I’m mulling over some thoughts about changes announced to the Disney parks and the reactions of a lot of fans. What do you suppose the reaction would have been to the announcement that Space Mountain was being built if we had Disney message boards in the 1970s? It’s a thrill ride that not everyone in the family can ride together, so it’s bad, right?
How about a Sleeping Beauty branded castle when Disneyland opened, promoting a movie that hadn’t even opened yet?
What would people have been saying when EPCOT Center opened and familiar Disney characters were nowhere to be found?
How about announcing a 45 minute long ride with scary dinosaurs where a petroleum company tries to convince you that fossil fuels are the answer to our future energy needs? That would surely get a standing ovation if there were a D23 Expo in 1979 ('cause there weren’t any problems with oil back then).
I’m not trying to suggest that everything will be perfect and we should just blindly assume that everything Disney does will “magically” turn out great. I do have some legitimate concerns whether the company will deliver what Bob Chapek has promised. It’s a very difficult task, to stay true to a vision for a park that was difficult for those who built it in the first place to wrap their heads around what it should be. Epcot comes with a lot of baggage, because people see it as Walt Disney’s dying wish and many of our first memories of EPCOT Center were at very impressionable ages for us, so it’s easy to remember things as better than they were or overlook beloved attractions that didn’t age well. Most of what I loved about EPCOT Center has been gone for a long time, but that is the nature of trying to capture the future in theme park. The park’s mission requires it to change. The trick in Epcot will be how to rediscover a spirit that seems to have been missing from the parks for a long time. Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but I do take some solace in the fact that doing so is one of the stated goals of what is to come.