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GLENN LONEY'S MUSEUM NOTES
CONTENTS, June 10 2002
 Off to Orlando: Dazzling Disney & Universal Theme-Parks
Caricature of Glenn Loney
by Sam Norkin.
 A Universal Welcome
 Rides, Rides, Rides
 Universal Studios' Memory Lanes
 Disney Imagineering at Work
 100 Years of Disney Magic
 Magic Kingdom Marvels
 Making Movies at Disney-MGM Studios
 At EPCOT: The World & The Future
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Copyright © 2002 Glenn Loney.
For editorial and commercial uses of the Glenn Loney INFOTOGRAPHY/ArtsArchive of international photo-images, contact THE EVERETT COLLECTION, 104 West 27th Street, NYC 10010. Phone: 212-255-8610/FAX: 212-255-8612.
For a selection of Glenn Loney's previous columns, click here.
Performing Arts & Theme ParksThe Merry Month of May seemed a good time to get out of town and check up on some entertainments farther afield. So your ever vigilant reporter packed his carry-on case and flew off to Florida, Texas, and Nevada.
In Texas, Nevada, & Florida
Once all the various New York theatre-award nominations have been made—and the votes cast and counted—there is not much to keep a performing-arts scribe in Manhattan. Few important new shows ever open after the Tony Nominations are announced, for instance.
And the official Broadway Season has traditionally ended on 31 May. But in recent years—as also in London's West End—some big shows have opened in the summer months, hoping to lure tourists.
AS THE WORLD GOES ROUND--Universal Studios' 3-D Logo revolves on its Orlando lagoon. Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
Off To Orlando Theme-Parks & Parking!
A Wonderful Week of Fun, Food, & Façades At Universal Studios & Walt Disney WorldShortly before Walt Disney World was to open in Orlando, Florida, I thought it might make a good design-feature for Theatre Crafts magazine. As the entire publication was then being written by just two people—the editor-publisher Patricia J. Mackay and me—we tried to cover new productions and new theatres at home and abroad as fully as we could.
At that time—although the professional journal was created to report solely on theatre architecture, stage, costume, and lighting-design, & theatre technology—I believed we should enlarge our focus to include design and tech for popular entertainments beyond the proscenium-arch or the arena-stage.
How about Fair-Grounds, World's Fairs, Parades, Street-Theatre, Outdoor Dramas, & even Theme-Parks?
So I spent a week with Ringling Bros/Barnum-Bailey Circus for a report on how they produce & perform The Greatest Show on Earth. The Circus Issue was one of our best at that time.
And I spent a whole summer visiting all the Shakespeare Festivals in the United States and Canada. We had so much fascinating material left over from our Shakespeare Festival Issue that we made a book out of it: The Shakespeare Complex [Drama Books]. Thanks at least in part to our analysis of how various Bardic Fests came into being, some seven new Shakespeare Festivals blossomed soon after publication.
Another summer I spent touring around America to see all the Outdoor Historical Dramas. I was calling them pageants, but the Master of the Historical Drama, Paul Green—author of several important historical plays—had long ago insisted that they should never be called pageants.
Initially, we did not report on design and tech for the Opera Theatre, mainly because our editor had little experience of really impresive opera-productions. When she finally saw how remarkable modern opera designs and stagings can be, that all changed.
Theme Parks seemed beyond our parameters. But when I reported that I'd arranged with Disney to go to Orlando and report on the new theme-park, it was not I who made the fact-finding journey.
Could it have been that disappointment which somehow prevented me from enjoying the Disney Experience all these years? Fortunately, I've now made up for that oversight, thanks to Disney's extending me the press-privilege for all its parks at Orlando.
At Entertainment Design, which is what Theatre Crafts has become, thanks to the new wider parameters, our Associate Editor—my former Brooklyn College performing arts management student—Ellen Lampert put me in contact with both Disney Orlando and Universal Orlando. After all, I am Theatre Crafts'Oldest Living Contributor, having been on board from the beginning.
Fortunately, another friend—my former CUNY Grad School Theatre PhD student, Col. Lawrence Epstein—invited me to spend a week near Orlando in his luxurious time-share. We spent the week exploring almost everything Universal and Disney have devised to delight tourists of all ages.
