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2032 — Overture

The New Center


For nearly two decades, Imagineers and park leaders have struggled with presenting the Epcot concept in a world of ever changing complexity and public tastes. The results of this struggle of ideas have become apparent in recent years as inconsistencies of tone, quality and message not only exist from pavilion to pavilion but also within the individual attractions themselves. Many solutions have been tried with most stemming from a way too light-hearted ironic and even comical approach that have been grafted onto a serious park trying not to take itself seriously. Still, there is one approach that has been seldom employed, but in all cases proved to be enormously successful.

Letting Epcot’s initial purpose “to entertain, inform, and inspire” be the guiding principle has always been proven to be successful, sustainable and profitable. From the 1994 version of Spaceship Earth, 1999’s Reflections of Earth, 2007’s Project Tomorrow and most recently 2012’s Test Track.  All of these have proven that the original concepts of EPCOT Center do actually work in a park of the same name.

Furthermore, amongst the many hyper-kinetic, child-centric escapist realms of Central Florida, there needs to be an oasis of intellect, a sanctuary of serenity and a refuge of real world wonders and all those can exist in a single place. This is not to say that Epcot does not already exhibit these qualities, however the park, and its core audience, demands that it become much more of itself.  

Beyond the microcosm of Disney’s “World”, the events and history of the “real” world are of great importance to the park’s original conception and its future evolution.  In the 1970’s we had lost faith in our system of government.  Corporations were viewed as greedy and corrupt.  Our social causes had lost their focus. Approval ratings for both the president and congress were at an all-time low, while the United States and Soviet tensions were reaching their height. Our cinema and music was dark and without values, while television was mostly vacuous. Unemployment was reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression; America was experiencing an economic and cultural Chernobyl. 

Set in sharp contrast to these events, was the creation of EPCOT Center — A far greater and influential statement than any prototype city would have been. The park was an optimistic vision of life in the 21st century and a cultural exchange signifying the enormous potential of unified world. In many ways, EPCOT Center was not merely the “Dawn of a new Disney Era”, but the first rays of light signifying “Morning in America”. The park and most importantly the concepts for which it stood was a physical manifestation of all the promise and potential of a technological and cultural renaissance made possible by the efforts of modern visionaries a few short decades before the new millennium.

Today, we are faced with many of the same exact problems and situations that plagued our society over a quarter century ago, only this time on a global scale. And in response to these events the time is right for Epcot to return to Center. Just as it was during its conception, the world is just as pessimistic as ever. The tools and technologies meant to unite us are also dividing our society — a society where intolerance of opposing ideas has never been higher — A world where an overwhelmed humanity is withdrawing into virtual worlds rather than solving the very real problems that threaten our advanced existence, and still many other challenges that are too numerous to mention in a single thesis.

Perhaps the time has come to permanently break the cycle — and what better place to become the embodiment of that goal than one of the highest attended parks on the planet — a park that has the infrastructure and historical accomplishments to influence the future of generations to come. With a more focused, intentional and aesthetically centered Epcot it is possible to help bring Morning to America, and the world, Again!

We have hundreds of social platforms that provide breath, but no depth. We prefer to talk through computers rather than to each other. We have virtual worlds where we escape the real world rather than using them to help fix it. And still many more examples that prove that the next step in our evolution will not be technological but cultural. And this shift can be best demonstrated in a place specifically built to facilitate massive transitions, from the Industrial to Information Age and now from the Post-Human to what could be a Post-Technological society in which our many innovations become so commonplace that they blend-in to the foreground, technologies that are no longer the destination but rather a near invisible step in the journey.   

With birth rates reaching historic lows, the traditional Disney demographic has been sharply on the decline for over a decade now.  And as society grows statistically older, Epcot which has been mocked for decades as the theme park for adults could be poised to dominate the industry IF it could shift its focus to an older audience. Furthermore, it is highly likely that developing a technologically invisible aesthetic can solve Disney’s decades-old dilemma of creating a sustainable world of the future that requires minimal change over an extended period of time.

Admittedly these are lofty statements, but they are no less achievable than any others that have been attempted by those “who know the secret of making dreams come true”. Only this time they specifically target the well-being of all humanity rather than the fleeting enjoyment of the individual. And it has never been as easy and cost-effective to accomplish this goal as it is today. We need only have the vision and conviction of purpose to pursue it.

For over a generation, Disneyland (and later the Magic Kingdom) was used by Presidents to exemplify the pinnacle of US potential to visiting Kings, dignitaries and Prime Ministers. If we are to one day encounter an alien race, I would hope Epcot would be the place to typify the best of human achievement and culture and even though “First Contact” may not happen within our lifetime, we should prepare for it, if no another reason than our own evolution.

In this series, we will be addressing several longstanding challenges afflicting Epcot while offering  new concepts and practical applications that should elevate the park to heights of attendance, popularity and stature unequaled in its three decades of existence.      

Over 35 years ago EPCOT Center’s visionaries and designers endeavored to thrust our imaginations two decades into the future by heralding the 21st Century in 1982. NOW is the best time to shape the future once again! 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring foundational philosophies in reimagining The New Center, while providing several practical applications that will bring those ideas to life!
We will begin in the same way as the creation of EPCOT Center did in October 1976, with the creation of a New Advisory Panel… only this time, with an entirely different set of objectives…





Part I – The Forum for the Future 

Now Available

Edited by Christine Cryderman

Reader Comments (1)

I can't wait!

September 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

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