Theme Park Insider Summer Roadtrip: Epcot
By Robert NilesLAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida - After more than six weeks, two countries and several thousand miles on the road, we wrapped up the theme park visits on our annual family roadtrip with a visit to Laurie's home park, Walt Disney World's Epcot.
Published: August 16, 2010 at 11:13 AM
This is where Laurie played in the old Disney All-American College Orchestra back in 19*cough**cough*. And it's the Disney park I miss most, living on the West Coast. Sorry about that vote a couple weeks ago, folks, but there really isn't any doubt in our minds that whenever my family visits just one Disney theme park in Florida, it's going to be Epcot.
Epcot's the third-most popular theme park in the country, behind the two Magic Kingdoms. But it remains in form more the permanent World's Fair it was designed to evoke when it opened in 1980 than what most folks envision when they think of a theme park. I can't think of another park I've visited that lacks a roller coaster, or even a single carnival-style spinner ride. But Epcot, still, offers neither.
In tribute to my favorite Epcot attraction, I offer these Impressions de Epcot:
Narrative story-telling at its finest
Imagine this seemingly impossible task: To tell the story of America's history, in less than 30 minutes. Don't make it a whitewash - you've got to address slavery, Native American genocide and the fight for women's suffrage. You'll need to cover the Civil War, too, and don't forget that this show will play in one of the states of the former Confederacy, the side that lost that war. And, by the way, this is for a theme park attraction, so you've got to leave viewers feeling upbeat and entertained.
Disney's American Adventure nails it.
The animatronic detail in this show remains stunning (watch Mark Twain's cigar tip light up with every inhalation), even as the end-of-show video montage grows longer. As we exited, I noted that the final clip had to summarize 30 years of U.S. history when it debuted in 1980. Today, it covers 60 years. Yikes, I feel old now.
By the way, we also started up a rousing game of "which celebrities will be cut from the film on the next edit?" as well as "who will be added?" My vote? Bye-bye, Tiger Woods; Hello, Barack Obama. (I'd love to read your picks, too, in the comments.)
Stunning visual design
How can you not take a picture of Spaceship Earth?
The park's iconic geosphere commands your attention from throughout the park. Its clean, uniform design looks great from every angle, unlike some other theme parks' visual "weenies." (I love Hogwarts Castle, but as one TPI reader has pointed out in an e-mail to me, the forced perspective really doesn't work when you approach it from the Jurassic Park side.)
Okay, double rainbow jokes commence in 3, 2, 1....
Food, wonderful food
Some folks drink their way around the world. My family eats. The highlight of my visit yesterday?
The corvina en mole verde ($26) at San Angel Inn. Corvina's a saltwater fish, similar to sea bass (in fact, it's sometimes sold under that name). San Angel Inn's presentation was served on top of addictively rich Mexican creme rice, and topped with a thin slice of serrano ham. It's listed under "Chef's Recommendations" on the menu, and well keeps that promise.
I should note, though, that as much as I enjoyed the food in World Showcase, my wife and I found two chicken dishes at The Land food court in Future World absolutely inedible - I'll follow up on that and other Disney food experiences from the week in a post tomorrow.
Impressions de France remains the greatest theme park movie ever filmed
We had the misfortune of sitting in front of a group of, uh, rather intoxicated ladies yesterday, who were eager to rip the show apart, making fun of the theater, the host and other guests sitting around them as the film began. But Saint-Saens' melodies and director Rick Harper's visuals soon silenced them. No, they weren't asleep. By the end of the movie, all I heard from the row behind me was a single "wow," then applause.
Thanks, Epcot. Until next time.
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