Thursday, September 14, 2006

Communi-clutter



Words can’t begin to truly describe the mess that has befallen Epcot’s Communicore. Infact, weeks have passed and still this writer struggles to find the perfect analogy, the sterling turn of phrase, the precise metaphor to summarize the visual nightmare this once comforting futuristic landscape has become.

The clean spartan lines are gone now; the simple visual statement completely covered over in designer excreta. Where less was much more, now more apparently isn’t more enough. Where the original Imagineers worked overtime to create a visually pleasing forward thinking urban environment, later embellishers, well schooled in the art of ugly, spared no expense in making a mockery of Communicore’s once pure and reassuring architectural statement.



Giant metal poles, tightly affixed with metal bolts, painted in garish grunge-mall mauve now spear the landscape. Twine and sharp edged tarps splay out over the area like malevolent fish nets descending for the catch. Add to that endless metal doo dads and twirly gigs, spinning whozits and whatzits, towering kiosks and assaultive souvenir pushcarts, billowing tents and oversized umbrellas. And all of it stirred up with a healthy helping of cheap.

The gentle sensuous lines of Communicore East and West are barely discernable now; the grand vision suffocated by the very worst in bad taste.

Shame on the perpertrators.

Shame.


46 comments:

Drew said...

EPCOT is like a girl I once knew in high school. She was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was hard to tell because she hid her beauty behind massive amounts of makeup that she thought was needed in order to impress guys. It makes me wonder who exactly is Disney trying to impress with all this unnecessary junk? Clutter doesn't evoke images of a perfect utopian future.

Rdrummer19 said...

Too bad we dont have more photos of how it looked... There is still some viewing element left over though, one building was barely touched, even the original carpet exists... so do the windows.... and when they remove the stage every year, you get a good idea of how these buildings were suppose to look.

Mr. Wiggins said...

>It makes me wonder who exactly is Disney trying to impress with all this unnecessary junk?<

Each other.

Respect for the sensibilities of the audience, visual and otherwise, was one of the first victims of the Eisner regime. Taste was taken out and shot -- buried beneath gaudy castle decorations, grimly garish Tomorrowlands and ride vehicles shaped like lozenges of honey-coated Pooh. It struggles to live again -- and well may. But its resuscitation may be some time in coming, and the scars of its absence equally long in leaving.

Anonymous said...

I know it's extreme, but I'd like to see EPCOT return to the experimental and throw in a little environmental with a remake of all it's futureworld center structures to full LEED eco-friendly format.

BratStarMan said...

The original Epcot was my favorite place on earth.

Communicore has become a painted lady.... the communihore.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't this screening a balance of design and a way to help tourists segway from the brutal Florida heat before they embarked on the tour of world showcase? Surely you didn't expect them to keep it exactly like it was in the '80's, that would contradict the posts on this site regarding "museum" vs "not a museum".

Anonymous said...

Wasn't this screening a balance of design and a way to help tourists segway from the brutal Florida heat before they embarked on the tour of world showcase? Surely you didn't expect them to keep it exactly like it was in the '80's, that would contradict the posts on this site regarding "museum" vs "not a museum".

Dave said...

I think the ironic term you are looking for here is "negative space." Negative space is generally a good thing, and what this is missing now as those who believe that every aspect of an experience must be explained in detail to the dumbest people in the world, forgetting that this is an affront to the other 95% of us with brains that have a sense of nuance and appreciate the simple presentation of a great idea.

I know this from working in the medical industry and creating ads using the "For Dummies" approach when 100% of our audience had advanced medical degrees. I can only imagine the thought process must be similar here. If you haven't enunciated every syllable, they won't understand.

Shame indeed!

Dave

Ned Land said...

While I completely agree that the original look was much more pleasing, I wonder if the ugly additions were not more to provide some shade as opposed to be artistic? Certainly, there could have been other designs to provide shade, but they, too, would have obstructed sight lines.

While I am not championing the goofy looking result, I do question if the installation was done in response to guest complaints about no shade. If that is the case, should the park ignore a voiced problem in the name of aesthetics?

