EPCOT CENTER


Location: Orlando, FL

Date: 12/3/95

Weather: Cool

Attendance: Light

Admission: Approx. $40


Attractions:

Future World:

Due to the park's winter policy of a staggered opening/closing, we saw Future World first, even though we entered thru the International Gateway.

Spaceship Earth:

Description of Pavilion: A combination history lesson/ Progress of communication theme.

Sub-Attractions: 2

Spaceship Earth: The Ride

A Dark ride detailing world history with an emphasis on communication. The ride takes place in the famous sphere at the park's entrance. You start the ride by spiraling up inside the sphere along the outer wall seeing audio-animatronics animate dioramas of history starting from the caveman, the middle ages, and so forth until the present day is reached at the top of the sphere, which doubles as a planetarium for a scene, then you spiral back down on a steeper, inner circle (the cars turn to face backwards to make this more comfortable, due to the slow speed) where a segment on computer networks is depicted.

Train: 1 long continuous train with 4 seater cars (2 rows of 2), each car being able to turn independently of the others. Personal speakers for each rider built into the headrests.

Opinion: Top-notch as a Dark ride, the level of detail is incredible. It takes multiple rides to truly see everything.

Major Design/Planning Flaw: Location. This attraction is placed such that every guest who enters through the main gate has to walk around it to get to the rest of the park. This doubled with the fact that on busy days this might be the only open attraction for a 1/2 hour to an hour prior to the official opening time ensures a long line forms early for this ride.

Global Neighborhood:

The hands-on, explore at your own pace segment of the pavillion. It occupies a facility , that used to be the parks major Guest Relations center. It now contains exhibits on the future of communication, as well as 'tours' of the Bell network on 2-4 person simulators.

You must pass through here as you exit the ride, or enter/exit through the doors placed on either side.

Innoventions:

This facility is a replacement for Communicore when it served as the hands on areas for Spaceship Earth and Universe of Energy. Also contains a Food/Souvenir center.

Theme: Technology

This pavillion is one I never save much time for since it's all hands-on displays which requires time, and that's something you don't have much of at Epcot. To add to that the nature of the displays combined with the usual crowds of kids mean that you almost have to push and shove your way in to gets your hands on an exhibit, with the lack of supervision, crowd control, or ways to keep lines moving. Also the pavillion shows the same stuff you see at your typical Home & Garden Show. That is the 'House of the Future' , electronics, a booth with free WWW access (Just what I want to do after spending $40 to get in). Almost shameful is how they worked a video arcade into Epcot. By having a Sega booth, Sega gets to show off both its new console games (free) and it's arcade games (pay). I will never understand why people 1) pay a park's admission fee, then 2) spend time paying to play video games they can play in their local hometown family entertainment center. I like video games as much as the next guy, but $4 to play Virtua Racing once, mind you with 'life-size' 'cars' and jumbo screens. They did however have one game that I will be amazed if any Arcade installs, XR-8 or something to that nature. It is an outer space multi-player 'shoot the other craft' where up to 8 players have a set of controls and are shooting at the same enemies. the reward for hitting the most first, you get to try to land your spaceship while the other 7 players heckle you. What makes this game worthwhile is it is inside a motion simulator, similar to those 'vans' that travel around showing cheesy attempts at motion simulation (They usually show "The Beast" at Kings Island, in these traveling shows).

As if you could not tell, I don't care for Inoventions that much.

Universe of Energy:

Theme: Energy, from discovery, creation, to conservation.

Note: This supposedly got a new film and an updating since my visit, so this refers to the 1995 version.

This is a true combo ride/show. You enter the building and wait in a holding area where a film is shown on a wall (whose tiles can move to create some weird patterns and visual effects. Then you are admitted into what appears to be a normal theatre with bench seats. After everyone is seated the "theater sections start moving to face the screen where a film on the "creation of energy" is shown. Then the theater sections break apart to form 'cars' in which to travel through the 'dark ride' segment where the famous 'Land of the Dinosaurs' scene is depicted, then you enter another theater and the seats join back together to watch a film on "conservation and new forms of energy", then you are pushed back into the first theater where laser-generated 'fireworks' provide a finale, you then exit out into the sun.

Note: This pavilion is partially solar-powered.

Opinion: Dinosaur segment is interesting, its gets old fast when you have to watch those two long films everytime just to see the 'dark ride' The films are on an educational, academic tone that gets boring unless you are interested in the subject.

