Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

If you criticize a theme park, are you still a fan?

Written by
Published: August 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Theme Park Insider readers started a great discussion last week, following my post ranking the world's top Disney theme parks. Thanks to everyone who contributed, and I'd like to continue the debate over what I thought was the strongest disagreement:

Where to rank Epcot?

Imagination pavilion at Epcot
The Imagination pavilion - one of the targets that most needs help at Walt Disney World's Epcot

I ranked Epcot ninth of the 10 Disney theme parks I rated, beating only the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. My reasons? According to Theme Park Insider reader ratings, Epcot has fewer top-rated attractions than any other Disney theme park in the United States. I agreed with those numbers, and believe that, with Epcot, Disney's failed to reach a park's potential more than with any other of its U.S. theme parks.

Placing Epcot last among Disney's U.S. theme parks was a tough call for me. Whenever I visit Orlando, Epcot's the first Disney park I want to visit. It's home to one of my all-time favorite attractions, Impressions de France, and I love walking around World Showcase, sampling food here and there, and browsing the shops.

But looking in stores and noshing is what you do at a mall, not a theme park. Without more top-rated attractions, Epcot's devolved into Disney's Fancy Outdoor Shopping Center. People paying Walt Disney World rates deserve a full-day, world-class, themed-attraction experience from Epcot. While attractions such as Mission: Space, Spaceship Earth, and Soarin' have their fans, your own cumulative reader ratings say they simply don't match the line-up of top attractions found at Disney's other theme parks in the United States and Japan.

Disney can do better with Epcot, and as fans, I think we have an obligation to say that. It's our money Disney wants to earn. If we fail to tell Disney - or any other business - what we want, clearly and repeatedly, none of us have much standing to complain when we they offer us weak choices instead.

That's why I cringe when some people react as if fans should be volunteer public relations staff for their favorite theme parks, always focusing on the positive, and trying either to ignore problems, or at least give them the best possible spin.

While I appreciate the passion these fans show for their favorite parks, I think, ultimately, they're being played for fools. Positive word of mouth, in person or online, tells a business all's well, and that the public loves its product. It doesn't need to make changes. When when the rest of the skeptical (and silent) public fails to buy in, all that happy talk online encourages a business to blame external factors, such as the economy, the weather, or something else, instead of taking a hard look at its own, inferior product.

I prefer to see fans be as willing to stand up to businesses as they are to stand up for them. Look, Disney World's doing a lot of great things - it's substantially improving the Magic Kingdom, and it offers a wide variety of themed hotels with sometimes excellent value. But I also believe that Disney World's cruising on its reputation. Many fans simply assume Walt Disney World's theme parks are better than those at Universal Orlando or Disneyland. Or they believe it's impossible to afford a vacation to Tokyo. Let's face it - the average Orlando theme park visitor isn't as well informed about global alternatives as the average reader of websites such as Theme Park Insider. So long as public consensus says Walt Disney World's the best, that's what they will believe.

Of course, over time, that public consensus will change, as more people visit alternatives such as Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney California Adventure's Cars Land. But if Disney waits until that perception changes to address Walt Disney World, it will left its flagship resort crippled for years to come.

Look at what's happening in Florida now, and it's apparent that Disney realizes this. The next phase in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Expansion opens this November. Disney's said to have begun construction on Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Help is on the way for two of WDW's four theme parks.

But what of the Disney Hollywood Studios? And what about Epcot?

I want Disney theme park fans to keep up the pressure - to keep their focus on what needs improving in the Disney Parks chain even as we celebrate all that's Disney's done right within it, as well. That's why, starting next week, I'll be launch a new weekly miniseries on Theme Park Insider, where we talk about a popular theme park that needs some fixing to return it to world-class status. We'll be soliciting your ideas on what these parks can do to earn not just your money, but your well-deserved praise. So let's start thinking about what we'd like to see from the parks that want our business.

And next Monday, August 13 Tuesday, August 14, we'll start with... of course, Epcot.

Readers' Opinions

From 75.89.236.242 on August 5, 2012 at 11:06 PM
If you are a child or someone whose main purpose of the trip is thrill rides, I can see Epcot not being your favorite park.....

I will say that last trip to Disney I took.... I had a friend who had never been to any Disney Park with me..... we went to all the four major Disney Parks at WDW resort and EPCOT was her favorite. This was an adults trip though.

I do think EPCOT could use more attractions, but I have yet to go there and feel like I did everything that day. I still feel like I have not fully explored parts of the World Showcase due to a lack of time.... and maybe money as eating at the resteraunts there is a big draw..... although paying that much for a ticket to get into a park to then pay that much to eat is a little odd for it to be one of the biggest draws of the park (the fine dining, unlike other theme parks usually).

I do think it would be awesome if they could finally put the Matterhorn type ride in that was rumored to go there at one time. Even more dark rides would be a fine addition to me.

From James Rao on August 6, 2012 at 3:32 AM
Constructive criticism is a sign of true love. However, tearing down without building up - we reserve that kind of ire for Six Flags parks! =)

To your specific point, most of us love the idea of Epcot. We love what Epcot once was, but the reality of today's version of the park: it needs a 1.2B makeover. It is still my favorite of the US Disney parks, but again, I love what it tries to be, more than what it is.