Those Broadway theatre-goers whose memories go back decades may remember a slight drama called A Hole in the Head? It became a movie with Frank Sinatra, as I recall.
Its misguided hero had the bizarre idea—at least at that time—to try to duplicate the success of the West Coast Disneyland in Anaheim on the Eastern Seaboard. Of course he failed, the moral then being that there's only need for one such theme-park.
As if anyone needed confirmation, William Zeckendorf at that time launched Freedomland just beyond the Bronx. It rapidly failed, replaced by what's today known as Co-op City.
But the idea was not wrong. Its design & execution were at fault. Freedomland was boring and tacky. It was not worth the trip. And of course, it was not free!
The immense success of Disney World—imitated by Universal Orlando as well—has demonstrated that the millions of people in the world who can afford fun-filled vacations will beat a path to your door if you have something exciting on offer.
European skeptics were certain that Disney Paris would be a dismal failure. It got off to a slow start, partly because at the time it was cheaper in Europe to buy an airline/hotel/Disney Orlando package-tour than to visit the new attraction outside the City of Light!
But the famously sneering Parisians and the French in general stopped mocking The Mouse when Germans and thousands of others from European Union nations began thronging this handsome Disney theme-park.
If French Intellectuals can adore the slapstick comedy of Jerry Lewis, how could they not love Mickey, Minnie, and Mike Eisner—Disney's visionary CEO?
And speaking of American-style theme-parks in Europe, how about the Romance of the Old West?
In Germany and Austria, I've visited no less than five Wild West parks, complete with ex-GI Indians, teepees, train-robberies, steer-roping, and Tex-Mex BBQ!
The Winnetou & Old Shatterhand Western novels of Saxony's Karl May are still very popular reading with young and old. Even though May had never seen the West about which he wrote…
After Lex Barker's career in Hollywood was definitively washed-up, he went to Germany to star in Karl May western sagas! With his buckskin-shirt off, of course!
Even in Legoland™ in Denmark's Northern Jutland, you can ride western horses, watch a steam-locomotive chuff through Lego-block tunnels, and study the Four Presidential Faces on Mount Rushmore replicated in giant Legos!
So Why Do They Hate Us?
Is it something George Bush has said or done?
SPIDERMAN IN 3-D--Can he rescue the stolen Statue of Liberty? Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
In the Web with Spiderman!
Two Great Universal Theme-Parks:While Disney World seems to blanket half of Central Florida, the Universal theme-parks are much more compact. But no less ingeniously designed.
Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios
A River Runs Through It—or is it only a long, long lagoon?
On the two theme-parks' entrance-side of this cooling water is the dazzling CityWalk, with many colorful façades, good restaurants, interesting entertainments, and attractive souvenir-shops.
You do not need a ticket to enjoy these amenities day or night. And multi-storied auto-parking—keyed to such trademark images as Spiderman or Dr. Seuss—leads directly to People-Movers to whisk you off to the portals of both Universal theme-parks.
The amazing first-time impression of Orlando begins at the airport. It is immense and immensely Post-Post-Modernist. It is separated into a number of terminals, joined by ultra-modern monorails and supported by impressively designed stacked parking-lots.
Florida, like California, is auto-oriented. Many visitors to Universal and Disney have driven hundreds—even thousands—of miles with their families. This saves on air-fares. And it means you don't have to spend even more to stay in one of the lavish hotels on site at both Disney and Universal.
Of course, if you are staying at one of the hundreds of motels or hotels in Orlando or nearby Kissimee, there are buses, vans, shuttles, and taxis to get you to the parks on time.
Across the water from CityWalk—sited between the entrances to Islands of Adventureand Universal Studios—you can see Universal's handsome new Hard Rock Hotel—looking rather like Santa Barbara Mission. In fact, there are three Universal hostelries, including the Portofino Hotel—which recreates an Italian harbor townscape and the lavishly Southeast Asian-themed Royal Pacific Hotel.
RIDES! RIDES! RIDES!As the blockbuster Spiderman movie was just opening, of course we had to rush off to beat the crowds at the entrance to Universal's daring new ride, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman.
