By this point, my blog posts fall into a very specific pattern. I spend a few paragraphs apologizing for the amount of time that it’s been since my last post, most of which falls into the “I’m so busy” line of reasoning. Then I introduce whatever concept has been running around in my head for a while, and I bang away at it for a few paragraphs, all of which basically come to the same point. Epcot is not what Epcot Center was, or was meant to be by the original designers.
It’s a pretty decent format for a blog post, allows me to get up on my soapbox and gnash my teeth at whatever Epcot injustice has been bothering me as of late.
There is one flaw in this formula however. When nothing is bothering me, I find it hard to pick up the keyboard and write. I think that, more than anything, has been what has been keeping me from writing recently. Yes, I’ve been busy. Yes, I have something like a million different things that I should be doing at this moment instead of this. But, if I’m to be honest with myself, I feel like those are excuses I make to myself to justify not writing. I think that the real, underlying reason, is that I don’t have anything that has been driving me crazy Epcot related recently.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve all of a sudden turned some corner, saw the logic in what Disney has done with Epcot and Future World recently, and have become a proponent of its “plan”. Not in the slightest. Epcot, for the time being, is still the unmitigated disaster that it was a year or two ago when I started writing this blog. There have been some recent rumors involving World Showcase that seem to have some promise, sure, but those won’t turn around a park that has veered so far from what made it great.
No, I’m still as unhappy with the park as I’ve been in the past. I think that I’ve been slowly coming to this point however over the past year, ever since I wrote the post “Dealing with the end”. I even talked about it a little in there, with the thought that it was something I’d soon get over and move past. It seems it may have been the opposite however.
I honestly think that what has happened in the past year is that I’ve come to the point where I have come to terms with the fact that Epcot Center is dead, I’ve mourned its loss, and have to some degree moved on. I know it might sound like some First World Problems meme waiting to happen:
But, for a park that I credit with so much of what I enjoyed as a child, and for what I’ve become as an adult, it seems like the correct term. Let’s go to an old internet trope, the “the dictionary defines <word> as”:
verb (used with object)
1. to feel or express sorrow or grief over (misfortune, loss, or anything regretted); deplore.
2. to grieve or lament over (the dead).
3. to utter in a sorrowful manner.
Mourn is the appropriate word in this case. What this blog likely was for the start was a forum for myself to come to grips with, and mourn, the loss of what Epcot Center was. Sure, I also wanted to show that it didn’t have to be this way. There were (and still are) many ways in which Disney could decide to update the park that would provide an entertaining experience for the modern guest, all while holding true to the bigger meaning that the imagineers designed into every fiber of the park that was. That can still be the case. They still could decide to do that. (Just like Universal could decide to level Harry Potter-land and replace it with a Trolls themed area).
I just think I’ve come to a place where it no longer drives the intense emotions when I see a rumor of something potentially happening at Epcot.
I read a rumor the other day where someone was discussing the idea of Disney getting rid of Spaceship Earth now that Siemens is pulling its sponsorship. At one point, I’d have likely not been able to do anything else for the day until I’d made some snarky posts on the Disney Parks Blog, a fan forum or two, and laid out a potential blog post explaining exactly how stupid of an idea that this would be.
Instead, my reaction was “Meh, whatever.” It honestly caught me off guard. No matter how farfetched the rumor might be, and I do feel that removing Spaceship Earth is farfetched, it once would have sparked emotion. Spaceship Earth is one of the last remaining pieces of what was once the defining characteristic of the park. It was our introduction to the Future World concept, our gateway into a new kind of theme park. It’s the park “icon” (however much that matters). It’s also my current iPhone case and Tomorrow’s Child my ringtone. More than anything else in that park, except possibly Living with the Land, it IS Epcot. Still, I don’t know if I’d shed a tear if the wrecking ball smashed into it today. I may be sad, but in all honesty, I think I’ve mourned the entire park enough at this point.
Wait, does that mean that I’ve made peace with what Epcot is today? Am I all ready to go in and enjoy the park as it exists now without the shadow of Epcot Center looming so large over it?
To be blunt, hell no.
It’s just not a good theme park as it stands today. Taking an objective look at it, it is an overthemed food-court/shopping-mall with some poorly designed attractions to walk past before reaching the food court. If I want to go to a place so it looks like I’m eating in Italy, I’ll go to Chicago’s own Italian Village. There are much better ethnic food joints within 20 miles of home than there are in Epcot. I can get all of the wine, beer, and other foreign spirits by taking a trip to my local Binny’s, at a hundredth of the cost. Remove what makes World Showcase a destination and you are left with Future World, which doesn’t justify the price of admission.
If I’m planning a trip to Disney World, I’d rather plan for a 3rd or 4th day at Magic Kingdom than spend a day of tickets at Epcot. I’d probably pick the hollowed out shell of Hollywood Studios at this point over spending a day at Epcot.
I’ve not been to WDW since December of 2014. This is I believe the longest in my adult life that I’ve gone without a trip to WDW. Part of what makes that so is that I can’t justify the cost. Disney has made short trips cost prohibitive, and when there are only 2 parks that I’d like to really spend my time in at the moment, I’ll do what I did last fall and visit Disneyland instead. 2 completely enjoyable parks, compact and easy to jump between, and many different ways to visit on most budgets. (speaking of budgets, I’d started trying to work out a clever economics-themed post that I might get around to writing one of these days, so I won’t go into this in too much detail right now).
If I’m heading to WDW, which believe me my kids are starting to get more vocal about since it’s been so long, I don’t think I’d visit 2 out of the 4 parks. Epcot would be my last option. I’d throw in a water park day, or another day at MK, or (gasp) a trip over to Universal to take my Potter obsessed 9 year old to visit Potterland. Sure, the kids enjoyed a thing or two in Epcot last time we were there. Still, how much enjoyment of Test Track or Soarin will justify an entire trip to that park, when everything else is rubbish? Not enough in my opinion.
So, no, the final death of Epcot Center to me will not make me more likely to visit the park that is. It may just remove some of the sting that could be expected once they start making real changes to Future World. Once they start really gutting the heart of the park without pretending to try and make it fit in. Guardians of the Galaxy? Whatever. You want to replace Spaceship Earth with a Tinkerbell themed screen-based attraction featuring a pay-as-you-ride upgraded experience? Have at it.
The park I loved is dead. I’ve mourned its death and moved along. I’ll continue to enjoy it for what it was. I’ll continue to treasure every piece of memorabilia that I dig up (I found an un-colored copy of the Epcot Coloring Book while digging around my childhood home this past weekend that is probably well worth a blog post discussing).
I’ll love what Epcot Center gave me at a time when I was all too willing to devour it. I just don’t think I’ll be too up in arms anymore over the continued destruction. There are too many other important things in the world these days to be concerned about. Things that a park that inspired us all to think big would probably help. Disney has given up on that though, I guess it’s time for me to do so as well.