I’m sure Team Disney Orlando has seen undeniable economic benefits from their practice of simply closing up huge chunks of EPCOT real estate: the Wonders of Life pavilion, the upstairs ImageWorks, and the Millennium pavilion, to say nothing of large chunks of vacant Innoventions exhibition space. These actions, though, were all taken when the economy was in better shape than it is now. What might the suits do in the future to preserve their profit margins (and their executive bonuses)? Come with me now to an apocalyptic future, and I’ll make up the answer to that question before your very eyes . . .
This is Future Guy’s Doom Bunker!
The year is 2015. Unemployment still hovers around 10%. The President of the United States is Mr. T. Shrek 5 has just won the Oscar for Best Picture. At Walt Disney World, the “free admission on your birthday” and “give a day, get a Disney Day” promos are distant memories. The current promo “Buy a $200 One-Day Admission Ticket, Get A Fastpass to Mickey’s PhilharMagic” is not the big success that management had hoped. Executive bonuses are shrinking. Something must be done!
Deep in the executive restroom, while perched on a diamond-encrusted toilet in a solid gold stall, an executive comes up with a series of cost cutting measures for EPCOT! Before he can forget what they are, he grabs a piece of gold-foil Charmin from the toilet paper dispenser and scribbles out his ideas. Let’s take a trip now, through the Future World of 2015:
Spaceship Earth: The touchscreens in the ride vehicles are replaced by Etch-A-Sketches. During the descent, visitors are invited to use them to “create their own vision of the future”.
Universe of Energy: Ellen’s Energy Adventure becomes a “human-powered” attraction as the large “moving theater” ride vehicles are removed and visitors are now required to walk through the show.
Mission Space: The simulators no longer spin, or even move. Riders are told to sit in them and make spaceship noises with their mouths for five minutes.
Test Track: The complex ride vehicles are replaced with Power Wheels. The resulting ride-in which guests putt-putt through the faux-automobile testing facility at a coma-inducing three miles per hour-is billed as a more family friendly experience.
Imagination: The entire pavilion, ride and all, is shut down. Disney bills this as an opportunity for guests to “create their own experience”, since they can walk around the dark, nonfunctioning pavilion and imagine whatever they want.
The Land: Soarin’s machinery is removed, and guests are encouraged to run around in the empty warehouse-like space with their arms sticking straight out, pretending to be airplanes. The Living With The Land boat ride is also modified to become a “guest-powered experience”. Oars are installed on the boats, and riders are required to row. The plants are removed from the greenhouses, and mounds of dirt are put in their place. Disney justifies this by pointing out that the ride is called “Living With the Land” not “Living With The Stuff Growing In The Land”.
The Seas: The tanks are emptied. The windows looking into the tanks are tinted blue and decorated with painted-on fish and coral.
Innoventions: The old exhibits that are currently collecting dust in the Imagination pavilion’s old upstairs ImageWorks are hauled out of storage and installed here. Except for the rainbow corridor and the pin screens, because people might actually enjoy those. When guests tire of playing with the vintage 1982 technology (none of which will be plugged in or even dusted off), they can visit the rest of Innoventions’ exhibits, which consist of a couple of repurposed McDonald’s play areas, two bouncy castles, and a row of Nintendo 64s that only have the game Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.
The Fountain of Nations: Now just a guy with some Mentos and Diet Coke.
Are these just the insane ramblings of a guy who’s a half hour late for his lunch break? You bet they are. But if you subscribe to the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics, then you know that somewhere in the multiverse, they’ve already come true.