Spidey's adventures are not only amazing; so are the technologies invoked to create this astounding 3-D ride. Although we were in the last row of a multi-seat ride-segment, the holographic stabbing fingers of Spidey and the villains seemed aimed right at our eyes!
Even though we were fairly early, we did have a 15-minute wait which was—thanks to designers with a great sense of humor—also a fun-experience. As we filed through the offices of Spiderman's newspaper, we found that various desks were laden with typewriters, laptops, and phones of several repertorial eras—all in tones of gray!
Videos kept us informed of fast-breaking-news. The Statue of Liberty had been stolen! During the fast-paced ride—in which spectators and their seating are abruptly jerked about in sharp-angled turns—we saw Miss Liberty being cut up in an immense underground workshop!
Suddenly we were falling from the top of a skyscraper, zooming downward. Spidey shot out his Web just in time to jerk us back from splattering on the pavement below!
Despite all the warnings posted outside the super-intense Post-Modernist versions of the old roller-coaster or loop-the-loop, I thought I was fit enough for Dueling Dragons. I'd save the simpler but G-force Incredible Hulk Coaster for later. The lines would be shorter…
The Fire Dragon and the Ice Dragon have parallel almost mirror-image tracks. Riders approach through an ancient castle, where they have to choose which Dragon they will ride, going down separate but equally spooky torch-lit passages.
Along the way, we were reminded that this was not the kind of thrill pregnant women or cardiac patients should try. Well, shortly after our section of cars zoomed around the first precipitous curve, my heart and my breakfast were in my throat!
CAT IN THE HAT--The Unforgettable Dr. Seuss Theme-Ride! Photo: ©Glenn Loney.
I'd had a purple bagel at our Time-Share. This was obviously a mistake, even though the poolside breakfast was free… I lost it.
Even the charmingly designed Cat in the Hat ride at Seuss Landing had some sharp sudden turns. And it scooted along so fast, one hardly had time to savor the cleverness of the images and their animation.
As at any World's Fair or theme-park—where hundreds of men, women, and children all want to experience the most popular pavilions or rides NOW—there are almost inevitable waits-in-line. Both Universal and Disney have done their best to make these move along and even be thematically interesting where possible.
Fortunately, both Disney and Universal now have a system which permits people entering the parks to book a later time for the rides they most want to experience. When the time arrives, they go to the head of the line with their special tickets.
Unlike some old-time theme-parks—where one had to pay not only admission, but also separately for each ride—the admission price to the Disney and Universal parks covers all rides. All day. But not snacks, lunches, or dinners—with the many, many eating opportunities on hand.
As a professional photographer—my INFOTOGRAPHY title is registered in NY State & City—I was most interested in getting powerful images of the amazingly designed buildings, signage, and rides. Rather than trying to line up for every ride, as I would have done fifty years ago…
POSEIDON POISES TRIDENT--Logo for amazing Universal Islands of Adventure theme-ride. Photo: ©Glenn Loney.
I spent two whole days in Islands of Adventure and its companion-attraction, Universal Studios. Just admiring the exteriors! I have to go back for the rides next season!
The Islands are not actually separate bodies of land in a great sea. Instead, they are spotted around a great lake. The ports of call include Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, & Marvel Super Hero Island.
This is almost too much to take in, just walking around and not even doing the rides or seeing the thoroughly professional themed-shows. My guess is that you could spend a week at Universal's two parks, at an easy pace, and still not have exhausted their various attractions.
For the record, however, here are some of the rides & shows on offer in Universal's adventurous Islands: Poseidon's Fury, Caro-Seuss-el, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, Pteranodon Flyers, Doctor Doom's Fearfall, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Jurassic Park River Adventure, The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. Wow!
It's amazing how many of the attractions—both at Universal and at Disney—involve water-based rides, often including a good splashing. So put your Nikons and Leicas away!
Disney Imagineers were the first to discover the various values of waterways for theme-park rides. Not least, they reduced or entirely removed the friction and wear caused by metal rollers on metal rails. Also the annoying noise…
Floating sections of seating—still linked and tracked—offered a smoother ride and added a bit of mystery and romance to some tunnel-rides. Also, in the torrid Florida—and Southern California—heat, the water provided immediate air-conditioning!
