Step No. 5: Capitalize
Walt Disney Company CFO Tom Staggs and his group can rest easy -- this kind of "capitalization" doesn't require heft conversion of the company's resources into cash to fund new projects at Epcot. While that kind of capitalization would be fantastic, it's not in the cards anytime soon, and besides, the idea behind these 10 steps is that they should be inexpensive.
This one certainly fits that bill.
Back in 1994, just 12 years after EPCOT opened, Disney decided to change the name of its most ambitious theme park. EPCOT Center became, first, Epcot '94. Then Epcot '95. Finally in 1996, slightly saner heads prevailed and the idea of changing the name every year, even if it was just an abbreviated year extension, was dropped.
EPCOT Center became just little ol' Epcot.
In fact, it's been Epcot longer than it ever was EPCOT Center.
The funny thing is, that EPCOT Center name stuck. Most guests always shortened the name "EPCOT Center" to just "Epcot" when speaking. But Google the words "EPCOT Center," and you'll come up with more than 1.5 million entries. Pick up a travel guide, and quite often you'll find the name "EPCOT Center" being used where "Epcot" is actually more appropriate.
Why hasn't the name change ever really taken hold?
My theory is this: Everyone loved being able to point out that EPCOT was an acronym. It meant something. Yes, we all know ... those groan-worthy old tram-driver puns aside, it stood for (all together, everyone!) "Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow."
And that was grand.
EPCOT had meaning, even if the idea behind that meaning was pretty vague. As an acronym, "EPCOT" had a purpose. There was a point to this oddity of a theme park. Even if you didn't know the words, EPCOT had a definition.
It's important for a place to be definable. "L.A." is always "Ellay," but we know it means "Los Angeles." The City of Angels. Lost Angeles. Lost Angels. Whatever joke you want to make of the initials, they are meaningful.
"I (Heart) NYC" means something because we understand that "N.Y.C." stands for something important. We all know what it is.
Imagine if we were flying out to "La." Or we were going to spend a weekend in "Nyc." Or heading over the Atlantic to visit friends in "The Uk."
EPCOT was more than a jumble of letters, it was an identity.
Epcot is a jumble of letters. A nonsense word. There's no there there.
Has anyone ever asked you, "What do you stand for?" Well, then, pity poor Epcot. It literally stands for nothing. And that's a problem that's easily remedied.
Once it stands for something again, this amazing park will have a better chance of slowly regaining an identity, one with meaning behind it.
It makes little difference whether "Center" follows EPCOT. Now that the aforementioned Mr. Staggs has made a little project out of creating pocket change for Disney by selling off the hard-won land on which Walt Disney World sits, EPCOT is no longer in the center of anything, not literally. So, go ahead and ditch the "Center."
Perhaps no one at Disney never really cared to notice before, but EPCOT matters.