Thursday, October 19, 2006
A Living Seas Imagining
I earlier posted this as "comment" to the previous post about The Seas With Nemo and Friends. Then I thought, "Hey, why am I posting this as a comment? It's my blog! I can make it a real post!"
Your comments made me think about whether there could have been a way to both appeal to the Nemo set but still uphold the integrity of the EPCOT Center ideals. Of course, it's just an imagining (and one written in 15 minutes!), but still ... it might open up some other ideas, or at least a discussion! I'd love to know your thoughts:
Guests enter the pavilion through a queue area that reminds us how little we know about the seas.
We see images of (perhaps fossils or even small AA figures) some of the most bizarre creatures imaginable -- and learn that they actually live just a few miles away from us ... down.
As we journey through the queue area, we move from happy, light imagery (representing the top surface of the ocean, which we think we know so well) into darker, more ominous motifs. It never gets too scary, just inky and murky enough to make us remember that the bottom of the sea is only a short distance away but might as well be on another world.
A series of signs informs us we are about to enter the training room for Seabase Alpha, where we have been invited as the first civilian visitors.
The doors open and we are taken into a seating area that will give us important information we should know before entering Seabase Alpha. We are told that centuries of exploration have left us knowing little more about the seas than we did years ago, how mysterious they are, how much we can learn from them, how they may hold the answers to problems of disease, pollution and famine that plague the top of the earth. We are told that we are about to embark on a grand adventure that many have dreamed of but few have taken -- a voyage to a working seabase that in many ways is an even more remarkable feat than a space station.
The doors open and we board the vessel that will take us down into the ocean's depths. We ride past scenes that show us descending further and further. Odd, luminscent creatures poke out at us; shipwrecks fill our view. We receive data and information about this trip, then ride past scenes that show us how this amazing feat was engineered. We're told it's not so deep that it is impractical to science, but deep enough that we can discover and develop new marine technologies. We see it coming to life, and finally we step off our vessel and into ...
The inside of the Seabase is part "industrial-functional," part futuristic. We learn that it has several different layers, each of which represents the different layers of the oceans. For instance, as we disembark, we see familiar marine mammals, and watch and interact with scientists who are studying them. We learn about how man interacts with this top layer of the ocean, and how we are impacting it. "Turtle Talk With Crush" is in this top area for the kids to learn more about the oceans.
One level down, we see the main aquarium tank and learn about sealife that never comes to the surface. Nemo himself presents information about fragile coral reefs for kids in a short video that leads into an underwater replica of a real coral reef (complete with the fish that live in and near it). Adult guests, meanwhile, are able to watch and interact with the divers.
On the lower level are the "Mysteries of the Deep." Here, a new, widescreen 3-D presentation about some of the most unknown creatures on earth shows us things that few people have ever seen. It has no host, but rather is presented as an almost eerie "journey to the depths," providing an oceanographic perspective that few other aquariums or sea parks even address.
Beyond its doors is a spectacular new three-dimensional, Imagineered diorama that shows some of these creatures and also offers a "customizable" self-guided audio tour (one for adults, one created specifically for kids, narrated by Dory) that talks about some of the amazing scientific and medical uses that these creatures may provide in the future.
We exit Seabase Alpha as we used to enter-- through the "hydrolators" that take us back up to the surface. Upon our exit, we walk through two enormous tanks that show off beautiful undersea displays and remind us of the amazing things we just saw and learned.
The pavilion provides enough education for adults and entertainment for children. It capitalizes on the success of Finding Nemo but does not fully rely on Nemo for its appeal. It incorporates a reconfigured ride and also allows guests to see and experience the attraction at their own pace.