Saturday, January 4, 2014

Will Epcot World Showcase Become "Cartoon Showcase" ?

We saw in D&M yesterday's article that apparently Disney has plans to remove the Norway Pavilion Maelstrom ride and replace it by a Frozen ride. As i explained yesterday, although there is nothing official yet,  there are quite a lot of elements that push in favor of it. But is it really a good idea? For Frozen fans i'm sure it will be, but it seems that someone somewhere is forgetting what World Showcase really is, and why it was created. World Showcase is a place where different countries of the world are presented, introduced to Americans and international guests. A kind of World Expo that will never end. It did the job pretty well until now, even if some of the rides require to be updated. The movie about France, for instance, in the France pavilion always makes me laugh as it shows the "Douce France" of famous song writer Charles Trenet, but a France which no longer exist since a long time.

The problem is that little by little Disney seems to be no longer interested to preserve the original World Showcase concept. There might be another reason - a "money" reason"- why and it's may be because the countries are not willing to pay for new rides, as they did when Epcot opened 31 years ago. Anyway, a few years ago the first cartoon characters - the Three Caballeros - were introduced in the Mexican pavilion ride and now if this Frozen ride rumor is true it's another attraction based on Disney animated characters that will take the place of a ride which was originally totally based on a country history and myths. In the case of the Three Caballeros it was not so problematic as the new version called "Gran Fiesta Tour" still "showcase" the Mexico country itself  (if you've not seen the ride you have the video of it below ). But in the case of Frozen it's something totally different. Although the kingdom and landscape of Arendelle is inspired by Nordic regions it's not supposed to be "Norway". They probably can find a way in the post-show to have a link with Norway but it will be difficult to create a link with Norway in the ride itself...

The question is: if they bring a Frozen ride at World Showcase will they stop here or will they introduce more rides linked to animation characters in World Showcase? Knowing that Epcot is in need of new attractions they could be tempted to bring at the France pavilion the same Ratatouille ride that will open this summer at DLP Walt Disney Studios. After all,
"Impression de France", the France pavilion movie is showing such an idealized vision of France that it's getting old and what could push in favor of bringing the Ratatouille ride is that they won't even have to build a Paris quarter like they currently do at the WDS as it's already built at World Showcase. The Ratatouille ride needs a huge show building but, luckily for Epcot imagineers, they do have the room available backstage to build it as you can see on the Google Earth screen capture below.  The current french restaurant of the France pavilion could easily be transformed in a "Ratatouille" themed restaurant, and there we go!

To be honest, if they were building the Ratatouille ride at World Showcase - and i would be surprised if no one at Disney didn't already think about it - the theme of the ride will be closer to Paris and France cultural aspect - specially cooking - than a Frozen ride would be with Norway.

Still, they have to think about all this with cautious because if they don't, Epcot World Showcase might lose its original concept and quickly become "Cartoon Showcase"...


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the problem with the Disney Parks nowadays is that all of them become more or less the same.

In the past each of the Disney World Parks had its unique concept:
- MK was dedicated to portraying the eternal classics of the World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy
- Epcot was dedicated to display the achievements of science and technology; and tried to authentically represent some of the most famous countries of the world
- DHS tried to introduce its guest to the art of filmmaking; and created shows as well as attractions related to successful movies
- AK recreated different natural environments; along with shows and attractions that portrayed these environments

Nowadays, it seems to me that all of the parks adopted the concept which was original to DHS:
All of them are now filled with attractions that are related to successful IPs:
- Nemo (and soon maybe Frozen/ Ratatouille) in Epcot
- Toy Story in MK (and soon maybe even Star Wars in DL Anaheim, Iron Man in HKDL)
- Nemo and soon Avatar in AK
And with the exception of HKDL latest attractions it seems to me that Disney is only building IP related attractions in the future.

Don't get me wrong, I like almost all IP related attractions that Disney developed in recent years. But I think that it's sad that they are slowly giving up the uniqueness of each park in favor of the "Disney Synergy".

Matt said...

This is inevitable.

As long as they don't completely destroy a pavilion - as what was done with The Living Seas - and just place a theme-based ride WITHIN the already successful confines of the educational pavilion setting, I think it'd be fine. If they choose to completely overlay/replace each world/pavilion - as was done with Nemo - I think this would be a big mistake for multiple reasons (some of which was stated in the previous comment); the uniqueness and history of each park, being major issues.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. This is all because according to Disney surveys Mr & Mrs Middle America and their bratty kids want to see characters everywhere. Any original attractions at the American parks are a thing of the past. Pretty depressing. Wasn't there also a rumour of a Brother Bear raft ride at the Canada Pavillion a few years back?

Unknown said...

Mystic Manor ;)

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I'm also really against only building new IP based attractions and putting characters everywhere; I fully agree with Anonymous.

I must say though that EPCOT needs a CA Adventure type of makeover, IMO it is the WDW park that needs it the most, because it is looking very outdated.

I just came back from WDW and I didn't remember how boring and outdated some EPCOT attractions, like Universe of Energy, are!

The Pavillion attractions are all very outdated IMO, but I really don't think that adding the Three Caballeros helped the Mexican one in any way, and they destoyed The living seas with Nemo.

They should do something with EPCOT, but not add characters all over, this will only make it worse!

Anonymous said...

Keep it up Disney and we adults will have to go to Universal for a park that doesn't have Disney cartoon characters. You've already destroyed Pleasure Island. Keep Epcot an adult park and keep Mickey the hell out!

Anonymous said...

Future World suffers the same problem that the Tomorrowlands always have, which is that it's an expensive proposition to operate a park that eternally presents the future. That's why Worlds Fairs only last a year or two. Id rather that Disney NOT pour money into Future World to update the vision of the future, then have it fall out of date and need to do it all again. A great themed land (say New Orleans Square) is perfect...forever.

I'd be fine if Epcot was reimagined in a way that made the investment permanent. I can see Future World showcasing sci-fi fantasy from Star Wars to Marvel (with Spaceship Earth reskinned as the Death Star). Meanwhile World Showcase would be enhanced with top tier attractions, most probably based on IP like Frozen, Ratatouille, whatever.

It would be nice I'd Disney parks didn't have to be this commercial, but with Comcast/Universal gunning to take Disney down with whatever IP it can get its hands on, Disney can't take the high irrelevancy.

Anonymous said...

Very true