Monday, December 27, 2010

My Year at WDW-In Which I Actually Say Something Nice About The Tarps

During the weekend that bridged the end of July and the beginning of August, when the Florida heat is so intense that merely turning your air conditioner down to “medium” can cause you to faint from heatstroke, I did a very stupid thing: I went to Disney World. Walt Disney World is a bad place to visit during the summer because, as any hardcore Disney fanatic will tell you, large chunks of it are located outdoors. A few posts ago, I made fun of the Team Disney Orlando executives for forgetting that little factoid when they gave the green light to Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration.  Well, as I baked in the sun while walking through Future World’s large unshaded expanses, I started to realize something: the designers of EPCOT Center forgot it, too.

EPCOT Center aficionados like me are always waxing poetic about the grand open spaces Future World used to have, especially in CommuniCore Plaza, and angrily denouncing all the visual clutter that’s ruined once-magnificent sightlines. Now, I still maintain that the tarps and whirlygigs in Innoventions plaza are unsightly, to say the least:

It looks like the nineties took a dump in the middle of Future World, and nobody cleaned it up.

But the tarps do occasionally serve a useful purpose:

Shade. Ditto for the hideous awning-looking thing that was bolted onto the front of the former World of Motion pavilion during its conversion to Test Track. Sure, this:


. . . is infinitely more attractive than this:

. . . but at least there’s some shade to be found under that giant ugly awning.

Of course, Walt’s original EPCOT concept offered a more elegant solution: the shopping area that inspired today’s World Showcase would have been enclosed and climate-controlled. No ugly tarps or giant Erector-set pieces required. One more reason why I’m envious of the version of myself that lives in the alternate universe where Walt’s EPCOT City actually got built.

Oh, one more thing. In addition to all the man-made clutter that’s popped up on Future World over the years, something else you’ll occasionally hear complaints about is clutter of the natural variety, by which I mean trees. Because EPCOT’s trees have not had the decency to remain the exact height they were when they were planted in the eighties, scenic vistas like this:

Now look more like this:

Okay, so the newer picture isn’t taken from the exact spot as the old one (I didn’t have the old photo with me for reference when I took it, also I think there’s a pretzel stand there now) but you get the idea. Anyway, I have no problem with this. Trees grow. That’s what living things do. Sure, they may obscure what might have been a postcard-perfect picture, but I don’t think that’s a good reason to chop them down or whack them in half.

And those are my thoughts about visual clutter at EPCOT. Insert a witty and clever ending here.


  1. I've seen photos of Communicore plaza with beautiful shade-producing trees and cooling water features. It's when you turn something into a broad expanse of concrete that you then have to introduce some artificial means of shading it -- hence the tacky "tarps". It's unfortunate that the 90's Innoventions makeover paved over what seemed to be a very interesting "oasis" in the center of the park.

  2. These pictures are killing me! What great memories they have stirred up.

    David, can you shoot me an email sometime about something us Minicot guys are working on?


  3. Omnispace: I certainly agree that the ponds and palm trees that used to grace CommuniCore plaza are infinitely preferable to the tacky, paved-over wasteland that's there now. However, that area was always sparsely shaded, and in the middle of August a couple of small ponds aren't going to do much to lower the temperature to bearable levels.


Thanks for taking the time to comment!