Wonders of Life:

Theme: Fitness and the human body.

Body Wars:

A motion simulator ride through the human body. Uses the same setup as Star Tours, (40 passenger total immersion simulation, meaning the whole room moves, not just the seats in order to intensify the effect). The story is you are on a research team and are going to be miniaturized and ejected into a patient to witness a new miracle in medicine (the miniaturation process, treating from within). You are going in to examine the inside of a patient who has a splinter in their hand. Of course, something goes wrong and you are sent on a trip that shows the stomach, lungs, heart, brain and more. Very Turbulent motion.

Opinion: Very Good, a not-to-be-missed at Epcot. If you can't handle other motion simulators, I would steer clear since this is one of the roughest I have been in.

Cranium Command:

An audio-animatronics show about the brain. Done in a humorous military-style.

Story: The hero of our show has been assigned to 'pilot' the brain of a 13 year old boy. Along the way he experiences logic, brash decision making , stress, and a host of other feelings while you watch 'from-the-inside'

Opinion: Absolutely Hilarious, with cameos by several then-popular stars. Anyone who has been through Basic Training will appreciate the humor of the pre-show, done like an inspection in front of a drill sargent, and includes lines like "Where do you think you are, Disney World?" and almost a satire of the usual "walk-slowly into the theatre" announcement heard in most shows, this one has "Now, go through the doors to your left, move it Move It , MOVE IT!".

Sensory Funhouse:

A walk-through hands on area about the human senses, including some 'tricks' that fool the senses. Fun.

Several Small shows/attractions:

Horizons

Note: This pavillion opens and closes often Getting to see it is pretty much a function of luck. It might even be closed permanently by now, or when the GM Test Track opens. It closed for a while when its sponsor pulled out, and then re-opened temporarily while both Universe of Energy and World of Motion went off-line at the same time. I guess to help make it look like a whole chunk of the park was not closed.

Theme: The Future

Description: The same 'family' that we saw in carousel of progress is back to show us what the future will be like in the dark ride. After boarding your 4 passenger car (1 bench), you are shown the future as depicted by Disney Imagineering (that is so unrealistic it's funny) It serves almost as an ice-breaker, especially when placed around several very educational exhibits, as it once was. Maybe it's purpose is gone, with Body Wars, and Test Track being 'thrill rides' and the 'video arcade' incarnation of innovations.

Opinion: Funny, a break from the original Epcot seriousness its first few years. You got to choose how the ride ended by picking which final movie will be shown by pressing buttons built into the front of the car.

World of Motion: (1995 version)

Note: This exhibit has been totally changed since my visit.

It's fun to be free:

A dark ride tracing the history of transportation, a good follow up ride to Spaceship Earth. Impressive Animatronics, also had a 'speed tunnel' where in this version the speed was just an optical illusion created with film and camera tricks. I understand in the new version the speed is real.

Transcenter:

The walk through, hands on area. It half resembles a car showroom. Yes GM has it's latest products and concept cars there. It also has segments on how cars work and different kinds of engines/motors.

Journey Into Imagination:

Theme: Imagination

Journey Into Imagination Ride:

A dark ride that most people either classify as the best ride at Epcot, or the worst ride at Epcot. At any rate, it is a humorous dark ride, which focuses on just having fun. I found myself noticing ride aspects like, 'boy the track we're on looks like steel coaster track' I wonder if the ride conveyance is a powered coaster' It's too long and wears out its welcome as you switch from the impressive carousel like room and start into room after room of kids stuff that gets old fast. Let me off!

The Image Works

The Walk-through hands-on segment. This one however is real fun with the 'paint the ceiling' device, the giant 'pin-boards' you put your hands under them and push up to see an image in the pins. The floor-organ where stepping on tiles makes sounds. The simulated orchestra conducting.and a host of others, including at one time, a 'design your own roller coaster' exhibit. Design a coaster and then 'ride it'.

Magic Eye Theater: Honey I Shrunk the Audience

A 4D movie based on 'Honey, I shrunk the Kids' Along with the 3D movie are room stunts, like water,wind,'mouse tails' that strike your legs, and a vibrating seating area.

Opinion: My favorite 4D movie.

