Thursday, March 29, 2007

Apologies to Orson Welles


While watching The Third Man on DVD tonight, I got to thinking:

Walt Disney for forty years had near-financial ruin, naysayers, critics, turbulence, but produced Disneyland, Mary Poppins, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Golden Age of Animation. And current Disney management has had prosperity and 25 years of financial growth and opportunity. And what did they produce? The Seas With Nemo and Friends, California Adventure, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and lower-case Epcot.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Best movie ever... I can still hear that zither.

sdav10495 said...

The Travel Channel has been playing their Disney specials all day, including new ones they've just recently shot. I caught one of the ones that highlights each of the four WDW gates, and boy was I depressed watching the Epcot segment.

Between the narrator and the guests and the Imagineers they interviewed...well, I wouldn't exactly say they spoke disparagingly of the old EPCOT--that word might be a bit of a stretch. But the basic structure they gave the segment was as follows:

EPCOT was radical and original when it opened, but Disney didn't know how to explain it to the public (yes, they just come out and say that in the segment...pretty much the same idea that's written about here all the time). So they added the world's biggest man-made underwater environment. But--and this is a quote--"it still wasn't enough". The public wanted thrill rides (they don't even attempt to mince words there)...so "we gave the public what they wanted!" And this point, sadly, is the first time the segment sounds really excited, as if the old EPCOT was really the embarrassing cousin Disney didn't want to talk about. They go on and on about Test Track (which apparently "blew Epcot wide open"), then Mission: Space, and then they really wet their pants over The Seas with Nemo and Friends and how the glorious merger with Pixar was called upon to breathe new life into a terminally boring fishbowl.

Now, I confess I didn't mind The Seas when I visited in February--I was nostalgic for Seabase Alpha, but then again on my last visit in 2005 the Seabase had seen better days. However, in the context of this gleefully "F**k EPCOT Center" segment--which seems to confirm our fears about Disney's utter inability to identify what EPCOT stands for--I got pretty upset about the Living Seas' new tenant.

I'm still hopeful. Though I understand the myriad problems with WDI at the moment, I have to think that change is on the way in some form or another--if I couldn't have that glimmer of hope, then the EPCOT Center I remember didn't do its job. But right now...well, I just had to comment on that awful segment. It almost took that glimmer away from me for a second.

Epcot82 said...

I love those shows ... I can't believe my TiVo didn't capture the new ones! But, of course, they're essentially publicity tools for Disney, and it's not a big surprise that they found Imagineers who would toe the company line and say that "old EPCOT" wasn't good enough. I don't know why they didn't just tear it down and let Six Flags come in and build a bunch of roller coasters if it was so bad and so not in tune with what "the public" wanted.

Funny thing is, last time I looked, the 25,000 people who have visited EPCOT Central also qualify as "the public." The best even my most critical readers can do is say, "It's not that bad" when it comes to the "revised" Epcot. No, it's not that bad ... but it could have been so much more.

If this makes Disney shareholders happy, then I guess we've gotten what we deserve. Wall Street has rarely been known for its creative risk-taking. When you design for people who don't appreciate design, you end up with something that offers no risk ... and no heart.