EPCOT: Future World

22 03 2008

Of all of Disney’s different parks, the one I find most interesting as an adult is Epcot. The Epcot theme park is actually made up of two distinct areas, Future World and the World Showcase. Both of these concepts are worthy of study. Future World is comprised of several rides that demonstrate current and future technology, including Spaceship Earth, the symbolic structure of Epcot (the big silver ball).

Epcot

EPCOT was originally an acronym for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Walt Disney’s vision of a futuristic model planned community. The 20,000 resident community was to be laid out in a circle, with a central business and commercial area surrounded by community buildings, recreational centers, and schools. This core, in turn, would be circled by the residential neighborhoods on the outside perimeter. A monorail/people mover would serve as transportation for residents, while cars were relegated underground so that the above ground streets would be pedestrian only.

original concept of EPCOT

Image copyrighted by Disney. The use of this image is for informational purposes only and qualifies as fair use. The inclusion of this photo in this post adds significantly to the post because it shows the subject and the creator of the subject. Source: Google Images.

Mike Lee wrote a very comprehensive and informative article describing Walt Disney’s grand plan with photos here. There is also another website called Waltopia that is dedicated to Walt’s original plans for EPCOT. I encourage you to check them out. In addition, you can check out Walt’s original presentation of the concept of Disney World and EPCOT that was made shortly before his death.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9M3pKsrcc8

Although the corporation decided not to continue with the residential plan after Walt’s death (Celebration does not count), it did go ahead with the concept of a self sufficient community interconnected with a monorail system that became the Walt Disney World Resorts area, which incorporated many of the ideals of Walt’s original EPCOT.

The actual Future World area within Epcot theme park comprises of a series of pavilions, most sponsored by corporations, that feature rides showcasing scientific concepts and themes such as energy, speed, space, land, and water. Notable attractions include Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Imagination!, Soarin’, and Test Track. I won’t rehash these rides since you can easily find this information anywhere on the Internet.

SPACE

The entrance to Mission:SPACE. Photo by DearCatastropheWaitress and used under GNU Free Documentation License.

My favorite ride at Epcot is probably Spaceship Earth, a ride housed in the iconic silver ball that takes you through an animatronic timeline of human discoveries such as paper, Arabic numerals, and the printing press before ending with a personalized vision of your future via a flatscreen monitor in your car. Although I understand Disney had to update the end of this ride, I have to say that I miss the old ending where the “future” is represented by the home computer and space station. In particular, I miss the old scene where two people communicate via teleconference while one guy is fixing his car. I guess they had to change it because we have already reached that future.

P’s favorite ride was Soarin’, a ride that simulates flying over California. You actually sit in seats that rise up some 10-30 feet while you watch an Omnimax movie screen and feel wind on your face. It’s a very exciting but not scary ride. I did feel some queasiness but I attribute to having only arrived in Orlando the day before.

I’ll end with one other note. There is a reason the motion simulator thrill ride that is Mission:SPACE has two versions: the green team and the orange team. The orange team is the full ride that includes actually experiencing the force of 2.4 G via centrifuge while the green team is the half ride version that does not include the centrifuge. P and I rode on the orange team and while P loved it, I was completely nauseated by this 4 minute ride. I love the concept, but just be forewarned (and the ride does warn you several times before you are “committed”). I am a pretty fit 27 year old but I guess my center of gravity is off because it took me about 2 hours to completely get over this ride.

Despite my experience with Mission: SPACE, one of the reasons I love Epcot is that they have such interesting and innovative rides. While research and development is not usually a forte for amusement parks, at Epcot it is a centerpiece. Sure new rides only come out every few years, but I don’t see any theme parks with the scale, scope, cleanliness, and attention to detail of Disney World.

Next: Epcot: World Showcase

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One response

23 03 2008
aglassofwine

haha, i can’t say i loved it, because i was quite queasy at the end too, but i did think that it was super cool that they could replicate the g-force and just completely throw me off my center.

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