Looking forward to the new series...

From Mark Hollamon on August 6, 2012 at 4:22 AM
Spot on Robert! I love everything Disney, however, Epcot does need a good injection of "pixie dust" to liven things up.

For the past two years each time we visit and ride Soarin' it gets worse and worse. The film is in terrible shape and I actually mentioned it to guest services the last time we were there. They completely agreed with me. That seems to be an easy fix, but.....two years!

Epcot needs two new "E" ticket rides ASAP and some other sprucing as well. My own personal opinion is Disney is quite happy with attendance figures driven by the Flower and Garden show and the Food and Wine Festival and have become complacent.

We were able to get lunch or dinner reservations at pretty much any restaurant at Epcot any weekend day by hitting the priority seating website and that has been nearly impossible to do June through August in years past.

Is it a sign?

From 81.70.136.4 on August 6, 2012 at 4:31 AM
When I came from Europe 25 years ago I was going to fulfill a dream I had as a kid, visiting Disney World. A kid from my school had been there and his vacation slides he presented made me want to go there (the second dream was visiting the pyramids in Egypt).
At that time there were 2 parks, Magic Kingdom and E.P.C.O.T. Center. I didn't like Magic Kingdom that much and was disappointed but Epcot was amazing. It looked and felt like a world fair.
As time went by I still loved Epcot and learned to appreciate Magic Kingdom. Epcot started to disappoint me because it felt old very soon. All updates where a disappointment.
Take world of motion that became test track. WOM was beautiful and funny. It was a very long ride and I liked to watch the history of cars. Test track was 4 minutes of fun but very ugly. The ride system is great but the story is lame.
Then journey into imagination. That attraction went from awesome to horrible. The Honey I shrunk the audience was a horrible movie tie in and was not close to the wonderful original story of captain EO.
Everyone loves Soarin but it doesn't have a story. You fly over the us and that's it. The transitions take you out of the illusion (a cloud would at least give a bit of a transition) and as so much things Disney does now it's a great techdemo but not a story driven attraction (castle projection comes to mind that is much better at DLP).
The living seas needed a update so the diver column (that was amazing) was scraped and we got a poor Nemo ride. What made it horrible is the overly bright projections on the windows of the aquarium that made the aquarium look bland. Again a downgrade instead of a upgrade.
World of Energy (later Ellens Energy crisis) was a wonderful ride system but the theme was and is boring. This attraction had to be made over from the beginning.
The wonders of life pavilion just closed. I still don't get it because the Making of me show was very funny (Body wars was horrible bumpy and made me sick).
And we end up at Mission Space, the e-ticket flop. Not one e-ticket Disney made was that disappointing as this one. It's no fun and doesn't deliver what it promises. The only thing that it succeeds in is the wonderful building.
Spaceship Earth is the closest thing to what Epcot was when it was cool. I like the upgrades (they are not great in any way but it didn't kill the attraction like all the other upgrades did).
And then we have the high end shopping mall end dining emporium: World Showcase. The original version asked for attractions in every country and Disney still needs to do that to lift it above a fun place to shop and eat. Most movies are old and tired. I still love the American Adventure show but the rest of the movies are old and the 360 circle standing only movies are horrible to watch. Mexico and Norway are a great example how this part of the park could be (but we need BIGGER rides then those examples).
I think a fan shouldn't be blinded by the love they have for a company. I feel myself more often going to Universal and Sea World because they do a great job reinventing their parks and attractions.
I have the feeling Disney is treating Disney World as one theme park. We all know that 3 of the 4 parks won't get as much visits as they do now because they are part of the package and have just 2 or 3 attractions worth visiting.
I also feel the hotels get more love then the parks nowadays. Disney should kick the "make a movie in a attraction version". Look at the little mermaid ride. It's the movie, nothing more or less. It doesn't give us a new story. This is Disney, the story makers. A lot of the original attractions didn't had a movie franchise slapped on them. Haunted Mansion, Captain EO, Pirates, Small World, Main street, People mover, Space Mountain etc where great and fun and original.
From Tom Rigg on August 6, 2012 at 4:56 AM
Two thoughts:

First, I think I ultimately have a problem with the critiques that are based on a sense of nostalgia. I don't think one should complain simply because a park doesn't maintain itself in some sort of timeless utopia for you alone. I also take issue with the critiques that are simply pointing out flaws with out offering ideas on how to affect change. Both of these types of critique are just downers and feel bitter.

Second, I would disagree to a certain point about Epcot. Yes, Future World needs to be hooked up to a cash infusing AED and shocked at full power But, I think World Showcase has performed its function quite well. For some pavilions (Mexico, China, and Japan) there are few spots on Disney soil where I can feel more immersed in an exotic environment than when I am there. I think the sensations of seeing, hearing, smelling, and most definitely tasting all the things the World Showcase has to offer is the main attraction. I don't need and omnimover or roller coaster to truly enjoy this trip around the world.

