Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Legacy Continues. The Dream is Alive

"At the very least, we can acknowledge the legacy. Maybe in some small way, it will help inspire the current or future stewards of Epcot to restore the dream."

I wrote those words back on February 2, hoping to inspire other members of the Disney online community to do what the Disney Company seemed to then be emphatically saying they would not do: publicly acknowledge, and in some way celebrate, the 25th Anniversary of EPCOT Center. As it has turned out, I was just a part of what became a grass roots movement that would ultimately embody the very idealism and "one little spark" mantra that EPCOT has come to represent.

For on October 1st, the anniversary of EPCOT Center's opening day in 1982, the Disney Company will, despite the words of then Epcot Vice President Brad Rex some seven months ago, celebrate this very special day with a re-dedication ceremony and related festivities.

They will Acknowledge the Legacy.

Beyond some type of comment or statement from a spokesperson or member of Disney management, there is really no way to gauge what impact the Disney fan community has had on this somewhat dramatic turnaround. But it would be hard to imagine that the very passionate responses and subsequent enthusiast-initiated celebrations and retrospectives did not play some significant part in influencing the planning of the events now scheduled for October 1st.

The efforts in particular of Jenn Waitt and Adam Roth represent a Cinderella story with the happiest of endings. What began back in February as a forum thread, through the hard work and grass roots efforts of Jenn and Adam, has evolved into Celebration 25, a fan-based gathering on October 1st that has received Disney's blessing and assistance. The event currently has registered well over one thousand attendees, myself and my family included.

So then, what is the state of the Dream, that I and so many others have advocated the restoration thereof?

Some of the indications are certainly good. It appears that the Spaceship Earth refurbishment will take on a more Horizons-based theme, restoring to some extent Future World's original mission of forward thinking idealism. Still-unconfirmed rumors of a Patrick Stewart narration and the return of the "Tomorrow's Child" song would definitely support that notion.

The wave of retro-inspired EPCOT Center merchandise that has emerged over the last few months indicates a willingness on Disney's part to revisit and pay homage to EPCOT's first decade of operation.

And more than anything, there seems to be a clear return to EPCOT's original design and aesthetic sensibilities, as demonstrated by the removal of the wand, and the subtle yet still distinct elimination of some of the architectural bling that has cluttered various parts of Future World. The termination of the Leave a Legacy promotion is a hopeful sign that those stark and uninspired monoliths will potentially be removed or relocated, and that the park's entrance plaza will be restored to a more open and welcoming environment.

There are no doubt still cynics who will bemoan these developments as insufficient or too-little, too-late. But like EPCOT itself, I would prefer to hold to a positive, hopeful view of future events and possibilities. There are clearly ideas and elements present in Epcot today that display degrees of incompatibility with the original concepts and themes established by the park's designers in 1982. But recent events and rumored future happenings, indicate at least to me that the original Dream of EPCOT Center still remains alive.


Unknown said...

are there any places on the web where a person can purchase retro EPCOT merchandise that has been created for the 25th?

Jeffrey Pepper said...

Check the link on this blog to the 2719 Hyperion Studio Store. There are some EPCOT 25 designs featured there.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if all you accomplished was getting that lame Mickey arm and wand removed from next to Spaceship Earth, it would still be well worth the effort. The other stuff is icing on the cake. Great job!

linklewtt said...

I love it Jeff, it's simply wonderful how the Disney fans have spun Disney's head. This is what I love about Disney and its fans, something you don't see with Six Flags or Universal. Like it or not Disney, we fans are here and we cherish what you have created. I like that they chose to stand with us on the 1st instead of look at us from the shadows.

The committment they have shown indicates that perhaps their perspective on Epcot has changed. Perhaps characters and Nemo aren't the only answer, but just part of the answer. Perhaps a return to the old ideals of Epcot would not be such a bad thing, if properly done.

Lou Mongello - said...


Bravo on an excellent post once again. And take credit where it is due for (IMHO) igniting that "one little spark" that got this grass-roots movement going, and in turn, I believe prompted Disney to take notice, and "Acknowledge the Legacy." See you at Celebration 25!!!

Klark Kent 007 said...

Is anyone else attending on October 1st?

I hope to see you there

Disneyana World said...

I am!

Joey V said...

Well done, Jeff. As always, your posts are insightful, well-written, and clearly to the point. You, Lou, Adam, Jenn, and everyone involved, I believe, have made this happen. (Now if I can just get my hands on one of those pins...)

Lainey Schallock said...

This is great news Jeff. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish they'd devote more than a day long aknowledgement but at this point I guess it's the best we can hope for and we should be greatful for that. I couldn't help but be reminded of all the hoopla of Disneyland's 35th Anniversary - certainly a less memorable milestone than 25 if you ask me. But nevertheless Disney really turned out for that celebration with their Mardi Gras parade and (who can forget?) the 35th Anniversary Dream Machine. Thanks for paying homage and taking a stand for this 25th anniversary. The Disney community appreciates it. I encourage you to check out the Re-imagineering blog - I think it has some really invaluable and heartfelt words about the direction of the Disney company. Thanks for the great post, Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Although I appreciate the efforts of Jenn and Adam in starting they're own grass roots movement for a celebration, Adam has on some websites promoted the Disney re-dedication as their own doing. More than just their movement has been heard, and Disney listened to all EPCOT fans.