Saturday Matinee #92, Epcot Week: "Welcome to Your Future" (Somewhere in Time)
Published October 6, 2012
by Albert Gutierrez
Happy Epcot Week, everybody! We conclude our celebration of all things Epcot by checking out what the future has to offer. It's ever-changing, ever-evolving, and ever-present in our lives. And at Epcot, you can make your future whatever you want it to be! Thanks to a nifty do-it-yourself video, the finale of Spaceship Earth allows all guests to create their own future. The 84-second video inserts guests into a custom-made future based on their decisions in things like work or leisure, country or city, schedule or spontaneity. After the ride is done, guests can e-mail their ride video to themselves, where they can watch it for a limited time. Fortunately, I've managed to save one video, which shows just one possibility for what the future may hold...
Welcome to the future! Or should I say, YOUR Future.
Here in your future, getting away on vacation is a breeze. Your smart suitcase knows where you're going and what you'll need.
And with solar power from your home fueling station, you're off.
Don't worry about the house. A P.D.A. with remote control can take care of anything you forgot.
You'll leave your city home in your ultra-light, ultra-powerful, totally-networked family car that can take you anywhere.
Since you like to wing it, your virtual travel agent gives you options for hotels and restuarants along the way. You can just relax and take things as they come.
Getting there is half the fun, so your family car will be equipped with virtual tools to teach you about the world outside your window.
You'll travel quickly and safely to places you can't imagine visiting today. And the moment you arrive at your ultimate vacation destination, you can dive right in to your future.
The end, or should I say the beginning, of your future!
The chance to create your own future was part of Spaceship Earth's third major renovation, which re-opened in 2008. This new Spaceship Earth features narration by Dame Judi Dench; previous narrators included Jeremy Irons, Walter Cronkite, and Larry Dobkin. In addition to some changed/modified scenes, the entire finale has been made interactive by way of the "Welcome to Your Future" ride video. I've read some online complaints about this feature (mostly from old-school Epcot fans who were ironically unwilling to accept change), but I personally love it. It harkens back to the FuturePort selection option on Epcot's now-extinct Horizons attraction. On that attraction, the ride finale was determined by the riders. They could return to the FuturePort via the space station Brava Centauri, a desert farm at Mesa Verde, or a Sea Castle research base.
On Spaceship Earth, our options get more interactive, and thanks to the ride photos from the beginning of the attraction, more personalized. A fun thing to do when taking your picture at the beginning is to choose a random foreign city for your hometown. Having fun with that option has allowed me to be a WDW visitor from Cardiff, Prague, Sydney, and even the far-flung nation of Canada! The attraction even extends beyond the ride vehicle, since the post-show area, Project Tomorrow, allows guests to e-mail their future to themselves and others. And if you picked a random city earlier, you can see that postcard stream its way to a not-always-filled section of the globe.
When I went to Epcot in 2009, I made sure to e-mail our ride video to a former teacher of mine, so she could show the video to her students. I had been assisting in her class for the past school year, and school was still in session during my vacation. I promised them I'd send them a postcard from Epcot. Appropriately enough, the "Welcome to Your Future" was my postcard!
Obviously, these "Welcome to Your Future" videos aren't available on DVD. Your only option in viewing them is for some kindhearted friend to send you theirs, or for you to take a trip down to Walt Disney World, enter Epcot, and ride Spaceship Earth. And, honestly, that's as good a reason as any to take a trip to Walt Disney World! It's for your future!