Monday, October 16, 2006

Seeing Into the Future

Here's another classic bit of video found on YouTube -- a feature on EPCOT Center produced for the Today Show. Apart from seeing Jane Pauley looking her early '80s best, it's a great example of just how clear Disney's "messaging" on EPCOT Center was -- and how bungled it has become.

My favorite bit? That EPCOT is a place parents will drag the kids, not vice-versa. Today, we seem to think there's something wrong with that concept!

It certainly is amazing how barren the opening-day version of EPCOT Center looked. Today's mature gardens are so much more beautiful ... if only there weren't so many random carts, kiosks and unnecessary buildings blocking their full view.

At any rate ... enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Good stuff! That music is hilarious - gotta love those synths!

My favorite bit is when Jane says something to the effect of "better leave those Mickey ears behind; you will find no beloved Disney characters in EPCOT Center..." Damn; times have changed! Now those characters have taken over entire pavillions. At least they still serve beer in good ol' World Showcase.

The thing that gets me is that even after all of the gratuitous Disney-fying of Epcot, parents probably still drag their kids and not the other way around.

- Mike

Anonymous said...

I don't know where you find this stuff but keep it coming. ;)

Epcot82 said...

Don't remind them about the beer; it's not "kid-friendly." They may have to get rid of it soon.

Funny how it all seemed to be so natural at the time -- there would be the "kid" park, there would be the "grown-up" park, both offered completely different experiences and both were touted as the height of creativity and imagination (and rightly so).

Now, there's less and less distinction between any of the FOUR parks -- each of which is overrun with Disney characters and scrambling over each other to be the most kid-friendly -- and the over-hyping of Disney takes place everywhere.

I once had a conversation with a friend who lamented the fact that All in the Family could never be aired today because for all of our "progress" and "advancement," we're strangely less enlightened and more closed to unusual, new and stimulating ideas. Everything has to be sanitized for your protection.

I'd argue the same for EPCOT Center. In 2006, we're not "ready" for something that first appeared 25 years ago.

Anonymous said...

My favorite bit? How the Today Show music sounds like it was taken from the soundtrack of the original Dawn of the Dead.

Also, everything else, especially the monorail ride.

Anonymous said...

Beer? The World Showcase was my first introduction to Spaten's Optimater (by the liter, no less).

Anonymous said...

Haha, Greg! I too broke my Optimater cherry at Epcot's Germany. It was delicious, and has become one of my favorite German bocks. I heard they don't serve it there anymore?? GASP.

- Mike

Anonymous said...

What's funny to me is that EPCOT Center cost over $1 billion to build back in 1982. That was a lot of money back then. Compare that to how much money they spent on the entire Disneyland Resort expansion (DCA, DTD, and the Grand Californian) in 2001: $1.5 billion.

The lack of funds shows at DCA. They need to start spending more money on the attractions (Something EVERYONE can enjoy) and less on pointless givaways ("Year of a Million Dreams").

Epcot82 said...

They also made it a point of pride -- that Disney spared no expense, that it was the biggest project they had ever undertaken, that it was the boldest move to get away from "Disney-ized" entertainment and into the realm of "life influencing" (for lack of a better term) that Walt was so passionate about.

No doubt the finance guys were freaking, and it didn't exactly help the stock price (nor hurt it tremendously), but Disney execs, at least publicly, seemed genuinely proud of their grand, expensive, kinda crazy experiment.

It must hurt those who are still alive to see it turned into something so mundane.

Anonymous said...

There's a key difference these days. The corporation is run by the finance executives. They try to make money by reducing costs. Short-sighted and lethal in the long term.

Back in the early EPCOT days, the company was run by the marketing folks and Walt's "remnants". They try to make money by expanding and growing and gaining customers. You do that by making exciting things and realize the long term benefits outweigh the short term risks.

Anonymous said...

When did EPCOT start giving each country in the world showcase a disney character mascot? (Mickey for America, Minnie for Japan, Chip and Dale for China, etc)? I was under the impression that it was like this from the get go. They definately don't do that today.

Anonymous said...

[quote]What's funny to me is that EPCOT Center cost over $1 billion to build back in 1982. That was a lot of money back then. Compare that to how much money they spent on the entire Disneyland Resort expansion (DCA, DTD, and the Grand Californian) in 2001: $1.5 billion.[/quote]

You're kidding? They spent $1.5 Billion on DCA and the hotels? Where did all of that money go to? Certainly not into DCA, thats for sure. It looks like they spent closer to $1.5 million on DCA.

Scott said...

The thing that gets me about Disney not wanting to spend money is that, as a public company, Disney is supposed to maximize shareholder investment (yes, here comes the MBA in me). Disney has a fiduciary responsibility to do the most it can with every dollar in the company. And if it can't do that, then it's supposed to give dividends (currently at $.27 per share, which is a nice dividend).

Disney Parks are a huge part of the company as a whole. Attractions for these parks are an enormous investment, so when the decision to invest is made, Disney should be willing to truly put the money forward for the attractions it puts in instead of trying to force a ride out on a meager budget for the shareholders' sake if nothing else.