Tuesday, April 28, 2009

D23 Explores EPCOT


EPCOT Central has admittedly been tough on the D23 concept. But it seems that the managers of the Disney fan club are trying to listen to feedback -- undoubtedly, not an easy thing to do given Disney's "brand management" inclination to appeal to the masses, even at the expense of passionate fans.

Today, the Disney D23 website features a look back at the opening of EPCOT Center. While not timed to any specific anniversary or event, and seemingly a bit random in its appearance, the D23 article provides some terrific images from early EPCOT.

No, it's not in-depth and it covers ground virtually ever Disney fan already knows. But it's a start, and digging up David Brinkley's quote about EPCOT's achievement is a nice touch. The more EPCOT Central sees of D23, the more it seems it's worth at least giving the benefit of the doubt. Disney's trying, and that says something.

Check out the article and the D23 website (open to all, not just members) by clicking here. It's nice, certainly, to see Disney officially refer to "EPCOT Center." Fingers crossed, perhaps D23 will give us more insight into the future of EPCOT and rare imagery from its glory days in the coming months.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. They called it "EPCOT Center." Well, I guess that wraps it up, then, doesn't it? We can all stop complaining about how Disney sold their soul, cartoonized EPCOT (Epcot, epcot, whatever) & go back to our lives...

Who needs Dreamfinder when you've got a rockin' Kim Possible attraction in the World Showcase, huh?

Future Guy said...

I really think there's a faction within the Walt Disney Company that wants to restore EPCOT to what it was. I doubt that these folks have much creative control--witness The Computer-Generated Seas With Nemo and His Animated Friends--but there are little cosmetic things here and there. The hated wand was removed from Spaceship Earth; the exterior of the Energy pavilion was recently restored to its original color scheme, and new pieces of merchandise with Dreamfinder on them keep popping up from time to time.

If the Imagination pavilion (long rumored to be next on the list for a major refurb) gets a true-to-the-spirit-of-EPCOT Center rehab and it proves to be as popular with customers as the Nemo-ized Seas, it might give the pro-EPCOT folks within Disney's corporate labyrinth some political capital. We can only hope.

Epcot82 said...

Praise progress, not perfection. :)

Meg said...

As I've mentioned before, lasting change happens slowly. More surprises are to come.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that Figment and possibly Dreamfinder would be perfect canidates for the Living Character Initiative technology? Put it right out front where Dreamfinder used to be...it would be like old times, without having to have some guy and puppet!

Brian Place said...

This is certainly an interesting turn - a fact-filled, well-written history & introduction to EPCOT's raison d'etre on an official Disney website? Careful, people might accidentally stumble across it! Worse, they might *read* it!

They did spend *quite* a bit of time trying to explain that WDW was really EPCOT--which is sort of the official Disney line on the subject. But there was a lot of real truth and optimism in that article. Wow.

EPCOT Explorer- Disney64 said...

Lovely little retrospective they posted...which ended in a promo. All style and no substance, just like what D23 is. It's a promo for Disney. Plain and Simple...and no, I'm not speaking of Wonders of Life's old counter service venue.

I'm happy that they acknowledged the past of Walt's "dream park" but I'm disappointed that in the end, it's just another "add".

Disney had a unique chance and venue with this D23 concept. Too bad that they made it like everything else they do these days- mediocre and promotion based.

Adam said...

WOW, I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you here.

"Epcot: Living up to Walt's Original Dream" ???

The "Original Dream" was quite plainly a CITY not a theme park. SLIGHT difference there. And an ideal city, to serve as a model for changing the landscape of America. While I love Epcot (excluding everything done to it in the last 20 years), degrading Walt's original dream to a simple theme park is a lie, and an insult to the man.

Further, this article is nothing but marketing and propaganda. It praises Mission Space, Innoventions, and Test Track as reasons the park is "living up to Walt's original dream". Excuse me while I vomit.

