Friday, June 17, 2011

EPCOT Center

"To all who come to this Place of Joy, Hope and Friendship, Welcome.  EPCOT is inspired by Walt Disney's creative vision.  Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.  May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire, and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man's ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere."

Robert McCall’s magnificent “The Prologue & The Promise” mural

This Ideal Buildout version of EPCOT Center attempts to live up to the above dedication and artwork.


Great theme parks are not about individual attractions so much as they are about 'place' - a kind that make sense and is compelling.  In order to bring Future World back to its more coherent sense of place (i.e., an optimistic techno-futurist showcase of what tomorrow could bring as spearheaded by American enterprise & ingenuity), the FW pavilions see a return to some of their original concepts while maintaining (or adding) the latest in FX or fast-paced thrills.   

 The jumping-off point for this version of Future World was the blurry “Epcot Discoveryland” plan that was posted on JimHillMedia a number of years ago (for layout, not content).  The big ideas that I took from that concept include (a) breaking up the monolithic Communicore/Innoventions buildings into individualized attractions, dining & retail facilities; (b) adding lots of greenery - here, Future World has been redesigned to be very lush & fecund (not just manicured lawns, but plenty of “wild” areas and a flowing stream running through the center) in order to underscore harmony between Nature & Technology, which is requisite of any positive human future; and (c) adding outdoor attractions, including a rainforest canopy rollercoaster, a living hedge maze and an electric Autopia aimed for kids, to add kinetic energy to the areas.

As importantly, I’ve brought back the EPCOT Iconography - simple yet meaningful – which encapsulated the framework and architecture (both physical and psychological) upon which all of Future World was built... a framework that made sense and connected each of the pavilions to the other and to the larger story that the Original Designers were trying to tell:

Gone are all Pixar tie-ins, game show references, quasi-celebrity appearances, etc.  Like animated films, I find theme park attractions work better when you don’t already know the face of the character whose voice you’re hearing.   The goal of the park is to not only entertain, but educate and elevate, leaving animated Disney fantasy for the other parks.

The site plan is fairly self explanatory with respect to Future World, but here are a few more details.

HORIZONS: Using the giant showbuilding that formerly housed Universe of Energy, the new Horizons would follow a similar format to the original, with a ride script that is a deferential sequel utilizing the same voice actors, but new set pieces, more interactive elements, 21st century special effects, etc.
WORLD OF MOTION: Test Track’s car testing-ground story is scrapped in a thematic return to the original attraction.   The cars would move slowly for the first 80% of the ride, through sets similar to the original but with updated FX.  For its climax (as you reach the future of transportation) the ride picks up speed for its 60mph outdoor segment.
SPACE: Similar to its opposite (The Land), Space becomes a multi-attraction pavilion, incorporating the old Wonders of Life structures.   Exhibits, a “space station”, a planetarium, etc. join a re-written centrifuge simulator that isn’t about training to go to space but actually going into space.
SPACESHIP EARTH: Time Racers is a new version of Spaceship Earth with a high-speed segment – based on the attraction once considered for Epcot 2.0.



The basic layout of this part of the park was taken from Peter Schaab’s EPCOT project.  If you’re not familiar with this, you’ll want to check out his site:  Peter’s brilliant vision of EPCOT elevates it beyond a theme park to a global research center, university and library – with students & educators from around the world living and studying (and working) there.  It is a high-concept idea that Walt Disney would have appreciated.

My vision here is not as bold as Peter’s.  EPCOT remains just a theme park.  But I really liked his idea of Regions composed of Countries: rather than distinct borders, countries of the same region bleed into one another (as was the design at WestCOT).   Adding attractions, particularly rides, was another goal for World Showcase.  

LATIN AMERICA: Mexico (with El Rio del Tiempo) merges into Costa Rica with its Botanical Gardens and topiary arches (once planned), Venezuela (once planned) with a suspended tram ride and then Brazil with rainforest, zip lines and trails.
Hereafter, Disney photos from Disney site.  World wonder photos from National Geographic Image Collection

 SCANDANAVIA: Norway remains the centerpiece, with the back of the pavilion themed to the bright facades of Copenhagen, Denmark.

(SOUTH) ASIA: China transitions into Southeast Asia with a Burmese temple carousel and hillside of terraced rice-paddies.  The area then moves to the Indian subcontinent with a centerpiece indoor boat ride.

