February 10, 2014

A Bit of Sochi at Epcot

The Sochi Olympics are certainly a hot news topic. Hotel rooms in disarray, reports of insufficient security into the Olympic Village, corruption, kickbacks, and more. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to travel and see the country without having to encounter the harder traveling conditions? Well, truthfully, usually what's different about a country is what makes the travel exciting. New food, new experiences, walking around touring and hearing languages different than your own. With the cost of airfare rising again- and mileage plans such as United Airlines Mileage Plus cutting their travel rewards programs by increasing how many you need for a free flight- it would be terrific if you could visit a place such as Russia without all the headaches.

It almost happened. Yes, a Russian pavilion was this close to being built at Epcot's World Showcase. A couple of times, actually. Imagineers envisioned giving guests the opportunity to visit Red Square, enjoy an attraction taking riders into the history and culture of the land, and the chance to eat some authentic food. 

What stopped this from becoming a reality? Short-sightedness. As with the poor planning and execution of some parts of this year's Winter Olympics, the suits at the Walt Disney Company instead chose to focus on the short term: big bonuses for executives (just another form of payola) and quick return on stock instead of long term investments for continued growth. So, this project, like so many others, is now relegated to on-line discussion, coffee table books, and fodder for Imagineer presentations. Decisions like this, and the infusion of character tie-ins at attractions which have absolutely no business incorporating Disney characters in the show, have helped make Epcot a shadow of its former greatness. Another sad story of greed.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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