View Full Version : Epcot loses yet another sponsor
08-18-2002, 08:00 AM
(thanks to steve at ukdish)
In a shocking bit of news, we've heard that AT&T is going to be dropping their longtime sponsorship of Spaceship Earth, leaving yet another Epcot pavilion without a sponsor. (I believe The Living Seas and Wonders of Life are also currently without sponsors after their previous ones failed to renew. GE also dropped their sponsorship of Horizons a couple of years before it closed.) Spaceship Earth isn?t going anywhere however, and there are already wild rumors about who might take over, with the popular 'story' pointing to Microsoft.
Elsewhere in management it seems they are thinking up a lot of wild ideas to help bring up attendance at Epcot. One idea is to try and bring more people into World Showcase in the evening by either offering a discount or even free entry into the WS area of the park and the installation of some kind of gate between WS & FW to keep everyone else out. Though I fear that the current trend of just closing down all the Future World attractions (which is just wrong!) hours before the rest of the park closes to funnel everyone into WS will be a cheaper solution to keep any discount or free-guests from getting on any rides. A friend did point out to me that awhile back they did offer a seriously cheap After 4pm Annual Pass into Epcot... so perhaps they could start to offer the same thing for one-day guests. I recall can't see them letting the masses into World Showcase for free however because that would seriously bother the paying guests who spent the day in the park by overcrowding their nighttime experience and viewing of Reflections of Earth.
I've got one item of advice. You want to bring people back into Epcot? Then start building the park up. I had much more fun in Epcot ten years ago than I do now. It?s time to start building up the park and stop replacing thing. Add StormRider in between the Land & Sea pavilions. Replace Innoventions with something really fun and please fix or replace the Sea Cabs with SOMETHING. Maybe the 20,000 Leagues ride from DisneySea? Lets stop this vicious cycle of everything in Epcot being dependent on Sponsorship and start expanding the World Showcase by adding actual rides and attractions to the countries as well as adding some new countries! Put that Sinbad themed ride from DisneySea into Morocco, add something themed to Hercules in Italy, dig out the plans for Mt. Fuji and that River Flume ride for the African area. What ever happened to the Russian Pavilion and the fairy tale dark ride and Olympic Bobsled coaster that you had plans for? Add new counties that could be fun like Egypt and the Pyramids? Sign a deal with Lego to put add Denmark with Lego themed attractions. Some good money in the right direction would fix this park in 5-6 years, but you?ve got to start now. Fortunately, there may be some good things coming down from corporate. Word is going around that some major capital that was once reserved for a future 5th park will be dropped into fixing Epcot.
[ August 29, 2002, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: JohnY ]
08-18-2002, 07:01 PM
This doesn't look good for the future of Epcot, does it?
Since this relates directly to Walt Disney World I'm going to go ahead and move it over to our Disney News, Rumors, and Imagineering. smile.gif Hold on tight...
08-18-2002, 08:35 PM
Is this for real? If AT&T withdraws, will SE be forever changed? Will a new sponsor re-do the entire concept? Is my life changed forever???? :eek:
08-18-2002, 08:47 PM
Hey, it might be a good thing if they decide to get rid of those monitors in the ascent...
08-18-2002, 10:08 PM
That is not all bad news. I would hate to see a new sponsor for SE, as new sponsorship usually means changes in the ride. Please leave the last original FW ride alone!
However, it might be good news that Disney is looking at dropping plans for a 5th theme park, and using that money for building up the current parks.
One idea to help the Epcot attendance would be to allow one day park passes to hop to Epcot and one other park only. So lets say you go to MK for the morning, the one day pass would also allow you to hop to Epcot, but not the other parks.
08-18-2002, 10:29 PM
What is happening to EPCOT? :confused:
When we first started visiting Disney, it was only the MK and EPCOT. So we got to spend a lot of time at EPCOT, and I loved ALL of EPCOT! There was a certain feel I always got while in the park and now it's gone. Don't laugh, but I almost cried. On our last trip back in March, after an hour at EPCOT, my DH turned and said "what is wrong with this place, it seems lifeless".
