“Where do you think you are, Disney World?! Get your strollers in line and hustle!” – General Knowledge
EPCOT needs help. There a few key things that can be done to save it.
EPCOT, since childhood, has been my favorite park. Just spending time in EPCOT, on the walkways and by its fountains, brings me a joy like no where else in the world. That being said, EPCOT is a sad shadow of its former self. The downfall started in the mid to late 90’s. Though this article is about the future of EPCOT and not the past, I think it is important to understand what made EPCOT so wonderful to understand where is should go. Attractions like Horizons, Spaceship Earth, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination, Universe of Energy, and eventually the Wonders of Life pavilion all had a similar theme. All of those attractions were about the potential of the human race. What I remember most about EPCOT was seeing where we as a people had been and all the possibilities of where we could go. Magic Kingdom was about fantasy and fairytales. EPCOT separated itself with a foundation in reality that expanded into possibility. That is what EPCOT needs to recapture, the wonder and excitement that comes with dreaming about tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow. With that in mind, here are my suggestions for improving EPCOT.
Leave the World Showcase Alone.
I wouldn’t do much, if anything in the World Showcase. If you could get a country to sponsor a pavilion and you wanted to add it fine, but the countries are still very good and continue to evolve in small ways over time that feel both appropriate and progressive. There are a number of attractions being added on the long term Disney plan. I’m not so much of a purist that I see a problem with rides in World Showcase. I say the more rides (appropriately themed and located) the better. However, I recognize that there are limited resources and the World Showcase isn’t where they need to spend them. Spend the time and resources in Future World.
Innovations hasn’t been innovative in a very long time. Bring back real innovation. This could be a place for car manufacturers, technology companies, game companies, and others to display their lastest and greatest. Make this a spot to host rotating displays like those at the yearly CES show. Make this the place that we can see what is next, what is on the horizon. You can feature kickstarter projects and humantitarian projects too. Disney’s Innovations gets so much exposure all year long, you have to imagine companies and startups would love that exposure. Make it a competition and the best ideas, the most innovative, get to display there for a number of months or a year. It would make the space feel new and dynamic while costing very little to Disney.
Bring back Horizons
I don’t really want Horizons brought back, but something like Horizons. Spaceship Earth and Horizons were a two part attraction, one about the achievements of humanity, the other about what was possible next. When they shut down Horizons, they lost the second part of that beautiful story. They need anattraction (not a thrill ride) that once again speaks to the possible future of the human race. It can’t use a technology that will be obsolete is a few years, and it can’t be short sighted. It has to really push the boundaries. They need to remember the roots of Disney and the dream of EPCOT. So this ride needs to make nods to the past with being absolutely present and all about a dream of our distant future. Also, it should be a classic Disney dark ride. A ride accessible to everyone, so that young and old can share in the dream together.
Let Figment be your Guide
I am partial to Figment. He has always been one of my favorite characters and he is unique to EPCOT. His ride is terrible now and he has been relegated to a very small role in the park. He should be one of the central figures of the park. To me, Duffy has always been a poor attempt at a marketing ploy, Figment should have always been the cartoonish face of EPCOT. They need to redevelop and expand his ride and the experience at the imagination pavilion. That is where all human advancements start, and so the ride, pavilion, and display should speak to and encourage that. The senses thing doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense. Make it about creativity, art, and invention.
The Wonders of Life
This was a very cool pavilion with a couple of very cool attractions. They should bring this, or something like it, back. Inside/Out seemed like such a neat opportunity to bring new intellectual property to EPCOT and a perfect marriage. I remember appreciating this pavilion as a adolescent and teen. Cranium Command always spoke to me and made my whole family laugh.
Get Rid of Mars Ride
It should have never been there to begin with and was another misstep in creating EPCOT’s current condition. It is dated and EPCOT was never about thrill rides (I’m looking at you too Guardians of the Galaxy). You can have trilling moments, but they shouldn’t be the kind that are going to make anyone sick.
The Lesson of the Second Half of Spaceship Earth
When they changed Spaceship Earth, they added a technology that was cutting edge at the time to the end of the ride. But cutting edge is old news very quickly. Compare this to the illusion of the ghost riding in the car or dancing in the ballroom in the haunted mansion. That technology has been around for decades and it still creates a sense of magic and wonder. They need to ignore what is new and neat and look at what will make generations of people for years and years say, “wow!” There is going to be a temptation to use VR maybe, and that is fine, especially in Innovations and small attractions, but what makes Disney special is the magic they bring to the experience.
Disney needs to be about experiences. Technology is one of many tools that should help tell a story and build an experience. When it gets in the way of those things, it ceases to serve its purpose.
This is how you save EPCOT. Simple right. #SaveFigment