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The Renaissance Age

When we old people bemoan the need for ambition, scope, and class in Disney’s current efforts, this is what we mean…

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21 comments to The Renaissance Age

  • RO93461

    When was the last time you believed in something BIG?

  • Adam, "MarkTwain"

    I love the lines from the speaker at the end, and how Disney unabashedly proclaimed how Epcot would “instill belief and pride in mankind’s ability to shape a world that offers real hope”. They always seem to shy away from such grandiose and altruistic statements these days, preferring instead to focus on the more abstract “discovery” angle.

    I wonder why that is? It seems to me like the expressing grander and more ambitious viewpoint would be the better marketing tactic, making the park sound like a place really worth visiting. Maybe they’re afraid the current park wouldn’t live up to the hype?

    • Well the park as a whole aims lower today. The “discovery” angle they use now is far more vague and can be used to justify any number of random things. Under the old thesis, Test Track, Mission Space, Nemo Seas and most of Innoventions would not qualify. They have no “message”, they’re basically just random experiences.

      • Omnispace

        What’s interesting is that what joined the various elements of EPCOT Center together was really just the way it was presented. With the exception of some poorly misplaced shows, like Finding Nemo, it really wouldn’t take too much to restore Epcot’s original purpose. Basically, it takes someone with vision.

        • Agreed. I say we make a bid. :)

          You’re right, though – if they gave someone who cared a budget and free hand to make changes with minimal futzing, it could be so MUCH better, and a lot easier than rebuilding half of DCA.

  • RO93461

    Sadly, it doesn’t. Most of the shows take us into the past instead of demonstrating the future. Horizons was probably the only pavilion that took that challenge and ran with it. I think that’s why so many people miss it. That content should have been in the Ball. they should have payed off that promise right away and then let you explore how man got there. Disney as a company used to represent those forward looking values as a brand essence, and “Reassurance” was not confined to feeling good on Main Street, it extended into the future. WDW was demonstrating that lifestyle as you sat there watching, Disney was going to make it all work out and you were going to get to live there.

    • Exactly. The big thrill from Epcot Center as a kid was the aspect of “this will be my life someday!!” Whether all the scenes from Horizons, the futuristic city at the end of World of Motion, SeaBase Alpha… it was the great big beautiful tomorrow. You just don’t get that today.

      • Omnispace

        Unfortunately, the world that EPCOT Center was developed in changed very drastically in the ensuing years. The corporations who we entrusted to creating a better life for us were suddenly revealed as poisoning our water and sending our jobs overseas; all the while giving obscene bonuses to executives who kept their spoils in foreign accounts. The dramatic footage of the Space Shuttle launch was saddened by the Challenger disaster. And the technology and information revolution took the World Key touch screens and put them in our pockets.

        But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the original mission of the park — just shift it a bit. After all, the future is not something that is given to us but something we help create.

        • True. You couldn’t just re-create exactly the old attractions and have them work (except for Imagination). The corporation thing is spot on; reading the EPCOT promo stuff from the late 70s almost reads as a parody with its infinite faith that “free enterprise” will always prevail as a force of good and progress.

          The same spirit can be achieved, though. The goals are pretty much the same today, after all, only the means have changed. Instead of “look at all the great things (company) can do for YOU” it can be “look at all the great things we can achieve together.”

  • Omnispace

    This goes way beyond just wanting to outdo the guys down the street. This is when you are out in front and you are still putting out an incredible effort. Disney wasn’t just trying to capitalize on a popular franchise, or create a me-too show. They were trying to better our lives by allowing us to experience something absolutely amazing and cultural.

    • Exactly. And they were trying to do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from their previous efforts as well – one of the main priorities was to offer things that could not be found at the Magic Kingdom.

  • “They were trying to better our lives by allowing us to experience something absolutely amazing and cultural.”

    Well…let’s be completely honest here…

    …Disney, just like all the other so-called “evil” corporations that sponsored the original EPCOT Center attractions were, and still are…

    Trying to better their financial positions by offering us an experience that we are willing to spend our money to see.

    This pie in the sky, everyone is out to just make everyone happy, idea is nothing but a farce.

    Disney is not a charity or even a not for profit. The things they do, and the things they have always done, have been in pursuit of one thing, and one thing only…profit.

    Now, we can agree that Disney is not necessarily doing that in the right way these days, but don’t be fooled…that was always, and always will be, their primary motivation.

    • Oh, no doubt, they were just better at hiding it then :)

      Heck, even “hiding it” might be a stretch. They were ALWAYS about “free enterprise” and stuff. There was just kind of a bigger idea behind it – it was planning to make a load of money in the long term by doing awesome things than planning to make a load of money on the quarterlies by doing tricksy things with cutting costs and downsizing projects.

      Some people get it wrong and go off about Walt not caring about money, or not wanting to make money – that’s not true. But he was definitely all about spending money to make money, and then rolling that money back into the show.

    • And, actually, I think their main motivator for EPCOT was just so people would stop asking them about it :)

    • Omnispace

      That’s a lot to misconstrue from one sentence, but when one has a visionary leader at the helm of a company, especially one based on artistic merit such as Walt Disney’s, profit is not necessarily that person’s primary focus — it’s the advancement of the art, (or whatever creative notion that person has). Michael is correct to say that Walt Disney realized that making money was a necessity to achieving his goals, and partnering with American business was a convenient means to that, but to say that profit was always his prime motivation diminishes not only his unarguable reputation as a creative genius, but his personal character as well. Walt Disney might not have been around when EPCOT Center was built but there were still a lot of people in the company who had been close to him and were still being carried along by his momentum and the result was notable.

  • “Some people get it wrong and go off about Walt not caring about money, or not wanting to make money – that’s not true. But he was definitely all about spending money to make money, and then rolling that money back into the show.”

    EXACTLY! The reason Disneyland, and Disney World, were/are so wildly successfuly is because of the scope of them. No other themeparks in the world could even come close to what Walt envisioned, and realized. He was willing to spend what was necessary to build something unlike anything anyone had ever seen, and in so doing, he laid the foundation for not only the Disney parks, but other “theme” parks around the world. But…people should not make the mistake that he was doing it out of some sense of altruism, there always has been a gate price, and while I don’t have data to back this up, I can almost guarantee with all certainty that the price of addmission has never gone down.

  • Sean O

    Yeah, but the fart jokes in the new Imagination Pavilion are pretty sweet too. And getting sprayed in the face with disinfectant in Soarin’, irreplaceable!

  • I kind of like the spritz of Lysol on Soarin’, it keeps the funk down after sweating all day in the park :)

  • Oh, and, they can run a few shows empty to clean the seats…its all win!

  • Jim R.

    Very interesting comments. Curious… if you had a chance to add something big and futuristic to DisneyWorld and/or DisneyLand… what would it be? Something about space? Underwater? Floating cities on the oceans? What?

    The last time I visited DisneyWorld was in the early 90s. I remember coming out of Horizons and there was this presentation area to walk through. I distinctly remember seeking a large model of a mobile scientific platform for exploring Antarctica on display. I felt like a two year old at Christmas.

  • Jim R.

    Make that “seeing a large model…”

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