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

The simplicity in the CommuniCore of the past acted as an invitation to discover the wonders within. "Come inside," it said. "Dare to explore me!" When EPCOT was deemed boring (which is just another way to say that a lot of society isn't all that interested in exploring of their own volition, but rather having it presented on an all-you-can-eat platter), the time came to entertain them on the outside. Site gags (emphasis on the word gag) and all things shiney were added to really, really make sure that, yes, EPCOT isn't boring. See? Look at all the spinning things! If it looks exciting, then it IS exciting, right?

Umm, no.

CommuniCore now says, "I'm an outdoor mall with the architectural accents to prove it!"

epkat said...

I agree the wand is wrong and needs to go. But that's because Spaceship Earth is a monument landmark, like the Eiffel Tower.

The Communicore is not. This time I don't agree with you. What kind of utopian future do you want to live in? The Communicore was far more sterile and boring before, and far less fun. I say that not as a critic who just wants more thrill rides--I hate thrill rides-- I say this as one of Epcot's biggest fans. I know the spirit and theme that made Epcot great, and I saw it in Epcot's millenium parade. I see that mirrored in the butterfly-like metamorphosis of the Communicore plaza.

Let me explain. Epcot is based on the concept of a world's fair, such as the recent one in Aichi, Japan. This looks more like a fair, because it's festive. Think about the concept of celebrating the future. Celebrating our species. Communicore was not celebratory before.

Someone once asked me what the most beautiful day in my life was. I described a moment in this new, decorated Communicore, in poetic and glowing terms. I later posted that description as a comment to a post about this same topic, on the Epcot Central blog. I invite you to read it and try to understand why this needs to not change back.

Incredibles said...

Elemental Losses: Insight and information on this blogsite!!!

Please do all of us a favor that started reading this site originally for its in depth, insight and excellent observations: dicontinue the site! This last post is a blatant attempt to quickly post something regardless of its content. Epcot might have a few more "metal doo dads" and "whatzits" as you call them, but what park doesn't have more "stuff" in it?! Personally, I don't feel as if the park is as completely obtrusive as you make it out to be. It might not be quite as open, but why should it stay stagnant for 25 years? It should evolve also.

I think I finally figured out why most of you guys (please forgive me for the blanket statement there) are so upset about the nature of the parks. It is work that some of you have had a hand in. You are proud of it. It took you alot of time and effort and thought to produce attractions that are / were loved by literally millions. Anyone of us that doens't work for Disney feels the same pride about our own jobs. Any architect is proud of his work and doesn't want it torn down. Any chef is proud of his entrees and doens't want them taken off the menu. Any teacher is proud of her students and doesn't want them to fail. It is the same for you guys on this site. You are proud of your work.

However, at a location that is prominently displayed for over 50 years (DL) or 30 (WDW) time takes its toll somewhat. Some things begin to harken back to a time when tastes and thought processes were different. Technology evolves. New methods are discovered. All this necessitates that word that you dread: CHANGE. Some changes are not for the best, I admit that. But over the history of the parks, they have for the most part been good ones. Otherwise, the patks wouldn't still have the attendance they do.

If the blog posters on this site do not work for Disney and Pixar like they proclaim, then shame on you for misleading us all. Regardless, I would rather read one post every 3 months if it is thought provoking and true in its essence, than a post every three weeks the nature they have been lately.

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

incredibles said: All this necessitates that word that you dread: CHANGE.

Change without vision is worse than no change at all. This post seems to be about change-for-the-sake-of-change. There is nothing technologically evolved about the current CommuniCore, no new methods introduced. Just a lot of bling. And it's vision-less.

Ted said...

I completely agree with Incredibles.
To add to some of what he is saying, is this site has become fairly negative. Has Disney not done ANYTHING right in the past say 10 years? Can only Walt do anything right? Is ANY kind of change good?
Don't constantly criticize and complain, make constructive criticism with suggestions of how YOU would've have done it.
Don't complain that they changed the Commnicore when you know that they added that stuff to provide shade.
Don't complain for complaings sake!

Rough and Tumble Boy said...

ted said: Don't complain that they changed the Commnicore when you know that they added that stuff to provide shade.

