Sunday, March 04, 2007

Reflections of EPCOT


I've received a lot of great mail, much of it eloquently written, passionate and incredibly observant, some of it slamming me and other readers for being too critical of what is, after all, "just a theme park."

Nonetheless, of all the letters I've received, none has had the impact of the one below. So, I'm going to do something I've never done in the year that I've been writing EPCOT Central: I'm going to turn over the site to a reader.

This 19-year-old reader wishes to remain anonymous, and of course I'll respect that request. I'm reprinting his letter exactly as I received it (no spelling corrections, etc.), with the exception of putting a few paragraphs in boldface; I thought these were particularly noteworthy observations.

The letter may not be the most perfectly written nor contain the most original observations. What struck me most is that it offers the observations of someone who wasn't around when EPCOT Center existed, and who falls within the target demographic (teenaged male) that Disney is trying to reach with the "revised," thrill-heavy incarnation of EPCOT.

I'll say no more. Enjoy.

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"I have been to Epcot in 1996, 2004, 2006, and 2007. 1996 was my first experience and a great year for both old and new EPCOT....2004 was a bit of a "shock" but 2006 and 2007 have allowed me to discovered the wonder of Epcot or EPCOT Center in my own non touristy disney freakish way!

"To begin is by saying I simply have no idea why I like.....if not love EPCOT. I think its a blessing that humans can find joy in all sorts of things. Since I am an artist, while I enjoy sports, art, culture, and just plain learning is what I'm out for. I want to learn something new each day, discover something new, etc. The world is a gaint backyard and we all must make our baby steps from the back patio to the swing set!

"1996 was my first visit to Walt Disney World (WDW). I was 9 years old. My parents had been a few times before. I was also going with my 6 year old sister. Epcot (then called that officially in 1996) was the first park we went to because we stayed at the Boardwalk.

"It was amazing. Simply amazing! My entire family enjoyed it, though my Dad wanted more thrill rides. I feel so blessed now that I could saw both old and new rides. I never got to see Communicore or World of Motion, but wonders of life, journey into imagation, and horizons were still there!

"By the way speaking of Innoventions, while I have problems with the 1998 Innoventions: The Road to Tomorrow, let us not forget that the original 1994-1998 Innoventions was very much like an updated Commincore. In 1996 during WDW's 25th Anniversary, Innoventions still used the crisp, cool, and simple Communicore colors. The plaza though by then filled in and with red neon lighting, still retained a huge portion of the original Communicore look. Many of the exhibits followed in the spirit of Communicore, except for some home entertainment, etc, but even the floor to ceiling windows were used, etc.

"But looking at Epcot now....it's a loss to me. Is Epcot truly the red haired step child of WDW? Perhaps it is. Why doesn't the Disney company care? Why don't they want to branch out like their founder, Walt Disney did with participation at the world's fair and his proposal for EPCOT/Progress City? WHY MUST THE DISNEY COMPANY CHUCK DOWN OUR THROATS NOTHING BY STEREOTYPICAL MAGIC AND PIXIE DUST?!

"EPCOT, EPCOT Theme Center, and finally what became EPCOT Center....dared to be different, bold and new. Sure parts of Future World were boring and not appealing to some audiences, but look....SOME audiences...not MOST...not ALL.

"There is no reason why some attractions couldn't have been refreshened, updated, or changed in the EPCOT spirit with new technology. Why is Future World becoming Today World/Character extravaganza....and why is World Showcase becoming carnivale del princesses and foreign birds?!

"I think the wand says it all......'we don't care anymore'....or 'we don't know what to do'
...damn I hope that wand comes down....not only would it symbolize beauty has returned to SSE...it would be a step forward in the right direction!!! The large Innoventions signs have already been removed...replaced by smaller signs....one can only wonder if 'The Most Inspiring Place on Earth' will enter a new age of EPCOT influential progress and leave the mellenium celebration finally behind!"

6 comments:

sdav10495 said...

