Monday, September 04, 2006

Disney Jumps the Shark

Mix red and gold

From autumn flowers

Purple and blue

From twilight hours

Green summer hills and rainbows play a part...

A painter's brush -

A work of art!

Much has been made over the years as to the "dated" effect of Epcot, as a whole, an entire unit. This somewhat bizarre judgment appears to have sprung up in the 90's, the land of the cynic, as something of having been the most damming thing anybody could have said about the place at the time - that it is no longer on the cutting edge.
It is true that much of Epcot came with a built-in self destruct button, as once it was open nobody in a position of power at Disney seemed to be willing to sink the necessary dollars to keep exhibits like Symbiosis or Communicore floating on the edge of relevance. The wonderful World of Motion was shuttered and replaced with the lamest thrill ride anywhere, and Communicore, originally a series of diverse and unusual exhibits, ended up being gutted and replaced with Innoventions, a similar concept with a more cluttered "Convention Floor" feeling but which has also failed to match lock-step with progress in the world outside it.

There are more, but there is no need to continue to stress this point. In the long run, it has become obvious that everything that made Epcot unique, enchanting and revolutionary has become something to actively distrust on the part of Disney. They believed their own worst critics when the Philistines (the same ones who turned their noses up at Disneyland Paris, the most beautiful park ever built by anyone, anywhere) shouted that Epcot looked like "the future as imaged by Republicans". That Epcot was terminally unhip (Unlike, say, The Magic Kingdom, where even the buildings today scream "Seventies Nostalgia!"). So Disney set about making it "hip" and lost something along the way.

Today I can't help but feel that the tide is turning. Perhaps because Epcot's two exemplary festivals - Food & Wine in October and Flower & Garden in May (along with smaller events like Pin Days and Doll and Teddy Bear Convention year round) have forced people who may otherwise have skipped over Epcot's charms to stop and take stock of what the place actually is. To fully appreciate Epcot one must stop, look, and listen. Its' geometrically perfect buildings lack the immediate charm and razzle - dazzle of the Magic Kingdom's fantastic and ornate structures, designed to be admired while beating feet towards Space Mountain. Epcot looks somewhat cold and impersonal until you realize that each angle is a design choice among thousands of possible configurations and that each curve, arch, and corner is a design pared down to its' core of expressing an emotion of optimism.

And it may be, finally, that we’ve finally caught up with Epcot. Our sense of appealing design and aesthetic has finally harmonized with Future World’s sense of open space, uncluttered and sleek lines, and simple and appealing geometry. You can see it in the guests at the park on any given day, hear it in the way people talk about the place, read it online in any number of online forums. That’d be the greatest irony of all – that the best way to have made Epcot “hip” may been to have done nothing at all.

1 comment:

Ivonne R. said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought that Epcot was fine the way it was. I miss much of what made Epcot unique and I'm sad that Disney taking that away by adding attractions that don't hold true to the original vision.

Also, I'm so glad that someone else thinks that Test Track is the lamest thrill ride ever! I miss World of Motion so much!

I love the blog! Keep up the great work.