A Stroll Down Universal Studios' Memory LanesIt might be a good idea for Orlando first-timers to visit Universal's Studios before Islands of Adventure. There is less wild visual fantasy at play, so a Brooklyn street-scene could be an anti-climax after Toon Lagoon.
The Studios are entered through the famous Universal Arch and flanked by the Universal Globe. They offer a kind of reconstruction of Hollywood sound-stages—some actually used for productions—and mocked-up city-streets and buildings.
Years ago—when I was writing for the late, lamented After Dark Magazine—I routinely toured MGM, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros. Studios. I remember being especially fascinated with the lovely and fantastical sets for The King and I.
But a real tour of a working-studio is nothing compared to what you will experience at both Universal Studios and Disney's MGM Studios.
At Universal, a live scene from The Blues Brothers is recreated several times daily. Other shows include Animal Planet Live!, Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, Hitchcock's 3-D Theatre, the 3-D Terminator 2, Twister…Ride It Out, and the Wild, Wild, Wild West Stunt Show.
Among Universal Studio's impressive rides are MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, JAWS, Earthquake: The Big One, Kongfrontation, E. T. Adventure, & Back To The Future.
Amazingly, both Universal and Disney love San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf, and the old iconic Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory! Both have reconstructions.
At Universal Studios, it is a constant surprise to turn the corner in Old New York, say, into a different street, city, and era. If you are a seasoned movie-buff, you will surely believe you have seen many of these façades in Golden Oldies.
Wonders of Disney Imagineering!Even an intensive week of exploring the various theme-park elements of Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort wouldn't begin to expose you to all the wonders of fantasy, design, and technology. The Disney Imagineers are something special!
Just consider: The various parks—with their many individual attractions—are spread out over a 47-mile-square terrain. With plenty of room to develop even more astounding themes, locales, rides, shows, and events.
HONEY, THERE'S A BIG FISH ON THE ROOF!--Disney World's new Dolphin Hotel.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
And you never have to leave the Land of Disney, if you don't want to waste any of your valuable holiday-timecommuting from motels in Kissimee. There are 28 themed resort hotels, 18 of them operated by Disney World.
All parks, resorts, and even parking-lots are linked by state-of-the-art monorails, or shuttles, buses, steam-boats, yachts, and launches. One if by land, two if by sea… The ingenious ways in which transportation has been engineered for maximum convenience is amazing.
In fact, the monorail swiftly bringing visitors to the Magic Kingdom passes right through one of the hotels. There's a Wilderness Lodge, a Yacht Club Resort, a Polynesian Resort, and a wonderful Victorian evocation of a great resort hotel, the Grand Floridian. Luxury hotel rentals start at $194 per night—and up up up.
But you can rent a campsite at Fort Wilderness for as little as $34 per snooze.
Disney CEO Michael Eisner is not only a man with vision regarding new film projects and theme-parks. He's also a major patron of important and innovative American architects such as Michael Graves, Frank Ghery, and Robert A. M. Stern. Both at Disney's Anaheim HQ and in Orlando!
Disney's Swan and Dolphin Hotels are utterly fantastic, immense, and totally grand. Not to overlook Robert A. M. Stern's adjacent Boardwalk!
In the four days available to me, I had to concentrate on The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, & Disney-MGM Studios. This meant I had to pass up the two water-adventure parks: Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach. As well as the fourth major theme-park, Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Not to forget the lovely Disney Wedding Pavilion! Another time perhaps?
This amazing confluence of theme-parks is sited at Lake Buena Vista near Orlando—which provides water-links for most of the attractions and resorts.
As an Anti-Recession employer, Disney lists some 54,000 "cast members" at its various operations.
Disney does not, however, seem Anti-Obesity. On any given day—the parks are open year-round—you can see platoons of hugely overweight women in much-too-tight dresses and slacks, gobbling mounds of greasy fries and burgers purchased on site.
LUNCH-TIME IN TOON-TOWN--Dagwood's Monster Sandwich.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
Almost everywhere you turn there is a restaurant, snack-bar, or concessionaire. And what could be more natural—after pounding the pavements in search of Snow White—than to stuff your face with sandwiches and a Softee?
Actually, if you know what you should be eating, there are a number of excellent restaurants at popular prices serving diet-conscious appetizers and entrees.