From 108.198.188.63 on August 6, 2012 at 5:43 AM
Your not a true fan of themeparks if you don't have ideas of your own to male it better. I'm a diehard miami dolphins fan an I criticize them everyday
From Brian Bauer on August 6, 2012 at 6:43 AM
You can absolutely be critical of something that you like/love. The problem I have is when people seem to be "destructive" in their criticism. For example Robert, you say Epcot needs more top rated attractions. You don't say things like "Why are they redoing Test Track? It was fine the way it was. It looks like Tron. Tron is stupid. They need to spend money on a new e-ticket. But if they made a new e-ticket, TDO would cut the budget in half. How come they can redo TT but they can't bring back Lights of Winter?"
From 71.98.192.127 on August 6, 2012 at 7:29 AM
Nothing is perfect, including Disney. Wherever there is room for improvement, there is room for criticism. And considering that just about any Florida theme park would be my second home if I had the money, I say criticize what could be improved. You are still a fan.
From Tim Odom on August 6, 2012 at 7:52 AM
I think there are faults with damn near everything. Yes, I criticize my favorite parks (which, for the record are Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Cedar Point, and Disneyland) as I want to see them get better. I absolutely adore Busch Gardens Williamsburg, love every aspect of the park, but I want them to make it even better. Strive for constant improvements.

As for EPCOT, I love that park. But I tend to love it to walk around, not for the great rides. It absolutely does need better rides. Universe of Energy has been awful since, well, forever. The World Showcase needs a new country. Journey into Imagination should be, well, better. Regardless, I still adore that park.

And it helps with parks that really do need improvements. I look at a park like Disney's California Adventure, a park I have been to once and thought it needed a lot more to make it worthwhile. While I have not been there in years, it sure looks like they have taken all of the criticism people have given them over that park and improved it greatly. And, for us, that is a good thing.

All parks, the great ones and the awful ones, can improve. As long as you are constructive with your criticism (and don't just fire off an angry email to the park president that states 'Your park SUCKS!!!!!!1111' without stating why it may suck) then being critical about a theme park can help them see where the improvements can come.

Also, if Cedar Point people read this: Please, for the love of God, tear down Mean Streak. I know you tried to make it better, but I have never been on a more painful ride in my life. Love your park otherwise, but that thing is awful.

From Jonas Åstrøm on August 6, 2012 at 7:57 AM
If you criticize, it means you care. I friend of mine put it eloquently (we were both cast members at WDW at that time): "My favorite park is Animal Kingdom. And Epcot. And Magic Kingdom of course. But not MGM."

Epcot is nostalgia wrapped in more nostalgia, and I agree wholeheartedly - it needs a thorough upgrade, in all parts of the park. As a guest once described it, it's "just a bunch of shops around a lake".

Ellen's Energy Adventure is looking sadly dated compared to so many other new attractions these days, and installing Soarin' with a focus on California (?) was a strange and nice addition to the park - but it only added to the mellowness of Epcot. We all love Epcot, but it has few wow factors. Mission: Space is actually one of them, but it still drowns in all the other dated and "cute" attractions the park has to offer.

I don't believe the park should redefine its themes. Rather, update them like they did with Spaceship Earth.

From Brian Emery on August 6, 2012 at 8:22 AM
Of course you can criticize something and still be a fan of it… Heck, are you married.. Hahahah

Epcot is nice but I believe it is more geared for adults… They are in need of at least 2 more attractions. I believe Disney gets away with an average park because of the package deal when purchasing tickets. The more days you buy the average per day goes down.

Ask yourself this – Would you pay full price for 1 day at Epcot?

From Brandon Mendoza on August 6, 2012 at 8:26 AM
I'm all for constructive criticism. That's what the American Idol, America's Best Dance Crew, and X-Factor fans don't understand. The judges aren't being mean, they're trying to provide feedback for improvement. Disney needs that for WDW.

What it doesn't need though, is the cynical, half-glass empty, always negative, nothing-is-ever-good-enough mentality of the internet. There are always people who are over critical and just complain without giving any solutions. That's a waste of time and energy.

So yes, you are still a fan as long as it's constructive criticism.

From Daniel Etcheberry on August 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM
Epcot's Future World was a great concept, but the upgrades changed the original concept; Horizons and World of Motion were rides about learning the past, present and future of humanity. On the other hand, Mission Space and Test Track are rides just for thrills. Epcot is losing its original appeal.

Robert, I go to Epcot every year, and I always watch Impressions de France; it never gets old, and its so beautiful.

From Anon Mouse on August 6, 2012 at 8:46 AM
Hey, don't take criticism of you personally although it might hurt. The best way to punish bad behavior is the criticize it and you felt it with your own criticism. Thus, keep up the criticism of Disney.

You don't have to patronize a bad park. There is nothing wrong with that. You said "I prefer to see fans be as willing to stand up to businesses as they are to stand up for them." Isn't that the problem? Fans are not standing up to them.

For a long time, people said DCA was a nice place to visit since it is uncrowded. This didn't exactly help DCA since few went there. So its "fans" are helping to keep a park in a zombie state. This is true for Disney Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. They are all Zombie Parks. They are on cruise control since they get plenty of business.

