Dewayne Bevil on Attractions
Theme Park Ranger
9:58 AM EDT, October 4, 2012
When I close my eyes, I see a geodesic dome made of thousands of triangular pieces. It appears to hover.
Yes, I've spent so much time at Epcot lately that Spaceship Earth is burning into my retinas. The park has bustled with the return of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the marking of its 30th anniversary and the related D23 fan-club events. Along the way, I made random notes about Epcot's past, present and future.
•First, a reminder: Drink plenty of water during Food & Wine. Some of the marketplaces are shade-deprived and can be brutal, especially during the lunch hours. I'd like to change the name to the Epcot International Food & Wine & Water Festival.
•In Future World, guests could hear the sounds of the refurb of Test Track in the distance. Its opening date is "late fall," and from what I hear, I wouldn't expect it sooner than that. An example of the ride vehicle, enhanced with Coca-Cola flare, is now outside the attraction. It looks cool, but I have a fondness for the nearby car-wash brushes shaped like Coke bottles.
•One of my favorite cast-member costumes were those for the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. They were modern, comfortable-looking but so costume-y you wouldn't wear them to Publix. And they had all-weather options from shorts to heavy coats. Glad to see that when the attraction got a "Phineas & Ferb" makeover, they stayed with the look but updated with details in a shade of aqua — just like Perry the Platypus.
•Spotted: A man with the original Future World pavilion logos tattooed on his calf.
•I haven't seen a lot of guests using this item, but Disney is selling a flat plastic tray with wine glass holder for $4.95. It has all the Food & Wine marketplaces printed on it and is a good substitute for the rare, unoccupied table at the fest. (It's a little distasteful to set up your spread atop a trash can, no?)
•Spotted: A cast member named Truth. Would I lie to you?
•Longtime Imagineer Marty Sklar shared fun facts in a prerecorded presentation for D23, including that the pollination is done by hand in The Land pavilion. There are no bees. And he recalled a big obstacle to building Epcot: a sinkhole between Future World and World Showcase. "I still don't think we found the bottom of that," he said.
•Something to remember, also from Sklar: "This was a very small company when Walt [Disney] died."
•Spotted: The "Spirited Beasts" exhibit in the Japan pavilion, which ties traditionalcharacters to modern anime figures. It's interesting, peaceful and the air conditioning cranks in there.
•At the 30th anniversary ceremony, I liked when Disney exec Jim MacPhee referred to WDW president Meg Crofton as "a raving Epcot fan."
•At a D23 session, former Imagineer Bob Garner recalled the plan to film Mickey Mouse standing atop Spaceship Earth for promotional purposes, but honcho Michael Eisner was unamused. Eisner wanted Garner fired "because he almost killed Mickey Mouse," Garner said, sheepishly. It's pretty amazing footage though.
•Some scenes from Food & Wine Fest would fire up Disney traditionalists who are against the sale of beer and wine at the Be Our Guest restaurant, which opens next month at the Magic Kingdom. Epcot can get a little loud and rowdy during Food & Wine. On Saturday there were packs of guests in matching T-shirts with phrases such as "Drunk-a-teers," "Drunk's Family Reunion" and "Drunkin' Grownups" (in the type style of Dunkin' Donuts). It's part of the unofficial "drink around the world" tradition at Epcot.
I get it. It's fun, and it's a wine fest. Toned down a notch would make it better for others.
And while I think Disney has made the right restrictions on Be Our Guest libations (only at dinnertime, no drinks for the road), I keep hearing the "slippery slope" warnings from the traditionalists.
•A performance by the Voices of Liberty was my cherry atop my Epcot marathon. The a capella/Americana group that sets up on the ground floor of American Adventure was joined by another set of singers upstairs for "God Bless America." The sound bouncing around the dome was amazing, as if it were high-def — and somehow 3-D. It was followed by rapturous applause and soaring hearts.
A fun aspect of the D23 fan club session called "Looking Back at Tomorrow" incorporated documents and memos with suggested — but rejected — names for Epcot attractions. This was during the planning stages of the theme park, when anything was possible.
The Land could have been Eden II, Avant-Gardens or Land Alive! (Exclamation point theirs, not mine).
The World of Motion plaza, once known as the Transportation pavilion, could have been Transporama, Wheelorama, Futuramble or Freewheeling America.
And Horizons (which always gets a round of applause at D23 events), might have been called Future Probe.
A memo shown during D23 noted that that name Future Probe "is somewhat unpleasant."
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