Significant changes are in motion for Disney’s Epcot Theme Park — the park best known for the iconic Spaceship Earth. Announced at D23 in July, Epcot is receiving a pair of new attractions based on popular movie properties: Guardians of the Galaxy (the Epcot attraction that GotG is replacing, The Universe of Energy, opened in 1982), and Ratatouille, which will be constructed in the France Pavillion area. Disney Parks blog tells us that “According to Disney leaders, [GotG and Ratatouille Epcot attractions] will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.”
This 50th anniversary reboot syncs up with some other rumors in an interesting way. Corporate sponsorships for various portions of the park — Exxon, General Electric, and numerous others have been sponsors over the years — may be giving way to Disney franchise-based attractions. This past June, it was revealed that Siemens had chosen not to renew their sponsorship deal for Spaceship Earth. Amidst what seems to be an extensive overhaul of Epcot, there have even been rumors that the iconic giant globe might be removed. A fresh round of rumors has Disney revisiting old plans that could gut the globe and turn it into a… roller coaster. Or something.
As has been widely noted, the Spaceship Earth globe figures prominently in concept art released at D23, so it’s not going anywhere quite yet. Probably. But… couldn’t they just do the obvious thing here, create another Disney franchise-based attraction, and turn the whole thing into the Death Star?
They’ve already done that temporarily, after all, to a little bit of controversy but impressive effect. As some of the detractors implied then, one might argue that the continued franchise-theme migration of Epcot carries it way from Walt Disney’s original concept of a “real city that would never cease to be a blueprint of the future.”
And yet… what version of the future do we want to buy into, here? The Universe of Energy Sponsored by Exxon? Or attractions that attempt to put you in the world of franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, that might be less grounded in reality but a lot more inspiring?