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The Ethical Case for Energy

The E82 Project exists to pay tribute to Epcot’s past and explore the near limitless potential for its future. As such, it has been a long-standing policy not to get involved with current events nor address rumors regarding the park’s redevelopment. However, when rumors are this persistent and the implications this far-reaching it becomes necessary to break with policy and illuminate the larger issues involved.

As reported by a great many sources, the Universe of Energy is at the top of Epcot’s endangered species list and is reported to be replaced by a franchised thrill attraction that is in no conceivable way connected to the pavilion’s subject matter or Epcot’s mission to “Entertain, Inform and Inspire”.

To be completely clear, this plea is not in any way a defense of the absolutely indefensible Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Nor is it a condemnation of the “marvelous” intellectual property alleged to replace it. This IS a defense of the subject of Energy, its importance to the guest experience, and its impact on the integrity of Epcot.

With Ellen and Bill joking around for the last 20 years, this might seem like and odd thing to say, but Energy could easily be considered the most important of Epcot’s concepts. For without it communications, transportation, space exploration, ecology, and even creativity simply would not exist and if removed, the purpose of Epcot would continue its slip into irrelevance.

Succinctly, this is not “just a theme park ride” as some might believe. For as Marty Sklar once wrote, “Walt Disney did not go to Florida just to build another “theme park” or even a destination resort. He had something far more important in mind.“ For as fun as The Magic Kingdom is, its escapism must be balanced with Epcot’s original philosophy “that with Imagination, Commitment, and Dedication We Can Create a New Tomorrow.” Put simply, The Magic Kingdom exists to escape one’s problems while Epcot exists to solve them. As of 2017, the solution to providing sustainable energy resources has yet to be found, but an exchange of ideas presented in a highly dynamic attraction that has the potential of impacting the behavior and consumption habits of well over 10 million visitors a year might be our best chance for achieving nothing less than energy independence on an individual level.

This is the reason Epcot exists in the first place. This is the reason Walt Disney World was created at all — to bring “Joy […] Inspiration and New Knowledge” to all those that enter it. And at its center, EPCOT where real “human achievements are celebrated” through “concepts of the future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.“

Unfortunately, these ideals are in real jeopardy. And this is no game, for we have all witnessed the pervasive effects Post-Modernism has had on science as empirical facts themselves have come under increasing attack. And although this by no means suggests that the Universe of Energy would comprehensively solve this problem, it is with upmost certainty that it will not help matters if its theme is removed.

There is a great deal of discussion about what guests WANT, but very little about what they actually NEED. And in a park with a high-speed car ride and a space-themed attraction so intense that out of necessity provides a watered-down version both literally a couple hundred meters away, its very hard to believe that anyone over the age of 15 actually wants another long wait, short ride based on a group of galactic misfits. One that will surely anger Epcot’s strongest supporters and alienate large sections of the public, who due to age or health issues, cannot or will not participate. Nor is it fiscally responsible to remove an existing attraction only to replace it with a substantially more expensive one with an obviously lower occupancy.

With a massive two-acre structure, one of the most unique ride systems in existence, two gigantic film formats, a formerly impressive finale, and a once fascinating kinetic pre-show, not to mention an extremely high capacity, it is extraordinarily possible that a seriously impressive new presentation about Energy could be created. One that entertains the public, that informs them about all the amazing new solutions coming just over the horizon and inspires them to create their own energy bridge to the future — with the goal of giving people an uplifting message of hope for a clean, sustainable world.

But all of these possibilities will go away, and Epcot’s integrity will suffer a severe and potentially deadly blow if the true guardians of tomorrow will not standup for its still attainable aspirations for a better future. For if Epcot loses Energy, and in light of all that it has lost and all the inconsistencies it has suffered, then honestly, why does Epcot even exist at all?

Save Time — Save Money — Save Face — SAVE ENERGY


Reader Comments (8)

This is PERFECTLY written, and encapsulates EXACTLY what anyone who ever visited Epcot Center is thinking and feeling. This needs to be said. This needs to be heard. Save Energy! Save Epcot Center!

May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKlingerman

I agree, EPCOT doesn't seen more thrill rides or attractions based on IP. Instead Walt Disney Imagineering needs to take a step back and work on re-grouping and re-imagining a cohesive Futureworld narrative. I would actually like to take the overall concept behind Horizons and apply it to Futureworld as a whole. Then add in more people-mover type transportation and motion into that section of the park. Bring LIFE to it. Today, the most exciting part of walking around Futureworld is the Monorail. If I ever had the chance I would love to take the time to map out a new Futureworld by adding concepts from Walt's initial vision, and my own ideas to create something that tells a story. Each pavilion is a chapter and they all link together. It is possible... We should keep trying to be heard by Disney. Hopefully there are still Imagineers who "Get It".

May 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRetroMickey

Enough said, no more infiltration of characters in EPCOT. This hole facility was based on our living and learning about the future. Whether it be energy, transportation, space or whichever topic Walt chose to envision this enormous plan before his death to take us in the right direction for everyone's future.. Without question if he were alive we would not be entertaining any sort of introduction of movie characters or such within the realm of EPCOT. Of course if he were still alive maybe this hole project would have taken its intended path to what he envisioned it to be. PLEASE lets reconsider the original reasoning of this entire park which was to teach, plan and learn how to better our future. Imagineers please stand up for us all and send this repurposed attraction in the right direction and get this park back on track for future rehabs and newly implemented rides and attractions. Thanks

June 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterME

I know I'm late coming to the party with this but I just read something on CNBC on why they keep making Transformers movies. It's because they are huge internationally. The grosses are almost triple what they are in the US.

