On Imagineering a new Epcot


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagineering is a portmanteau combining the words "imagination" and "engineering".
The word is well known for its use within the name of Walt Disney Imagineering; however, contrary to popular belief, the term was neither coined by Disney, nor did it originate there. The word was "invented" by Alcoa around 1940, and appeared widely in numerous publications of several disciplines such as urban design, geography and politics, evolutionary economics, corporate culture and futures studies.

Feeling inspired

Feeling inspired

I’ve never been one to get too deeply into thinking about new attractions, shows, or other features that tend to be tied into the “Imagineering” side of Disney fandom.  There are groups of people who put untold hours of work into creating imagineered attractions, there are competitions that are held among these fans and some of the work that comes out of them can be fairly incredible.  I’ve never really gotten into that.

It’s not because I find fault with the idea of people expressing their creativity and passion in this way.  I have loads of respect for those that put themselves out there by developing ideas and placing them in the public for comment.  That takes some (figurative) cojones that I've not had a lot of in the past.

The reason that I have not really done much is that I can honestly say that for the most part, I’ve been quite happy with the Disney product.  At least enough so that I’ve never felt the urge to try and dream up a replacement or an expansion to their existing offerings.  Why try and think of a better way that they could have used the intellectual property for Winnie The Pooh better than their current ride, when the current one brings so much joy to me and my children?

Well, that took a bit of a turn when I really started to dig into my feelings about Epcot.  As I mentioned before, I had a break from Epcot during my broke college student years.  For a decade or so starting in the mid 90s, I really didn't visit WDW.  Once I started going again, I was just happy to be there.  Over the years though, I just started to get this nagging feeling when I visited Epcot.  It didn't mean as much to me, I didn't care if I missed whole swaths of the park.  Was this just nostalgia playing a part in romanticizing the park of my childhood (partially yes), or was there something larger at play (also partially yes).  Once I started to form my thoughts on this, I started to find the faults that have become the basis of this manifesto. 

But aside from just finding fault, I felt a bit of an obligation to try and do more than just complain about what I don’t like.  I figured that if I think that I’m an arbiter of what is and what isn’t worthy of being in Epcot, then I had better put up or shut up.  Don’t just bitch about it, think about what could be done to make it better.  Look at all sides of it, try and figure out what they were trying to do, figure out how it failed, and then see if there are ways that the same goal could be achieved while still holding on to what made the park such a special place.

So this post is meant to set up some parameters for any Imagineering that comes out in this blog.  Some thoughts about what I’m doing and what guidelines I’ll try to follow (and likely break, hey, it's my blog, I'll rant how I want to).

1)      First and foremost, I want to make it clear that any idea I throw out is in no means the only answer.  They are ideas, some more fully formed than others, that I’ve come up with while thinking long and hard about Epcot. 

2)      I have no experience in construction and therefore, while I will try and keep things within reason in terms of both feasibility and budget, I have no idea if what I suggest is possible.

3)      Speaking of budget, I probably won’t again.  I have ideas for a makeover of the entire Epcot theme park (mostly Future World, but touching World Showcase as well).  None of this is done with a goal in mind of “Given a 3 billion dollar budget, we could do X and Y”.   I have no ideas on construction costs, at Disney inflated prices or otherwise.

4)      The approach I will likely take as I go along will be incremental.  It will be a multi-step, multi-year plan trying to keep the park open and operational, with as little impact as possible to the guests.  There is a large part of me that would like to take the approach of: “Shut down all of Future World, cut ticket prices in ½ and operate World Showcase like an extended Pleasure Island.  Eating / Dining / Shopping experience while we remake Future World for a grand re-opening.”  This approach would never happen in a million years, so I leave it to the side and focus on something that could be done over time.

5)      I am not an artist.  I might throw up some sketches or badly hacked up digital photos from time to time.  Know this is not because I really am proud of my artwork, rather I follow the “picture is worth 1000 words” mentality.   While I’ll likely still write the 1000 words to accompany the pictures, I might try and illustrate my thoughts through pictures as well.  I’m not saying this because I want you to go easy on me in the comments, or on Twitter, always feel free to take a big steaming “Stitch’s Great Escape” on me or my ideas.  I just figure a little bit of warning is likely warranted.

6)      As time progresses, I’m likely to suggest alternatives, decide I hate my ideas and come up with new ones, and I reserve the right to change my mind at the drop of a hat.  As I said, none of what I present is the only idea, so if I have more, I’ll share.

7)      I have no idea if any of these have been suggested before.  If you've had this idea years ago, I'm happy for you!  I've written some of these things on Disney fan forums, so I have a bit of history with the ideas, but I have not searched back to see if they are truly original or not.  

Ok, that is out of the way.  By nature of this being my manifesto and all, I’m apt to jump all over the place.  I have a part of me that thinks it best to cover EPCOT Center as it was, then Epcot as it is, then offer solutions.  Another part of me thinks it best to cover a pavilion and then offer an alternative.  Another part of me thinks that no matter what I do, it’ll end up disjointed in the future anyway.  So, I’m going to go with a “post what I feel like when I feel like it” approach.  This week I think I feel like exploring a potential solution to The Seas.  When it gets around to arranging all the work in logical order, I can then just point back to this.

Hmm…  looks like it’s time to upgrade from my Crayola colored pencils for my “concept art”…