I'm sorry, but adding the quick-fix awnings to the Communicore plaza is like strapping giant umbrella hats to all of the Presidents at Mt. Rushmore.

dean said...

Coming from an architectural background, I can entirely appreciate what the designers of Innoventions Plaza were trying to achieve: creating an actual plaza out of an intersection of curved pathways, adding kinetic sculptural elements to provide visual interest and a sense of excitment and whimsy, developing a cohesive design vocabulary to tie together the different restaurants and services to the Innoventions theme. Im sure they realized way back in 1994 that at some time their vision was going to look outdated and that it would have to be changed.

Now that it is 12 years later, perhaps it time for that change to occurr -- creat a new "heart" of Epcot for the park's 25th anniversary. Take a careful look at how Innoventions altered the guest traffic patterns though Future World from that of the extremely "permeable" Communicore pavilions to bottle-necked passageways that inhibit access to the larger pavilions beyond. Take a look at how Innoventions changed Communicore from an outward-looking series of exhibit halls that embraced the landscape of the surrounding park and turned them into dark and isolated places.

My challenge to the designers of this remake would be to resurect the optimistic spirit (and design sense) of early Epcot while retaining the important human factors the current design affords. Remake Innoventions Plaza into a fresh new environment that represents a clean new approach to the future.

pariartspaul said...

I don't see anything wrong with shade structures, and actually these look well done. Maybe what you find objectionable is some unifying element that ties them in better to the architecture?

I worked on the original exterior architectural model of this building back in 1980 along with the architect (it has been so long... I think his name was McDowell?.. Great to work with...) The building itself is an incredibly massive yet flowing design. Originally, it was designed to be sort of like the ‘Main Street’ of EPCOT. However, like the Main Streets in the other parks, it has evolved over the years into much more of a shopping mall experience, so it is not surprising to see functional additions rather than attractions that tie it in better to the overall park theme (whatever THAT is these days?!) Not that the original CommuniCore wasn’t commercial, of course it was!

As an aside… some years ago the central area of ComminiCore was host to some kind of daredevil circus, where the strung a cable from Spaceship Earth and some guy drove a motorcycle up it! They covered the central fountain with a circus stage and had some kind of finale pageant featuring girls for a finale wearing leftover butterfly costumes from an Alice in Wonderland parade unit! I remember at the conclusion of the first few performances the crowd stood by in silent confusion. Entertainment there has always been a hit and miss thing.

The name ‘Innoventions’ has such a bad rap these days I think they should scrap it and come up with something new.

Anyway, the CommuniCore building itself I think still has amazing potential, Heads up all you new Imagineers - you have some huge spaces to play with in there!

Mr Banks said...

Incredibles (and Ted): I couldn't be happier that you enjoy the current Communicore plaza. As for this site, its goal was clear from the get-go. If you want a list of all the positive things about the parks there are other sites that do that very well. You can also assume that if it's not covered here then it's probably a positive. Ultimately you have to understand that it's our love and passion for the parks that energizes this forum. If we hated the Disney Parks we wouldn't be here.

However, if you want to see a more happy slant in this blog you can be assured that as positive changes happen at the Disney Parks they will be covered here. Joe Rhode and his team on Expedition Everest have already been covered.

Anonymous said...

One can only assume that those ugly fish nets where installed because maybe 10 people complained about being too hot while IN FLORIDA in THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER and perhaps threatened to SUE Disney because they were emotionally damaged when they suffered from a sunburn while visiting Epcot. I'm sure Corporate Legal then quickly drew up the plans for those canopies, and in their infinite wisdom saved the day from certain legal defeat and the subsequent collapse of the entire Walt Disney Company. But seriously, most guests care more about comfort from the heat than "gentle sensuous lines". It would have been nice if the shade could come in a more sensual package, however.

Anonymous said...

shorter Re-Imagineering:
It's been a month, so here's another aspect of Epcot that really sucks. Did we mention Michael Eisner is the devil's spawn? I wonder when the millions of guests each year will realize we think they're retarded for enjoying themselves. I wonder if regular readers will ever catch on we have nothing of merit to offer; all we do is complain. I wonder if they're hiring over at MiceAge.com or LaughingPlace.com's chatboards.