Hopefully Mission Space will perk things up, but I think Disney really should pay more attention to FW.
08-18-2002, 10:59 PM
I think the biggest problem is that when it comes to Epcot, many people are uneducated on all there is (or in some cases WAS) to do. You mention Epcot to the average Joe Schmoe and you get one of two responses:
2. "Oh you mean that place with that Test Track ride!"
Disney markets Epcot for Test Track and only Test Track these days. Maybe if they marketed some of their other attractions and such, they might get more customers.
08-19-2002, 01:14 AM
I agree that more attention needs to be focused on Epcot. There is a lot of room to make additions to the park, but rides are being replaced instead of being built into areas between exisiting rides / attractions.
I loved Horizons and World of Motion, but they were replaced. Disney could have quite easily built Test Track and Mission: Space in the available space in Future World. The older rides could have absorbed some of the time people will no doubt spend waiting for the new rides, assuming that the Fast Pass system will be used.
I agree that Epcot has a lot of ground to cover, but for the veteran WDW guest - no more than a day is needed (usually only a few hours if the WDW guest knows what rides/attractions they want to visit). I like Epcot and would spend more time in the park if there were some more 'WOW' rides/attractions available.
With AT&T not renewing their sponsorship, I think Spaceship Earth should still focus on 'communications' and get an appropriate sponsor. I could see Microsoft or IBM sponsoring Innoventions, but maybe another company should sponsor SE. I'm sure the Disney Company has enough money that they don't have to rely on sponsors, but I would have thought that companies would jump at the chance to have their name/logo in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Talk about brand awareness!! I'm sure Coca Cola and Kodak aren't complaining...
graemlins/idea.gif How about adding a new country and/or conducting an overhaul/rehab of countries to World Showcase every 5th anniversary of Epcot?
Epcot is my favorite cause of the different things...diff lands, food (ate most meals here last trip), beer...
I hope it doesnt go downhill & more things close.
Ill b checking the new Figment ride mayb in Sept.
Theres so much to do. yes I think people dont realize all the things. Hopefully a new country & sponsors that dont mess things up.
while a 5th park would be cool, maybe the money should b spent on existing parks..new rides that emphasize theming.
08-19-2002, 11:40 AM
EPCOT is great for locals. The Food and Wine Festival comes around when the weather starts to cool off a bit and you can eat and drink all the way around the world. We do it several times a year EVERY year.
I do miss the classic EPCOT rides though....
08-19-2002, 11:53 AM
I think a big part of the problem is guests who don't know what to expect from EPCOT. It's NOT a typical thrill-ride amusement park... it's much more like a World's Fair. Lot's of things to see and do, but not all midway, so to speak. What's happened is with the heavy marketing of Test Track, expectations are built up in the wrong direction. Folks heading to EPCOT expecting a day of thrill rides and attractions are going to be disappointed... that's not what the park is (was?) about.
And yes, EPCOT seems a bit neglected these days... Wonders of Life seemed tired and forgotten when we were last there; Living Seas has that shrinking atrophy thing going on; even "The Land" seemed worn out. Spaceship Earth sounded like it was going to rattle itself apart (though I hear that's being addressed?). But I digress.
Disney has always struggled with how to position EPCOT, and they're clearly still struggling (get the "backstory" right!). Position it correctly, so guests have a realistic idea of what the park experience is, and that'll solve the problem of disappointed visitors who come expecting a day of Test Track-like thrills. But they'll also have to breath some life back into the tired pavillions of Future World. If that means adding a few more thrill rides (Mission: Space seems to qualify), that's fine; but it will also tend to aggravate the expectation problem.
