Why Epcot reigns supreme, no matter how neglected

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by WorldNoFace, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. WorldNoFace

    WorldNoFace Earning My Ears

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    As someone who took a hiatus from WDW starting at age 17 and not returning until 28 with my own children - I couldn't wait to get back that first time. Leading up to that trip, all of the Disney memories from childhood started coming back as I daydreamed about what I wanted my kids to see and do. Obviously, that train of thought was enough to fuel months' worth of daydreaming, but out of all that great material, one thing stuck out: EPCOT. Unlike the other things I kept thinking about - seeing my kids faces in their first Splash Mountain pic, hearing their first screams on Tower of Terror - my looking forward to EPCOT wasn't so specific. I found it hard to boil it down to certain experiences, I just knew I wanted them to see the park; the whole park. To make a long (and pretty great) story short, that first return to Disney in 2014 would be the first of a now-yearly pilgrimage, and if you - like me - have both back-in-the-day Disney experience and more current, than you can sense it too: Epcot has been, to be kind, slightly neglected by time, and by time, I mean Disney.
    EPCOT has become Disney's ghetto. Not to make light of real-world socioeconomically disenfranchised areas, but if you know your local ghetto, you know it's status as such is marked by certain indicators. Abandoned buildings is one of the big ones. Another one is dated infrastructure. This park has both (not to mention a roach infestation more severe than any of the other parks, I mean, it is Florida, but damn!). I cannot tell you how surprised I was that first time back to discover that what I'd remembered as always ahead of its time, cutting edge EPCOT had been outpaced by time. A main through-way of the park leading to now half empty Innoventions, the Electric Umbrella, etc. in the now-ironically named Future World was lined with pay phones (not just a few - so, so many payphones). Huge pavilions stood vacant as they have now for years, creating stretches of park that offer nothing. I won't go on - after all - this is a positive post about EPCOT - but if you're a longtimer, I know you know what I mean.
    And this is where I explain how in the end, none of that matters. Disney World parks are exhausting, and more so if you have children (and more, more, more, more so if you have four children, like my wife and I). I've come to realize that a typical park experience is made up of you constantly switching between four modes - walking, waiting, riding/watching, eating. There is no transition period between the four - you just go from one to the next until it's time to leave. EPCOT is the biggest exception to this rule out of all the main parks. During our last trip, my family and I went to EPCOT twice. Ride for ride, we did way less than any of the other parks, but positive experience for positive experience, I have to say - whether my family realizes it or not - EPCOT reigned supreme.

    1. THINGIES (it'll make sense, just keep reading)
    If you took the exit areas to just about any Epcot ride in Future World and plopped them down in AnywhereElse, USA, you'd have a standalone arcade-like attraction, not unlike a Chuck-E-Cheese, but a much higher quality version, obviously. Spaceship Earth was both the most boring ride to my kids, and at the same time, one of their funnest experiences. Still in that Disney "GO GO GO!" mode of the other parks, I had already calculated the next 2 rides we'd be able to squeeze in before the park closed as our "time machine vehicle was rotating backwards for our return to Earth." Then after 15 minutes of my kids having a blast playing the games offered in the exit space, and several unsuccessful attempts to prod them to the exit, I had my EPCOT epiphany - this is what this place is all about. When we returned to EPCOT for the second time of our trip, we spent about 40 percent of our time in "GO GO GO" mode and the rest enjoying experiences like the one at Spaceship Earth. We raced the cars we'd created at Test Track video game-style, we made music with out bodies at the end of Journey to Imagination, and my kids took their shoes off to run around the water-jumping-out-the-ground circle thingy while I stood nearby under a nice misting thingy. From there, we went to what I came to know as the Coca-Cola Cool Down Station as a child, where they squealed with glee as strangers fell for their urgings to try the Italian soda, "Beverly" (don't know what this place is called now, but we'll call it "soda thingy.") Case in point - EPCOT has the most thingies, and the coolest thingies, and you must be willing to stop and enjoy the thingies the same way people have been telling you to stop and smell the roses all these years. Only then will you know the true magic of this place. It's a huge relief from the walking, waiting, riding/watching, eating, and as much as you love the other parks - you need some of that in your life when you're Disneying hard.