Adam said...

The REAL E.P.C.O.T. : http://www.omniluxe.net/wyw/epcot.htm

Josh from England said...

Surely there's some way of integrating the EPCOT of old, the thought-provoking attractions of Horizons et al, with the Epcot of today, with the likes of Test Track, Soarin' and Innoventions. There has got to be a way, somehow.

And "Meg", I hope there is.

Anonymous said...

*** As I've mentioned before, lasting change happens slowly. More surprises are to come. ***

And these surprises are... What? Provide detailed examples.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Provide that evidence.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the plugs for the more recent attractions, which are part of the stray by which we lament about on this blog, are shamelessly unrelated to the point of EPCOT Center's purpose, I do think the bulk of that article was an optimistic breath of fresh air, and I certainly feel more optimistic myself about a possible re-birth of the daring innovative EPCOT Center that once was. It was nice to read about it in a positive light from the company that created it, and not see it degraded as an attempt to appease the cynics that ignorantly find it boring. I think it's time Disney stands behind this one of a kind park, which it began, and finally continues on a path to make it the wonder it dared to become almost 3 decades ago. I too will keep mu fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

And might I just point out that Innoventions is much more a playground for children these days than a hands-on showcase of prototype concepts and future inventions. My last visit in April proved that. At least I got to try different Coke products from around the world. My life is certainly more fulfilled. Test Track leaves you with nothing to really learn unless you're interested in automobile production, and even that subject is questionable. I skipped it this last trip and didn't miss a thing. Mission:Space, while a really cool design concept, again divides up families, has been the cause of death and injury to park guests, and doesn't teach you anything. And to me it's lack of substance makes it a pointless ride to go on without the centrifuge. Another skip for me that I didn't miss. Those three attractions are to me the last three that should be praised in this article, unless they decided to plug the Nemo debacle. However, while I feel they could have made a better choice with the concept that led to Kim Possible, I was glad to discover that I barely even noticed its presence in World Showcase.

Anonymous said...

If there were more people at Disney like Marty Sklar, they more than likely wouldn't have strayed from the quality and optimism that pioneered EPCOT. This is a step in the right direction! Great article!

Matt Hunter Ross said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict two things: Imagination pavilion gets some real money and gains a "timeless" presence, and another dark ride appears (a new take on Horizons).

Anonymous said...

I don't know how much D23 listens to it's fans, but I don't remember seeing to many youtube videos involving the wand until after it was demolished. There's a new youtube video out asking for the hat to come down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kou4M0A_C1I

Geoffrey said...

The more I read on E.P.C.O.T. Changing for the
Better the more I want to return there,
To be completely honest I haven't had the time
To return lately,and as a child I didn't
Truly appreciate all this park has to offer
But it has slowly but surely grown on me.

I look forward to possibley returning to EPCOT and WDW as a whole
To rediscover part of my youth in October..and all these positive signs
However small excite me more and more! Great article.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me?!

The newer Epcot attractions are just as innovative as the old ones! That D23 article is completely right!

Stop picking on Disney, D23, etc. AND GO GET LIVES ALREADY!!! SHEESH!

Mike Folf said...

I agree with anonymous above. And Epcot82, are you having any computer problems? You haven't posted in a month.

Hmm...EC82...EPCOT Center 82...Magazine/club idea!

Geoffrey said...

While I agree that some of the new attractions are innovative,
I.e. Mission space. I believe that there have setbacks I.e. Living seas with finding nemo.

I believe overall EPCOT overall is on the right track it hasn't been as innovative as u say imo.

Mike Folf said...

Anything new, Epcot82?

Jack said...

Just checking in... I miss this blog!! ;-)

Andy JS said...

I can't believe the news about Michael Jackson. I remember the first time my family visited EPCOT Center in 1988 when I was 9 years old, the thing which really made the park amazing was Michael's appearance in the Captain EO 3D film. It was the icing on the cake of a mesmerizing experience at EPCOT and Disney World generally.