Thanks so much for posting this letter...I love reading your take on things, Epcot82, but it's also refreshing to hear that others in my own general "demographic" feel the same way I do, despite the fact that we might not have quite the same memories as most other EPCOT Central readers. I am a 17-year-old male who has been to WDW and EPCOT 7 times (1992, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007). It has always been my favorite park, no matter how cool it was to visit Mickey in Toontown or, later on, to take the plunge at the Tower of Terror. And while I can't say that I remember the last of EPCOT's glory days (my first three visits) with quite the same clarity that many of you do, the fact that I was so young meant that the place as it was left some very strong impressions on me. For reasons I wasn't always able to put my finger on then, it was just the park I wanted to be in. And for reasons I'm not always able to put my finger on now, lower-case Epcot hasn't been quite as, well, "grand and miraculous" a place. (For those times when I can put my finger on it, I owe a big thanks to the wand.)

Now I'll admit, I was pleased on my last visit, just over a week ago, to find EPCOT (eh, Epcot) in as good a state as it is--relatively well-kept overall, considering my previous visit was about a month before the Happiest Celebration on Earth kicked off and it seemed much of Future World was closed and uncared for. It's certainly improved since then and is a much more pleasant place to be. I've even heard friends (yes, fellow teenage males!) without my own EPCOT history remark that they loved the park on recent visits with their families--that it was just nice to walk around and take it in. Those "quiet things" for all ages to love about EPCOT are still in abundance, despite the mammoth Hand of Eisner and those damn crazy whirly-whoozy-whatzits.

But it still hurts to know what guests, particularly guests my age, are being robbed of when they walk through the gates today. I was lucky to at least have had the old EPCOT leave an imprint on my memory; millions more teenagers who have visited since 1999 will never know what they missed. I know plenty my age who would hate the EPCOT of old, but I know a handful more who would have felt right at home there. It's those kids that have always been EPCOT's target audience. Disney-going teenagers' tastes haven't changed since 1982; they've just suddenly been robbed of their choice to have a taste for anything different.

It's insulting to me as a 17-year-old to be told by the Walt Disney Company that I couldn't possibly be interested in the offerings of the original EPCOT Center--why, there wouldn't even have been any speed and noise to jolt my teenage brain into consciousness! Enough. God knows a lot of people my age are idiots, but many of us grew up surrounded by such engaging masterpieces of the Disney renaissance as "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", and, luckily for me, EPCOT Center--not by a Disney Company that settled for condescension and cheap thrills. Why are they treating me and my generation so much more like 3-year-olds now than ever before?

Ivonne R. said...

I'm 22 year old female so I'm still sort of in that target demographic (lol). I'm glad to hear others within my age range who enjoyed the old Epcot. There are sometimes when it feels like I'm the only one. I guess what makes me sad is that Epcot is starting to feel more and more like The Magic Kingdom. Characters, Princess Dining, Nemo, the list could go on and on. If I wanted Magic Kingdom though, I would just head over there. I head over to Epcot, because it's not MK. I love Epcot because it WAS different from every theme park in the world. Now it's starting to resemble any other park. I think it would be great to see the Disney company follow in it's old footsteps from before and dare to be different. Not the same old cookie cutter theme park thrills I could get at a Six Flags.

RoboPhred said...

As a fellow 17/male, I am in complete agreement with what you say, sdav10495. I have had many of the same feelings. It is a shame I don't have any local friends who have ever visited WDW.

EPCOT has given me more than I could ever give back, but I would say giving EPCOT back to itself would be a fairly good start. I have 15 years of EPCOT dreams behind me, and that momentum is going to bring me right back.
I have planned since as long as I understood the concept of a job to work at WDW, and EPCOT in specific.

The time is finally here for me to get out of this stagnant highschool and continue living.

Epcot82 said...

Great comments, all -- thank you for sharing your thoughts on EPCOT. I hope that someone will benefit from hearing directly from young people!

Robophred, I hope you will have a chance to work at WDW and Epcot, and that it will be the experience you hope!

sdav10495, you have a great writing style. Drop me a line if you can at EpcotCtr82@yahoo.com.

Jahosifatz said...

Well put. This is a great example of the younger generation having a conenction to the Epcot of old. I had the pleasure of making several yearly fmaily trips to Disney Wolrd since 1977, and forget there are those who have never had the chance to experience Epcot Center.

-J
www.allthingswdw.blogpsot.com

RoboPhred said...

Sorry about a bit of offtopicness here.
Just want to warn the world that the above link has a typo that will take you to a site that claims to be the ultimate Christian bible, and has 5 ads per word and more spyware than a James Bond movie.

allthingswdw.blogspot.com

isn't it amazing what will come of spelling spot as psot?