Unfortunately, the tumultuous economy and recent cutbacks you've been reading about have hit EPCOT Central, and those issues have caused new blogposts to be published less frequently. Thanks for your patience ... as well as your notes of concern about the frequency of postings.)
Word has begun filtering out recently -- EPCOT Central has heard this rumor from several different sources -- that a major change is being considered for Epcot's World Showcase.
Instead of cast members in each pavilion wearing costumes that represent historical attire that's associated with each country, Imagineering and Disney Parks & Resorts is mulling over the idea of having all cast members in World Showcase wear a standardized costume.
Sadly, though this post is being published just before the calendar changes to April 1, this does not appear to be an April Fool's joke, but rather a serious attempt to cut costs by easing the burden that the Wardrobe department faces at Epcot.
If the change happens, it's hard to imagine even the most ardent supporter of the "Disney's-just-a-business" view having good things to say about this. Even the Mexican restaurant down the street has "traditional" (perhaps stereotypically so) costumes for its waiters and waitresses. Surely Disney can keep up this effort to add to the character, charm and flavor of World Showcase?
The blandness of the "Disney Parks" name may now be visually represented by bland costumes that eliminate the global flavor and feel of World Showcase. Allegedly, Disney believes that guests don't really care about such things, and that a standardized, modern-dress "costume" would somehow make cast members more relatable.
World Showcase should represent the unique attributes of each nation that is represented there. While an update or design modifcation to the costumes in each country certainly would be welcome, sending the message that everyone in the world dresses like a Gap ad is hardly a creative, innovative or appealing solution. (And as the 1970s rendering of the German pavilion that accompanies this post shows, native costumes have been an integral component of World Showcase from the inception of EPCOT Center.)
Let's hope this rumor remains only a rumor, and that the friendly and appealing cast members throughout World Showcase remain a personable as well as visual representative of their countries' unique culture, traditions and history.