Monday, December 11, 2006

A New Year's EPCOT Wish

End-of-year vacation and work obligations will keep me from posting through the end of the year. For those of you who have spent time reading EPCOT Central, writing me, posting comments and letting the EPCOT community know your thoughts, I send enormous thanks and gratitude. Your enthusiasm for EPCOT Center has been tremendously encouraging, and it is really wonderful to know there are others like me out there, who were inspired by EPCOT at an early age and who would like to see Disney once again turn its attentions to this most unique and potentially marvelous place.

If you’re new to EPCOT Central, please explore and continue letting everyone know your thoughts. While I may not have the opportunity to respond to each e-mail I receive during the holidays, I assure you that I read and appreciate all of them! (Below, I’ve included some links to past articles that you may have missed.)

As 2006 winds down and we head into 2007 – the 25th anniversary of EPCOT Center – I’m reminded of the excitement I experienced as a pre-teen who was so excited and intrigued by the promise that “the 21st century begins Oct. 1, 1982.”

In this silver anniversary year, I hope that the traditional gift will be taken literally by Disney and that the garish wand and sorcerer’s hand above Spaceship Earth will be removed so that we may be able to see the silver majesty of the geosphere again rise so magnificently above the Florida landscape. It would be the most welcome anniversary present of all for all guests.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that someone, somewhere at Disney will have the integrity and inspiration to realize just how special EPCOT is – that they will look back at the millions of words written about this theme park over the years and come to the conclusion that Disney has the opportunity to return EPCOT to its roots. Today’s entertainment industry continues to look for ways to blend entertainment and education in a way that is intriguing, engaging and relevant … yet EPCOT tried to do that a quarter of a century ago.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that The Walt Disney Company will spend a tiny fraction of the money it pours into television and movie programming of dubious quality on this most unusual and unorthodox theme park. Instead of chasing the “impossible dream” of building another cookie-cutter theme park in China, Disney can turn its attention to a park unlike any other, one that can showcase everything Disney is capable of doing.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that quality will be restored to the park. Instead of cartoon characters and quickly dated movies, a new influx of immersive, ride-through experiences of the sort only Disney has ever been able to create can breathe new life and new vitality into EPCOT.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that Disney will recognize the enormous potential of EPCOT to create that “holy grail” of a global brand that stands apart from the Disney name, one that stands for a different kind of “family” entertainment, that aims to educate and inspire as much as entertain, that can be applied to everything from magazines and housewares to electronics and books.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that an expansion and refurbishment of the park, announced during its Silver Jubilee, will honor the incredible growth and explosive pace of the world in which we live, will highlight the ways in which we can live together and learn from each other.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that our shrinking “global village” will receive the tribute of additional pavilions in World Showcase, celebrating and exploring places on the globe that many people may never get to experience in real life, but which can be presented in microcosm in this rarest of environments.

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that the park will be blessed with a management team that understands its unique position and incredible profile around the globe. (Ask many people who have never even been to Walt Disney World what “EPCOT” means, and most will at least have heard of the name … that’s a name recognition that most creations never achieve.)

It’s my New Year’s EPCOT wish ... that the 25th year of EPCOT will be only the start of 25 more years of inspiration and discovery … not simply of showcasing the latest Pixar movie or thrill-ride technology.

So, my New Year’s EPCOT wish is actually many wishes. But I once heard that wishes can come true. I’d like to believe it’s possible.

Happy New Year, EPCOT … and readers of EPCOT Central. Thanks for the great times. May there be many more!

And for those of you who would like to explore a bit more of EPCOT Central, here are some of the articles that have received the most feedback and response:

Being Unique

When Disney Blinked

Lost: One EPCOT Center User's Guide

The First Quarter Century

A Convenient Theme?

Enjoying EPCOT

Sunset on a Spaceship

When Enthusiasm Was Enthusiastic (retro video from EPCOT Center's opening)


Mr Banks said...

First of all, you want to lose the apostrophe in 'YEARS' in your title. Just a helpful little note. ;)

Secondly, the Mickey Wand hovering over Spaceship Earth is slated for demolition. Sooner than later. So the first wish for MY New Year is already being attended to. Here's hoping that I can be there to press the plunger.

Epcot82 said...

It's a wish for the New Year -- hence, it's a New Year's wish! :-)

As for the wand ... well, I'll believe it when I see it. But I bet Disney could make a few bucks off of each of us by selling pieces of it online -- just so we can dump those pieces in our OWN garbage for a little personal satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

I'd buy that.

Josh said...

I'll miss the updates for the rest of the year, but thanks for the great blog! I wish EPCOT could return to its roots too. I miss that sense of unbridled optimism that used to run rampant through the park.

Maybe Mouse Surplus will wind up with the wand and it can be auctioned off to someone who will turn it into the next artificial reef - at least, that way, something good would come of that thing's existence. :-)

Lidstrom said...

Unfortunately, getting rid of the wand should be the beginning of a return to greatness. Instead, if it is done at all, it will be the end of a token gesture done to make irritating fans shut up for a while. Maybe I am just a pessimist, but I see EPCOT further sliding into generic Epcot theme park obscurity. Disney is outsourcing customer service, once thought to be a core competency and now is something they are so bad at they are willing to pay someone else to do it for them. That gives me so optimism about the future of any of their properties that are currently moving in the wrong direction. I fully expect them to continue sliding in a direction that will only inspire me to reconsider why I would spend ever-larger amounts of money on them.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Banks, where did you hear this info about the wand demolition? Is it true? Is that piece of crap finally coming down!?

Anonymous said...

The 21st century truely did begin on Oct 1, 1982. I loved EPCOT more than I like Epcot.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article... I look forward to your blogs during EPCOT's 25th Anniversary year.