    2. AESTHETIC & ATMOSPHERE
    No matter how dated elements in EPCOT might be, the overall design of the park is so immaculate, so contemporary (shout out to the hotel), that nothing can take away its atmosphere of sophistication and fun. While I'm of the opinion that all of WDW shows its true beauty at night when the lights come on, the ambiance of EPCOT at night is unrivaled by any other WDW location, possibly any other worldly location (like, the actual world). From the specs of light that twinkle in the square granite walkway blocks of Future World (another of those "thingies" that made my kids happy), to the landmarks of World Showcase - this goes beyond pleasing to the eye. It's outright mesmerizing.

    3. BEING GROWN
    While the rest of Disney easily makes adults feel like kids again, EPCOT appeals to your adult senses while still offering plenty of the stuff that keeps your kids' eyes sparkling with the delight you love to see in them. And as great as it is to be a kid again, during a week-or-so long period of being a man/woman child, it kind of feels good to go adulting again. Sure, you do your grown up thing when you order your family's food and other boring mandatory stuff like that, but it's not the same as adulting at a park. EPCOT lets you do that like no other WDW park can. And all the while, the kids aren't losing an ounce of fun (refer back to the "thingies").

    I'm realizing now that I could go on and on, but there's a sampling of what I think makes EPCOT undefeated, and why no lack of updating could ever change it. Sure, get wrapped up in the magical adrenaline rush that defines a WDW vacation. Disney so hard your face is numb. But just know that all that rushing around makes EPCOT all the sweeter, and to let that go unappreciated is to lose out on a major part of the magic.
     
  2. ashleyann31

    ashleyann31 Earning My Ears

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    Despite its flaws and empty pavilions, EPCOT is still my favorite park for most of the reasons you beautifully listed. I love the atmosphere and aesthetics of it. And SE is my favorite ride. I love Dame Judy. :thumbsup2
     
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  4. jsbowl16

    jsbowl16 Mouseketeer

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    This is one of the better posts I have seen on here in a long time. People often ask what is there for my kids to do at Epcot and my thought is always that they get to talk to people from eleven different countries, interact with them and learn about their culture all within a one mile or so walk. Where else in the world can you do that? We also love Illuminations and the camp fire feel you get when everyone gathers around world showcase to watch it at the end of the night.
     
  5. loves to dive

    loves to dive DIS Veteran

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    Bout time someone gave Epcot some love. It has always been our favorite park from the day it opened and my son was just a toddler at the time. We have never been all about just riding the rides, even when a lot more rides were open at Epcot, that wasn't our focus. But to give a shout out to all the parks, you can have that same slow down and not rush from ride to ride experience at all of them.
     
  6. FastPasser.

    FastPasser. DIS Veteran

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    Some pavilions that people think are vacant and unused are used for special events and group activities on a regular basis.
     
  7. Mommy2Corinne

    Mommy2Corinne DIS Veteran

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    This is a great post. <3 While EPCOT does feel sad to me in some aspects, I agree that it's special in the ways you describe. Walking through Future World and hearing that music always gets me. :) We also love the Kid Stop "thingies," which are enjoyed by all of us (usually because the kids can relax and talk to CMs while making something fun to take home, and DH and I get to chill out and watch with an adult beverage in our hand while the kids are occupied by someone else, lol).
     
  8. Hopefully

    Hopefully DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for a great post.
    Epcot is our favorite park as well. And I agree, to us it is the intangibles that we love. On a 7 night trip we usually end 5 days at Epcot.
     
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  9. alleghator

    alleghator Mouseketeer

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    Epcot remains our favorite park. We are spending three days at WDW next week, and two of them will be at Epcot. We love the food, the atmosphere, the street entertainment, talking to the World Showcase cast members. We adore Epcot.

    That said, I'd love to see it receive a little updating and love -- other than acting as though Norway and Arendell are one and the same.
     
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  10. dreiwhit

    dreiwhit DIS Veteran

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    Epcot is our favorite park, because of the things that you mentioned, and because it is the un-MK. We spend two days there, and if we could, we wouldn't hesitate to do a third!