Dave said...

By looking at the "before" pictures, I see that the environment was fairly sterile. It reminds me of the area between the parking lot and the turnstiles - a bunch of ugly concrete that does not inspire.

To be fair to the "after" pictures, they should have been taken from the same place, showing the green areas.

I think they tried to "beautify" the area and provide some shade to a large empty area. They failed in the "beauty" part. I'm not sure what else could have been done, that's not my expertise, but I'm all for making a boring concrete area a little more interesting.

Chris said...

I think it's the moving thingamajigs that bother me more than the overhangs.

I mean it seems the person walking between communicores and seeing those spinning things get interested for 2 seconds thinking "what is it and why is it spinning" only to realize it's pretty much a cheap prop to show movement of...um...something. They COULD do it better, I mean 40 years ago Its a Small World at DisneyLand had moving stuff that served no purpose but it LOOKED interesting. This stuff just isn't.

I DO think the overhangs are bit much and less is more in this case, leave some shade on the sides, but don't stick them everywhere, it makes the space more confusing in ways and less inviting.

Evan said...

I've never been to Epcot, before or after--I'm a west-coast disneyland lover. So all I have to go by is photos, and based on the photos... well, in every case I thought the "after" looked more inviting and interesting.

It could be better, sure, but the "before" pictures are all so sterile-looking, like a silicon valley office park or an airline terminal, not a place you'd actually want to hang out.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here’s the deal on the shade issue.

EPCOT Center and the communicore were designed so you could walk the entire length of either communicore through huge, glass-enclosed, sunlit, air-conditioned walkways. The walkways were at the outer edge of both Communicore buildings and provided excellent vies of the Future World pavilions--similar to the way the Hub works in Disneyland (in that they give glimpses of what lies beyond the pace you are in). These were carefully thought-out, well-planned, multimillion dollar designs.

But in the early 90s corporate Disney got the bright idea to fill the walkways with more merchandise display space and trade show style exhibits (Innoventions). These beautiful walkways were destroyed. To make up for the lake of air-conditioned walkways, they stung a bunch of gaudy “share screens” in the plaza.

Change is good, but only if the people making the changes understand and respect the history of the institution they are changing.

Anonymous said...

Themeparks.com has a beautiful pic of the uncluttered original design for CommuniCore.

CommuniCore

As stated above, the intent was for most guests to walk through the corridors of the buildings, thus the "plaza" was more park-like.

(My apologies to themeparks.com for the direct link.)

Anonymous said...

The real problem with this post is not whether Communicor was better 20 years ago or not, but that the original post is not seeing to forrest for the trees. he is getting caught up in minutia while MUCH larger issues loom. he is rearanging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Yes, the clean open look of the original EPCOT was superior to the current version. However the current version is not some sort of montrosity and it certainly was not created randomly. In fact the notion that Einser era Disney just up and decided to fill the plaza with "junk" goes against the over arcing belief that they were cheap. Why spend money (on junk) if you don't have to/ No, the shade and the twrily deals were put in for a reason, a misguided one perhpas but a thought out reason nonetheless. EPCOT has long had a rap as a boring and slow paced park. Unlike the fanciful structures of the MK or even Disney MGM ECPOT features large, mostly sterile (though certainly beautiful) structures. Adding the spinners and so forth was aan attempt at adding some kinitic engergy to the place. In other words they tried to make it more "fun".

Now do I think they succeeded, no. Do I prefer the original look, most certainly yes. Do I hope that one day a cleaner more modern look returns, you betcha. But look at the big picture here guys. The shade and spinners are NOTHING as compared to the travesty going on INSIDE the buildings that create this plazza to begin with.

Inoventions is an absolute bust, a joke, a HUGE let down and one of the worst possible ways to strat one's visit to the park. Thsi article should be focused on what is inside, not some awnings that are on the outside and very easy to remove and not that bad to begin with.

