2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Epcot's American Adventure
Published: February 24, 2010 at 8:02 AM
Yep, Ben Franklin and Mark Twain host this animatronic and filmed review of United States history. If the Hall of Presidents tells the story of America from the perspective of the Oval Office, the American Adventure offers a broader narrative on how the nation got to where it is today. (Or, where it was - more or less - around 1980, when Epcot opened.)
The show hits the highlights of any basic U.S. history course - the Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the westward expansion - but it doesn't ignore the bitter moments in the nation's history, either, including slavery and the Native American genocide.
Personally, I love the show for its choice of hosts. There seems to be a movement today to paint the nation's founding fathers as pious men, motivated by religious calling. In Franklin and Twain, you couldn't find two more sarcastic,
God(okay, Christian)-mocking examples to blow up that mistaken assumption about our nation's past. (True, you don't see anywhere near the full range of Franklin's and Twain's sharper attitudes written into in this show, but still, having them up there helps cut the cloying, rah-rah jingoism that threatens to bog down shows like this.)
Here's a clip from the middle of the show, which demonstrates that Disney was using the "Ken Burns effect" to animate still images long before Burns took over PBS pledge drive weeks. (Disney tech geeks should also note that this show offered the first example of an Audio Animatronic walking, too!)
What's your take on The American Adventure? We'd love to hear your thoughts, in the comments.