For other theme parks like Universal and Sea World, they don't have such fan support. They must compete. I'm glad they stepped it up and woke up the sleeping giant.

Disney's fans are doing the parks no favor.

From Eric Malone on August 6, 2012 at 9:17 AM
I like Epcot. Sure, it doesn't have a ton of super-awesome rides, but it's mildly nostalgic, and the World Showcase is one of the coolest places in a theme park. As far as what's already there, sure, Horizons is gone, and so is Body Wars and the majority of the pavilion it was in, but Mission: Space and Test Track are pretty cool rides. Imagination is a great way to beat the heat, since it's never full and it's a pretty relaxing ride.

I've never honestly been on Soarin', 'cause the lines are always atrocious, and Spaceship Earth, in spite of its apparent age and new changes, is still another cool ride to relax on later in the day after lunch, when everyone's ridden it already.

I don't think Epcot is high on the rankings for super-awesome thrills and stuff, but it's one of the few parks that engage you while it teaches you things and brings you new experiences.

As for the original question, yeah, you're still a fan if you criticize a theme park, because chances are if you're criticizing it you know enough about it to criticize it.

From 209.213.170.4 on August 6, 2012 at 10:03 AM
The world showcase should not have anything done to remodel it at all. It is highly enjoyable by fans of young and old, and it truly does immerse you into all the different countries while you are there. AKA "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Now, on the other hand, Future World needs some work. I'm not saying go and remodel all of spaceship earth; simply put, the rides are not the reason people choose to go there. I cannot think of the last time I can remember someone actually being excited to see The Land or even the Living Seas for that matter. Maybe a coaster (Tron anyone?) and a animatronic ride (Wall-E??) would make it a much longer stay for everyone
From Tony Webb on August 6, 2012 at 10:28 AM
i think disney world capitalizes on the idea that the sum of all the parts makes up for each individual park....3 of the 4 parks need a lot of work in them but its not going to happen (at least for a while) nobody is really pushing them attendance wise...
From Nick Markham on August 6, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Excellent points, Robert! I have long found EPCOT to be such a beautiful park with so much potential that just seems to fall short on the attractions side of things. They have so many roads to take with the theming in World Showcase and Future World, all they need is the thought and planning to be targeted towards some stellar Disney rides.
From Brian L on August 6, 2012 at 11:18 AM
You are absolutely still a fan if you criticize. It means you still care. The problem, as I see it, is that the super "pixie dust" addicted fan base's screams of FOAMER!!11! sort of drowns out the voices of those that want the parks to reach their full potential. That's why I like this site so much, is the levelheadedness of the users and authors. Anyone else frequent other fan forums and sites? It gets scary. Anyone that criticizes is automatically labeled a "hater" and told "not to go anymore if they don't like them so much." Of we course we still like the parks, we just want to them to be the best parks that they can be. Disney set the bar high, they should keep striving to reach and exceed that level of greatness. It's not the guests or fans fault that Disney sometimes fails to meet those standards. I am looking forward to your new feature Robert!
From AJ Hummel on August 6, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Yes, you can criticize a park and still be a fan. In fact, you should do so if you are a fan. No matter what people say, I don't think it is possible to make a perfect park. Even at my favorite parks, I always find things that could be improved. Of course, criticism should be constructive, and should be intelligent. I hate it when people say "tear down xx and build a 500 ft coaster" or "Disneyland is a kiddie park, they need more extreme thrill rides," etc. because comments like these are meaningless. I highly doubt most parks have the budget for a 500 ft coaster, and Disneyland will never be a thrill park. However, something like "Six Flags Magic Mountain really needs to train the Tatsu crew to be more efficient" is perfectly valid since it is a major flaw that can easily be corrected by the park.

As far as Epcot goes, I've always thought it looked like the best WDW park in terms of theming and atmosphere, but also the worst in terms of an actual amusement/theme park. The place doesn't have a ton of attractions, and a number of them (including almost everything in World Showcase) seem like they would be boring if you aren't interested in the subject matter. Epcot has always been the park that I've said, "If I have to miss one of the four parks at Disney World, it's that one." Now that we have Radiator Springs Racers in California, Epcot really lacks appeal to me and would be at most 1 day out of a 5 day Disney World trip (unless they add a couple major, unique attractions by the time I finally get a chance to visit Florida).

From 69.47.212.50 on August 6, 2012 at 12:09 PM
sooooo much to say and so little time... mmmm. im going to write a nice response to all of this im just going to post this for now :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC5zts4ZsGo
From Essenn Jayy on August 6, 2012 at 12:17 PM
The problem that Epcot is having with Future World is how to keep the sense of Future. Instead of creative rides about the future in a classic "DISNEY" way, they're building rides that contain futuristic technologies and concepts. It's hard NOT to compare old Epcot to new Epcot.

I can say that Spaceship Earth, one of my favorite attractions, has become a bit stale for me. The ride is still great in the beginning, and some of the new scenes are kind of cool. I'm not a huge fan of the new narration, and the ending scene that is all on a touch screen is SUCH a massive waste of space for amazing sets. That ride was just an overdose of eye candy for me (albeit cheesy). And now, it's just pretty lights. I truly feel like the video display at the end of the ride could have easily been done in the pavilion at the exit. Find your face, and then answer the questions, and it'll show you your future.