    I do agree that Epcot needs some love from Disney, but i'm afraid their idea of love is going to drop in IP rides and call it good. I really want to see more of what we like - in Future World, the futuristic things, the sci-fi, technology. In World Showcase, i'd love to see another country come in. But I really hope they keep any future rides in the WS more "low key and hidden" like the Three Amigos and Frozen.

    One thing I wish they would do at Epcot is add a People Mover that could take you do between the World Showcase and Future World. It would be a great way to see the park without walking your feet off!
     
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  11. STLstone

    STLstone Mouseketeer

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    After the 2 Disney trips my family has taken (my wife, 2 kids and my parents), we all unanimously agree that we have the most fun at EPCOT. Nobody can even put their finger on why. We've stopped trying to analyze it and just accept it: We have the most fun there. Most of us would not even call it our favorite park, yet we have the best time there.
     
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  12. NuJoy

    NuJoy NC is too north for me

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    Enjoyed reading your well written and thought out post. Your "Being Grown" point resonated with me the most; and my husband and I often comment on how well Disney does lighting throughout their resorts. One of the most enjoyable things we do is walking through World Showcase after dinner on our way back to BWV at the end of the evening.
     
  13. bebec22

    bebec22 Mouseketeer

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    I love love love this! Since I was a child Epcot has always been my favorite park. I can't explain the feeling that overcomes me when I enter the park. It does make me a little sad to see the neglected areas but Epcot just holds a special place in my heart.
     
  14. Annadesu

    Annadesu Splash Mountain Addict

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    I love Epcot... lol Second fav after Magic Kingdom. Haters gonna' hate, I guess!
     
  15. AllieBoo

    AllieBoo DIS Veteran

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    We still love Epcot too, even though I do think it could use some updating. We spent two days there the week before last and loved every second of it!
     
  16. umichigan10

    umichigan10 DIS Veteran

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    See for me it's not hate.

    I love the idea and premise behind Epcot. I unfortunately was born too late to experience the original Epcot attractions, but the feel and idea behind the place is second to no other theme park concept on earth. That whole idea of inspiring humanity, showing us where we've been and where we can go, that touches me in a special place not just as a theme park tourist but as a person on this planet.

    I have a great appreciation for the world showcase now that I'm older, and I have my future world rides I love. I just long for some areas to get some TLC (innoventions, wonders of life, imagination) because I know they can do better. And I know that they can really make Epcot that place that it was created to be, to inspire wonder and inspiration for us as people.
     
  17. FastPasser.

    FastPasser. DIS Veteran

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    Did I miss something?
     
  18. DLgal

    DLgal DIS Veteran

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    Epcot is our favorite park as well. We took our kids for the first time when they were 4 and 6. They both liked Epcot the best (we had Disneyland in our back yard, practically, so MK didn't impress them). My husband never went to WDW as a kid and he likes Epcot the best too. I have an uncle and aunt who are Orlando locals. They have annual passes and basically only go to Epcot, just to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.

    It's a fantastic park.

    Nice post, OP!
     
  19. sfbank

    sfbank DIS Veteran

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    Great post. Love EPCOT and it is my favorite park. It is also part of the reason we stay at the Boardwalk every year. We love walking over to EPCOT every night to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.
     
  20. Ceryssa

    Ceryssa DIS Veteran

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    Yes!!! I have trouble explaining to people why I love Epcot so much. To the people who say "Epcot has nothing for kids; it's boring", all I can say is "My kids LOVE it". It's my oldest's favorite park and has been since our first trip. AK is our second favorite, and I think it's for similar reasons--it's a "wander around and take in the details" type place in similar ways to Epcot. It's more about "experiencing" rather than "doing". Nothing wrong with the "GO GO GO" types of vacationers or spending some or all of your trip that way, of course. But for us, what Epcot offers is perfect.
     
  21. marcyleecorgan

    marcyleecorgan DIS Veteran

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    EPCOT was always my favorite park, even as a child.... back then it was all Figment's fault, and now... it's the shopping... :)
     
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