The Land

Living with the Land (Listen to the Land for the first few years)

A boat ride through climates and problems associated with traditional farming. Also goes through disney's greenhouse to see future methods of agriculture. Walk through tour also available upon request.

Opinion: Interesting

Food Rocks:

A re-make of Kitchen Kabaret. The focus is still on nutrition, but it is done in a sort of Woodstock feel with parodies of popular songs.

Opinion: Funny, better than Kitchen Kabaret. The music made is a plus.

Harvest Theater:

Shows movies about the environment, such as "Symbiosis'. Highly educational. I hear it has been tamed to family level by using a "Lion King" theme.

Opinion: Boring as "Symbiosis", Maybe better now.

The Living Seas

This is a multi faceted attraction with a show, ride, and walk through hands-on area. But unlike other pavilions you must watch the shows and ride the rides before you can see the exhibits. To me the Pre-show and ride are too short to be of value, and the pavilion requires a long time in the exhibit area to be of any value. Note the exhibit area also includes Aquarium viewing.

Entrance: The inside queue line winds through displays on early diving attempts, you are then shown into a round room where you must stand to see the film projected on the ceiling, sort of like Cinema 180. This film seems to be no more than credits for the attraction and advertising. You are then ushered into the sit-down theater where a film is shown on the Seas, aquatic life, and man's quests to explore under the sea. The film also sets you up for the rest of the exhibits. Supposedly you are in the welcome center for an underwater Aquatic research center (never mind your on dry land) and you are about to take a hydrolator (elevator) ride down to the visitors center to view the sea from the center and to see the 'research modules' (exhibits). You are then ushered into a room where you are told to wait by 1 of the three 'hydrolators'. This looks like an honest elevator ride complete with floor indicator (my how people are fooled by this, too much trust on gauges and technology), as well as the bubbling-up in the surrounding pool, presumably the hydrolator is going underwater. You then board the hydrolator, and the illusions of the rocks moving by the windows, and a vibrating floor make you think you are moving, when actually you aren't. You exit through the other door into a waiting area. You then board the 2-seater sea cabs to be taken to the visitors center by way of the 'outside' viewing windows and you get to see the aquariums. This ride is so short, Disney did not even put in safety devices, like the sliding doors used on the other dark rides. You then exit into the 'visitors center where you are free to shop, view the exhibits, or the aquarium. When you are finished viewing the exhibits you exit into another room with 'hydrolators' that simulate a rise to the surface.

Opinion: Mildly amusing and informative. You have to see the exhibits to gain anything. For example when I went with someone who was very interested in diving under the sea, I got a lot more out of it than with other people.

World Showcase:

A permanent worlds fair. See recreations of landmarks, eat at a cultured restaurant, buy imported souveneers from, and beer hop at pavilions set up by several countries, such as:

Along with dinner entertainment offered in several countries, (Italy, Germany, and Morocco) come to mind. Some countries offer rides/shows throughout the day, as well as museums and galleries. Rides and shows can be seen at:

Mexico:

"El rio de Tiempo" - "The River of Time" - A boat ride that starts out focusing on Mexican history and quickly turns into a travelogue. Has a "Small World" feel to it.

Opinion: Good, not on of the better offerings at Epcot.

  Norway: Maelstrom

   A boat ride, similar to a mild shoot-the-chutes ride.  After waiting 

   trough the deceptive queue line (you can't see how long it is till

   you're inside) you board boats like those used for the spillwater rides,

   except these boats have high norse carvings in the front. You proceed up 

   the dark lift hill and come out into an area that explains the folk

   tales about trolls in Norway you then float into the next room where

   you run into the evil troll that pushes you boat down the waterfall.  

   Unlike spillwater rides, your boat goes down a gradual drop backwards.

   This takes both the feeling of the ride as well as the wetness of the ride 

   away.  After the ride you disembark onto a typical street scene where

   you are held captive until the next showing of the Norway travelogue in

   the theater.

   Opinion: The travelogue is boring after the first couple viewings and

   the ride component is too short.  Even if you want to ride the ride

   you are forced to stay there until the next movie.  I think they should

   install an exit from the ride to the outside bypassing the movie for

   those guests who are not interested.  I think my opinion is seconded when

   I see guests jockey to stand as close to the theater entrance doors as 

   possible, and then as soon as they open they RUN OUT THE OTHER SIDE, 

   before the exit doors can close.





