Step No. 2: Update the Movies
Movies can be expensive, there's no doubt about it. These days, the "negative," or production, budget on a feature film can easily run into the nine-figure range, with many blockbuster movies costing as much as $160 million to produce. So, Step No. 2 toward improving EPCOT isn't made without that knowledge. Movies cost a lot of money.
Similarly, theme-park attractions aren't cheap. The new Cars attraction at Disneyland in California is rumored to cost as much as $300 million -- that's nearly 1/3 of the entire cost of EPCOT Center when it was built in 1982.
But it would seem, then, that Disney would want to make sure that it realizes long-term investments on those attractions, to ensure that, year after year, guests are walking through the doors of an attraction and always finding something to entertain and delight them.
So, why can't Disney consistently and regularly revitalize and freshen up the movie-based attractions at EPCOT?
No doubt, it's not a simple process to re-shoot a movie that requires multiple 70mm-sized movie screens, the CircleVision process or 3-D technology. It can't be a logistical and creative walk in the park to design and produce films that can't be shown anywhere else, that utilize production techniques that aren't exactly off-the-shelf methods.
Still ... it's been 26 years since the view EPCOT audiences have of France has been changed. France, on the other hand, has changed a lot. While certain scenes and images may be timeless, France is an exciting, vibrant, thriving country -- and fashion-conscious, too! They even have some modern cars. But you'd never know that from the impressions of France you get at Impressions de France.
If Disney can find hundreds of millions of dollars in its coffers to market Prince Caspian certainly it could find, say, $15 million to update Impressions de France for another, oh, maybe 10 to 12 years?
Then there's poor, poor Norway. If you watch the lovely Spirit of Norway movie, you'd think the Norwegian fashion sense is still rooted in the mid-1980s and that the country is still running off of 25-year-old computers. There are moments in Spirit of Norway that are downright painful to watch. Since Disney is now operating the Norway pavilion without a governmental sponsor, it seems Disney could at least throw that little country up north a bone and move the view of its people and places into the 21st century.
The Universe of Energy is remarkably dated, as well, populated with U.S. TV pop-culture references that don't even make sense to non-Americans, much less to many teenagers visiting the park today, who weren't born when Bill Nye the Science Guy had his little dose of fame.
It's been nice to see Disney update Wonders of China and, even despite Martin Short, O Canada ... but it took them 25 years to get to that point with two movies. Two.
Will EPCOT turn 50 before the other film-based attractions are updated?
The whole point of these relatively inexpensive film-based attractions was that they were easy to maintain, to update, to freshen and to keep people coming back ...
... and, really, isn't that kind of the point?