Thursday, November 30, 2006
Another Chance to Wonder
No doubt most of you reading EPCOT Central are aware of this, but Disney has announced that the Wonders of Life pavilion will be open “seasonally” during the holidays.
While I’d love to applaud Disney for this effort, the fact is that there’s no good reason for the pavilion to be closed in the first place.
When Disney makes billions off of the sale of its media assets, as it recently did, and can rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit from its movie business, there’s no logical business reason that it can’t fund the refurbishment and maintenance of its theme-park attractions itself, absent a corporate sponsor.
Although MetLife long ago pulled its sponsorship of the Wonders of Life pavilion (thereby removing the Peanuts characters from Walt Disney World!), Disney’s decision to completely shutter the pavilion was a lunkheaded move that spoke volumes about its commitment to its theme-park business. Letting a major component of Epcot fall by the wayside, claiming that operational costs needed to be shared by a sponsor, should serve as a rather alarming indication that Disney is not particularly committed to the creative health and long-term quality of its parks, only to the assurance that it will realize as much profit from quarter to quarter as possible.
I’m thrilled that guests will have the opportunity this winter to experience the Wonders of Life. However, it will be in a “stripped down” version, with the food-service and stage areas of the pavilion closed off. And, of course, it will be in the shape it was in when it closed – relatively uncared-for, with attractions that feel rooted in the 1980s.
Nonetheless, Wonders of Life is a pavilion that is essential to the thematic success of Epcot’s Future World. While other pavilions explore the world around us, Wonders of Life explores the world within.
As we learn more about (and experiment more with) genetics, biotechnology and human health, there would hardly be a better time to update the Wonders of Life with exhibits and shows that demonstrate how much there is left to learn about the way humans work – and how we are making discoveries every day.
Pick up any recent copy of Time or Newsweek magazine and you’ll see how far health issues have moved into the “mainstream.” The Wonders of Life has the opportunity to bring today’s ever-evolving issues into the minds of guests at Epcot – it’s a fantastic opportunity that is sad to think may be wasted by Disney’s corporate mindset.
If you do visit the Wonders of Life this winter, be sure to write to Walt Disney World at email@example.com and let them know how much you value the pavilion, even if Disney itself does not!