Sunday, October 18, 2009

Innoventions "The Sum of all Thrills" : I don't want to be disagreeable, but...

Last Wednesday, October 14, Innoventions new attraction "The Sum of all Thrills" opened. So, i thought: let's do an article about it and went to the WDW press web site to find some pictures of it. That's where journalists go to find pictures when anything new open at WDW, and generally pictures are available in the next day after the opening or so...

But since last Wednesday there is still no official picture on line, nothing. Pictures of the new ESPN Innovation Lab that open October 16 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are available, but always no pictures about "The Sum of all Thrills". Not even a press release! So, i began to thought "uh, that's strange..." and decided to go to the sponsor web site to see if there some pictures were available.

Before i go further let's talk one minute about the attraction. As we know the attraction use the famous KUKA robotic arm. I thought that Universal Studios had an exclusivity from KUKA on this robotic arm as they will use it in the E-Ticket ride of the awaited Harry Potter land at IOA, but i suppose that when the robotic arm is not used in a ride, it's probably different... Anyway, to come back to the attraction itself, guests "create their own experience by first choosing a ride theme, including a roller coaster, bobsled or jet plane".

"Using multitouch, object recognition tables, guests use math and engineering-based tools, such as rulers and speed dials, to design and customize their ride by adding corkscrews, inversions or steep hills.

The guest can then experience his or her custom ride from beginning to end on the robotic KUKA RoboSim 4-D simulator. Inside the simulator, guests experience their ride on immersive high definition video combined with stereo sound and controlled air motion for a complete sensory experience".

All the reviews on the net about The Sum of all Thrills are good - Werner on Mice age did a very good one about it - so this new addition to Innoventions seems pretty cool.

Now, to come back to my pictures research, i found two pictures on the Raytheon web site. They're include in this article but because i wanted to find better pictures i went to the Raytheon press section. First you have to know is that i knew nothing about this Raytheon company. May be they're well known in the U.S but in France nobody know them, which is not the problem, of course.

Sooo, i arrived on their press picture section and what do i see - like anybody going to find pictures in this section? Pictures of missiles - yep, WAR missiles, all kind of missiles from the well known "Tomahawk" to the "Patriot", as many as you want others Air-to-Ground Missiles and even a ExoSkeleton for soldiers... In two words, Raytheon is a company working in defense industry, manufacturing war weapons. I suppose that some of you would say that they're creating weapons which will help to protect "our" country but whatever is the angle you take the truth is that missiles are weapons that can destroy planes, tanks, buildings, etc...but at the end generally kill people.

No need to say that i was a bit shocked when i saw this and even more amazed that it seems to don't be a problem for anyone - i didn't see any review talking about it. The first thing i thought was "Is Disney out of its mind to have as sponsor a company manufacturing war weapons? ". Then i talked with an american friend who explained to me that considering the U.S "culture of weapon", it was less shocking out there, on the other side of the Atlantic. I can understand this, but i guarantee you that we will NEVER have at Disneyland Paris an attraction sponsored by a war weapon manufacturer. No way, never, the press reaction all over Europe would be terrible, really.

So, i don't want to be disagreeable - specially because i think to all the work and time it took to WDI Imagineers to design this new attraction - but, frankly, don't you think it's shocking that a Disney theme park sponsor is a war weapon manufacturer? I know that Epcot is no longer the utopia it was originally supposed to be, i.e an "experimental prototype community of tomorrow", and finally is a park dedicated to international culture and technological innovation but, honestly, wasn't it possible to find a sponsor manufacturing something else than weapons which kill people? Seriously.

Well, now that i know about all this may be it explains too why the WDW press web site is "silent" about this Innoventions attraction and why you won't find on it any picture...or even a press release.

EDITED: Please read the comments of D&M readers below which help to understand the situation as apparently Raytheon seems to don't be the first EPCOT sponsor working in defense industry as General Motors, General Electric and United Technologies all have (or have had during sponsorship) weapons/defense divisions.

However, to pay tribute to the Imagineers who did a brilliant job on this attraction, here is a video very well filmed on opening day by Attractions magazine which will show you perfectly the attraction itself. Have a look, and then let me know what you feel about all this.

Pictures: copyright Disney, Raytheon and Orlando Sentinel

Video: copyright Attractions Magazine


Mario said...

wow..that's quite shocking indeed.
I'm brazilian and I also find it interesting/strange the way americans see "war" and the idea of "protecting the nation".
If the weapons were really only used as a defense system I would have no problem with it; but...

Ashley said...

It is shocking for me as well and I live in the U.S.