Mission: Space is also a joke to me. I never went on Horizons when I was there while it was open. :( But, ignoring Horizons, Mission: Space is just a bedazzled spinner. It's really ridiculous how much money the ride apparently cost. To me it's a flop. It's thrilling just by pure force, but is actually rather boring. The zero G part could have the pods be turned more upside down or something. The spinning part is too forceful sometimes, and the simulation part is a snooze-fest.

As with Test Track, I'm actually cool with the updates. It looks tron-esque but from the concept art it'll just be eye candy stuff while educating about cars. I dig. Edutainment rides are one of my favorites.

Ironically, I also feel like Living with the Land, and Universe of Energy are GREAT attractions. I love that they removed the guide on LWTL, and there is something about Universe of Energy I love so much...I can't put my finger on it. Just wish there was more ride part, but I digress.


The thing that epcot needs to start learning is that it IS a theme park. It needs rides/attractions. And if Universal Hollywood can realize this-and get ride of a massive part of City Walk for rides-then so can Epcot. People were talking about a ride that was conceptualized in the Japan section (might've be shelved/not real), and a Grizzly River Run type ride in Canada. If those two attractions were created then that alone would easily make Epcot THAT much more of the park to be at.


(On a side note, I've noticed the ranking of Disneyland parks is so dynamic, that in a decade DCA could be on the bottom, and Epcot could be on the top. It changes often!)

From 69.47.212.50 on August 6, 2012 at 12:22 PM
I sent this to screamscape. I hope Lance posts it for I know a lot of people do read his website as well. I think we really bring this whole issue to light.
From 63.95.36.13 on August 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM
I am a huge fan of Epcot, although it does show a very romantic view of all the counries in world showcase i guess that what really appeals. I think EPCOT is a very misunderstood themepark, its nice to actually get away from the Micky and co for a day and see rides and attractions that dont have the your usual disney characters plastered all over everything. I guess like anything new themes and rides will be very costly, if i had a say in what was going in I would certainly love to see more country centric rides for example China maybe a ride with a flying Kite theme or a 3d tour of chinas diverse flora and fauna.. Japan the bullet train ride ( which i hear has been an idea that has been knocking about for a while ) Germany maybe some kind of ride on the history of music making use of the latest audio technology. Canada Grizley river rapids as mentioned by other readers, UK, Mary Popins or a replical of the London eye ( maybe not as big ), these are some of my ideas, certainly it seems that the back end of world showcase US and beyond they either ran out of time, money or ideas or all 3 but that park of the park seems a bit weak. As for headline rides, well I'm kinda in the camp that says EPCOT isnt IOA or Busche Gardens it has its only very unique feel and atmosphere so I hope it keeps its core values. Given the choice of missing out on a park i'd happily miss out on IOA and keep EPCOT... so maybe EPCOT is just doing what it set out to do appeal to those people that want something a bit different and stimulating... in my opinion I hope that themeparks dont go down the Micheal Bay route... lots of noise lots to look at but nothing that stimulates the brain......
From Anthony Murphy on August 6, 2012 at 5:11 PM
The best parts of EPCOT are not rated on this site. The shows, the experience, and yes, the rides.

While EPCOT could use some sprucing up, you are honestly telling me that its is the second worst park?

This website convinced me that DCA was the worst thing Disney had ever done about 8 years ago. Now it is greater than the any of the WDW parks?

I gotta tell you something that I did not like about DL the last time I was there (2010). Cast members could not stop themselves from bashing Disney World parks the entire time! It was quite unsettling. I really feel that the CA experience is much different than the FL experience.

Call me a fool, but EPCOT has the extremely successful Food and Wine Festival vs DCA who couldn't even get vineyards for the state to even show up!

Sorry, I had to get that out.

To answer you question, yes, you can be a fan and still criticize

From 108.241.62.17 on August 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM
Although Epcot is still my favorite park, it does need some help and has been ignored for several years.

The biggest problems in Future World are the same ones that have been around for several years:

* The Imagination Pavillion;
The architecture is beautiful, the water portions are still original and fun to watch, but.......
The ride is a mere shadow of what it once was, it needs to be entirely redone.
It needs a new 3D movie (EO was always bad and I shrunk the audience ran it's course years ago)
The imagination center can't keep up with technology anymore. Rethink the entire concept if necessary

* The Wonders of Life;
Shut down for how many years now? DO SOMETHING WITH IT!

* Innovations East and West;
They were cutting edge once upon a time, now you go inside just to cool off or get out of the rain. DO SOMETHING WITH THEM!

* The Odyssey Center;
It used to be a nice restaurant and way station. Now it's only function is as a bathroom stop and baby changing center?

* Test track....cool, but way too unreliable. Just like GM cars, it breaks down too much.

* Mission Space….cool, but they had to tame it down as it was too extreme for most folks in the beginning

That said, Future World is the most visually appealing of all of the theme parks I have ever been to.
Also, there are literally thousands of 'little things' to see and do in every nook and cranny of the park. which are such a big part of the overall experience and appeal (which can’t be rated on a scale of 1-10 like a ‘ride’).