How about the giant wand and the circa 1999 technology of Inoventions, THAT is what needs to be addressed. Cominicore was all about potential, sadly it was unfulfilled potential. When EPCOT opeend it was partialy filled with fun and interesting exhibits and provided a bright, breezy way to traverse Future World. There was so much promise of the future (remember the proposed TRON arcade?) and yet it was never built. Years later it was gutted and turned into some sort of horrible, dark and now VERTY dated corporate showcase. it was a blatent attempt at Disney to make some cash of of selling real life commericals to it's corporate partners. Well it failed, it sucks and it is time that Communicore itself be restored or repurposed to something worthwhile.

As for the plazza, I will gladly accept the shade and spinners if it means getting something of interest back inside the buidlings.

Van said...

The most offensive update they've done to EPCOT in recent years has to be the wand over SE. I don't need to be told I'm in EPCOT, the big golf-ball in the front of the park tells me that. Oh, and that sphere is MUCH more impressive without Mickey's hand over it.

The comments about how clean lines have been removed, are dead-on. I hope this is a transitional change that will come to an end soon and take us into a new era where EPCOT will be restored to a futuristic park.

On a positive note, I really like the lights embeded in the concrete walkways.

Oh, and I'm still angry that the name "EPCOT" was used considering its nothing like what the acronym suggests.

PARISINJUNE said...

To me, the most of what stands out about this design issue is that it is a theme that has eventually bled into all of Disney works--a quick 1980's design overlay (which was as blown out as the hairstyles) ontop of the clean lines of the 1950's.
The mass transient cultural consumption of the 1950's was offset by the clean lined architecture. It made a BOLD statement and the pulic psychy loved it-so much so that nothing has been done since to rival it's statement. It had set the stage for what remains today and will continue to do so until we start understanding that it is time to think before we build. Think about the culture, think about the past, and think about where we are going into the next century. If we do not, we will end up with another disater like the one we are trying to correct now. We don't need more overlays. We need statement.

DrPepper said...

Is it just me or has this page run out of things to complain about? First the parking lot, then a scene in the great movie ride, now a walkway?

Mr Banks said...

Dr. Pepper: Have we run out of things to complain about? Absolutely not! Keep tuning in and thanks for your interest!

If you'd prefer a site that doesn't complain and is wildly enthusiastic about absolutely everything Disney I suggest:

http://destinations.disney.go.com/parksandresorts/index?bhcp=1

Anonymous said...

I think the changes to Communicore and Epcot in general are based in the fact that Epcot has long been a "DNR" park. DNR, as in Do Not Repeat. They were having difficulty attracting families, who had visited before, to return. There were now more fun things to do than Epcot (especially for teenagers) both on and off Disney property.

Innoventions, Test Track, Mission Space, Soarin'....these are all attempts to lure families (with teenagers) back. A problem that MK and MGM have never had.

By the way, this appears to have eased in the last decade, and Animal Kingdom seems to now be the DNR park (I'll wait and see if Everest will fix this problem in that park.

On the West Coast, it is DCA - which stands for "Disney's California Adventure" or, more accuratly, "Don't Come Again".

Anonymous said...

I think the changes to Communicore and Epcot in general are based in the fact that Epcot has long been a "DNR" park. DNR, as in Do Not Repeat. They were having difficulty attracting families, who had visited before, to return. There were now more fun things to do than Epcot (especially for teenagers) both on and off Disney property.

Innoventions, Test Track, Mission Space, Soarin'....these are all attempts to lure families (with teenagers) back. A problem that MK and MGM have never had.

By the way, this appears to have eased in the last decade, and Animal Kingdom seems to now be the DNR park (I'll wait and see if Everest will fix this problem in that park.

On the West Coast, it is DCA - which stands for "Disney's California Adventure" or, more accuratly, "Don't Come Again".

Anonymous said...

IT LOOKS YUCK YUCK YUCK

Incredibles said...