I look forward to a blog entry on Captain Eo in the future.

I think there's a famous photo of Michael standing in the Image Works rainbow corridor. I'd love to see that again.

EPCOT Explorer- Disney64 said...

So...The blog is dead again?

Anonymous said...

Would love to hear your thoughts on a relatively new blog (though not mine)
mesaverdetimes.blogspot.com
in which the posters jumped off Horizons cars and explored the set and backstage.

Anonymous said...

Darn, this blog is dead!

Anonymous said...

Helllooooooooooo???

EPCOT Explorer said...

Dead again. Kinda getting frustrated with this.

Anonymous said...

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

August 8, 2009...

Anonymous said...

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

August 15, 2009...

John Hendershot said...

There was a time when I would look for this blog every morning. I long for the days where I could get an intelligent perspective on the future of EPCOT Center!

I understand that life, sometimes, gets in the way of what we choose to do for enjoyment and pleasure. I hope that you can find balance in your life to give a bit of pleasure to those of us that looked forward to your intelligent and thoughtful perspective on all things EPCOT!

If that is not possible (and I would certainly understand), I wish you well and can only offer a HUGE Thank You for all the wisdom and insight that you have provided.

Best Wishes!!

Anonymous said...

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

August 22, 2009...

Anonymous said...

well... since I'm too lazy to find a better venue, i'll get a few thoughts out here. in no particular order (or relevance... think of it as an EPCOT non sequitor)...

I was at EPCOT a couple months ago and I have to say, I liked the 'new' spaceship earth. not that the old one wasn't good. but really, the descent at the end was always lacking. i think the scenes, narration, etc. were all streamlined and reshuffled some to make a much tighter and more compelling story. Dame Judy was also perfect IMO. I say this b/c I think it's one change that isn't a destruction of the old, but really... a simple evolution. and considering what COULD have happened (i.e. all those rumors about coasters and crap like that), it's great that the classic was largely maintained.

the Kim Possible thing also proved a great addition. not sure why this gets slammed. it doesn't detract from any single pavillion, but adds an opportunity for younger folks to have fun in Epcot - and mostly, they don't! my 7 year old neice loved KP and it was a great excuse to spend time just roaming around seeing other details. another example of how change doesn't have to mean destruction.

it is a shame thought that some of the other classic pieces are languishing. Imagination is just horrible. the Land is one of the most popular pavillions now thanks to Soarin', but the other attractions are sort of just aging. the scary thing for me is that Disney seems to think that improving these rides/attractions can only happen with character tie-ins. i'm ok with the Seas and Nemo, the ride is actually quite good. but what I really always loved about EPCOT was that the marketing wasn't as overt... subtlety is something Eisner killed.

hopefully we can get some new posts here. i find the dialogue always quite good.

Anonymous said...

"the Kim Possible thing...adds an opportunity for younger folks to have fun in Epcot..."

As they say in Mythbusters, "Well there's your problem!"

EPCOT Center was designed for mature people. Unfortunately, Disney executives panicked & quickly cartoonified EPCOT Center into it's current bastardized self.

Honestly, what does "Soarin" have to do with the original theme of "The Land"? Answer: Nothing. It's just a fast ride with a slapped on landscape theme that fits "close enough" to The Land pavilion.

What does "Test Track" have to do with the history of transportation? NOTHING!

What does Kim Possible have to do with Epcot... AT ALL?! NOTHING!!! Why couldn't they have developed an original character to fit the theme of EPCOT Center - Same attraction but with characters & a theme that fit the theme park.

I'm through thinking that Lassiter will "save" Epcot - What has he done to save Epcot? Honestly? What has he done? List the specific accomplishments that Lassiter has personally signed off on that has de-cartoonified Epcot to bring it back to it's original glory.