[ August 19, 2002, 11:54 AM: Message edited by: Art Guy ]
08-19-2002, 02:54 PM
Awful news! Not only because that was the only ride we ever had a chance of getting into the sponsers lounge of. ;)
I think the whole problem stems from the fact - as mentioned before - Disney has no idea where to position this. It's not the kiddy thing, it's not the movie thing. It reminds me of nothing so much as a REALLY big science center, with a cultural festival attached. Which is fine as far as it goes.
Truly, though, it's like two parks in one space, and what appeals about one may not be there in the other.
I think I'll take my courage in my hands here... graemlins/idea.gif and suggest that maybe the free admission isn't such a bad idea - in fact (growing bolder) why not grow Epcot out sideways by adding rides and stuff and turn World Showcase into a really neat FREE ADMISSION shopping area? Take it out of the park entirely. (That's what I go there for anyway, shopping. graemlins/blush.gif )
And I really miss the Seacabs, too.
08-19-2002, 03:31 PM
I quite disagree about Microsoft not being a good choice for a new sponsor for SE. I mean AT&T was a good choice too. But considering that SE seems to be the progress of man, but MORE SPECIFICALLY, the progress of man in the are aof communications, Microsoft is perfectly placed to emphasize this. They may not be a telephone company, but their whole direction in recent years has been to push forward telecommunications to their limits! Including use of the Internet for Video communications, data transfer and telecommuting around the world. Seems like a perfect fit to push the concept of how far we've come in the realm of communications to me!
08-19-2002, 07:18 PM
I would really like to see some of the money that was put aside for a 5th park pumped into EPCOT(I would like to see some go into Beastly Kingdom at AK also). If AT&T does pull out I wonder if Verizon would be interested in going in? They are a national company now between the land lines and wireless divisions and long distance service is coming from Verizion. The communications theme of Spaceship Earth would work well with a growing telecom like Verizion...
08-20-2002, 10:39 AM
microsoft? will that mean the ride will freeze halfway through and we'll all have to get out and restart? ;)
actually, maybe new sponsorship is a good thing. it could freshen up the park a bit. (and at least get rid of that deafening 'att GLOBAL COMMUNITY' voice shouting at you at the end of the ride.)
i wonder why epcot is so sponsor laden to begin with. i know that dinosaur in AK is sponsored by McDonalds -- but are there any other attractions with sponsors outside of epcot?
08-20-2002, 02:16 PM
most of Animal Kingdom is sponsored by Mcdonald's.also Space Mt. is sponsored( I think) I know Legend of the Lion King was sponsored by Kodak,That's all i can think of now.you know what Epcot could very well be called the Sponsored theme park of tommorrow.
08-20-2002, 04:02 PM
Art Guy and GrandFl pretty much posted what I was going to say (well said!), so I'll just expand briefly on what Art Guy was saying (actually I'll just repeat most of it, putting it in different words). Epcot needs the classic omnimover rides and no thrill rides. Adding thrill rides to a world's fair changes people's mindsets. If the public understands what they will be seeing in the park, 90% of them would accept it and enjoy it. People have changed, but everyone is still fundamentally the same person. Its true that our society might be used to instant gratification and thrills, but once they start riding these dark rides, I honestly believe most people would get into it. The only two reasons Epcot is struggling is (a) they seriously added nothing to the park for a decade besides Maelstrom, and then took the lack of attendance as people not understanding the park, and (b) they tried and are trying to change the entire feel and meaning of a park by destroying classic attractions (Horizons, WoM, and JII were to EPCOT as Potc and HM are to the MK) and replacing them with Test Track and Mission: Space. Mission: Space is going to be, what, a four minute ride? So what happens after people ride Test Track and Mission: Space? Their adrenaline will be up, but the rest of the park is designed to excite the mind. So what happens is they leave the park, completely annoyed because they do not understand what the park is...
Ironically, with WoM and Horizons, we had almost a half hour of attractions, instead of the eight minutes we will have now of mismatched entertainment.