And the park as a whole has more things to see and do then any other park in the world…..by far, in my opinion.

There are also many problems in the World Showcase due to lack of imagination (or money) for several years as well:

Not enough attractions or rides and some ‘countries’ are virtual wastelands (with the exception of dining/shopping areas).

* Morocco, what’s the point if you aren’t going to eat or shop there?
* Germany….see above (it used to be the only place they served beer in Epcot long long ago, but now)?
* Italy….see above
* Japan….see above

There is so much history in all of these countries, why couldn’t they think of some kind of an attraction to put there?

USA, worst restaurant in all of Epcot. Why not put a great BBQ restaurant here? Whats more American than BBQ?

And they need at least 1-2 more ‘lands or countries’ (more if they would dump a place like Morocco which I don’t see the point of as a ‘land’ anyway)?

How about; Australia, ‘the Arctic’, Russia, the ‘heart of Africa’, several European or Asian countries, etc

From Andrew Dougherty on August 6, 2012 at 7:07 PM
I personally think that USF is severely lacking good attractions compadres to IOA and USF really needs some changes. BAD.

Good Attractions:

IOA
HP
Spider Man
Hulk
Jurassic Park
Bilge Rat Barges
Dudley Do-Right

USF
Mummy
Simpsons
MIB

From Anthony Murphy on August 6, 2012 at 8:01 PM
I like the points made by the number person! I will admit, Future World does need some rehab. I actually like Innoventions, but I am a science nerd! I always enjoy the House of Tomorrow!

However, I disagree with you on Italy and especially Germany and Japan. Italy used to be my least favorite location in World Showcase, but its really turned itself around with the Via Napoli. I was lucky to be able to eat pizza in the actual Naples. This folks is the real deal.

Germany is one of the underrated locations in all of World Showcase. They seem to have something for everybody: Beer, Toys, Clocks, Hummel Figurines, Christmas. They also have the best snacks in all of EPCOT with gummi bears, carmels, and real pretzels. The indoor buffet is also underrated with excellent food and music. I feel Germany really shows how they are important and how they affect American culture (then again, I am from the Midwest).

Between shopping and food, I think Japan is one of the strongest countries in World Showcase. I think we can chalk that up to the Japanese being extremly good at Guest Service. I would say that they genuinely friendly and willing to help you out! I find the candy lady also a very rare treat (I believe she is the only woman in the world to do this art). You can always rely on the store to find the perfect gift as well! Something for every person's budget!


Maybe this is actual nostalgia, but I have much more vivid and striking memories of EPCOT than I do at any other the other parks. Whether its going down the river to Debussey, watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, or Illuminaitons!

From 108.218.75.177 on August 6, 2012 at 8:21 PM
I've named EPCOT my favorite theme park for years, but I've begun to wonder. I still love the overall atmosphere of walking through Future World and World Showcase. No park can match it; the closest for me is Disneyland. But there's a point where the attractions are getting embarrassing. Ellen's Energy Adventure, Journey Into Imagination, the Mexico boat ride, the descent of Spaceship Earth, and parts of the Living Seas. Plus, we have an empty Wonders of Life pavilion and Mission Space, which is just okay.

I don't need EPCOT to be Islands of Adventure, but I would like to see some improvements. They don't even need new attractions. If Disney upgraded the Universe of Energy, Journey into Imagination, and the Spaceship Earth descent, that would make a huge difference and completely change Future World. Putting anything in Wonders of Life and upgrading Innoventions would be a bonus. I don't expect this would take funds on the level of the California Adventure overhaul. The infrastructure is there for spending in the hundreds of millions to make a huge upgrade.

Disney is being short-sighted with EPCOT. They're raking in the money with special events, but they'd make it a true must-see destination for everyone with some updates. I'm trying to stay optimistic. Universal keeps pushing Disney to react, and the great success of Cars Land shows what happens when you upgrade the parks.

From 72.197.30.46 on August 6, 2012 at 9:58 PM
Part of the success of DCAs reopening is by putting more of Disney characters and stories into the park...little mermaid, cars, classic 1920s and 30s characters in Buena vista street and more. That being said wouldn't the new rattatouille ride fit in perfectly in the France pavillion? How about a Mulan dark ride in China?
From David Brown on August 7, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I've been mulling over this post for a few days.

My wife and I will be back in Orlando this November. It will be 4 years since our last visit and we are looking forward not only to revisiting our favourite parks but also to sampling the new offerings opened since our last visit. And yet when I actually stop to add up what's new it's an interesting mix. Since we last came 4 years ago the following major attractions have opened:

Islands of Adventure: Harry Potter
Universal Studios: Evening Show
Sea World: Manta
Busch Gardens: Cheetah Hunt
Legoland!

And then we come to Disney which has... a new Star Tours.
Fantasy Land would be open if we delayed our trip by another month or two but otherwise there's nothing new at any of the Disney parks. Nothing in 4 years...