I am sad to say that, at least in America, "Science Center" & "Children's" are virtually inseparable. There will never be a place where you can learn about the world in a mature manner.

History will probably reveal that EPCOT Center was the last great experiment to have a place of entertaining scientific learning for adults...And then 1990 happened.

Anonymous said...

Where are you?

Anonymous said...

I think your vision of "no change... ever!" is pretty naive. It's Kim Possible... c'mon. Epcot may have been designed for mature people (whatever that means), WDW was designed for families. if a negligible addition allows mom/son, father/daughter to enjoy more time together in the 'educational' park, then it's cool by me.

and the problem with original characters is they're not always winners. figment and dreamcatcher?? holy crap, outside of the olympics there is no creepier mascot.

there are parents who (rightly?) don't want their 14 year old to have a cell phone. but if that same parent beleives their kid is somehow a throwback to the 1970's and doesn't WANT a cell phone, well... i'm not sure naive is a strong enough word. point is, there's probably a good Epcot somewhere b/w NEVER CHANGE!! and ONLY THRILL RIDES!

as for soarin', I've never seen so many people in that pavillion. and there were many spillovers onto the Living with the Land ride, I have to believe more people are being 'educated' there now than before simply due to the draw of Soarin'. i don't see why that's a bad thing...?

Anonymous said...

of course, there is certainly potential for many "bad things" to happen now. I can see a giant Hulk propping up Spaceship Earth. or spiderman swinging from the ToT.

as always, we can only hope they're able to find a balance. too often though, giant marketing corporations (like Disney) don't forgo opportunities to promote their products...

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have "no change" then "bad change" any day of the week! If you think my ideas were naive, then your responses were predictably inadequate.

I asked what relevance the character Kim Possible had to do with a place like Epcot. You didn't answer. Your answer was "...c'mon." Apparently, you don't know the answer, either.

Disney has abandoned the concept of EPCOT Center, turning the park into nothing more then a collection of fast rides that does nothing to educate the public.

Horizons? Gone. Replaced by the centrifuge ride "Mission: Space." Apparently, progress for you is having a ride that kills people, which "Mission: Space" has. Perhaps you could educate all of us as to how many people were killed on "Horizons," since this is the progress you crave so deeply.

You ridicule the original character "Figment" by calling it a creepy mascot (to be fair, the exact words were "outside of the Olympics, there is no creepier mascot.") Perhaps you would care to elaborate on your description, considering the popularity of the character throughout the years. "Figment" was exactly what it should have been - A combination of elements derived through imagination to create a completely new creation.

There is nothing distinctive about the Soarin' ride to the theme of "The Land." The ride could just have easily been suited towards other pavilions with a theme change. It is not the popularity of the ride that has been called into question but the appropriateness of the ride to the pavilion that is housing it.

Does "Soarin'" teach you about the history of agriculture? Nutrition? Nature? Animals? You tell me - What did Soarin' teach you about "The Land"?

Since you are so apologetic towards all of this so-called "good change" at Epcot, perhaps you could inform us all how these changes better educates visitors about the history of transportation, about marine life, communications, agriculture, computer science, the environment & international culture. I patiently await your response.

Anonymous said...

I asked what relevance the character Kim Possible had to do with a place like Epcot. You didn't answer. Your answer was "...c'mon." Apparently, you don't know the answer, either.

Is that the question? what does KP have to do with Epcot? I didn't realize by suggesting a change *like* KP meant I had to present some thesis about her/its (?) relevance to epcot. who cares?

you seem to rely on assumptions and absolutes. perhaps that serves you well.

so now you're defending Soarin'? but you don't like it's placement in the land? what exactly are you whining about?

to clarify, i characterized the dreamcatcher/figment duo as creepy. more dreamcatcher than figment. frankly, bearded men in victorian garb don't seem like obvious hits as mascots... perhaps to sell hamburgers.

i never claimed to crave progress, only suggested not all change requires one mess one's diapers.

i never said i agreed with your supposition that all of epcot must be "educational" - that seems a somewhat absolutist position. likewise, i don't recall claiming that soarin' educates? or that it had too??

is that the measure of a successful epcot? all attractions everywhere must educate... always? why isn't the metric the number of people "educated" (and/or entertained)? again, by that account, I'd say the Land informs more people than previously simply by the draw of soarin'. whether you or I like soarin' doesn't seem germaine to that equation.

you seem all jammed up with your panties in a wad.... over Epcot.... c'mon.

