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5 Reasons Why Epcot’s Reimagining Needs to be a Success

The legacy is important to Disney superfans

 aloha75, Flickr (license)

Image: aloha75, Flickr (license)

For better or for worse, Epcot means something to an awful lot of people. At its 1980s peak, Epcot was a theme park designed for the left-brained among us — those who were more excited by scientists and engineers than by pirates and ghosts. It viewed its guests as smart, and challenged them to be smarter. It showed the world not as it was, nor as it never would be, but as it might be someday soon. That, for a lot of people, was really exciting.

It was an ode to progress — something Walt Disney himself cared quite a lot about. While the Magic Kingdom was based on where we as a species had been, Epcot showed where we might be in the future: Different countries and cultures brought closer together, different ways of life invented and perfected.

The techno-optimism of Epcot died in the early 21st century. It might not come back for quite some time. Disney superfans would be smart to remember that — the kids of today are not the same as the kids of the 1980s and ‘90s. Not in a bad way, certainly — but just different. They have different hopes and different dreams. As Epcot itself taught us, you have to adapt and innovate in order to create a future worth living in.

But all of that said, the word “Epcot” carries weight. Calling something Epcot doesn’t make it so — it must earn that name, and continue to earn it every day. Disney says it wants Epcot to celebrate the world and its people, to shine a light on those stories via lands called World Showcase, World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature.

That is a great mission, and it’s one Disney must succeed at. Otherwise, the park will always feel like a pale imitation to many. 

They only have one shot

 dkelly1126, Flickr (license)

Image: dkelly1126, Flickr (license)

While there’s a risk in overstating how important this is to Disney, there isn’t any risk in saying they really only have one chance to get this reimagining right. Epcot is beloved in the Disney community, and if it is altered such that it becomes unrecognizable, it will be difficult for Disney to earn those fans’ trust again.

But, moreover, it will also prove incredibly costly.

If you look at the concept art for the reimagined Epcot, you’ll see that it truly looks dramatically different. The Innovations buildings are gone, as are many other now-superfluous remnants of Epcot’s glory days. In their stead are vast swaths of green space — itself a fascinating statement on modern urban planning.

But, if this new concept fails to excite the imagination of fans, it will be costly to once again remake the face of Epcot. They are spending billions of dollars to get this right and to bring Epcot into the 21st century properly. That’s after spending billions on the uneven MyMagic+ project and the divisive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion.

They’ve built infrastructure designed to bring more guests to Epcot via the new Skyliner gondola system. They’ve designed not one, but two new nighttime spectacular shows — one for the transition to the new park, and one for its first iteration.

The Walt Disney Company is pushing its chips into the center of the table on Epcot. It’s betting big that it can turn it into something guests will want not just now, but into the future. Disney usually doesn’t lose those bets.

But if they do, there’s an Epic Universe waiting in the wings, and Disney might not get a second chance.

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