Entrance Plaza

By the Numbers I: The Trinity

Enter Prof. Ludwig von Drake...


In these great halls of knowledge, we discuss a great many things including psychology, child development, astrophysics, hyper-spatial transport, String Theory and a myriad of other topics that have absolutely nothing to with the issue I plan to talk about!

ALRIGHT, On to our subject! In the past several weeks there have been several discussions on many websites about the design aesthetic and tone of Future World. It might surprise you to know that I was the unaccredited Head of EPCOT Center’s Advisory Board! The tone of Epcot is largely determined by its dedication - “May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire” which is the most succinct of its many mission statements. It’s the trinity of these aspirations working together that determine the success or failure of the park. The following triad displays the attractions of EPCOT Center and their placement within the trinity of the park’s goals for enlightenment. Now, I realize that many of you may have differing opinions about what-should-go-where: and to be completely honest, there were a number of difficult decisions to be made. Nevertheless, I believe these kooky infographics do represent an overall consensus of thought about the direction(s) of the park today.
(Click to Inlarge)      

As you can see, even the original park wasn’t entirely balanced, but it did provide a good mix of offerings that served most of its objectives. Additionally, you’ll notice that I did not include anything from the second “World” of EPCOT. The purpose of my lecture is to discuss changes in the park and because World Showcase (for better or worse) remains largely unchanged in the last 30 years, it really does not make any sense to discuss it.
Based on my calculations, Future World had an overall success rating of 77.25%. In the world of academia 77 isn’t exactly a passing grade, but when you’re a theme park with a most ambitious and lofty goal to not just entertain but enlighten your guests 77% is quite a success. Far from perfect, but at just over a decade old EPCOT Center was well on its way to total fulfillment. In future articles, we’ll discuss exactly what happened after 1994 and why. But for now, let’s continue this lecture.         

I know. What about the Epcot of today? While discussing this article with your host I very quickly came up with this drawing. I only included current experiences for the calculations. As you can see, there’s been a lot more “history”; and many attractions and exhibits have come and gone. So how have things evolved?  … well… I think the look on my face is enough…
(Click to Inlarge)

Now for those of you who may think this decades-old vision of providing Entertaining, Informative and Inspirational experiences in a theme park setting might be a little too out-of-reach for the world of today, is this goal any more difficult or less achievable than entering a World of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy!? Von Drake says NO! Sure, it’s just a little more abstract, but the shear act of having consciousness of the trinity and trying to meet it will point you in the right direction.      

Overall, the success or abysmal failure of the park in the rest of 21st century will largely be determined by whether these three concepts (and the balance thereof) will be considered in future endeavors. I see strong evidence in the halls of Imagineering that there’s a dynamic shift from topical entertainment to more forward thinking (and sustainable) concepts. In both EPCOT Center and Epcot you will notice a lack of purely inspirational product. Perhaps, in a world faced with economic upheaval, continued hostility inside each nation, and the persistent evolution of technology beyond our maturity it is time for more inspiration in the World of the Future. “And a renewed sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere in the world.”      


About the Author: Ludwig von Drake was born in Vienna, Austria and immigrated to the US to help support his then struggling actor nephew Donald in 1930. After Donald joined the Walt Disney Studios in 1934, Ludwig continued his multiple graduate studies. Renowned Scientist, Lecturer, Psychologist, World Traveler and foremost expert on just about everything, in 1961 Ludwig added TV Host/Personality to his repertoire. Today, Ludwig continues making guest appearances on multiple shows including his own series the aptly named Von Drake’s House of Genus.  


Sponsorship in the 21st Century

When most Disney enthusiasts think of Eastern Airlines, The Florida Citrus Commission, and Kodak we have fuzzy feelings about Airplanes, Oranges and Film due in large part to their association with the Mouse. This is the promise of a Disney Sponsorship deal or in today’s nomenclature “Corporate Alliance” (yes, I guess we’re preparing for war with the Axis of Universal). It’s a deal that requires enormous amounts of revenue and millions upon millions of dollars in discretionary spending just to make the whole thing work. In fact, all contract negotiations explicitly state that you (the non-Disney party) will probably never see a single cent of profits generated by the agreement to sponsor one of our endeavors.  Sure, we’ll provide you with company-wide discounts on theme park admission and in the best cases a super cool private lounge to have meetings and drinks but that’s it. With such persuasive terms, just about anyone today would jump at the chance to spend tens of millions of dollars to help Disney bring more people back through its theme park gates, right?