Anonymous said...

Part I -

"Is that the question? what does KP have to do with Epcot? I didn't realize by suggesting a change *like* KP meant I had to present some thesis about her/its (?) relevance to epcot. who cares?"

Wow. Still no answer. How amazing.

"you seem to rely on assumptions and absolutes. perhaps that serves you well."

No, I rely upon evidence, facts & clear answers. You ought to try that some day. It might serve you well, too.

"so now you're defending Soarin'?"

How was I defending the attraction "Soarin'"? Show me the previous text where I'm defending Soarin'.

"but you don't like it's placement in the land?"

I don't like it's placement ANYWHERE at Epcot, because it doesn't belong at Epcot! You tell me how an attraction like Soarin' would fit into EPCOT Center. You seem to think that just any old carnival ride can belong at Epcot if you theme it appropriately. you tell me. Again, I'm not getting a single straight answer from you.

"what exactly are you whining about?"

Someone who uses "c'mon" is accusing me of whining?

"to clarify, i characterized the dreamcatcher/figment duo as creepy. more dreamcatcher than figment. frankly, bearded men in victorian garb don't seem like obvious hits as mascots... perhaps to sell hamburgers."

No, you did not. Here are your exact words - "and the problem with original characters is they're not always winners. figment and dreamcatcher?? holy crap, outside of the olympics there is no creepier mascot." You used the word "mascot." Explain to me an Olympic mascot that resembles DreamFINDER. Just one. One Olympic mascot that even vaguely resembles Dreamfinder. Winter or Summer.

No, you were referencing Figment with the Olympic analogy & you know it. At least have the guts to put detail into your allegations or just stop making them.

I'm still awaiting your answer on how all of this good change makes Epcot better. Apparently, that answer might be in your next reply.

Anonymous said...

Part II of II -

If you want a theme park filled with fast rides, I'm not going to stop you. Go to Universal! Go to Six Flags! Go to the part of any number of county fairs where they haul their attractions off the back of 18-wheelers!

-- To all who come to this place of Joy, Hope and Friendship—Welcome.

EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world. --

That speech above is the gold standard, the "metric" for which all Epcot attractions should be measured by. It was so important that it was engraved on a plaque & placed at the entrance of the park.

Those words ring hollow, though, with this new Epcot. The latest attractions may thrill the younger set (what fast ride wouldn't disappoint them?) but they don't educate or inform. Your assertion that these fast rides have a "trickle-down" effect (That people interested in fast rides become interested in the more informative & educational attractions) are false & it is up to YOU to provide the evidence that they are true.

I don't care if you like fast rides or not but you can get fast rides anywhere. How many places inspired on the level of EPCOT Center circa 1989? Inform? Educate?

I'd like to hear testimonies from young children that Soarin' inspires them to become engineers. Does it? Environmentalists? Airplane pilots? Hot air balloonists?

When I saw World of Motion for the first time, it inspired me to learn about cars. Engineering. Math. Aerodynamics. Fuel Efficiency. I wanted to be old enough to buy a Lean Machine so I could drive their mock-up right out of the pavilion.

Has anyone been such inspired by Test Track? Has anyone heard their son or daughter say, "Dad, how does a car engine work?" after visiting Test Track. Anyone? Anything similar? Or is the impulse simply to drive more fast cars?

You call me "jammed up with your panties in a wad... over Epcot...."