I guess I should never say the word brief right before I start talking about Epcot. smile.gif
One last thing...I used to feel inspired after visiting Epcot. I used to want to get back into the world and see how amazing it really is, and invest my time in making it a great big beautiful tomorrow. Now goodness knows what it is about. That's why Epcot feels "lifeless" now. Its soul was removed (forgive me for being so melodramatic).
Oh yeah, and i'll miss AT&T. smile.gif
08-20-2002, 06:35 PM
Wow, kind of makes you wonder why corporations are pulling out of sponsoring Disney. Maybe these companies are just cutting back on expenses like everyone else.
I have a question that is related to the original topic but not just for Disney.
Do Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Universal have sponsors also or do they pay for their attractions themselves?
[ August 20, 2002, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: Roland ]
08-20-2002, 06:57 PM
I am certain that the primary reason for companies leaving is financial. In the current economy and concern over the books being right, companies are looking hard at every venture they are in to be sure there is value to the investment and that it makes sense on the bottom line. If it fails to pass those tests, it is dumped. So, I don't believe anyone should equate a corporate sponser pullout with anything Disney is doing wrong. Although I do agree with many of the comments made in this thread.
08-23-2002, 02:00 AM
Actually, if I was a potential sponser, I sure wouldn't want to spend any money on Disney right now.
I look at the way Eisner's company relates to other companies, and it's not good. I look at the way Pressler's parks are managed, I see nothing but excuses and cannibalization.
Sponsership might be a good idea if the business of Disney was done responsibly by those in charge
08-23-2002, 03:10 AM
The last time I was in epcot was in '96, I'll be going there in nov of this year and I'm prepping myself for not being able to go on my fav rides anymore.
Any new investment to actually improve and add to the park gets my thumbs up, maybe we all should send emails, fill out "customer satisfaction" forms and write letters to tell them this is what we want? Tho, that is assuming they read them now adays.
As for the sponsor of SE, maybe Cisco should offer - replacing one big comms firm with another big comms firm smile.gif
08-23-2002, 05:06 AM
I think the ideas at the start of this conversatino about what Epcot can do for it's future are great. However, in reading through I picked up on the plans for a 5th park!!! graemlins/muscles.gif
Any input as to what this park may be? Where? How big? Theme? etc? Any details at all?
08-23-2002, 06:46 AM
Originally posted by Roland:
Do Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Universal have sponsors also or do they pay for their attractions themselves?All of these parks have sponsors for some attractions. Deer Park is one of the sponsors for Six Flags and Air Lingus is one for Busch Gardens. I can't think of any for Universal, but I know they have some!
08-24-2002, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by DisneyWizard:
All of these parks have sponsors for some attractions. Deer Park is one of the sponsors for Six Flags and Air Lingus is one for Busch Gardens. I can't think of any for Universal, but I know they have some!Thanks for the info. I was wondering because it seems that there are a lot of ways to sponsor an attraction or park in general for the advertisement factor without actually handing over cash. I just don't recall it being at Universal.
According to the resort mugs thread, soda is given freely for the advertisement factor alone.
[ August 24, 2002, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Roland ]
Jeff Handshaw 100+visits
08-25-2002, 12:26 AM
There sponsorship contract expire and they either choose to renew or not.
AT&T was not the original sponsor of SE (which has undergone many updates since it first opened), neither was Nestle the original sponsor of the Land (Kraft was). I believe that Kodak (Imagination), GM (Motion) and Exxon (Energy) were the only original sponsors who have continued to renew their contracts since it opened, and if no word has been heard, then I guess for the 3rd decade!!!
Sponsors pay something like $10 million to 'sponsor' an attraction/pavilion for 10 years.
[ August 25, 2002, 12:35 AM: Message edited by: Jeff Handshaw 100+visits ]
08-25-2002, 04:00 PM
I have to agree that Disney needs to learn how to market Epcot. People will go if they know and understand what they are going for! People got to museums and many people love going to museums! So the reason Epcot is failing isn't because it's educational. It's because people expect it to be all rides like all the other parks.
