So in the last week, my wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary and took a trip to Orlando and specifically spent some time at Walt Disney World. It was a great time to get away and we had the opportunity to actually visit 3 of the 4 parks to catch what we wanted to see and also visit the annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.
While we had a great time in all the parks, Epcot still remains my overall favorite and has been since I was a little kid. I can remember going to Epcot for the first time in the early 80’s right after it had opened and the absolute magic of it all seen through a child’s eyes. The premise for the park was indeed revolutionary with it essentially being a large World’s Fair and cultural experience. Back in the day, Future World, which is the area you first enter when you arrive at Epcot was one of my favorite areas. I always enjoyed The Living Seas, The Land, Journey Into Imagination, Horizons, and even the World of Motion.
Over the years, Disney has updated many of their attractions to try and bring in more of an audience. Epcot was always a lower volume park because it was more of an educational experience than just a fun theme park, like the Magic Kingdom. So Disney set out in the 90’s to update Epcot and removed some of my favorite rides to add in thrill rides and other attractions that were the draw in the Magic Kingdom. So gone are the days of Horizons and World of Motion, having been replaced with Mission Space and Test Track to give kids that ultimate thrill. Disney then decided to take it a step further and start, what I would call, “Disneyfying” their attractions. The Living Seas became The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Other rides such as the boat ride in the Mexico pavilion had to add in Donald Duck and others. Now even recently, the great ride in Norway was replaced with a Frozen Ever After attraction. These updates really made me pause and cause some dislike with what Disney was doing but I sucked it up and still have been going to the parks and trying to enjoy what remains of the original launch of Epcot.
On this last trip I began to see even more changes to Epcot. More specifically with their merchandising. Many of the countries in Epcot sold products that were specific their regions of the world which I always loved as it gives you the ability to see what’s available around the world from a shopper’s perspective. However, now it appears much of those products have been moved to small areas in the stores and replaced with large Disney product areas. For example in Germany, they had a clothing area that provided a wide variety of Soccer and other sports items but now that all has been moved to a clearance rack and they are selling cheesy costumes and t-shirts.
I understand that Disney is in the business to make money and this is a way for them to do it which I can’t fault them for but as time goes on I see more and more of what I used to enjoy about Epcot slowing being strip mined away so they can increase profits. Because of this I find myself being pushed further away from my childhood and it’s really causing some despair overall. I can only hope that this practice does not continue much further and the original concept of Epcot is not lost to history.