Still, if you feel you need something really hearty to bolster your energy for all the attractions of Epcot®, some national cuisines will fill the bill.
The German Buffet at Epcot is a striking example of Disney tastiness & quality, serving traditional Bavarian cuisine even cheaper than in Munich! Not to mention that you won't find such a buffet in all Bavaria…
The problem for most Americans, however—and not only at Disney and Universal—is the ubiquity of the Eat-All-You-Want Buffet Culture.
100 Years of Disney Magic:To celebrate Walt Disney's 100th Anniversary—he was born in Chicago, 5 December 1901—the four major Florida theme-parks each has a distinctive new Parade. My friend, colleague, and former student, Ellen Lampert has recently chronicled these delightful processions in Entertainment Design.
Out West, In Orlando, & Worldwide!
But those who watch the Disney TV channel regularly surely know all about these strolling shows? In fact, they probably know much more about all the theme-parks, their shows, rides, and eateries than I can hope to summarize here.
The Century Slogan—100 Years of Disney Magic—may seem a bit odd. And not only because the celebrations are spread over fifteen months, rather than the customary twelve. Did the Disney Magic necessarily begin at Walt's Birth—unless that was in some way miraculous?
Disney's first rodent-related animated cartoon—featuring Mickey Mouse—was made in 1928: Steamboat Willie.
One especially charming aspect of the Centenary Celebrations is the creation of topiary figures representing major Disney cartoon characters. Yew bushes and other leafy plants have been shaped and clipped into Minnies, Goofys, and Donalds.
As with Universal's CityWalk, Disney World also has its own nighttime entertainment and dining center. This is Pleasure Island, adjacent to the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Here is Disney's Ghirardelli! And a steamboat restaurant as well.
Nearby is the West Side, with a specially devised Cirque du Soleil show, a Virgin Megastore, and a 24-screen AMC movie-theatre. As if Disney World visitors had not already seen enough cinematic novelties during the day…
Many Marvels in Disney's Magic Kingdom—
TIP OF THE CASTLE--Disney's Magic Kingdom Logo.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
You penetrate the Magic Kingdom through a fairly narrow corridor of Victorian Americana façades—behind which lurk all kinds of souvenirs, luxury goods, and tummy treats. This is Mainstreet U. S. A.
But the distant beacon, the centerpiece of the entire park—as on the Disney TV channel—is Cinderella's Castle. Famed Disney characters cavort in its forecourt at specified hours.
Beyond this Orlando Neu Schwanstein lies Fantasyland, richly evoking Old Europe and ancient fairytales. Here, you can relive Lewis Carroll's Mad Tea Party.
Also Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and even the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Snow White's Adventures are labeled as "Scary." Automated children from around the world also serenade you on another of those popular & friction-free water-rides.
Frontierland salutes the Old West. Here's a station for the Disney World Railroad which travels the outer bounds of the entire theme-park. There's also Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, for those who can't get enough of vintage steam-trains.
Splash Mountain is another very wet ride, this time in a log-boat with a climactic five-story drop into the Briar Patch! American Rifle Association stalwarts can get off some rounds at the Shootin' Arcade. Or you can raft like Tom Sawyer. No luck, No Huck…
Liberty Square extends the historic American site & architecture metaphors. There's an Indian Campootie, complete with teepees, best viewed from the train.
PATTERNS IN THE SKY--Breath-taking even to look at: Heart-pounding to ride!
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
Also on offer, a 19th century Haunted Mansion ride, the Liberty Square Riverboat—fully functional, the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Revue—with family-values-friendly Dancing Girls. And, last but not at all the least, the Hall of Presidents, with Dubya Bush recently animated and added!
Adventureland is compact in its globe-girdling wonders. On most days, there's not enough room for all the tourists who want to climb up into the Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse. But there is usually room in Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats or on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
Again water-based, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the best rides in this theme-park.
Mickey's Toontown Fair is the least successful of all the segments of the Magic Kingdom. But it's popular with kids, who love romping through Mickey's Country House and Minnie's Country House. There's also a low-key roller-coaster ride, the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm.