In that first day Disney and Raytheon did a very good job at keeping people moving from site to site. When you searched for the ride on the first day you were taken to press releases from when the ride was first announced. Those all linked to the math program that they are promoting which is not linked to the company website at all. Front page of Raytheon was carefull to draw reader attention with large buttons and boxes of text in bright color to distract from the navigation bar. The official Disney blog also never linked to Raytheon, only to the innovations website...

They did such a good job that I wrote an article on the attraction myself and didn't go back to the websites to check all of this out and see what you were talking about until I read your article. Nice job...should be interresting to see what happens know that more people know.

RandySavage said...

Other EPCOT sponsors, including General Motors, General Electric and United Technologies all have (or have had during sponsorship) weapons/defense divisions.

Raytheon may be the first that is primarily weapons/defense, though.

Anonymous said...

Raytheon is a company like the others mentioned by randySavage. A GM subdivision makes the Humvee? Raytheon is an engineering firm, they have components on many commercial Airliners (I have bought aircraft parts from them for my company) but I'm sure many firms that have sponsored Disney attractions also have ties to military divisions - this isnt a defense, i think this is just the reality.

Paul Higgins said...

I don't think Raytheon has much "brand awareness" in the US. People might have distant memories of the company but it is not associated prominently with any current products, unlike Northrop Grumman or Lockheed Martin which are immediately recognized as defense contractors. And those old memories of Raytheon recall past product lines such as radio tubes, microwave ovens, and washing machines (still made here in my hometown even after Raytheon sold that division).

I'd say Raytheon is viewed (in the US) more as a "research & development" or "technology" firm, rather than as a munitions company. That image fits with the company's stated desire to use "The Sum of All Thrills" to promote interest in math and science among schoolchildren. (I think that's an admirable goal. The US has been losing its competitive advantage there for many years.)

WDW visitors from the US probably won't be at all surprised to see Raytheon as a sponsor because they would never associate the company with its defense products.

Even so, with so much of the US GDP consisting of defense work (spread all across the US for political reasons), lots of US workers are somehow connected to the defense industry or know someone who is. Seeing the name of a defense contractor just isn't that surprising, whether it's a Disney exhibit or a youth sports league.

RandySavage said...

^ The first thing I think of when I hear Raytheon is one of the Big 4 U.S. weapons manufacturers - along with Northrop, Lockheed and General Dynamics. Granted 75%+ Americans don't know what Raytheon does, and those that do don't really care one way or another.

I can understand the discomfort with a weapons company in a Disney park... but virtually all giant corporations have dark sides whether it's building weapons, pollution, or something else (Monsanto, GE, Exxon, etc.), so I guess it's an unavoidable situation.

RandySavage said...

One final comment.

Measuring by defense-related revenues, the biggest weapons dealer in the world is... Boeing.

In the public mind, Boeing is associated with 777s, not Apache attack helicopters, so I don't think anyone would bat an eye if Boeing took up sponsorship of Mission:Space.

Ray Theon said...

I honestly find your shock shocking Alain.

Because a company makes defense weapons it's somehow evil in your book.

Weapons may destroy people, but they're usually designed for defense. To defend against assault. I see nothing wrong with this and find it no different that if you were to criticize a policeman for having a gun. If a company that made guns or machinery and bullet proof vests be demonized for sponsoring at EPCOT or some other park? After all, a policeman's gun does kill people. Does that make him bad or the company that makes it evil? I find this kind of moral thinking very troubling when you blame objects (weapons) for peoples actions.

Perhaps should ban steak knife companies from advertising at Disney, I mean, somewhere down the line I'll bet someone was killed by a steak knife. Let's blame the steak knife maker.

This is a case of someone's moral compass being broken.

I love your blog and think you're a really talented writer, but this kind of thinking seems to want to pretend human nature isn't what it is and that true evil doesn't really exist in the world.

No, let's blame Raytheon. That solves everything.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, your spin on this irks me because of the arrogant undertone, which has gotten worse since the site picked up. I was one of your earliest readers, and I never have been a fan of your posts that have a political spin because honestly it's not what Disney is about. I understand that this is your blog and you will do what you wish, but it is a major turn off. First the Obama post, then this. I hope you continue to post news, and your wonderful pictorials, because these posts are not why I come here.