Now we are huge Disney fans and are staying on Disney World because why wouldn't you? And we#ll have a great time in the Disney parks as well as the others. But it's sobering to realise that there will have been no new attractions in all that time across any of the 4 parks. I think Robert is right - Disney needs to stop coasting and start investing in order to stay at the top.

From Tim Hillman on August 7, 2012 at 6:06 AM
Thank you, Robert! I get so tired of people saying you are a "hater" if you have the least criticism of their favorite park. Nothing is further from the truth!

I'm looking forward to next week and the following weeks because it looks like this could be a rowdy discussion! Hopefully we can throw in some of the "steel" parks as well! ;>)

From Todd Donahue on August 7, 2012 at 7:15 AM
Epcot was actually designed to be an actual city of the future by Walt, it never happened and became just a park. Why I criticize WDW so much is that I used to love going down to Disney when I was a kid to my teen years. I loved and was amazed at everything even before downtown disney, animal kingdom, and MGM now Disney Studios. I remember getting this card, it wasn't a dinner card but a full access card that let you do anything like dine at the most fantastic restaurants or use the speed boats from the Polynesian sipping the pineapple mixture through the actual pineapple there. We stayed at the Polynesian when the Grand Floridian wasn't even built. My parents said it was one of the best vacations we ever took because to stay and get those cards was a great value. After that year they stopped doing the cards and started having multiple price level hotels in years to follow and prices sky rocketed to where we could not afford to stay at a place like the Polynesian and they took out the pineapple drink in the pineapple....damn them lol. We stayed at a "moderate" hotel about 12 years ago and it was like staying in a motel 6 dressed up. The prices were astronomical for the "grand" hotels and they still are.

I just looked at the prices for Disneyland hotel where it was 500 buck for "value" days to stay in a grand lodge to see cars land. I'm from Ohio so if I go out there I'm staying for more days then just two or three so I'm paying 3500 bucks for a 7 night experience so I can be close to the parks. Maybe get in an hour early on specific days and thats in value days and I'm only talking about the hotel. Prices for my girlfriend and I to eat are out of this world if we want to sit down. Sure we like self service if we are in a hurry but we also like to sit and have a nice meal too. Plus the tickets, every one says its a great value to get more days but you still have to pay for each person in your party. It would cost more than 5000 bucks to stay onsite in a normal room for just two people, me included. You tack on airfare, transportation, sight seeing, souvenirs and it goes up to maybe 7 to 9 thousand bucks, thats allot of cash in the piggy banks.

Just in comparison I could stay at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, a five star hotel that beats any disney hotel anywhere for about 100 dollars a night or the Venetian for about 150 a night. Both of those resorts outshines anything Disney has in the states, I haven't been to anything Disney outside the states so I can't judge, by service, by comfort, by luxury, and by pure awe feeling. Now I get that Disney hotels are close to a theme park but should you pay 4 to 6 hundred more for that fact.

To sum it up because I'm running long, Disney has lost its magic because it put cost to be its major concern where Walt was a genius and he wanted the imagination in all of us to shine is blocked by the dollar sign. WWWD - What would walt do? He wouldn't have prices like this I'll tell you that. Sprinkle your fairy dust kids and come to the giant black ears and have your parents go bankrupt.

From 81.70.136.4 on August 7, 2012 at 7:35 AM
@David Brown: You missed some attractions and shows that are new:
Islands of Adventure: Spiderman update
Universal Studios: daytime parade and Dispicable me
Sea World: Turtle trek
Busch Gardens: Iceploration (new show)

It only adds to your point.

From Dominick D on August 7, 2012 at 8:30 AM
The number person made good points. After Pandora, Epcot is going to need some work.
From Kevin Hanaoka on August 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM
I like WDW, but also enjoyed going to IOA and Sea World. EPCOT was probably the last original park idea at Disney. It seems that DHS and AK were made to offer alternatives to USF and Sea World or Busch Gardens. Also, I've heard that the DCA expansion had more to do with crowd control at DL. If we apply that template to WDW, then it becomes apparent that the other parks serve as crowd control for MK. There are just enough attractions to draw crowds to lessen the impact on MK. I wonder if the bean counters are a little slow on the draw because they like this idea. New E-tickets are nice, but they increase attendance and congestion for an already overcrowded resort during peak season. They seems to only respond to threats -- WWOHP leads to Avatar. However, it seems they still follow the current paradigm. Just enough of an alternative to keep the crowd at the resort and crowds under control.
From 72.197.30.46 on August 7, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Todd...you can easily find a hotel across the street from Disneyland for 75-150$ a night depending on your budget. Its just not smart to stay on site when you can stay off site and only a 5 - 10 minute walk from Disneyland for a fraction of the cost. My favorite is best western pavillions. Its usually 80-90 $ and is very good quality feeling for the price. And some offer free shuttle service to the park also so you may not even need to walk! I stayed at the Sheraton(looks like a French castle) for 150$ and it had free shuttle service. Just find Disneyland on Google map and type hotel in the search bar and you'll see there are many affordable options for you!
From 173.213.212.235 on August 7, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I have always LOVED EPCOT and no trip would have been complete without visiting that park. But on our last visit earlier this year, I found myself "tired" of EPCOT. I couldn't wait to get off of those boats in Mexico. It used to be my favorite attraction (the atmosphere of the marketplace, the restaurant and the "ride" all worked together). I totally agree the "ride" needed to be updated, but this Duck Three Caballeros mess destroyed whole experience. The ride has been "disneyfied"... it's a cartoon experience that belongs in the Magic Kingdom. Gone is the true visit to Mexico. I don't think I'm alone with this opinion-- there are NO lines. Nobody wants to ride it.

