Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Other Disneys

I previously showed you some of our visit to Animal Kingdom. We took the next couple days of our Florida residents 4 day pass to take in The Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The weather was truly perfect for the visit to the theme parks and we had a good time. There are some venues that appeal to adults, but the focus in the parks is, and has always been, families, and specifically those with kids tagging along. The images within the parks have not changed an awful lot over the years, so I just picked a few of them to share with you. But perhaps the neatest thing about all of the Disney parks is the infrastructure. People move in and through and out of the parks and the parking effortlessly. Merchandise for the shops, ingredients and produce for the restaurants and food stands, trash produced from all the activities of the parks- all move underground and unseen, as do all the utilities. Problems are solved, business is transacted without evidence. Way back when Disneyland (in California) was first built, much of the world thought it a likely model for cities everywhere because it was such a smooth flowing operation. For whatever reason, the model never really took off in "real" cities. Maybe it was the cost involved "up front." Maybe it was a perceived and/or real difficulty in retrofitting already built up cities. Maybe it was just because no one saw it as a profitable venture. But Disney "works" where many cities do not. Strangely enough, some of the most noted new cities the world over that do bear striking similarities to the ideas of Walt Disney, like Dubai, for example, are not only working well as "cities", they are also drawing business, tourists, investment, and most elements that we consider desirable. The concept is a proven one. US cities should take another look. Innovators and visionaries are in a much better position to build a workable tomorrow than politicians are. Walt Disney was just that. Cinderella's Castle, background to the statues of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse is still the mega symbol of the marvel of Disney that it has always been. It is also just plain a neat piece of architecture.
Below, this "Trash Can" mimics R2D2 outside Tomorrow Land at Epcot. Believe it or not, it was actually my favorite part of the visit. The "can" engaged kids passing by in conversation, danced a little, held "interviews" with families, and became so personable and affectionate that many people actually gave him a hug before moving on. The robot was of course controlled by a Disney employee, but it was difficult to figure out how it was operated and how it knew exactly who it was talking to- and that puts the "Magic" in the Kingdom.
Balloons are always popular, and Disney has some of the best...
The Monorail is a fast, efficient, and dependable form of transportation. AND- it's fun to ride. Public transportation: Take note!
There are 12 "countries" that you can visit, shop, and dine at within the Epcot venue. We had lunch in China, and took a stroll down main street in each of the others. This is probably the most "adult" portion of any of the Disney parks.
Planet Earth, the central design feature of Epcot (above in the background and below in close up detail) is a fantastic trip through the past and the future. The future portion of the trip is currently under renovation, but it doesn't stop the activity from being really cool- and if you haven't been in it previously, you would never know the change was in progress. Such is the magic of the Disney operations.
Characters from all the Disney cartoons, clubs, and venues can appear at any point to meet and greet visitors to the parks. Here's one you may not know as well as some of the others. Not a very scary dragon- that's the way is should be for the kids...
At the Universe of Energy, you sit in a "theater" to start the show, then the theater itself moves though the display that takes you back to the days of the dinosaurs to study the history and development of fossil fuels. We made the trip to the present and projected things into the future with a look at solar, wind, and other "green" energy sources.
Yep! Yet another 4-D film under the belt. This was one of the better ones, stink bugs and all! It's Tough Being a Bug"
In the Sea, where we were all trying to find Nemo, I found a lot of irresistible signs. Enlarge to enjoy!

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