All of these posts make good points. However, what are we really talking about? An open area at the front of the park and how it needs to change? Yep, and that's all the crux of the original blog was about. Let's think about this logically though... The typical, average Disney park goer does not spend that much time in the area in question. They fly by this area of their way to Soarin, Test Track, Mission: Space, the rides at Epcot that pertain to the "future" concept (and I do realize that the rides no longer add to the true theme of Epcot as a glimpse in to the future.) Then, as World Showcase opens, they move to the countries to explore their offerings. They exit at the end of the day through the area in question. They might notice the movement of the "whatzits" and see the shade provided by the "sharp edged tarps", but they move on.

An anonymous writer hit the nail on the head. The problem is more the theme for Innoventions rather than the walkway to it. There are still some very exciting things in Innoventions that, provided you have the time, are thought provoking and entertaining. But that's just it: most guests don't spend enough time at Epcot to spend a couple hours in Innoventions discovering it. They have to budget their time in order to try to see all the countries and ride / enjoy the attractions / entertainment. It you are fortunate enough to live near WDW and go mutiple time a month, then more power to you. But Disney has to cater to the average family that makes the WDW pilgrimmage only every few years. Does that mean they should dumb it down to everyone's level? NO! Absolutey not! However, it does mean it needs to be exciting and thrilling enough to get those families to WANT to return. Sterile, concrete, open spaces are in almost every city. Done correctly, they are beautiful and inviting. But this is Epcot. Like it or not, it is a theme park. Theme parks need people to turn a profit. Profits help fund ideas and creativity. Ideas and creativity add to the theme parks. It is a never ending circle.

With that said, to complain about one walkway when the attraction in the building the walkway walks up to is outdated and past due for change is like complaining about flies when you should be upset about the crap they are flying around. That's what this site has moved towards. One walkway? A water effect in one ride? Ideas for guests to fund improvement projects? Come on. The people reading this site are not the average Disney guest. We want more.

And one article out of 49 on this site devoted to the positive is not giving credit where credit is due. That's just covering your bases so you can say you have done something positive. Maybe that's why none of the original writers contribute any more to this blogsite. They realize that it is heading in the same direction that you proclaim the parks are moving towards.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand the hostility towards this blog. A person who did not love Disney would not have devoted the time and energy necessary to publish this blog. Yes, there is a lot of negativity but, hey, there truly is not a whole lot of POSITIVE things to say about the Disney parks lately. Watching their slow slide into decrepitutde and neglect in the name of corporate greed is painful to the true Disney lover.

I do agree that Epcot has always been HOT with acres of baking cement. I often felt like Lawrence of Arabia crossing the sun's anvil to get from one attraction to the other.

While the effort to provide shade is a noble one, Disney manages to do the cheapest and easiest thing without any respect for the meaning of the design. This is just another symptom of Disney's disrespect for their customers, or guests as we used to be called. As long as we fork out the dollars, Disney doesn't care how we are treated.

Anonymous said...

For once I actually don't fully agree with this blog. As well as most of the time this would be very unusual for me posting about Epcot, because I generally dislike the park, have never really enjoyed the world showcase area of the park, However the half that I have always enjoyed is the Future World section of the park. Which is that area being discussed in this blog article.

The Centrum needed some visual "sprucing up" it was too bland in some areas for me, but in some areas it should have been left as-was, with maybe a change in paint to match the new colour scheme of the area. I like the added shade in the area, it was one of the areas of park that always severely lacked shade, and on hot and sunny days you could tell. Walking between the Universe of Energy and what used to be The Living Seas, You used to sweat and burn up in the hot sun from the lack of Shade and the only real thing to look at inbetween was the fountains that were in the area.

This new design in somplaces was necessary, and it some areas, where it was necessary it has provided a visual draw for your eye, with some of the twirling objects on those street poles. In several areas, it is gaudy and should have been toned down to a new paintjob.

I haven't been to Disney since 2001 when this project was just starting to gather more steam. Watching it take shape from 1999(I believe thats when this project started) was an interesting experince. I do agree that some pieces of this project have gone WAY overboard, but in some places it was a needed change.

Unfortunately this blog seems to be ignored by the upper Disney Management, as they continue to throw cheap solutions to the many complaints of this blog, and the Disney guest as a whole. I only hope that the new Disney Imagineering Executive will fight to being back some of the glory that has been stripped away from the parks in recent years.

Anonymous said...