And as was mentioned earlier, Disney didn't change Epcot for over a decade and decided to way to combat the falling attendance was to put in a thrill ride. Well, now you have thrill seekers rushing in, riding one ride, and then being bored all day! And that's exactly what they're going to tell their friends. That they went and spent $45-50 to ride one ride. Adding thrill rides is ok as long as you market more than the thrill rides. Watch the vacation planning video sometime. It seems all they do is try and build up how thrilling the attractions are here! Which in my opinion is not the way to advertise this park.
08-28-2002, 08:13 AM
Santamurray hit it on the head. The World Showcase is one of my family's favorite parts of DW and we always spend hours there. The atmosphere is enchanting, and we get excited when we hear rumors of a new country being added. Test track is fun, but this thrill ride emphasis is akin to corporate obsession on quarterly profits. Any foresight, re-investment, and creativity are sacrificed to appeal to the basest instincts. If thrill rides were what made DW special, it'd be just another Six Flags with no special appeal to all ages. People come to DW (and we frequent this board) because DW has always offered a total experience based on an appeal to all senses, not just primal screams.
08-28-2002, 09:33 AM
Reading through all these replies really got me to thinking about Epcot, and Disney in general. It seems that all of us understand Epcot, and know exactly what it is supposed to be, but then why does it seem that Disney doesn't understand it? As was said so many times, getting rid of WoM, Horizons, and JII would be like taking PoC and HM from MK. They turned a park that someone could spend at least two days in, without fully exploring it, into a place that people leave not knowing what they just did or saw. Epcot used to excite so many people's minds, and that was how it was supposed to be, but slowly but surely, it is changing for the worst. Epcot always used to be my favorite park, but as it gets worse and worse, it goes down my list, and soon, AK will be creeping up on it. I just pray that they figure out what they're doing wrong to the incredible place known as Epcot, and they turn it into my favorite park once again.
Imagineer Wanna Be
08-28-2002, 11:40 AM
It almost seems like Disney's current corporate philosophy is to remove it's "timeless" attractions in favor of lackluster replacements. Can anyone honestly tell me that Wonders of Life and The Living Seas didn't deserve the wrecking ball moreso than Horizons, World of Motion, and Journey Into Imagination? Will The Land remain an underglorifed food court? Does Communicore deserve to be locked up forever?
The beauty of Horizons, World of Motion, and Journey Into Imagination was that these 3 attractions required very little of the "up to date" factor, whereas, Wonders of Life, The Living Seas, World of Energy, and Innovations require constant attention. All of these latter mentioned attractions are, quite frankly, boring because Disney is not devoting the time and resources necessary to keep these attractions fresh and exciting.
I'm actually pleased AT&T is choosing not to continue with their sponsorship of Spaceship Earth. Should a new sponsor, such as Microsoft, pick up the sponsorship, I wouldn't be so much concerned about the ride being altered as much as I would be looking forward to the post-ride activities section of Spaceship Earth being updated with new technology and new activites. Let's be honest, those post-ride activities at Spaceship Earth are painfully outdated.
My point is, don't look at a loss of sponsorship as the end of an era for EPCOT, but a chance for someone with a new perspective to come in and give EPCOT the technological and some might say "spiritual" lift it so desparately needs.
08-30-2002, 12:23 PM
Imagine my despair when I realized that our family had arrived at WDW and, more specifically, EPCOT, on the day AFTER Horizons had closed forever! Not to mention the fact that on our previous visit, Horizons was down for repairs. graemlins/crying.gif
Imagine my discouragement on my last trip through the Living Seas pavilion with the hydrolators being closed, some tacky looking partition in place, and the interior looking like some third grader's attempt at an aquarium. graemlins/sick.gif
Imagine my disgust when Journey Into Imagination was destroyed and replaced with, now what was that thing...........gee, I don't even remember what that was! :confused:
My most favorite park in the world is losing its uniqueness. Future World seems to be morphing into some place else to stick some thrill rides because the corporation doesn't want to shell out the funds for a new park. The World Showcase looks sad and lonely. Thank heavens that IllumiNations still looks great.
