Even as Disney continues portraying an outdated “vision” of our world’s energy needs, even as it virtually ignores the realities of the past 15 years, a sleepy little Florida hamlet called Arcadia (ironic, no?) is home to the country’s largest solar-panel power plant.
It’s puzzling indeed to see how Disney has lost the ability to put forth any vision of the future that does not revolve around movies, DVD or ‘tweenie-bopper celebrities. It’s strange, really, to conceive of EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth and Future World gleaming in the Florida sun, standing as testament to the efforts — even the unsuccessful ones — of Walt Disney and some of the men and women who followed in his footsteps to offer up a visionary experience.
No, EPCOT was never entirely successful at taking difficult, esoteric concepts and reducing them to levels that could be comprehended by tens of millions of people a year. That’s an extraordinarily ambitious task, one most museums can’t quiet make work, either. But it tried.
Back in 1995 or so, about halfway through EPCOT’s life (so far), Disney gave up trying. EPCOT, like The Walt Disney Company as a whole (and, it could be argued, society in general) recognized that it was far easier to succeed at creating shiny, pretty, easily digestible entertainment than to educate, inform and enlighten.
It’s just a shame, though, that we have entered that future that EPCOT and Walt Disney once envisioned, but to a large degree we’re doing it without a guide, without someone truly “at the helm” who can guide everyday folks through the confusion and explain what it all means. Walt Disney did that for one generation, and EPCOT tried to do it for the next. Now, there’s literally a bright and gleaming future being built … and no one, really, to tell us how exciting it is.
Sorry, but Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy from 15 years ago don’t count.