Yes, it's a play on words, using the title of President Obama's book. But it's also what many Disney fans wish EPCOT Center had become -- that shining city in Central Florida with a massive spire at its heart, streets and businesses radiating outward from it in circular fashion.
There's a reason the notion of an EPCOT city has persisted for more than four decades. Though situated in the flatlands of Florida, as soon as it was introduced by Walt Disney himself, a few weeks before his death, it became the proverbial city upon a hill, with the eyes of all people watching.
EPCOT the city represented hope, an assurance that the ills of the civil-rights struggle, of violence and war, of poverty and disease could be put past us. Walt Disney, who just 38 years earlier was a struggling, near-destitute cartoonist, was the man who could make it so. If he could make us believe in our childhood dreams, allow us to experience adventure and fantasy ourselves, take us to the bottom of the ocean and bring life to a magical nanny, if he could make us forget our troubles on screen, he above others could make us forget them in real life, too.
When he introduced the concept of EPCOT as a city, Walt Disney promised hope.
He assured us that the turmoil that surrounded us on a daily basis could become distant memories if we applied enough innovation, creativity, dedication and vision.
When he died, the plans for the city mostly died with him ... but, Alexander Pope told us in the 18th century, hope springs eternal.
Hope for a better future. Hope for understanding and prosperity.
In 1982, we saw that the grand ambition may have died, but the hope it represented was still alive. EPCOT Center was not Walt Disney's promised land, but it embodied many of its ideals. It offered a glimpse into a future world in which we could actually solve our problems -- and gave us the seeds to take home and plant that could grow, one by one, into solutions. It presented a view of a world in which Mexico and Norway sat next to China, in which Italy and Japan, our enemy 40 years earlier, flanked the United States. The world, EPCOT Center promised, could live in harmony.
We are once again facing a time of uncertainty, unhappiness, fear and disillusionment. But where is the hope? Today's Epcot tells us that while there are things to discover, mostly life is about entertainment and thrills. Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride, forget about the real world, forget about your troubles, just have fun.
EPCOT the city and EPCOT Center the theme park reminded us that the future is in our hands. The only thing Epcot leaves in our hands is a Fastpass and an airsickness bag.
We need hope. We need Disney's incredible creative minds to show us again that the eternal flame of possibility hasn't died, no matter how meekly it may be flickering.