Department

Department of English

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Aronstein

Description

In the mid - 1960s, Walt Disney introduced plans for EPCOT, a state - of - the - art city dedicated to showcasing American innovation in industry and technology. In 1966 Walt died, as did the idea of EPCOT as a city. The EPCOT name and some of the EPCOT concepts were later reformatted into an educational theme park EPCOT Center. The purpos e of this project is to examine alterations made to EPCOT Center since its opening in 1982 and to determine how these changes impact the park as an educational experience. I explore the narrative of the park and the narrative of its attractions through a c ombination of field observation, literature review, and video review of extinct attractions. Overall, park attractions shift from being primarily educational to being entertainment based, either through the inclusion of animated characters or the addition of thrill rides. Attractions retaining an educational purpose present their information in a less formal and less academic style than the original attractions. These changes in attractions’ focus and narrative style indicate corporate perceptions of what e xperiences park guests want and what they are willing to pay for, as well as act as an indicator of larger social trends.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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EPCOT to Epcot: Changes in Educational Approach in Disney’s EPCOT Center Attractions

In the mid - 1960s, Walt Disney introduced plans for EPCOT, a state - of - the - art city dedicated to showcasing American innovation in industry and technology. In 1966 Walt died, as did the idea of EPCOT as a city. The EPCOT name and some of the EPCOT concepts were later reformatted into an educational theme park EPCOT Center. The purpos e of this project is to examine alterations made to EPCOT Center since its opening in 1982 and to determine how these changes impact the park as an educational experience. I explore the narrative of the park and the narrative of its attractions through a c ombination of field observation, literature review, and video review of extinct attractions. Overall, park attractions shift from being primarily educational to being entertainment based, either through the inclusion of animated characters or the addition of thrill rides. Attractions retaining an educational purpose present their information in a less formal and less academic style than the original attractions. These changes in attractions’ focus and narrative style indicate corporate perceptions of what e xperiences park guests want and what they are willing to pay for, as well as act as an indicator of larger social trends.