Saturday, November 18, 2006

Why It Matters

I received this comment from a reader via e-mail:

"Future World in EPCOT Center inspired me to become an engineer, and the Energy Exchange in Communicore encouraged me to pursue nuclear power."


How much more proof do you need that EPCOT Center mattered, and that the problems of today's Epcot are worth "whining" about?

The old saw says that if you can reach just one person, you've succeeded. So, there's proof. I welcome any of you who were equally inspired in any way by EPCOT Center to let me know. (For what it's worth, I was inspired to my own profession by Spaceship Earth and the story it told of the power and meaning of human communication.)

I can't think of many places in the world -- many, I wrote, not any! -- that could inspire young people the way EPCOT Center could. Did it also inspire adults? I don't know, possibly; but the cynicsm of adulthood could easily get in the way. For young people, EPCOT Center represented everything that lay ahead of them, everything that they had a chance to make real -- whether it was new technology, new ways to work and think, or the possibility of traveling the world and bridging cultures.

It's hard to imagine many people being terribly inspired by today's Epcot. Or, worse, that Disney even considers itself to be in the "inspiration" business anymore.


Anonymous said...

I can relate to the comment you received in that e-mail. My frequent visits to EPCOT Center during my impressionable junior high school and high school years inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. The images of the cities of the future in Horizons filled me with more excitement than I could ever express in words, then or now. I couldn't wait to my make a contribution to the promise of a better, safer tomorrow for man-kind. Today, almost 20 years later, I am entering my eighth year as a practicing structural engineer. To say EPCOT Center had a positive affect on the course of my life would be a significant understatement. Furthermore, after completing my university studies I sought out employment in Central Florida and now live just 10 minutes from Disney World. I wanted to live and work close to my source of inspiration and purchased a Disney World annual pass even before some of the essentials I would need for my apartment! But, as Future World was systematically disassembled one attraction at a time, I first became disappointed, saddened and angry, and then just disinterested altogether. I have not visited EPCOT Center (or Epcot as it is now known, but I refuse to acknowledge!) in more than 3 years. I just don't see the point anymore. I find it encouraging that an on-line community exists that recognizes how far the quality of the EPCOT Center experience has fallen. EPCOT Center did once matter, and I really hope that the right folks will once again be making decisions at Disney Imagineering to correct this mess. There are scores of impressionable young men and women out there just waiting to be inspired.

Epcot82 said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your story -- and congratulations on making a difference in our world!

Anonymous said...

I have a similar story. I'm a senior about to graduate college with a degree in Physics and I fully plan to go into the applied science world in hopes of making things better for all humanity through science. Be it through alternative fuels, space travel or something as "simple" as increasing the efficiency of farms growing food. As a person who grew up in the Orlando area and went to Epcot so many times, I can easily point to it as being highly influential on me to this day. My friends and I still love to goto Epcot together and still are equally impressed and awed as we were as children.

Epcot82 said...

That is fantastic. Good luck in your career ... hopefully one day you can put your talents to work for research projects based at EPCOT (assuming they are allowed to continue), combining two of your passions! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I decided to pursue a degree in biology because of The Land. Although I have moved on to pursue my legal career since then, Epcot was a HUGE influence in my drive and determination, especially as a young child and in high school. I felt the obligation to be a part of the future that I had seen. I know that sounds hokey, but it's true.

Epcot82 said...

It's not hokey at all!

Anonymous said...

I decided to leave my country for a little while and work in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot, after one of my visits. It turned out to be the greatest year of my life, I met my future husband and now we both live in the UK (where he's from). Talk about an inspiring park! My entire future was almost singlehandedly changed by one theme park - and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I love this park, I love Disney and I hope in my heart that things only get better.

Anonymous said...

I have been inspired by the World Showcase more than Future World. The architechtural elements from around the globe have been a large inspiration for me. Now I have been seriously looking into the field of Architechtural Engineering.

Anonymous said...

So much of WDW has inspired me over the years. I am still inspired to this day by everything old and new.

Big Thunder, Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain and Future World all had huge impacts on me growing up and to today.

In Epcot, I enjoyed the theatricality of The Universe of Energy and I was obsessed with Spaceship Earth. I remember Horizons, though my fondest memory was the giant imax screen.

I was inspired by Big Thunder, TOT and Splash Mountain specifically to study theatre and theatrical design, which is my major.

All of WDW inspired me to become an Imagineer and that is what I still hope to do. Epcot has always been one of my favourite parks and I am one of the small minority who actually prefers Test Track and Mission:Space to world of motion and Horizons...i know!! please don't kill me!!! Obvioulsy the classics are just that and I love looking back at video and pictures to study these and they bring back incredibly detailed memories, but I am a fan of the new Epcot as well.

One thing today that inspires me is the Illuminations Pre-show with the torches and the music. Everyone walks around world showcase in a party mood and it's just a great feeling.