13 May 2015

A Growing Experience

Sometimes the blurbs attached to Walt Disney World press photos hit the significance of a moment square on the nose. In other circumstances, time has given a photograph new meaning or importance. Such is the case with this 1982 photo from The Land pavilion in EPCOT Center.

Pictured is one of Listen to the Land’s two cabin boats that carry passengers through the scenes filled with Audio Animatronics, film scenes, and various greenhouses. The description reads as follows:

A GROWING EXPERIENCE -- Innovative ways of producing crops will be presented in the “biomes,” and experimental growing area that culminates the “Listen to the Land” ride-thru at Future World’s The Land pavilion.

Gives you a great idea of what to expect from the second half of the Listen to the Land tour, right? The most crucial element, that wasn’t even known at the time, was that this photograph would capture the original experience of the live narration provided by a Cast Member. From 1982 through August of 2006, each set of boats to travel through the canals of Listen to the Land, renamed Living with the Land in December of 1993, came equipped with a Cast Member who had a narration spiel. The wonderful part of having a Cast Member present within the ride vehicle was that you could ask them questions and get answers in between the predetermined script pieces.

There were a couple of obvious problems with this structure. For starters, if there were not enough Cast Members scheduled at a given time, guests would watch as empty boats came and went while they waited to board the next Cast Member accompanied watercraft. Not only could this add to longer lines, it could increase guests’ frustration. Secondly were the Cast Members themselves. If a particular Cast Member just wasn’t feeling it on a given day, or might have been at the end of a long shift, they could provide guests with a lackluster narration that did not to enhance the inspiration provided by the greenhouses. It’s for these reasons that it makes complete sense to remove the human element and add in the constant, engaging narrative provided by Mike Brassell.

It makes complete sense, but I can’t help but miss that human element. As a guest who may only be visiting once every several years, or perhaps even once in a lifetime, it makes sense for Epcot to want to provide a consistent show. For my part, having the chance to engage with a living and breathing Cast Member who has other knowledge they could provide outweighs the fear that I may get only a mediocre performance. Thankfully, we have our memories, and photos such as this one, to remind us of how we used to listen to The Land.


Jeff said...

You still can talk with knowledgeable cast members at the Land.
The cast members at the Behind the Seeds are some of the best at EPCOT. I've had great conversations with a few about hydroponic gardening.
It's one of those things that makes EPCOT a cut above a theme park.

Mr. Niebo said...

I miss the human interaction as well. It did add something to the experience.