Incredibles posts were right on. As a former Imagineer, I had a hand in many of the film oriented attractions. I do not miss many of them that are gone. They were dated three years after opening. I also remember much of the conversation around WDI after opening and a lot of it was regarding the vast open spaces and lack of shade and lack of movement. we looked at all kinds of ways to fill in those spaces with movement. Thank you for the shade and the motion.

Anonymous said...

Eisner hated the place and this is the result. That coupled with the attitude of those running this park of it being nothing more than a step on the corporate ladder has led to its current state. I love the uniqueness of EPCOT and would like to see it flourish.

Bartender Sam said...

Ugly is right but I must also concede that it was probably due to guests complaints regarding the heat. It just probably could have been done better though and no excuse for the Mickey Hand gracing Spaceship Earth.

Speaking of ugly, You guys seriously need to write up about the new DVC wing that is going up next to the Contempoary... ugly.

St. Chris said...

Disclaimer: I last visited Epcot in 2001.

I like the spinning whozits and whatzits. The canopy, however, transforms an open space -- open and inviting vista of World Showcase, open and majestic view of Spaceship Earth, and, importantly, open sky framed by the Communicore/Innoventions buildings -- into a claustrophobic tangle. You almost have to crawl through just to see the fountain and World Showcase. You just entered under the imposing SSE; the big sky of the plaza was there for a purpose.

You want shade? There are already shaded areas on either side, in the open walkways to the east and west. If you're headed for the attractions, why are you standing around anyway? If you're intentionally standing around, why aren't you properly prepared for Florida?

Oh, all right, you win. So how about we put up some canopies over the central hub in the Magic Kingdom? Sure could use some shade there, no? I mean, Cinderella's Castle doesn't have to have a view from everywhere.

At least, as Dave said, Innoventions Plaza could be shaded around the edges without obscuring the view in the middle. The funnel-web design (I expect a giant spider to emerge from the kiosk) is unnecessary.

An interesting thing about the themeparks.com photo, mentioned in a comment above, is the bodies of water on the sides of the plaza. Those are not in the current plaza -- and this explains the apparent discrepancy in perspective between the "before" and "after" photos in this post. It's not that the camera is closer in the "after" shot; it's that the water isn't there anymore. What was the west-side pond now has benches in its center -- my favorite benches of all.

Why complain? Why focus on details like this? Because if you can show why details like this are mistakes, you might prevent bigger wands...er, mistakes...from being made in the future.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to throw my hat in with those who feel that this particular blog was a stretch... Maybe a deadline approaching without anything meatier to tackle, so we'll complain about EPCOT. I can hear Seinfeld now: "The re-designed Communicore Plaza. What's up with that?"

It's the heat, man. I lived in California for my first 28 years of life, eight of those years in southern California. The weather there is a dream. I've lived the last 17 years of my life in Florida, and the summers are brutally hot. Scorching, with humidity like you're always standing in the shower. Imagineers based in California with whom I worked really couldn't fully grasp how miserable it can be without shade here in the summer. A wide, unsheltered urban plaza, even if it has water in it, is a skillet, and all you want to do is get out of sun as fast as you can. Like an ant under a magnifying glass.

Sorry, but the re-designed Communicore Plaza works. It's more comfortable, the spaces are more humanly proportioned, the colors, paving textures, and kinetic sculptures entertain the eye, and it has a life about it that it didn't have pre-rehab. And, it has shade.

After all, it's a theme park, not Brazilia!

Bruce said...

Sorry to say, but judging by the first set of pictures of the Communicore, I actually like the new version better. I'd agree that the spinning doodads add nothing except a sense of cheapness, but that hub with the white sails/shade makers coming up from it is quite beautiful. It's a bit reminicent of the 60's Tomorrowland. However, it looks like they went a bit overboard with the white sails in the second set of pictures.

Frankly I don't think either Communicore was perfect. Although there are elements that I like from both.

Digital Jedi said...

If I want shade I'll go inside a building. I'm not sure whom or what the giant fishnets are shading, but I can guarantee you that they offer about as much shade as a bottle of SPF 15. I'm sure the logic in their addition was, as one poster stated, that they added them in because the original interior flows had been jammed full of more plush, pins and porcelain mugs. Making the addition more about making quick bucks and less about dressing the place up.