EASTERN (AND CENTRAL) EUROPE: The planned Russia pavilion is here.  Between Russia and Germany is, what else, Poland, with shopping and dining fronts.  The main attraction in the region is a thrilling, mountainous adventure based on German folklore. 

MEDITERRANEAN: Italy is the gateway to this region.  Greece features a recreation of the Parthenon (hosting an AA show) as well as a family coaster based on mythology.   A building inspired by the Hagia Sophia houses the Turkish ride, dining and retail.


PACIFIC: Japan finally gets an attraction housed in its castle showbuilding (the bullet train circlevision using today’s seamless HD circlevision technology).  A large palm-encircled lagoon represents the island paradises of the South Pacific, with Tahitian thatched bungalows.  A rocky outcrop reminiscent of Uluru hosts a theater-in-the-round special fx/music show featuring Australian aboriginal spirits.

AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST: The bazaar area of Morocco transitions eastward towards the Arabian peninsula and westward to tropical central Africa.  Gabon features the jungle animal blind and great tree theatre.  The Arabian section moves into a Palestine/Isreal section with a reconciliatory attraction on the three Abrahamic relgions (facade could be Old City of Jerusalem, dome/wall/sepulcher).  Further in the region is Petra and finally the Great Pyramid of Giza, housing an E-ticket adventure on the Egyptian history & myth.

WESTERN EUROPE: France sees a recreation of a beautiful vineyard/winery where the process of creating wine & champagne can be seen & tasted.  The Low Countries are represented by the canals and streets of Amsterdam.

NORTH ATLANTIC: Ireland is represented by some Dublin facades and an old castle on a hill.  A whitewhater thrill ride is themed around wild rivers and geothermal power of Iceland.

See you in the comments section!


Anonymous said...

Ummmm... Im Confused! is this a Guest Post or your True Vision of EPCOT Center?

SWW said...

^Neither. It's a just another variation on EPCOT. A hybrid of two others' concepts with some personal ideas thrown in.

Armchair Ashley said...

When are you going to post your other Future World design?

stitch101 said...

The park overall looks pretty interesting. However, I do prefer your version of Future World and World Showcase.

megatron_85 said...

Looks great!

protojimbo said...

Another excellent vision for Epcot - Nice work. I like the more real world approach and the way you emphasized the overall idea of this park throughout.
Nice to see S America represented finally. Maybe there could be an 'El Grupo' attraction of some kind.
Are there any upcoming plans for Epcot? I always wonder about the building back between the energy attraction and Mission Space.
Anyone else excited to see more details on the Shanghai park?
I'm headed to Anahiem for a wedding and one day at California Adventure next mnth - yes I'll be missing Star Tours for now! But looking fwd to seeing the 'completed' Paradise Pier area w/ Lil Merm, Goofy Sky School and the new restaurants. Toy Story Mania was closed last time I was there so I haven't seen that either. Hoping to check out the upgrades to the Disney Hotel and the new pool slides too. Time for an inspiration reload!

SWW said...

Thanks for the comments.

protojimbo, There always seems to be a rumor about EPCOT (I believe Brazil is the current one) but I don't know how close they are to actuality (sadly, I expect not close). I'm hoping there will be a model (probably too much to ask this early)and plenty of artwork of the Shanghai project revealed at August's D23 Expo...

Have a good time at DCA and let us know your thoughts on the re-booted Paradise Pier.

Anonymous said...

Randy, I have a question?
Will you built Disney-Warner Bros. Studios Backlot, it will be at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Texas.

SWW said...

^ Hey...

Why don't you take some time to draw this Disney-WB Studios park (guessing Maroon Studios would be in there) on paper (trying to get everything as best to scale as you can) and email it to me and then maybe I can do the park in my style:

Some examples of these conversions I've done:

Anonymous said...

No thanks, I do not do this.
Tell Randy to do that.

protojimbo said...


SWW said...

^^ Okay, I'll tell him.

megatron_85 said...

Quick Question:

when are you posting your other vision of EPCOT's Future World?

Anonymous said...

wow, I officialy a fan, those maps you make a just so good and detailed. I have this question, if i sent you a drawing of a park I designed, will you make it?
If yes, my emailadres is
gr, Daan

Anonymous said...

Hi I love your site. Have you ever thought of making something about Walt Disney's version of the Experimental Prototype City Of Tommorrow? It woul d be awesome to see you do that.