19 August 2013

The Promise of the Future

EPCOT Center resides in a special place in the youthful memories of many of us, just as the World’s Fairs of old tickled the imaginations and was forever immortalized in the hearts and minds of those that visited these massive celebrations. With Walt Disney finding such success at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, is it any wonder that the event served as inspiration when it came to developing their first theme park not associated with the kingdom concept?

The basis of this permanent World’s Fair can still be seen in the Epcot of today. The pavilions of Future World have a larger than life feel to them and are immediately recognizable, while World Showcase highlights the best of food, culture, and architecture of specific countries on one small plot of land. There is a similarity of theme but there are miles of difference between each pavilion. This connection of diversity is never more visible than during the festivals of flowers or food held each spring and fall throughout the park.

Epcot should be about the celebration of today, and the hopes for tomorrow every day of the year. These ideals can be found, but where the World’s Fairs were very direct, Epcot feels as if it is filled with more subtle nods. To my mind it seems as if Epcot may need something more to highlight its worldly celebration on a daily basis. As it has already found a winning formula with the Food & Wine and Flower & Garden Festivals, not to mention Holidays Around the World, installing more of these events throughout the year will further remind guests of ties that bind the entire park together.

Since gardening, winter holidays, and food are already covered, new festivals could encompass ideas that also tie into the themes of future world. The creative arts which are cherished and cultivated in a given country pairs perfectly with the Imagination pavilion. Highlighting those individuals and missions of exploration, from the uncharted lands and oceans of the world all the way to the starry skies, is an easy way to highlight Mission: SPACE. While Holidays Around the World shines a light on the winter festivities, there are plenty of other holidays and regional celebrations that can and should be emphasized. And this is just a few ideas that could put a spring in the step of Epcot every day.

Does this mean that I think the kiosks that pepper the World Showcase Promenade should stay up and obstruct views all year long? Absolutely not. The festival center housed in the former Wonders of Life pavilion needs a permanent makeover that includes structural changes to make it a truly functional facility, but it could certainly be opened every day of the year. There are also plenty of empty spaces set aside for new pavilions in World Showcase that could house new set-ups for continued festivals. Also, each pavilion could obviously serve as their own best ambassador on a given theme.

Is it likely that we will see new, far-flung festival ideas like the ones I’ve listed here that can bring that World’s Fair feel to every day? It’s unlikely, especially given the homogenous nature of the spring and fall festivals that currently reside at Epcot, but it’s always fun to dream about the impossible.

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