EPCOT Center is a beautiful opportunity to inspire millions of young minds to form a better future. To show the present that a better future is not only possible but achievable with present technologies.

"Epcot" is a bunch of carnival rides with a slather of paint over them. I feel sorry for those who have worked there long enough to compare what was to what currently is.

I have no problem with "change." I wanted to see what a "Horizons 2.0" might've looked like now that we've entered the age of the Internet & nano-technology. I wanted to see a "World of Motion" with the bleeding edge hybrid & electric automobiles in a showroom that could be. I wanted to see an "Universe of Energy" bristling with the rapid developments in solar, wind & hydroelectric power.

Change? You bet I wanted change. I wanted an EPCOT Center that turned to the world & said, "See? I told you this would all happen in 1982 & it did. Now, here's what you'll expect in the next 40 years..."

"Epcot" isn't that change, though. It's nothing but a bunch of fast rides, Disney characters & B-list celebrities now. Does a roller coaster entertain, inform and inspire?

C'mon.

Anonymous said...

too long. i didn't read any of that...

all i said was that KP was a nice addition b/c it didn't detract from any pavillion and added an opportunity for my sister-in-law and her daughter to spend time together in the park having fun. you don't agree. great.

not sure why you want to fight me...? apparently you hate families? or mothers? or children? I'm not sure which... perhaps it's not hate. perhaps you have an unhealthy attraction to bearded men? or maybe a creepy bearded uncle wasn't very good to you when you were a child? this would explain your infatuation with dream catcher.

regardless... really not sure why you want to fight me, but good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

None of that response answers any of the above questions posed. Unfortunate, but typical.

Well, even though you haven't given me the courtesy of reading my response, I've given you the courtesy of reading yours.

If you want to make the allegation that I am "fighting" you, then I can't stop you from feeling that way. However, I'm also not going to let you off the hook either.

What saddens me about you is that even though you protest to want to end this debate ("not sure why you want to fight me...?"), you go on to insinuate that I have "an unhealthy attraction to bearded men..."

Now I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt throughout this exchange. I have asked fair & reasonable questions so that you could clarify your own positions.

I asked you what Kim Possible had to do with the original theme of EPCOT Center.

No response.

I asked you to show me the text of my responses that suggested that I was defending the "Soarin'" ride at EPCOT Center.

No response.

I asked you to provide evidence that the increased popularity of the ride Soarin' was somehow increasing peoples' desire to see the more educational attractions at The Land pavilion.

No response.

I asked you to tell me how an attraction like Soarin' would fit into EPCOT Center.

No response.

I asked you what the attraction "Soarin'" taught you about the issues important in "The Land" pavilion?

No response.

I asked you to identify a single Olympic mascot, winter or summer, to back up YOUR claim that Dreamfinder was as creepy as an Olympic mascot.

No response.

Now here were my responses to your allegations.

You accused me of having a "vision of 'no change... ever!'." I replied that I would rather have no change then the changes that Epcot had made & I wanted changes that suited the theme that EPCOT Center was founded on.

Throughout this exchange, you have personally insulted me on multiple occasions.

"apparently you hate families? or mothers? or children?"

"you seem all jammed up with your panties in a wad"

"perhaps you have an unhealthy attraction to bearded men?"

"I think your vision of "no change... ever!" is pretty naive."

It's unfortunate that you couldn't be more respectful. These personal insults do not help support your positions but weakens them in that you must rely upon these tactics when met with clearly defined questions regarding your positions.

I await your answers to my questions. Whether I receive them or not is entirely up to you.

Good luck with them.

Marilyn said...

For the record, I miss this blog!

Shawn said...

So do I

Evan said...

D23 Expo passed....Nothing announced for EPCOT.

Thoughts?

Dan said...

I keep checking in, hoping for something new. Instead, we have some lengthy arguments from anonymous posters. ):

jimmycrackedcorn said...

Is this blog abandoned?