Whenever I read discussions about the future development of Epcot the topic of sponsorships inevitably comes up. This indicates that practically no growth at Epcot can occur unless an outside company is willing to put forth at least 40% of the development costs. After all EPCOT Center was built on sponsorships. ALL pavilions had at least one sponsor absorbing some of the project’s monumental budget. One of the least appreciated accomplishments of EPCOT Center was its impressive feat of financial engineering and it’s amazing ability bring more than 16 companies together to create a prophetic taste of the 21st Century in 1982.

Now things are similar as we’re skyrocketing out of recession and multi-national corporations have billions of dollars to spare on helping a (in many cases) competing company. Especially, since the park is already the number six most visited park in the world. … Oh wait, some of that isn’t exactly true.

Whenever, I hear a report about a ‘new’ sponsorship deal whether it is Siemens of more recently GM Chrysler, I ‘m consistently amazed. Just think… in today’s dramatically different financial climate a select few corporations still find a few million dollars to invest in the permanent World’s Fair of Epcot. But keep in mind, these are exceptions and far from the rule. I’m inclined to believe that the days of corporate sponsorships are numbered. It’s simply too costly for nearly all companies to invest in something with little-to-no ROI. Conversely, companies with deep pockets usually own one or more of our competitors (GE-NBC-Universal) or have a reputation that we can’t publicly associate with (BP at Universe of Energy).

The argument put forth that the reason for a lack of new countries or the less than futuristic conditions of Future World is due to insufficient third party capital/corporate involvement simply falls on its face when you consider the rest of Disney’s World. There are two concepts in play here. First is the aspect of ownership, Epcot is a wholly owned subsidiary of the WDC, and the 5th most profitable one at that! As such, Disney should invest more into a business that is already lucrative to make it much more so. Second, is a matter of corporate identity/responsibility, this requires a bit of exemplification/exaggeration: if a guest comes out of Rockin’ Roller Coaster and had a less than thrilling time do they think: “This Hanes attraction sucks!”? Furthermore, if Dinosaur isn’t fun anymore do they think: “McDonald’s really dropped the ball on this one!”? No, they would naturally (and rightfully) place blame on Disney for a substandard experience. In much the same way, Kodak, GM, Siemens, and ExxonMobil’s reputations are intact regardless of the attractions they sponsor.

Much like the twenty-somethings living at home with no expenses, the park must now take full responsibility for its future. Although the financial implications can be daunting, the benefits far outweigh the costs. For as wonderful as it is to use another company’s money, the freedom to express concepts and narrative free of exterior corporate objectives can be quite liberating. After all if it were not for Kodak, the original Image Works would still be in operation, Universe of Energy wouldn’t be so oil-biased, and The Land could have been development to incorporate both ecological as well as agricultural concerns. Remember that with money comes influence, which is almost never a good thing.

It excites the mind to contemplate a Future World where company influence only resides in the halls of Innoventions. Or a World Showcase of almost 20 nations with representatives from every continent - The freedom to design a place where who we are and where we want to be can be exhibited with a narrative unencumbered by the bias of company interest or country nationalism. That is and Epcot I want to see! And I’m sure that with the proper vision and strong conviction of investment the financial benefits would immediately outweigh any of costs.

Any thoughts, additions, counter-points, alternate perceptions, and other discussions are greatly welcomed!

Download Wide ScreenDownload Full ScreenDownload iPadDownload Mobile


Adult Discourse

As one of the most unjustly corrupted words in the English language, “Adult” (a term that technically meaning “A person who is fully grown or developed”) for all its banality, carries with it some extremely negative connotations. When you hear the word used in conjunction with almost anything else it typically doesn’t help matters - Adult Subject Matter, Adult Language, Adult Entertainment and a host of other descriptors all summon images of depravity, immorality and behaviors that frankly we don’t even discuss in public. Even if someone is told to “act like adult” that’s somehow interpreted negatively. And its substitutes do precious little to help make the word/concept any more attractive. “Mature” carries most of the same subversive imagery but adds the unpleasant concepts of age, elderly, decrepit, and even death!  It’s really no surprise that the last term any marketing firm, organization, or company would want to associate themselves with (either intentionally or otherwise) is that…one… word.

The unfortunate part of all this is that (even with the allegedly fun vices excluded) being an adult and doing adult things can be the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of humanity; the freedom to do as you please, the independence to make one’s own decisions, the ability to interact with those of like mind or listen to contrasting viewpoints without physical confrontation and the sheer joy of existing outside those oppressive intellectual prisons we erroneously call public “schools”. And these are just the basics of adult life. If you’re a productive member of society (and if you’re reading this you are:) then the experience of life beyond childhood is infinitely more enjoyable with pursuits of mind, like progressing the sciences, arts, communications, and generally making life on this planet better for ourselves and each other.    