Yes, Disneyland Park will get a sponsorship from a similar company if the opportunity came about. Also, today I just read a post on another blog that talked about how sponsors have been dropping like flies. The Land is no longer sponsored by Nestle, The Wonders of Life is long gone, the Energy pavilion sits without anyone, the Norwegian government no longer sponsors Norway in the World Showcase, and the Test Track's sponsor, GM, is facing tough times in the American economy. Disney will jump at the chance at sponsor, especially at Epcot. Disney is first and foremost a business. Without the business side we would not have the wonderful parks we have.

Anonymous said...

you are doing a great job.

I never liked the sponsoring in Disney Parks. I think it is out of place especially when people pay such a high price to get into the Parks.

Saying that all corporation have an evil side is too easy of an argument for me (just like all the politicians are corrupt). The truth of the matter is no company producing any weapons should be featured in any Disney Parks.


Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to the new dark rides being sponsored by Philip-Morris and Smith & Wesson.

Alison said...

I agree that you're doing a great job, Alain, and you are perfectly entitled to express your views. Some people of a certain political persuasion seem determined to crush any dissent by threatening and bullying anyone who disagrees with them. If others don't like your site they can stay away. I say keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Big deal, Raytheon is sponsoring something new at EPCOT. Is there not complaints about how nothing new or different happens at EPCOT or that it is forgotten? Raytheon does do more then just defense work.

Jones said...

This is not a matter of right or wrong - i´t s a matter of *taste*. It´s simply not ok to have a weapons manufacturer as a sponsor, just as it is not ok for the NRA to hold a meeting near Columbine High School just days after the killings. I cannot speak for others, but seeing that "Raytheon" robotic arm move in greepy precision made me feel very uncomfortable... all the more so because the attraction is called "Sum of all Thrills" - which made me think immediately of Tom "bomb them all" Clancy´s novel "The Sum of All Fears" - and if that´s a coincidence, then Clancy is a good writer...

Anonymous said...

While I applaud you for going to the Raytheon site to learn more, I am disappointed that you only looked at part of the site. I went to their site and found a great deal more. Yes Raytheon produces weapons, as do many other large companies not commonly known as defense companies. However, Raytheon also developed and produced much of the equipment used in predicting weather and tracking hurricanes. In other natural disasters much of the equipment developed originally for war is used to seek and rescue. One of their most recent releases shows how they have found a way to quickly break through concrete to rescue people after earthquakes and tsunamis. In Arizona Raytheon is using some of their advances radar and x-ray technologies to improve the quality of medical care. Raytheon also has launched a program called Math Moves U to encourage kids to study math and science, both areas which need a greater focus in today's world.
So to just say you are appalled that a defense company is sponsoring a ride at Disney is doing a disservice to a company working to improve the world, not to destroy it.

Anonymous said...

The irony of someone from France complaining about "war weapons" made me laugh out loud.

Of course, no mention is made of Nestle's sponsorship at Disneyland Paris. Their illegal and immoral efforts to push artifical baby milk formula throughout the Third World has probably killed millions more than Raytheon weapons have.

Glass. Houses. Rocks. Throwing.
Enough said.

Ray Theon said...

"It´s simply not ok to have a weapons manufacturer as a sponsor, just as it is not ok for the NRA to hold a meeting near Columbine High School just days after the killings."

Perhaps you are referring to the Michael Moore film? If so, you might want to do a little fact checking. That NRA meeting was held months away from the Columbine shootings. More edited it into his film so that it would look like it happened days after for a dramatic effect. Did you know that?

That's the trouble with facts, they tend to trump emotion. If you're going to a gunfight, please don't bring a knife, k?

Ray Theon said...

Sorry, that should have been "Moore edited" but I typed it too fast.

That said, the point remains the same.

Alain Littaye said...

Thanks everybody for your comments. As my article seems to have infuriated some of my readers here is my answer to their comments.

First one is for Ray Theon (who's taking the defense of the "Sum of all Thrills" sponsor so much that he took its name to sign his comment!):
Dear Ray Theon, no i'm not naive enough to think that evil doesn't exist in our world and, yes, weapons are unfortunately necessary for self-defense. And of course each country have the right to defend itself, there is no doubt about that.
That was not the point of my article. The point of my article was to ask if it was a good thing that an arms manufacturer was sponsoring a Disney theme park attraction.
Because, if we consider that Disney theme parks are magic kingdoms where visitors go to escape the "real reality" (i'm talking here for guests only as for people working in theme parks it's obviously the "real reality") then in this case i'm not sure that having a war weapon manufacturer as sponsor is really what guests are expecting.
To come back to companies manufacturing weapons, i can understand they create weapons that will help to defend the country but generally it also happen that the same weapons are sold to other countries and fuel - if not creating - wars. If they could avoid doing this (which they won't because there is too much money to make) it would be cool, but let's not dream too much.

