Does Epcot have to be for everyone?

Does Epcot have to be for everyone?

This is a question which I obviously know the answer to for many different reasons.  Of course a company like Disney wants one of it’s main theme parks, second in attendance next to Magic Kingdom, to be a park that everyone is interested in attending.  I know the answer to that question is a resounding YES.  For business reasons, for marketing reasons, for optics, for a million other reasons.  It’s stupid to even consider the alternative.

So, let’s take up way too much space in “The Cloud” discussing just that.  Why not?

Read More

On Star Wars and Epcot

On Star Wars and Epcot

This week I’m trying hard to institute a fairly comprehensive media blackout to try and avoid reviews and/or spoilers for the new Star Wars film.  Star Wars, a little indie film that might be playing at a theater near you if you are lucky starting this weekend.  My tickets are to see it on Saturday morning (and then again Sunday morning), so until that time, I try and smack my own hand if I find myself opening up Twitter or Facebook.  I’ve been mostly successful so far.

So I thought that this week, instead of trying to avoid the topic, I’d steer into it a little and try and find a way to talk about two things that were both seminal in my youth.  I’ve honestly not put thought into trying to relate the two together, so what follows is going to be a bit of an experiment in free flowing writing.  Hey, the title of the blog clearly state that this is a manifesto.  A certain degree of rambling should be expected.

Read More

The man who mistook his blog for a manifesto

Driving home today I was revisiting my favorite podcast, Radiolab.  It is fantastically well done storytelling that tends to live in the science space that I love.   I've never fallen so fast and so deeply into something as I did with Radiolab, I felt like I was freebasing it, just consuming it as quickly as I could.  It's one of the only podcasts that I routinely revisit stories that I've already listened to over and over.

Through Radiolab's stories, I was introduced to someone whom I am kicking myself for not mentioning in yesterday's blog post when I was listing science communicators, Dr. Oliver Sacks.  

You may not realize that you know of Dr. Sacks.  His first book as a neurologist, Awakenings, was made into a major motion picture with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. I don't know if I realized it at the time, but this was "based on a true story".   It is quite a good film, and one that stuck with me throughout my life.

His style, not just reporting on the scientific facts of a case, but telling the story of the patient, the patient's feelings and journey, in beautiful prose split the scientific community.  Some felt his style was fame seeking, others looked at it as a throwback to 19th century medical histories.  Either way, his long and storied career came to a close very recently when he lost his battle with cancer.

So why am I putting together a post on him on an Epcot and Disney based blog?  Well, firstly, because I want to.  Secondly as a mea culpa for not mentioning him in yesterday's post.

More importantly however is how his writing style really fit hand and hand with what is missing from Epcot today.  He was able to take scientific topics and through narrative and wonderful writing, get us to connect with his patients in a deep way.  He took subjects that for the most part are treated as clinical and unemotional and he let us connect with the topic in a way that we can get not just the science, but what it means to us at a human level as well.

This is something that I think the designers of Epcot Center knew well.  They knew that science only takes you so far, but narrative and emotion (laughter, awe, excitement) are what form the bond with the individual that sticks with them.

Here is one of many appearances of Dr. Sacks on Radiolab, and I cannot recommend digging up the rest highly enough.  

His many books can be found on Amazon, his writing in the NY Times, and on quite a few Radiolab podcasts.   His autobiography was my Father's Day present this year, and sits on my nightstand.  

The Epcot Manifesto mission statement.

Welcome to the Epcot Manifesto.

Manifesto?  That doesn't sound very "magical"!  Isn't Epcot in Disney World?  Isn't Disney World one of the happiest places on Earth?  How could one relate the word manifesto with a theme park?

The mission of this website is simple.  To explore the mission of EPCOT Center, the park as it existed in the 1980s and 1990s.  The park before it lost some capitalization and the word "Center" from it's name.  To look at the park that was, the park that is now, and to perhaps suggest some ways that the park could be brought back to it's former glory.  

Read More