Shows Offered (Besides Roaming cultural entertainment and dinner shows):5

 Mostly Travelogues and cultural shows:

China: Circlevision 360  "Wonders of China"

        A circlevision 360 travelogue of China and It's culture.  

        Interesting in that it is circlevision.





France: "Impressions De France"

        A wide-screen movie that highlight the key points of French culture

        and landmarks.





Canada: "O Canada!"

        Circlevision 360 movie about Canada.





American Gardens: Shows the Character show as well as special entertainment.





American Adventure: American History mixed-media show.

        Impressive show about American History.  Features some of the most

        advanced Animatronics as well as being shown both in movie and

        stage skits.  Very well put-together.  I understand that foreign

        guests fail to be enthused about it because the show features

        American history and not culture/ travelogue information.  The shows 

        theme song will be rolling in your head for some time after the

        show ends.





IllumiNations: The nightly combination, laser show/fireworks/light show/

music show that lights up all of World showcase and does a bit on each c

country while lighting up that country and using lasers and music to

depict it.  The show ends with fireworks that signals the close of Epcot 

for the night.  Very Well Done,  you need to stake out a viewing position

as much as an hour ahead of time in order to see the show.  ( My favorite 

stand on the edge of a flower bed that is about 3-feet off the ground.

This gives you a boost over the crowd in front of you plus any babies 

sitting on parents shoulders. I am sure Disney does not like this tactic

but all is fair in seeing IllumiNations.  Oh, after illuminations lasers

shine on the Sphere making it look like a globe.  





Crowd Bottleneck Problem: Spaceship Earth while being a fine attractions

created a bottleneck in the morning in that all guests who enter through the 

main gate (resort guests have a back gate in World Showcase) have to walk

up to and around Spaceship Earth to get to anything else.  This assures both

that Spaceship Earth will have constant long lines in the morning and that you

will have to edge your way in past the crowds.





Major Pain in the Ass Bottleneck Problem: After Illuminations the park is 

closed for the night, leaving 50,000 guests with nothing to do and the

sudden desire to go home.  If we take out the limited number of resort

guests who exit out the back gate, we still have a large crowd from all 

over the park heading for the main gate.  As I said in Crowd Bottleneck

Problem #1, the only way to the front gate is to walk along the side of 

Spaceship Earth to the front and then through a narrow passage to

the huge Front Gate Plaza.  Once there do not stray off to the side because

the only exit is through 10 turnstiles in the very center of the Gate.  Yes 

you will get yelled at by Security for trying to exit out the sides

of the Front Gate (I tried, forcefully).  When I complained about the 

inadequate number of exit turnstiles for the huge crowd, their answer was 

"Because we have two exits, we have to keep an accurate count of exiting

guests at both exits to ensure security" Consider in an interview with  

Walt himself he said it was important to have only one exit, just to 

prevent such problems from arising.  Well Mike is no Walt. This means that in 

order to provide service to a select few guests who stay at the Epcot/MGM 

area resorts, they stifle the CROWD at the main exit in a jam worse than the 

Cincinnati Who Concert.  Anyone remember that before they installed 

International Gateway they would open the whole Front Gate Plaza to exit 

(The gates for it are still there).  This provides a very nerve racking end 

to the days of several parents with small kids.  Disney, remember that 

last impressions count. Then again Disney does not care about the day guests 

once the park closes, since they figure they have vacuumed as much money as 

they can out of them. Resort guests, however, since they most likely make 

extended stops here are treated better, with bus service throughout the 

complex that is denied day guests without resort ID, They have another gate 

at which to avoid the EPCOT exit mob, as well as busses back to their resort.  

And at the Magic Kingdom where all guests must exit via ferry or monorail 

(creating another bottleneck after they close the ferry shortly after park 

closing) Name another park with an hour wait to ride from the front gate 

to the parking lot, to wait again to catch a tram since the parking lot is 

so far out?  Disney's answer: add a second monorail line that makes the same 

stops, plus stops at the monorail resorts, and then only allow resort guests 

to ride it at park close.  (Mantra: Pamper resort guests at the sacrifice of

day guests)  









<Getting off soap box, sorry to offend those WDW can do no wrong types>





Opinion: Easily my favorite part of WDW.   Very interesting exhibits that

will entertain just about anyone.  I find the admission price rather high

for what is offered (so do FL residents who get in for next to nothing after

4 P.M.).  Not to be missed.




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