How can we, as the regular people, who pay our hard-earned money as return guests, impress upon Eisner or whoever is "in charge" to get it together??? :confused: :confused: I see movies being cranked out (along with merchandising galore) and international parks getting the star treatment, but where is the care and concern over the "old home place." Just because you build a house does NOT mean it doesn't need constant attention! The current state of affairs leads me to feel that Eisner (or whoever) thinks me quite the buffoon who will return to WDW over and over, no matter its condition.
Well, you know, one day, I might just get sick and tired of getting "taken."
Disney Corporation, you better wake up. Run these parks as if Walt himself were standing over your shoulder every day. His parks have been such a phenomenon because of his commitment to excellence and creativity. This resting on your laurels stuff needs to come to a screeching halt. Then, your loyal fan base just might come running back to you.
Remember the baseball strike a few years back and its result on fans' interest?
I do......... graemlins/thedolls.gif
Please forgive my ranting and raving...I just had to voice my never-to-be-humble opinion! I just love WDW and hate to stand by and watch its ruination. Perhaps this is the dark before the dawn -- I hope. graemlins/mickey.gif
08-30-2002, 02:22 PM
I absolutely agree with what most of you are saying here. EPCOT was always my favorite park because of the vast array of new experiences you could have in one space. If only school could have been as entertaining while educating as EPCOT once was! This year two of my friends who had never been to Disney before were excited about going to EPCOT because they knew it had been my favorite since it first opened. Typically I love taking people to Disney who have never been before, or haven't been since they were kids because it gives me a chance to look at the park again through their eyes. I felt bad for them because they couldn't see what I once loved so much about the park. I used to make a beeline for JII as soon as I passed through the entrance. I wanted to cry when I saw what they replaced it with the first time!! For the past three or four years, I found myself growing bored when I walk through World Showcase. The potential of being a fantastic park again is there. Maybe Disney should be asking us, the ones who are posting to this board and obviously care what happens to our park, what we want to see.
To the Disney powers that be: I beg you to rescue the park!!!!!!!
08-31-2002, 08:14 AM
Didn't Communicores close from lax attendance, everyone pulling out of it between 89-94 and technology advancing so fast, as soon as they put something in it was obsolete? There was only 1 sponsor that kept their pavilion 82-94. Exxon.
09-01-2002, 11:09 AM
In the mid and late 90's Epcot/Future World was always really crowded. Oddly enough, it seems like ever since they changed JII that has changed. That to me is sort of the turning point. I never felt the same about Epcot after that. It does seem like they destroyed future World's best rides doesn't it? I know that when I go to Epcot my time in FW is very limited. I usually ride SE every trip but some of the other attractions I really don't care for so I either ride them once every few trips or not at all. I still enjoy WS, there is great food and shopping and of course Illluminations! I even like Maelstrom and El rio de tiempo more than most of FW. My favorite imaginitive "dark rides" at Epcot
are gone.....maybe if they had never taken away JII and Horizons and put money into updating the Living Seas maybe FW wouldn't be so empty. If they really wanted Mission:Space in Epcot couldn't there have been a better place than Horizons?
09-01-2002, 11:38 AM
I agree that Epcot needs to have its 'hey look at me' theme adjusted, It should be 'sold' as a educational but fun park, not a thrill park, a big interactive museum.
Around where I live we have a Renaissance fair, which is set back in that era. It is really cool, and LOTS of people go to it. If Epcot gets sold like that is "You can go and experence some of each country from the globe in the World Showcase" it might bring the attendence up and let people know the real purpose of the park.
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