That being said, when a movie studio makes tons of money from short term gimmicks, they try to figure out a way to stretch that out longer and longer. This is why we get sequels. Disney is no exemption to this. They used to be, but no longer. I was a CP at EPCOT in the fall of 2003. I have seen that park change drastically from 2003, let alone my first visit in 1987. As any good business, they must adapt and change, which is actually Walt's original plan. Nothing should ever stay the same for too long. Nostalgia leads to stagnation, stagnation leads to lower revenue. In the end, it's all about the money.

However, I do not agree with a MOVIE being placed in a park that isn't about movies. I think Disney already has one of those parks not far from EPCOT. I believe it started with the Living Seas adding Nemo to the attraction. Eventually it was changed to The Seas with Nemo and Friends. When Frozen "infiltrated" Norway, and received huge positive reviews with lines rivaling Test Track, they saw a new avenue of attracting guests to EPCOT. There is only so much "learning" people want to do on vacation. It is no surprise that the least favorite attraction of EPCOT would be slated for a franchise reboot.

I don't believe there is enough support to keep the attraction alive, unless of course someone actually makes a working fusion reactor. The whole premise of EPCOT died many years ago when slow moving attractions were replaced with higher thrills. Even the Wonders of Life pavilion (which wasn't even an original) has been shut down since January 1, 2004. It no longer became about learning about the future. It evolved into an amusement park with state-of-the-art attractions. That's what paying vacationers want. So Disney obliged.

This is the future we live in. A future without the "future". Resistance is futile.

June 25, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter5ive

To be honest, I never visited EPCOT Center back in 82 but I do LOVE it and its rich history. Removing Energy will be basically removing the soul of EPCOT itself and what it originally stood for- to be a place where you can learn from entertaining experiences. Although new attractions like Test Track and Mission: SPACE have recaptured some of that, they still don't have all of it from the original, so even if Energy is the least popular place in the park, it should stay to remind the world of EPCOT Center's original intentions, and it should not become another heartless Marvel attraction themed around the Guardians with no real soul or intent. If they have eliminated the rest of original EPCOT Center, they should at least keep this.

July 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTheWebCon

Everything to the subject has been said here either by yourself, Joshua, or by others. I just want to say that all this is very true. The Disney Company is continually transforming EPCOT to just another theme park to serve the shareholder's value. I don't have very much hope that anyone can stop this, sorry to say.

August 2, 2017 | Registered CommenterRonald Haß

The shareholders are the new robber barons that took over the railroad industry and banking. We need to bust them up (legally) and allow competition. This generation grew up on the "business is EVVVVVVVIL!" AND "Government help me!" mind set and would rather kill you then allow competition. They just want their smartphone apps and welfare then they will be happy. Take those away and the Russian Revolution 2.0 will result. The Russian Revolution resulted in many factions fighting and killing each other before the state moped it all up and made everyone equal but poor. It's called communism.

August 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSortingHat

Great thoughts from all of you. Just a few thoughts of my own: Futureworld - EPCOT Center vs. EPCOT.
   It would have been great if Walt Disney had not died and his original ideas for EPCOT had come to pass. But the Epcot Center that was opened in 1982 and ran through 1996 was a far better experience than what exists now. FutureWorld was a well themed, comprehensive look at man’s potential. It was, for the most part, educational, entertaining, and inspirational. My family visited EPCOT Center four times between 1983 and 1996. My children, ages six through eleven at the time, had no problem understanding the scientific “adult” level at which the exhibits were set up. We all loved the park.  
   Was not able to get back again until 2007....Shock and sadness.... What was once my favorite park has now become my least. Theming is gone. The once contemporary colors and sight-lines have become gaudy and circus like. Open areas are cluttered with kiosks hawking junk. The once magnificent open entrance with colored fountain is a "graveyard" with tombstone-like tributes to those willing to spend money to have there names inscribed. They seem to have lost all direction, either adding “thrill” rides that make people ill or dumbing down the pavilions for preschoolers just to sell merchandise. 
   With the exception of Soarin', at The Land, the changes made at all pavilions have lessened their enjoyment for me. With the Seas with Nemo replacing the original Living Seas, we now have less aquatic exhibits, and what there is, is presented at a very elementary level; something you would see at a local children’s museum. The original Journey into Imagination was one of the best dark rides Disney ever created. What replaced it, twice, were mere shadows of the original.
I miss Jeremy Irons narration in Spaceship Earth and the magnificent "decent to earth”. Would love to see again the World of Motion's comical take, and the Radok pre-show at Universe of Energy. Saddened by the loss of Horizons and Wonders of Life. Even the attraction music is now, less inspiring, less remembered. It is as if the heart of EPCOT has been removed.
  I realize that things have changed and corporate sponsorship is not what it once was. Yes, the park needs work. But change just for the sake of change? Hopefully they can come up with an overall plan and stop the seemingly random way in which they have addressed changes over the last twenty years. These poor choices, may have to do with the fact that the people who have been making them have not had Walt Disney’s direct influence in their lives. Those who did, sadly, are now mostly gone. The scriptures say “For lack of a vision people perish.” If EPCOT is to survive, Disney needs a vision. I hope they can find one.
At D23, Bob Iger said the work being done to EPCOT would stay “true to the original vision”. With the addition of another thrill ride, this apparently was just empty words.

September 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRCliff651

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