Next answer is for Anonymous: Dear Anonymous, this was NOT a political post but more a "moral" post, or, if you prefer, an "anti-cynism" post. It's true that in those difficult economy days sponsor companies have to do some cuts and, no surprise, their attraction sponsoring budget are not their priority. Which of course put the Disney company in a difficult situation: find other sponsors or pay for the attraction.
Now, i don't know the price os The Sum of all Thrills but it's very probably under $30M, if not $20M. $20M is indeed a lot of money even for Disney but apparently when they need to find $4 billion to buy Marvel they know where to find them. Which is okay, that's not the problem. But if they could avoid to introduce a war weapon manufacturer as an Epcot sponsor only because "Hey, that'll save us $20 million and who cares if they manufacturate weapons or not", that'll be cool.

(Part two of my answer is below)

Alain Littaye said...

Another answer to another Anonymous comment: First, thanks to have put a weight on the other side of the balance - i mean the good side - as it's right that Raytheon is not only creating weapons but design too other equipments that help to predict weather, tracking hurricanes, and more. Not too mention their educational program to encourage kids to study math and science. Too bad that their pictures section only shows missiles, war planes and others, but i admit that your comment was the best one to defend Raytheon. Now, i won't follow you when you say that Raytheon is "a company working to improve the world, not to destroy it". They DO improve the world when they create the equipments described above but to say that a company which is manufacturing so many destructive weapons works only to "improve the world" is a little bit too much, isn't it?

My last answer is for another Anonymous reader (
incredible how many readers are called anonymous, isn't it? ): You're absolutely right that Nestle is a DLP sponsor, and right too about the disaster created by their "artifical baby milk formula throughout the Third World". I strongly encourage anyone to have a look at the Wikipedia link that you've provided because what they diid is a shame.
However, where you are not right is to think that it's a french-against-america article as it is not. I'm french, that's right, but i'll be the first to do french-bashing and for good reasons!

Talking about the french, France is the 4th war weapons exporter in the world and there is no good reason to be proud of that. While you'll be on Wikipedia have a look at that page talking about Arms Industry:
No suprise, the U.S are the 1st arms exporter in the world followed by Russia, Germany and France and many others. And guess who you find in the largest arms exporters company? Almost every developped country have companies manufacturing and exporting arms (and yes, including french companies! ) and in the U.S section we find the usual well known companies, and...Raytheon Corporation.

When i told you that all these weapons were non-exclusive for self-defense...

Anonymous said...

This attraction fits perfectly with Raytheon ideals...and no they don't just manufacture weapons. They currently are a leader in all sorts of radio and satellite technology in the consumer market as well, and have an incredible history of innovation. The thermostat that controls your oven and probably your home heat was the brainchild of one of the company's creators. Raytheon was also the inventor of the microwave oven and any number of things you use in your daily life, no matter which country you might be living in. This ride is to get kids excited about engineering because so few children (especially in USA where Raytheon/Disney are based) are choosing it as a career choice these days making for a real deficit. Yes, engineers are needed to make weapons, but they are also needed to make everything else. May I also point out that military technology has always lead innovation? some research on major inventions by any country, even the French. Bet you more than half of them evolved at some point from a military application.

A Soldier said...

Exactly how "moral" are things when Europe sat while millions of people were slaughtered in the former Yugoslavia?

Exactly how "moral" are things when millions more are starved to death in Africa by dictators who freely spend their Euros shopping in Paris?

Exactly how "moral" is it to commute everyday from the same stations where hundreds of thousands of French Jews were eagerly loaded into boxcars by your countrymen and sent to the death camps of Germany?

You may think they are “war weapons”, but to millions of others they were tools to protect their freedom and their lives. In the American Adventure at Epcot there are scenes depicting the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II – and references to Vietnam and 9/11. History is what it is, just as the real world is as it is. Only those who choose not to see beyond themselves think otherwise. And claiming moral superiority while living in a bubble created and protected by the lives of others is offensive to the core.

Alain Littaye said...

I cannot agree more with what you've said but the facts you're quoting are not an excuse to go along with the same non-moral attitude.

And i don't know if you've read well my answer but i don't live in a bubble and i totally agree that war weapons are needed in the insane world we live in to defend our own countries. There is no doubt about that. I less agree when they sell these same weapons to other countries to fuel or create wars, but that was not the point of my article.

Once again my article was not about all this but only about the fact that i don't find a good idea to have a war weapon manufacturer as sponsor in a Disney theme park.