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Entries in disney world (4)

Sunday
Aug302009

My First Thoughts on Paleo-Futurism (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Disney)

Me and Goofy (circa 1989)I've visited Walt Disney World about 20 times.

Now, for an elderly woman living in Orlando, Florida, this might seem like an appropriate number. But for a 26-year-old man who's lived his entire life in the Midwest, that number is fairly absurd. My parents got me hooked at a young age, and while my perspective on the Disney brand and favorite activities in Disney World have both drastically changed over the years, I keep going back.

It was in EPCOT Center that I first started thinking about paleo-futurism. By the mid-1990s, EPCOT was looking stale; a future frozen in the early 1980s. The park was almost a monument to a historical future, rather than a hopeful tomorrow, and even young children could sense this. Though an extreme comparison, it was somewhat like visiting Flushing Meadows to see the decaying remnants of New York's 1964 World's Fair.

EPCOT as a theme park sparked my interest in this concept -- a concept for which I didn't yet have a name -- but one ride in particular stands out as the most reflective, yet forward-thinking. Horizons was opened in 1983 and featured both a history of the future, represented by an animatronic Jules Verne, and the future as imagined in 1983. Disney and this ride have so invaded my thoughts that any time I smell oranges I still imagine the "farm of the future," as was briefly depicted during this ride.

Though the ride closed in 1999, I can still play through every scene of Horizons in my head. The ride stands out as an experience that introduced me to thinking about histories of the future, and got me to thinking about what futures survive in our collective imagination. Like movies forever lost to history because of negligence and poor archiving, I feel a special sense of loss that most will never get to experience this ride in person.

Oh well, at least Epcot still sells booze. Pour some out on the curb for Horizons. Or don't. That alcohol ain't cheap.

The clip below is from the 1991 souvenir video, A Day at EPCOT Center.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Tuesday
Mar182008

SMRT-1 Concept Art (1982)


This concept art for the SMRT-1 robot at EPCOT Center is dated May 3, 1982. SMRT-1 was featured at the Communicore exhibit and "spoke" with visitors via telephones while playing trivia games.

The Widen Your World website has a pretty thorough breakdown of the Communicore exhibit. Their photograph of SMRT-1 appears below. Communicore was closed in 1993 and converted into the Innoventions exhibit in 1994.


Be sure to check out one of the Paleo-Future blog's earliest posts, which happened to be about the The Computer Song. The Computer Song was from the Communicore attraction, Astuter Computer Revue, and certainly gives you a taste of the early-EPCOT atmosphere.

See also:
Astuter Computer Revue
EPCOT's Horizons
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
The Simpson's go to EPCOT
Westcot (1991)

Thursday
Feb082007

Astuter Computer Revue


I don't remember much about Communicore at EPCOT in Walt Disney World. It closed in 1993 and was converted into the half-rate Innoventions Pavillion. However, I did find a little gem of a song that was featured in the Communicore exhibit for just a few short years. The song is called The Computer Song and was composed by the Sherman Brothers, best known for their work on the Mary Poppins and Parent Trap films as well as classic Disney rides like the Enchanted Tiki Room, Carousel of Progress and Journey Into Imagination. The song played at the Astuter Computer Revue attraction.

The song praises the computer for "making life easier" as well as "saving time and headaches." When was the last time you thought of your personal computer that way? The computer noises are priceless. Ah, the beautiful paleo-future. Don't forget to click on "Astuter Computer Revue" to listen to the song in its entirety.

Sunday
Jan282007

The Future was Built on Steel


Apparently U.S. Steel never saw Dustin Hoffman in 1967's The Graduate. According to this U.S. Steel commercial from the 1970s, the future will be built on steel rather than plastic. The future will also be built piece by piece in beige factories to make beige buildings.

Disney's Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World, Orlando is a testament to the forgotten future. The Mary Blair designed mosaic is by far her ugliest creation, reminiscent of a 1970s kitchen that threw up brown acid on itself. The hotel stands as a reminder of misplaced creativity for Disney and Mary Blair and arguably the dying breath of the steel industry.