All is well, except for the little matter of being so envious of Hong Kong Disneyland.
The only Disney theme park in the world I haven't visited, and hadn't particularly wanted to visit has become the one I most want to see, thanks to Mystic Manor.
I've seen the ride-through videos, I've read the descriptions, and while I might be slightly less than mesmerized by the story (it seems awfully similar to Tokyo Disneyland's Tower of Terror), the sheer magnitude and creativity of it all leaves EPCOT Center -- once the most magnificent of all Disney theme parks -- looking really lackluster by comparison.
Think about, say, the increasingly awful Ellen's Energy Adventure, which was once a mind-bogglingly sophisticated ride. Now, the cast members and guests alike stifle yawns.
Or the creaky, leaky Maelstrom, which -- while never the longest or most daring ride -- used to at least feel like it was a ride that tried.
While Disney makes its claims that EPCOT simply can't be run without more sponsorships, and that guests seem satisfied enough (you know, the old "it's good enough" argument), Disney goes and proves that all of its excuses about Stateside theme parks are actually a bunch of hot air by once again creating a dazzling ride for its parks in Asia.
On one level, it's kind of sad that China, which until recently was considered forbidden territory for U.S. businesses, gets all of the attention. Wooing the Chinese matters more to Disney than impressing its consumers at home.
But that's not really the biggest objection. China deserves great attractions for its Disney park(s). The problem I have is: Why does EPCOT continue to feel outdated and outmoded while Disney lavishes time, money and creativity on its other parks? It feels more and more like no one cares about EPCOT. Mystic Manor is a slap in the face to those who would like to see EPCOT be the shining beacon of all that Disney can achieve.
Mystic Manor has dazzling effects, many of which are projection based but don't feel that way. It has a non-Disney storyline that introduces new characters who, by their very existence, are Disney ... but are not based on existing properties. Yes, Disney can create new stories and new characters!
It's sophisticated and technologically marvelous, all the things EPCOT was supposed to be.
So, the next time you feel yourself being jerked around (double-meaning intended) by the clickety-clackety chain that pulls you up and through Spaceship Earth, remember what Hong Kong Disneyland guests are experiencing.
The next time you see Ellen's head just about dangling from her body in the Universe of Energy, remember what Disney has done in Hong Kong.
The next time you see footage shot in 1980 representing France, or wonder why Ben Franklin and Mark Twain don't move like they used to, consider what Disney has done at Mystic Manor.
The next time you walk by an empty (except for lovely trees) tract of land in EPCOT that is just too expensive for Disney to design something new, realize they've done exactly that in Hong Kong.
I don't begrudge the Chinese for getting a glorious new Disney attraction. I do, however, begrudge Disney for lavishing so much money on such a great attraction, while letting the Soarin' film get scratchy and dusty. For saying it can't afford something great, that elaborate dark-ride style rides are too expensive, while creating one in Hong Kong.
Disney can do all the things EPCOT needs to regain its former glory.
What's curious, and fills me with envy at Chinese tourists who get to experience something that looks so wonderul, is that Disney just won't do what needs to be done at EPCOT.
(Full disclosure: Since I couldn't afford my own trip to Hong Kong to see this magnificent piece of work myself, I "borrowed" a photo from the always-wonderful DisneyandMore blog to use with this post.)