Saturday, April 29, 2006

Epcot at 25

I'm back online after a couple of weeks away ... unfortunately, my trip didn't take me to Walt Disney World -- though I will be going soon.

Meanwhile, I've received several e-mail responses to my blog, which I appreciate tremendously.

In 2007, Epcot will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, and here's hoping against hope that the new regime at Disney and Imagineering will actually care about that fact. Based on recent managerial/organizational changes to the way Theme Parks & Resorts are operated and marketed at The Walt Disney Company, that's sadly doubtful. Nonetheless, as EPCOT Center taught us, we can always dare to dream of a brighter future.

Before proceeding, I should say that if anyone at Disney (or Pixar) actually does read this blog, my suggestions below are absolutely given wholly and completely as food for thought. I renounce any right to them as "creative ideas," and they are presented here without any claim of ownership. In other words, Legal Suits, let those who care deeply about Epcot have a say in things.

Here are my thoughts on how Epcot's 25th anniversary could be celebrated in a meaningful way that brings new life and excitement to the world's most unique theme park:

* Start by rechristening Epcot with its original name EPCOT Center. A simple Google or Yahoo! search shows that most people still refer to it by this name, and using the "EPCOT" name as an acronym instills a sense of curiosity in people about what it means any why that name was chosen. Explain that "Center" means it is the center of Disney's thinking about the future and the possibilities that humans collectively have to make their future better by working together (combining the Future World message of technological advancements with the World Showcase message of community).

* Remove the hand and wand. Its time is way, way past. Restore Spaceship Earth's majesty and grandeur.

* Create and install a new, Animatronics-based attraction within the Universe of Energy; make it the grandest ride-through attraction Disney has created to date. Explore humankind's reliance on energy and the preciousness of our earth.

* Remove the awful "Finding Nemo" overlay to The Living Seas and re-promote this attraction as an experiential one, encouraging guests to take part in the dive options by reducing the price and thereby offering something that no other theme park (even Discovery Cove) can replicate.

* Though it's not possible to actually design and build new pavilions for World Showcase in such a short amount of time, announce two new additions that will open in 2008 or 2009, more accurately representing the world today. (Suggestions: Brazil and Australia for their great tourism profile and their importance to the world's geo-political climate.)

* Design and install a new attraction within Spaceship Earth, one that reflects today's modern and rapidly changing modes of communications and that upgrades the Audio-Animatronics tableaux that have been integral to the ride's success since 1982.

* Update the Carousel of Progress and move it into the rarely used Odyssey restaurant building, offering a literal "bridge experience" between Future World's message of exploration and World Showcase's humanistic elements.

* Produce a new film for the France pavilion and upgrade Mexico's Rio del Tiempo attraction with better lighting, a new song and new filmic elements.

* Lastly, remove much of the extraneous design and decorative elements that have come to clutter Epcot -- such as the garish banners and bunting throughout Innoventions Plaza and the "freeway look" that Re-Imagineering has so astutely observed makes the sleek, beautiful lines of the Test Track/World of Motion building seem so ugly.

A lot to ask? Absolutely.

Then again, when a park has been neglected as long as Epcot has, there's a lot of ground to make up ... here's hoping that something will happen there soon!


Anonymous said...

I have not yet visited EPCOT center, yes center, although I will at the end of June but your ideas are great, even from someone who hasn't visited.

Anonymous said...

I think your ideas are wonderful, and I think Disney should really consider them. I am a huge fan of EPCOT Center, and I really hope (even though I think it is fruitless) that one day the park will be restored to its original name, that actually stood for something and meant something to the people that visited the park in its glory days. Keep up the good work!

Beca Sue.

Will Robison said...

I'd add either Brazil or Australia, and I'd add India (can't you see the Taj Mahal now?) or Saudi Arabia (though I doubt they'd let Disney recreate Mecca ;) both of which could really use the exposure on the world stage.

You also failed to mention what you'd do with Wonders of Life which surely needs a vital upgrade if not be completely rethemed.

Other than that, I love all your concepts. I still wish Living Seas was something more - like a Jacques Cousteau adventure brought to life; not some cheap Deep Sea Quest knockoff.

Epcot82 said...

Good choices. The Middle Eastern countries are a bit tough to represent, I think, as depicted by the (African) Morocco. But they would be a challenge!

As for Wonders of Life ... I think I shall leave that to another post. It's a real shame that the pavilion is just a quiet, odd ghost town now.

Anonymous said...

"upgrade Mexico's Rio del Tiempo attraction with better lighting, a new song and new filmic elements."

this is in the works. new film was shot in mexico this spring. the new upgraded attraction opens next year. themed around the classic film "the three caballeros."

Anonymous said...

For a moment, I thought, "Yay! They are finally going to redo what could be a great ride!"

Then I read your note that it's themed to the "Three Caballeros."

Why, why, why, WHY do they need to put a Disney-cartoon theme on EVERYTHING?!?! That is TERRIBLE!

Anonymous said...

Here's what needs to be done for the 25th Anniversary:

Mission: Space needs to be completely bulldozed and the reasoning for this demolition needs to be the discovery of a sinkhole. Following the eradication of Mission: Space, an updated version of Horizons needs to be built.

Next thing to do is to gut Test Track and bring back World of Motion.

After conquering the piss poor Test Track, Journey Into Imagination with Figment will be gutted and restored to Journey Into Imagination. The Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 3-D film will removed and all film negatives will be burnt. Magic Journeys will be shown in the 3-D theater.

Soarin' will be bulldozed and an updated Kitchen Kabaret will show in the Land pavilion.

Nobody cares about the Living Seas..

The original Universe of Energy will be restored and Wonders of Life will reopen.

The ending of Spaceship Earth will be updated, the tv screens at the ride's ascent will be removed, and a new narration by Orson Welles (recreated with computer technology) will be added.

Actually for EPCOT's 25th Anniversary, flowers should be scattered around the park since it is, at this point, a graveyard.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest reimagineering the overly annoying Journey Into Imagination With Figment and restore that to its original glory. Also, put back into use the Upstairs ImageWorks up in the vacant glass pyramids (that's saying something about the imagination used to create the ride!). Instead of keeping the butt ugly Odyssey Resteraunt there, just remove it, along with the Millenium Village. Their useless. Reopen Wonders of Life and try to squeeze in Brava Centauri from Horizons into Mission:SPACE as another final farewell.

Anonymous said...

Wait, change that, bulldoze Mission: SPACE and restore the original Horizons. Now, that'd be great! That's also because I'm a fan of Horizons.

Anonymous said...

Your insistence on nostalgia is itself antithetical to the progressive goals of EPCOT. "Return the world to 1982!" Please.