Very little (possibly nothing) about Epcot's additions/modifications over the years have been about aesthetics or customer concern, and I'm surprised people in the know would think the motivations behind this addition were any more benevolent then any other.

Aside from all that, I can't grasp the comments I hear ever blog that complain ... about this blog's complaining.

Quote:
"A forum for Pixar and Disney professionals passionate about the Disney Theme Parks to catalog past Imagineering missteps and offer tenable practical solutions in hopes that a new wave of creative management at Imagineering can restore some of the wonder and magic that's been missing from the parks for decades."

And before you even start in on the fact that this particular blog didn't offer tenable solutions, that's our job. The idea of this blog is for them to point to a problem, and then solicit comments on how it could conceivably be fixed. To further milk my favorite metaphor, not every blog is supposed to discuss the cure for the disease. Some of them are just helping us spot the symptoms, even if it's just a little thing.

Of course, your perfectly welcome to agree or disagree with the comments made in this blog. But criticizing them for only pointing to Disney's problems is like going over to your local area Shopping Mall and criticizing them for selling merchandise. It's kinda the point of its existence. While we're at it, why don't we criticize Lucas for putting nothing but Jedi in his Star Wars films. He couldn't include a Samurai or a Boxing Chimp?

If Eisner and his sensibilities are the reason the parks are going the way they going, and we feel that that is in the wrong direction, then who else are we going to blame for those perceived missteps? If Walt Disney's ideas had heart in our eyes, then of course we're going to consistently praise him. You don't walk into Oval Office and say "President this, President that. Is that all you people can talk about is politics!?"

But I digress. I don't think each of us got to see the fully functional Communicore East and West. But much of it was far more interesting and innovative then the so-called Innoventions. There are certainly elements of Innoventions that are fun today. But there just isn't enough. As far as the fishnets are concerned, I only have one problem with them. And it's not their aesthetic quality. It's their very existence. They clutter the negative space and offer no compliment to their surroundings. Though they do resemble cheap circus nets, they might have fit in a completely different location, but they do not fit where they are. They obscure the vistas. They only thing they seem to fit with is yet another merchandising kiosk. I notice they funnel down and "weenie" you right to it. Again, I see no benevolence or customer concern in their design flow. I see somebody else's pot o'gold at the end of the rain-er, fishnet, and a leprechaun who intends to mug me.

Communcore may not have been everyone's cup of tea architecturally speaking. But the fishnets weren't by any means an attempt to modernize or update the look, however surreptitiously it may look like they did. A true update of the design would have either involved full scale renovation (something we were not likely to see during the Eisner era) or simply add more content to the attraction(s), making it something more pleasing on the inside. Right now it's a plain girl with an ugly personality. Innoventions needs a makeover.

Yeah, something else I feel I need to add in response to some comments. The fact that folks are still going to Disney is no proof that Disney is doing things right. Heck, I still go to Disney, and I don't feel that they are doing things right. But I'm invested in Disney emotionally. There is still much there that is a part of me and my personal history. Not everything is wrong with the park. But a lot is, and since I have such an emotional investment, I long to see it fixed. A business doesn’t have to be a complete money-siphoning disaster to be going in the wrong direction. Disney's too big, to much a breathing entity to die off like that. But there are scabs on the flesh. Scabs that shouldn't be there and are marring the beauty of a what it once was.

Inkydog said...

I used to love the clean, calm presence of the Communicore area. Now it looks like a Mardi-Gras barfed on it.

Anonymous said...

excuse the apparent non sequiter, but I'm reminded of something Coco Chanel said about over-accesorizing (to paraphrase) -- a woman should prepare herself for the evening, and then remove one accessory.

It's apparent with Epcot (and elsewhere) that there is too much accessorizing happening. It kills sightlines and befuddles the audience with overload.

More is not better.

purplejuli said...

No one will argue that it didn't look better before, but the metal tarp nets of doom serve one key function that was seriously lacking in the original design: SHADE.