Shortly before his death it was clearly evident that Walt was heading in a direction that was as far removed from entertainment (let alone children’s entertainment) as one could possibly be. As an emerging urban planner, Walt (assisted and supported by many others) was tackling some of the most serious issues facing society during his time.  Not exactly the kind of subject matter that children latch onto… Or do they?   

When it came time to reinvent the EPCOT concept into a permanent world’s fair, CEO Card Walker and Marty Sklar were perfectly situated and completely aligned to Walt’s intellectual aspirations for a place where human achievements could be cultivated towards the betterment of all mankind - a mission statement that’s as far away from Fantasyland as possible. To Card and Marty’s way of thinking EPCOT Center complimented The Magic Kingdom and was never meant to supplement it. Even in Epcot’s present state most of the differences between the two parks are self-evident, but during EPCOT Center’s first ten years, an even greater distinction existed and unfortunately (due to changing administrations) eroded in an unofficial (but very real) initiative to appeal to a much younger audience.  In the past 20 years nearly ALL of the enhancements, (additions, subtractions, renewals, etc.) have been designed with this ever dwindling demographic in mind.

This is not to say that EPCOT Center wasn’t “kid friendly” or that any of the park’s experiences were inaccessible to children. In fact, Disney’s most adult theme park was probably more engaging before the “Kidcot Era” than after it! Although its final form is in sharp contrast to Walt’s original concept, a lot of his visions for future living were embedded into the Center and imbued with his own philosophies including his treatment of children…

“I do not make pictures for children, at least not just for children. I won’t play down to them. […] The American child is highly intelligent human being — characteristically sensitive, humorous, open-minded, eager to learn, and has a strong sense of excitement, energy and healthy curiosity about the world in which he lives. Lucky indeed is the grownup who manages to carry these same characteristics over into his adult life. It usually makes for happy and successful individual.” — Walt Disney

Well, that might be a great way of thinking from a man long gone but times are different now. And children’s entertainment (not to be confused with family entertainment) is one of the most sought after demographics in the industry. And let’s face it Walt’s ideas, about creating aspiring (rather than degraded or timely) entertainment rarely turned any kind of a profit… right? No, for all of his higher ideals was still a shrewd businessman and knew the dangers of solely pursuing such a young demographic….

“You’re dead if you only aim for kids. Adults are only kids growing up, anyway.”
—Walt Disney

But, once again, that was a man speaking from first half of the twentieth century when the birth rate was considerably different… It Was Higher! According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics release only 43% of American households contain children under the age of 18. And when you take into account that Disney’s typical demographic is much younger than 18, this means that well Over 57% of the population is being under utilized for its marketing potential.

From a mathematical perspective, if Epcot was allowed to develop into a fully “grown-up” experience it’s not unrealistic to predict that it could easily surpass its older sister to become the most visited theme park in the world. Furthermore, such an event could have happened much earlier if Wayne Szalinski, Timon & Pumba, or even Nemo never took-up residence and the experiences in the Magic Eye, Harvest Theater or Sea Base Alpha were merely enhanced with cutting-edge technology, more dynamic storytelling, and independent creative assets. Finally, creating “adult friendly” oasis in an otherwise oversaturated, homogeneous market of central Florida theme parks could only enhance the popularity and success of (what was once called) the “experimental prototype theme park for adults”.

As to what such a park would contain or (much more importantly) how it would behave is a fascinating question. I have my own answers, but would love to hear yours first! 

(Click on the image to use as a full size background!)


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


2032 — Part I 



"Everyone in the world will come to these gates. Why? Because they want to look at the world of the future. They want to see how to make better human beings. That’s what the whole thing is about. The cynics are already here and they’re terrifying one another. What Disney is doing is showing the world that there are alternative ways to do things that can make us all happy. If we can borrow some of the concepts of Disneyland and Disney World and Epcot, then indeed the world can be a better place."

—    Ray Bradbury
OMNI Magazine September 1st 1982

“The 21st Century Begins October 1, 1982”.  This was not merely one of the boldest marketing taglines ever created; it was a statement of fact! During that first year visitors to EPCOT Center could browse an internet on touch screens, manipulate images with Photoshop, paint with Illustrator, Skype with a cast member, play Kinetic musically-based games and ride the world’s first interactive attraction. This was by no accident, as most of the world’s most forward-thinking individuals were sought out to bring their collective insights and expertise to the forefront. Over 60 men and women, that made up EPCOT Center’s Advisory Board, first assembled almost 40 years ago.

