1982: EPCOT Center opens to the public. The ride-thru attraction at the Imagination pavilion is not yet complete, but the Magic Eye Theater is showing the 3-D film Magic Journeys.
1986: Magic Journeys is replaced by the Michael Jackson vehicle Captain EO. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas, with music by James Horner, the 17-minute film cost an estimated $30 million to produce. By way of contrast, one of the biggest films of 1986, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, cost only $25 million.
1994: Captain EO looks more and more like a relic of the 1980s. Michael Jackson is not as popular as he was eight years before, and the film’s special effects look crude when compared with new movies like Jurassic Park. Therefore, Captain EO is replaced by Honey, I Shrunk The Audience, a more lighthearted presentation that makes the audience feel like they are part of the show.
2009: Fifteen years later, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience is a creaky relic of the 1990s, and its 3-D effects pale in comparison to those found in the newest films from Pixar and DreamWorks. To make matters worse, park visitors are staying away from the ride-thru attraction as well. Clearly, something needs to be done. Fortunately, Disney has a foolproof plan. Amid rumors of a return of Dreamfinder to the Imagination pavilion, Disney execs decide to . . .bring back Captain EO?
I’m not kidding about this. You can read it for yourself right here. Disney really has its finger on the pulse of America. Why, when the popularity of American Idol peaked and was on its way down, Disney decided to spend millions of dollars on an American Idol attraction for its Hollywood Studios park. And now that the surge of interest in Michael Jackson that accompanied his death is subsiding, Disney evidently feels it’s the perfect time to bring back Captain EO. You know, because Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was so old and dated!
There’s an excellent post up at EPCOT Central about why Captain EO’s return is not a good idea, and I have no intention of rehashing the excellent points it makes. What bothers me, though, is EO’s return might scuttle a much-needed refurbishment of the Imagination pavilion. Although it might be initially popular, within a year (or perhaps sooner) after its re-release EPCOT visitors will be as disinterested in watching Michael Jackson defeat an alien despot through the power of dance as they currently are in being shrunk by Rick Moranis. However, I’ve spent enough time in corporate America to know how executives think. And if someone proposes an Imagination rehab after the re-installation of Captain EO, they’re liable to ignore all the evidence that said rehab is a good idea, and veto it because “Imagination just got a new show”.
You might protest, “Surely the Disney executives would never be that short-sighted!” Are you sure about that?
Neither am I. I really hope that Captain EO doesn’t kill Dreamfinder. If he does, though, I’m sure we could just get Jonathan Lee Riches to sue him.