Monday, May 15, 2006
Last Traces of Greatness
All’s right with the World? Sadly, that’s not the case. Readers of websites like Mouseplanet, Miceage and Re-Imagineering know all too well that there are many, many things wrong with Walt Disney World.
As in life, it’s the little things that did it. One little tweak in the wrong place – or, worse, one little thing left undone (an attraction not refurbished, a cast member allowed to be lazy) – results in a house-of-cards effect and, ultimately, the whole thing comes crashing down.
Still, there are a lot of things for which we can be grateful, both at Walt Disney World as a whole and at Epcot. So, for just a moment, let’s take a break from complaining and pay compliments to those things done right:
* The fun, bouncy, vaguely futuristic music that plays throughout Future World, which you can hear here, and which seems the perfect soundtrack for happy discovery;
* The dinosaurs in the Universe of Energy, one of the last remaining vestiges of what Future World once was;
* The jumping fountains outside Imagination, which, 25 years later, prove that just because something is a quarter of a century old it’s not outdated;
* The beautifully maintained and manicured gardens of Epcot, which with their simple undulations and lovely mix of flowers and shrubbery, showcase a kind of perfection that was once one of Epcot’s hallmarks;
* The hidden meaning of the old Epcot logo in the ground where the two halves of Innovations (formerly Communicore West and Communicore East) come together – the geographical center of Walt Disney World, something almost no guest realizes;
* The American Adventure, which, despite the tinkering over the years, maintains a bold vision of showmanship through technology and also (whatever your political leanings may be) is a wonderful display of American patriotism;
* The cast members in the College Program from around the world, who always seem eager and happy to be working at Walt Disney World – many other cast members could learn from them;
* The view of Spaceship Earth from underneath, when the Mickey hand can’t be seen and the enormity of the engineering feat and its stark beauty can be appreciated;
* Illuminations, a tiny slice of Disney perfection – it plays to cheers and tears every night, and I’ve never heard a guest complain that it contains no Disney characters;
* World Showcase, which somehow (for the most part) has escaped the tinkering of Disney “management” and has maintained the vision set for it 30 years ago without becoming an ungodly mess of thrill rides and Disney characters;
* Living With the Land – how has this escaped “Disneyfication” over the years and been allowed to quietly remain as an example of what Epcot was meant to be … wonderfully, happily so?
Perhaps Epcot is a little like Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars -- deep down, there is still some good there.
Next time you go, open your ears (the ones on your head, not perched atop!) and eyes and find little things to enjoy. They’re last traces of greatness.