Monday, May 27, 2013

Memories of EPCOT Center

Memorial Day may be past, but it still seems an appropriate time to remember some of the best aspects of a bygone EPCOT Center.  Although many have suggested that the goal is to "turn EPCOT into a museum," nothing could be further from the truth: EPCOT Central would love to see EPCOT take the best of what it was and build on that success, not tear it down.

So, keeping with the spirit of the holiday, here are some random memories of the best of EPCOT Center, all of them Future World-based:

* Communicore Plaza's ponds
Before the purple circus tent, in EPCOT's early years, what's now "Innoventions Plaza" was lined by small ponds, adding some lovely water elements and a sense of simple sophistication to the area; they're now seating areas and planters.  Their destruction was an early sign that Disney's modern management was unhappy with what they inherited with EPCOT, or, at least, didn't understand it.

* The Living Seas opening film
This short pre-show contained more wonder and self-professed astonishment at the 71 percent of the Earth we too-rarely consider.  It showcased the high-tech theme of EPCOT Center, as well, inviting guests to board hydrolators to Seabase Alpha.  One problem with the pre-show: To some minds, it was better than the actual show.  Nary a cartoon fish in sight, it was the embodiment of what EPCOT Center was all about.  It's probably the single thing I miss most about the "old" EPCOT, with the exception of ...

* Horizons
The most optimistic, eye-popping (and nose-popping!) attraction at EPCOT Center, it was the kind of slow dark ride that just doesn't fit in with today's fast-paced sensibilities.  There's a very good reason it remains the one thing EPCOT Center fans would love to see return ... because riding it, flaws and all, just made you feel so damned good afterward.

* The World of Motion's stark, clean lines
The ride itself?  I was always on the fence about it.  Even in the early 1980s, it felt a little too cutesy.  But the show building itself?  Come on -- there's no comparison, really, is there?

* The Lucite fountain and entry plaza
It was the perfect way to convey the message of what Future World was all about; even by the time Lucite was outmoded, it still said: "Here's the future the way we think it could be -- simple, timeless, clean, clear and able to reflect whatever we want to see."  The monument of tombstones that replaced it has just never had the same feel.

* The Imagination pavilion's ImageWorks
The second floor of the Imagination pavilion is basically just a storage area now.  What strikes me as odd about this is that Disney's always-struggling Interactive division could use it as a showcase for what they are doing.  There's so much opportunity to bring back something like ImageWorks, a place that, for many years, kids (and adults) could spend hours and not be bored.  If the ride itself was always a little hokey, ImageWorks really did help unlock your imagination.  It says a lot about the trajectory of Disney as a company, unfortunately, that a place Imagineers designed to stir the imagination and provoke creativity is now dark and empty.

Ah, EPCOT Center.  I remember it well.  I'm glad it can be a place that always changes; I just wish the changes weren't so debilitating.

1 comment:

sir_grapefellow said...

Ditto on all the above; I'd like to toss in the Radok Blocks Pre-show for the Universe of Energy; never a disappointment. I was a 20-something when EPCOT Center opened and I always imagined taking my own children to experience the park like I first had, especially Horizons. When I eventually did, the park was a shell of its former self, all of the whimsy and promise of a thoughtful, educated, unified global future had been stripped away, replaced with stuff, pandering to consumables and characters.

This may be a foolhearty thought, but is there no one in a current power position who dares consider a return to an EPCOT Center that could fulfill it's original mission ... and be what they consider entertaining?