Universal's cartoon and Marvel Comics areas are much more colorful and imaginative than this Disney afterthought. This has a lot to do with the nature of the cartoon & action-comix characters involved at Universal.
For the Future-Oriented—and kids of all ages—Disney's Tomorrowland is the most exciting and inventive of all the Magic Kingdom's principalities. Its wonders can be surveyed from above on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. The small-scale Indy Speedway is always thronged.
Popular rides include Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and the Carousel of Progress. The most breathtaking, however, was the black-void roller-coaster ride in Space Mountain. It was like the Dueling Dragons—only pitch-black—but this time I didn't lose my bagel-breakfast!
WIZARD'S CAP--Mickey's Sorcerer's Apprentice hat is Disney MGM-Studios logo.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002
Disney-MGM Studios Not a Universal Re-Play—
If you make the scheduling mistake of seeing Universal Studios the day before you visit the Disney-MGM version of Art Deco LA & Hollywood, shooting-stages, and street-scene façades, you may think, in the words of Yogi Berra, that it's déjà-vu all over again.
HOLLYWOOD TERROR TOWER--Aieee! The elevator cable's snapped!
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
Not so. Some MGM sets are on a much grander scale, and there's much more to look at here.
The visual focus-point of this Disney theme-park is the great star-studded conical
Wizard's hat Mickey wore in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. You can tell the kids: "Meet us here under the hat!"
And some of the rides and shows are not to be matched. The Tower of Terror—which looks like one of those
1920s Hollywood hotels—is a sudden-drop ride which can make you toss much more than your bagels.
The Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith always has long lines. Ditto for the new Voyage of the Little Mermaid attraction. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a big crowd-pleaser. You can also enjoy Jim Henson's Muppets in 3-D.
EPCOT SALUTES 100 YEARS OF DISNEY MAGIC!
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
EPCOT: Better Than Europe on the Vegas Strip— With Futurist Science Displays & Rides As Well!The World of the Future has fascinated Modern Man since Jules Verne and H. G. Welles first forecast the Shape of Things To Come.
When Disney's EPCOT® theme-park was initially announced, emphasis was laid on its dedication to exploring various aspects of human life and industrial technology in the years to come.
There was even talk of placing a great transparent dome over the area to study the effects of a controlled environment on Man and Nature. Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed. The Florida sun still beats down relentlessly—as it no doubt also would have on a clear plastic cover.
For those who can't get enough of Futurism in Disney's Magic Kingdom, ingeniously designed and often interactive Epcot exhibits probe even further & deeper into the Beyond—with a few backward glances to show from whence we have come…
These are sponsored by a lot of well-known Big Brand Names who showcase their wares and services—designed by Disney Imagineers, I imagine.
And for those who are impatient with walk-though displays, there are of course novel attractions which share science and science-fictions in often exciting ride-throughs.
Dominating the entrance to Epcot—and virtually visible from most points in the park—is an immense Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Sphere. It sprouts at one side a Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey-Arm & Magic Wand, celebrating the 100 Years of Disney Magic.
Inside this dome is the fascinating Spaceship Earth Ride, which takes visitors from the Dawnings of Civilization into the Future. It is sponsored by AT&T®. I liked this so much, I rode through three times!
In a handsome nearby pavilion, ExxonMobil® offers its Universe of Energy. Its main feature is another epic ride, Ellen's Energy Adventure. This takes Ellen and us back to the Time of the Dinosaurs, to explore where all our oil came from. ENRON® is not mentioned once!
Unfortunately, we never finished this energy-saga, owing to some energy-glitch which stalled the moving seat-cars and doused the lights! We had to scramble out in semi-darkness as best we could. Some Triumph of Energy, Exxon! Check your circuits!
Next on the Line of March was the Wonders of Life pavilion, featuring Body Wars, Cranium Command, and The Making of Me. Definitely designed for kids…
In the formerly empty space beyond this modernist structure Mission Space is now under construction.
General Motors® is the sponsor of the longest, fastest Disney ride of all time! This is the Test Track exploration of auto-testing, almost a mile long! This is huge structure, and the lines are long
The Innoventions pavilion offers—thanks to Coca-Cola®—sample soft-drinks from around the world. Unfortunately, Pepsi was not one of them…
Designed with shell-like forms and spirals, the ultimate pavilion in this entrance section to Epcot is The Living Seas. It features almost six-million gallons of water with an amazing collection of fish, sharks, turtles, and other sea-creatures.
