Whenever I am in the mood to go to a Disney park, it seems it's almost always Epcot.
What is it about this place that continues to draw me to Walt Disney World?
Certainly, it is not the new attractions in Future World. Nemo is nice, Soarin's much closer to me in California, and soon enough, I'll find a Test Track like experience at California Adventure with Radiator Springs Racers. Maybe, the old standbys of Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land still do the trick.
Can it be World Showcase? Hmm, that might be it. Admittedly, I deplore what the Imagineers have done to El Rio del Tiempo in my beloved Mexico pavilion. The gorgeous Impressions of France film badly needs to be upgraded and/or replaced- but not like the disaster that is the newly minted film found in Canada. The whole of China is still wonderful, and soon enough the lure of a new Italian pizzeria sounds nice. Yet, this doesn't explain the almost gravitational pull.
Every visit to the park leaves me delighted, even in awe at times. This is true in spite of that fact that some of my favorite attractions have left (Journey into Imagination, World of Motion, Horizons) and World Showcase has been left to stagnate. My wife and my family have always enjoyed ourselves none the less. My photos prove it.
Bingo- that's it! It's my memories of Epcot and how I see it through those rose colored glasses that draw me. So, some things must remain the same to bring out the feeling of discovery and exploration the Disney advertising team sells us.
The wide open spaces of Future World sometimes still do convey a sense of wide eyed optimism. There are times the music of old fills the air, and I hear the tunes calling me back to the day when Disney could create the future- and not just make a caricature of it. I can still hear my kids laughing at Figment as he discovers so much about his world. The sheer awe and magnitude of the Living Seas. The special family meals at The Good Turn restaurant as it revolved inside The Land.
Daytime in World Showcase has its charms as well. Yet at nighttime, ah, now we're talking! Illuminations still surprises me. Walking around "the world" in the cool evening as the lights of each country are turned on. Dining together, exploring exotic flavors, talking with the natives from each locale. Enjoying a sense of unity with the rest of my family as we play and laugh, forgetting our troubles.
Oh, the memories of EPCOT Center! I'm sure today's families find Florida's second Disney park just as magical, but our world is not as optimistic and hopeful as it once was. Innocence lost and "maturity" found. It's now Epcot Center, Figment's more annoying than charming, sometimes World Showcase mocks its host countries, and the future is bypassed because it looks dim.
Maybe one day, we can be inspired again- wowed by greatness- with new countries to explore versus exploit, and new pavilions in Future World to help us think beyond today. If there's any park in the Disney worldwide kingdom that can make this happen, it's Epcot. Always Epcot.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)