Likewise, I used to also LOVE going to Ellen's Energy Adventure. While I thought the message was a bit too political, I was always facinated by the way the whole attraction was put together... from the way the film clips were shown, to the show scenes and the way the ride vehicles moved. But again, it has become too "tired."

Everything in Epcot has become "tired" all at once.


From Todd Donahue on August 7, 2012 at 9:37 PM
Your missing my point, I know there's a lot of places to stay right next to disney land for a fraction of the cost and I'm looking at a couple cause I am never going to pay that for a hotel room thats basically a lodge, wouldn't pay that for any room anyway. My point is the cost of staying, eating, and being disney is not what the man that created disney was all about. It's lost its magic for me. I'd rather spend it at universal or cedar point where my dollar goes farther than disney and at universal it exceeds many of the qualities that disney held for so many years. Cedar Point is adding elements and rides on a yearly basis and I've grown up with cedar all my life so it holds something special for me, why go to MK for some pretty average rides, pay more than 100 dollars for a day, eat subpar food for outlandish prices, and for most have to travel a long distance. Instead I have to go about 2 hours, stay in a pretty nice historic hotel for less than half what I would pay at an equal disney hotel, get into a park that is less than 50, has world class thrills, is named the best amusement park by golden ticket like 12 years in a row, and now has some good restaurants that won't put a hole in your wallet. I've been many times to Kings Island and is owned now by the same company and I've had similar experiences. This expansion that MK is doing is not nearly enough. Going back to Universal especially when they have the new potter rides is almost a must because that story invites all not just little kids that want castles. I am sorry to any Disney fans but the whole theming of the WWoHP is the best hands down, from the people dressed up in costume in the middle of summer and the chilled butter beer tasting like pure tasty deliciousness, not to mention the buildings and the the tasty meals at the three broomsticks. Thats what I want on vacation to have a total sensory overload and disney's falling short on value, theming, thrills, and good food for a reasonable price.
From 173.131.165.206 on August 10, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Here are a few attraction ideas I have for EPCOT.

Germany Pavillion: Add a brothers grim dark boat ride. It would be a great way to add a fantastically themes fantasy ride in EPCOT. And most of the classic Disney fairytales stem from the Brothers Grim stories. The castle is already there so use it properly.

Japan Pavillion: Add a Studio Ghibli attraction. There are two options here that have crossed my mind. One, a retelling of the popular Spirited Away story. It would be fantastic. It could use a modern version of the hologram technology in the haunted mansion. And a race to escape the witch Yubaba would add good thrill to the ride. The second idea would be a tour of the famous landmarks and scenes from the world of Studio Ghibli. You would take the tour in the famous Catbus from My neighbor Totoro. The catbus would pass Totoro at the bus stop, howls moving castle, the castle in the sky, the demon monster and forest spirit from princess mononoke, etc. It would be a fantastic adventure unfamiliar to most American guests. It would also draw other world cultures to cone see their favorite characters from Ghibli films.

Norway: spruce up the maelstrom attraction. Change the entire attraction to a Viking mission in search of Avalon. Avalon was a mythical island the Norwegian believed to be a magical and perfect world. Of course the trolls will interfere and send you home. Other morsel creatures should make appearances as well such as the fairies. Ditch the oil rig at the end.

China: Add a Mulan musical show. It is a great Disney film that needs presence in the parks. Also, add a fireworks factory rollercoaster. You are waiting in line inside a fireworks factory. You take a tour to see how they are made. Well at the end of the tour, a fire breaks loose and fireworks start exploding everywhere. You launch out of the station ad race down the great wall of China. The ride would have some great special effects and thrills for the older crowd.

I've got more but need to save some for when I actually become an imagineer. ;)

From Doug Jenkins on August 11, 2012 at 7:37 AM
Yes, of course! Proper criticism is used as trying to help the park become better. If you don't tell the manager in a restaurant about bad service or food, how do you expect it to get better?
As to Epcot, I would NOT be a annual pass holder if not for Epcot. I am over 50 years old and Epcot is my first choice in the 4 parks. I go there each visit, not always the other parks. The festivals, food and firewrks/laser show are better, as is the crowd. My one criticism is the restaurant reservation changes they made a few years ago. I can't get into any of my favorite restaurants anymore as they are booked months before I know I am going to go! I liked the old system of getting there early and you got in.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Vote of the week: What's your best chance at gold in the Theme Park Olympics?



How to save money on a Disney World trip

Saving money at Disney World

Insider's Pick: You can afford that Walt Disney World family vacation of your dreams. Get started with 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World, a great guide to planning an affordable trip to the Vacation Capital of the World. Why wait? The sooner you start saving, the sooner you and your family will be enjoying your vacation!

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks