Sunday, January 20, 2013

EPCOT: The nagging parent of Disney World

Okay, I admit it. I never really "got" EPCOT. Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Sounds awful, doesn't it?

Photo by halseike via flickr

Every other Disney World park in Florida is focused on fun--pure pleasure, happiness, rides, shops, and more fun. I went to EPCOT when I was a teen and young adult and always came away wondering, why? Why did I just do that?

But I kept going, because that's what you do with Disney World. You do the parks. But over the years, I learned to avoid the first part of EPCOT and spend most of my time in the back at the World Showcase.

In the World Showcase they have a water ride through time in Norway. Maelstrom: "A mysterious boat ride through Scandinavian seascapes and swamps inhabited by creatures mythological and magical."

It's no Pirates of the Carribbean, but it's enjoyable. After the ride, you get ushered into this little room to watch an educational film about Scandinavia. If you want to exit without watching, you have to go all the way around the back of the theater so you don't walk in front of the screen being rude to the people sitting there watching--trying desperately to experience everything the park has to offer even though it's god-awful boring, damn it.

And in Mexico, they have a Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. I'm not kidding. That's what it's called, awkward capitalization and all. It's another boat ride. It's entertaining enough if you don't mind the constant shrieking of ducks. They know we can't understand a thing Donald Duck says, right?

That's about it. You could go and stand through a film about Canada featuring famous Canadians. But the attraction back here is really just the trip through a few already familiar countries. I mean, we don't get to see anything about Botswana or Syria or Pakistan or Nauru. We get to hear foreign music and eat semi-foreign food and shop for souvenirs and pretend we've actually been out of the country.

That's it. That's the entire attraction I have to EPCOT. In fact, we don't even go there anymore except for the annual International Food & Wine Festival. The attraction there for most people is getting drunk in Disney World. For us it's eating the same different kinds of food once a year and laughing about it.

That whole other part? I've been there and tried it and frankly, it's boring. Okay, okay, if we have time, we will do The Seas with Nemo & Friends. It's a movie ride in a giant clam shell that drops you off into an aquarium. Yep. Aquarium. Been there, done those, in nearly every city I've visited in my life. Didn't have to pay quite so much for them.

I understand they have a new ride where you think you're flying, but the draw to that side of EPCOT is no longer existent and as I've kept giving it a try over the years only to be disappointed yet again...well, it's just not worth standing in line for.

And why? What's wrong with that other part? It's educational. ED-U-CA-SHUN-UL. Booooring.

Anyway, today I read in the news that they had this educational (ie: boring) "attraction" about health. Like kids who are visiting Disney World want to take a trip to the science museum and learn about healthy eating habits. Right.

They had to scrap the first version because it featured Habit Heroes Will Power and Callie Stenics (clever!) fighting off bad habits (fat villains) and helping fat kids get fit and thin right before our eyes! This wouldn't do. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance threw a stomping hissy fit about Disney shaming fat kids.

Well, come on. It's true, right? I mean, you take your kids to Disney World to have fun and stand in long lines and eat ginormous smoked turkey legs and ice cream bars shaped like Mickey's head. Then you take them to EPCOT where these gym rats basically tell them to cut that out and start jogging. And all you have to do is move your body and eat healthy stuff and boing! you're thin.

It really isn't that simple. It really, really isn't. And then you leave that "attraction" and stop off at the Fountain View for a waffle cone.

Anyway, they had to revamp it. Now it's a "kinder, more sensitive attraction." Now they don't say fat and villains are symbols instead of gargantuanly freakish blobs.

But it's still boring as all get out.

My god people! Why do we do it? Why do we pay that enormous entry fee to be nagged at and educated? The Orlando Science Center can do a much better job. Granted, they don't have rides. But don't you feel like you're being coerced? Don't you ever feel like it's forced?

They're trying so damn hard to make education fun. Can't we just let education be what it is: the hard work of reason and learning? It's not fun people. It's tough. It's not for everyone, clearly.

And maybe if we'd stop trying to make everything fun for our kids, they'd realize that some things, like eating healthy and hitting the books, have rewards far greater than the throw-up thrill of carnival rides.

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