Throughout the late 70’s a series of conferences were held, in which Marty Sklar introduced the following…

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.
We believe today that the creative insight which led Walt Disney to propose EPCOT is as valid as it ever was, and is needed even more.

National public opinion polls have made it clear that government and industry have both lost the trust of much of the American public. As a result, democracy and free enterprise are coming under increasing attack, both at home and around the world.

At the same, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the complex nature of problems facing all people. They have a need to know what is being done to solve these problems.

We have dedicated the achievement of Walt Disney’s concept for EPCOT to the belief that public trust can and must be strongly reaffirmed in our democratic institutions, and our free enterprise system.

If distilled into its most succinct statements, all of these conferences asked two fundamental questions: Where are we going? And What’s the most positive way to depict it? The former question was one for the advisors while the latter was posed sometime later to the Imagineers themselves.

One such answer and its application was featured prominently in all of EPCOT Center, but most especially in Spaceship Earth and Horizons — Communications. The Information Age was metamorphosing into the Digital Age during EPCOT Center’s formative years and both pavilions showcased a world in which connectivity (not distance) was the only barrier to communication. One of the most positive examples of this was in Horizons where an extended family spends most of the attraction coordinating a child’s birthday party across thousands of miles. And although we might not have holographic video conferencing yet, such a scenario is not uncommon in many families today.

However Horizons, Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy as well as most other pavilions were passive experiences of the future yet to come, and didn’t exactly address the issues that these marvelous technologies would ultimately bring. EPCOT Center was in many ways a Blueprint for tomorrow — what we need now is a Guidebook!

Undoubtedly, there will be new technological advances that will continue to revolutionize the way in which we work, live and play. And yet, technology is still only a process towards fulfillment, and does not necessarily ensure a higher quality of life. We can be perpetually connected through Social Media, sharing in other’s triumphs however, we can also end up depressed by the constant compounding of collective success in disproportionate comparison to our individual achievements. The iPhone 16 will no doubt be wondrous in its abilities but will it improve your life anymore than the iPhone 6?

At every stage of human history we have proven that technology develops far quicker than our ability to responsibly use it. If humanity is to continue to progress we must evolve to meet the challenge posed by the creations of our innovators. Learn to move beyond our primal selves, and into that race of super-intelligent benevolent beings that is so often depicted in science fiction. But how to do we begin to address such a seemingly insurmountable goal of human evolution?

In 1976 Card Walker announced to the world that EPCOT Center would indeed become a reality, and that his objectives for the project were to create an ongoing “Forum of the Future”. A forum that, in many ways, began long before EPCOT Center’s opening during that series of conferences where many advisors were asked for their insights and predictions of “Where are we going?”.

These conferences were expensive, and protracted affairs that required people to travel vast distances in order to converge at the Contemporary Hotel. And one could surmise that many of the participants were expounding their pre-existing knowledge with little in the way of actual revelation.

What If such an advisory board existed today? What would be the problems and possibilities discussed at such an event? For although the global malaise is nearly identical to that of the late 1970s, it is now for far different reasons. It is clear that the answers to our original questions are far too passive and pessimistic to be constructive. No matter your perspective, we can all agree that unless conditions change the answer to the original question: Where are we Going? makes the second question: What’s the most positive way to depict it? nearly impossible to answer.          

However, we do now have the tools and capabilities to bridge the gaps between us, as the physical distance is no longer a barrier in exchanging ideas. Incredibly one could now amass information from the greatest thinkers of our time to create an Intellectual “Mood Board”, without them even realizing it! Only this time we could ask a much more proactive set of questions. Instead of soliciting predictions of things yet to be, we would seek directions to construct a bold new era where the seemingly infinite flood of electronic babble has been channeled into contextually relevant resources of information allowing us to make the best decisions for ourselves, each other and the planet we share.

What would such an advisory board look like? And what would be the answers they give to our most fundamental questions? Not just Where are we going? but Where do we want to go?  And most importantly: How to do we get there?


YOU are now standing at that threshold…


The “Forum for the Future” begins now!

Click Me

Welcome to The E82 Institute

The fifth and final realm of The E82 Project, The E82 Institute is a repository of innovative ideas and concepts from the minds of some of the greatest dreamers and doers of our time — a collection of individuals bringing EPCOT Center’s ideals into the present and beyond creating a guidebook for “Optimal Living” for you and your community now and into the future.

Part II – The Tone of Tomorrow



Edited by Christine Cryderman