto, and all of British Columbia.)

Time marches on at EPCOT...
-Brian (fix imagination, take down the wand, restore the original logos & fonts & name, and I'd be pretty happy. :)

captain schnemo said...

No one is saying that the attractions should not be updated to reflect the current world situation and technology (in fact, we probably all expected Epcot to do so), but the problem with the new attractions is not the ride tech or the celebrities, but the very core ideals the work stems from.

World of Motion was quaint at best, but the ideal behind it is sound. Give the guests a summary of transportation up until this point, then invite them to imagine what the future might bring. What is the message of Test Track? "Cars can go fast on roads and often crash so we need to test them."

What's futuristic about that? Where's the imagination? Where's the mind expansion?

Epcot was always a park that didn't only show the guests a good time, it challenged them to think about the world, at least just a little.

The original Journey into Imagination celebrated thought itself and explained that everything in the rest of Future World (and human development in general) begins with people willing to think outside the box. The new attraction is all about trying to inflict imagination upon the riders. Instead of a request to the audience to please use your brain once in a while, because it's fun and important, the new ride tells the audience to sit quietly and let Disney imagine for you.

It's a fundamentally insulting and depressing change.

I agree that there were issues with the original Energy show, but, again, the premise was sound. The current version actually celebrates idiocy and with *poof* a little Disney magic, Ellen can be smarter than Einstein without all that cumbersome thought! Whew! Thanks, Disney!

I also take issue with the idea that the world has somehow moved beyond optimism. I am a hardcore cynic myself, but if Disney isn't willing to think big and give us a glimpse of what could be, what kind of world are we living in? People are willing to accept that the world will never be idyllic, but that doesn't mean entertainment that conditions us to think small is good, or even what the public wants.

The world still loves well-done sentimental stories. We shouldn't deprive our children of hope simply because things haven't turned out the way we'd planned.

There's more to Disney than giving the public what a bunch of marketeers think they want. The point of a grand undertaking like Epcot is to dare to think positive. If the world is cynical, then blow their balls off by showing them a believable vision of the future that they hadn't previously conceived of.

And they can do all of the above with modern flashy technology (in fact, I believe they have an obligation to do so), but don't start with the lowest common denominator and then move downward from there. The failures of the past were a not a result of aiming too low.

Epcot82 said...

Fantastic writing, Captain!

CJ said...

You all make fantastic points. Now what I'd love to see is some sort of creative round tables where Imagineering and Management and Marketeers and (folks like us) can actually sit down and talk about what made EPCOT great and how we can make it great again, and still at the same time attract the crowds and keep the queues full.

If there is any company that can do that, I believe in my heart of hearts that Disney is that company. I just pray that Bob I starts them down that road...

Claudia said...

I *also* bought one of these t-shirts (the Old School one) and it is soooo cool. I love those little icons and they feel like a sort of secret code, nowadays. Not many people actually GET the t-shirt, I must say, but I live in the UK and faaar away from all that is WDW.

I remember being a young teenager in the 80s, visiting EPCOT, enthranced by all this new technology and I surprise myself by also remembering how dated it would all be now.

So while I really do love EPCOT Center, I have a soft spot for Epcot too. I miss Horizons (best music of any ride ever, in my opinion) but I kinda like Mission:Space. I definitely miss World of Motion but Test Track is good too (when it works). I am sorry Wonders of Life is dying and that the Odyssey is always shut but Disney's gotta move on, right?

Start by taking down that eyesore called wand.