As visitors emerge from these Futurist and Environmental pavilions, they face a vast lagoon—scene of a magnificent night-time fireworks display. Around this great lake are pavilions of various nations of the world.
This second section of Epcot® is called the World Showcase—even though the various pavilions by no means offer a Round-the-World Tour.
As in the Magic Kingdom, façades are so cleverly designed and integrated that famous arches, bell-towers, and historic frontages from each nation offer an instant architectural survey, though the originals are sited in different cities, often far-distant from each other.
My favorite is the German Pavilion. The Bavarian Buffet—as noted previously—is both great and inexpensive!
But Disney has foregone the opportunity to create a distinctively German-themed ride. What wonders they could have devised!
A Tales of Hoffmann ride! A ride featuring Johann Gutenberg, Martin Luther, plus Goethe & Schiller! A Richard Wagner Ring ride! Why has Disney so long overlooked the caroonish opportunities offered by Wagner's Ring? The Valkyries are Naturals for Disney animators!
Considering the long and turbulent history of the separate German kingdoms, principalities, dukedoms, and Free Imperial Cities—united by Bismarck only 150 years ago—the Saga of the Teutonic Tribes would also make a fascinating Time-Line Ride!
Then there's the famously Grimm old fairytale of Hansel & Gretel, with the Wicked Witch, the Gingerbread Children, and her red-hot Baking Oven…
Well, maybe not… That old kiddie-shocker is a grim metaphor for the real Death Ovens of the Nazi Holocaust!
KYOTO IN ORLANDO--Japan's pavilion is a major photo-op on Epcot Lagoon.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
Other nations also ringing the lagoon include China, Norway, Mexico, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and, of course, the Good Old USA.
In America's handsome pavilion, the centerpiece is an animatronic—is that the correct term?—show featuring Ben Franklin & Mark Twain as hosts. This is called The American Adventure, and it's sponsored by American Express®.
The Mexican Pavilion has a charming water-based ride-through with cute kiddie-sized animated Mexicanos celebrating their history, life, and culture.
Norway's water-based Maelstrom Viking-style ride is great fun as well.
There could well be more such rides for the nations which now offer only displays, foods, and souvenir-shops. At present, China and Canada offer as special attractions 360° films of their peoples and lands.
Unfortunately, there is no more room around the lagoon to position additional nations. So this looks even more impossible than Poland and Hungary trying to get into the European Union!
But not to worry! Disney has so many acres of as-yet-undeveloped land in Central Florida, there's no reason it cannot develop a new United Nations Theme-Park! With national cuisines & souvenirs at popular prices.
And thrilling rides representing the dynamism of the various cultures, not to overlook epic moments in their histories!
How about the Colonization of Brazil by the Portuguese? Or the Occupation of Northern Italy by the Austro-Hungarian Empire? The centuries-long Oppression of the Irish by the English? The brutal exploitation of Congo Africans in King Leopold's Belgian Mines?
Then there's The Seven Years War, The Thirty Years War, & The 100 Years War…
SKY BY MAXFIELD PARRISH--Art Deco Fantasy over Downtown Disney.
Photo: ©Glenn Loney/INFOTOGRAPHY/2002.
This may not be such a bizarre idea.
After all, the State of Israel has created a Biblical Theme-Park at Meggido. This is the site foretold in The Revelations of the Last Great Battle of Mankind. Before the Second Coming of the Messiah and The Last Judgment.
Fundamentalist Christians have been flocking to this odd attraction, eagerly welcomed by Israelis, who may in fact have just begun the Battle of Armageddon [Meggido] without knowing what they were doing…
No, no, no! That is not The Walt Disney Way! Instead, Always Optimistic & Upbeat!
Who wants to go all the way to Florida to be Depressed? Or Judged?
This will never happen in the Magic Kingdom® or EPCOT®! Satisfaction Guaranteed!
I want to go back next season and enjoy all the rides I missed while photographing their outsides! [Loney]
Copyright © Glenn Loney 2002. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, Curator's Choice." Reproduction rights please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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