Monday, April 21, 2014

The Seas with Nemo and Friends- You Annoy Me


 Many moons ago, when I was a small child I used to love "The Living Seas" pavilion at Epcot Center. It wasn't the most impressive to most people but I always loved how you felt underwater, plus they had one of the only aquariums in Orlando.  However, this new incarnation of the pavilion, featuring projected cartoon Disney fish? It just annoys me.

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Allow me to explain-
 Years ago, Epcot Center had a point. Future World, where the pavilions are located, was there to teach and inspire while having fun. Edutainment at it's finest and the Epcot of yesterday did it amazingly well. Each pavilion had a topic and a point- The Living Seas is exactly as it sounds.  It showed our need, reliance and effects on the ocean.

  Opened in 1986, The Living Seas was a building marvel sponsored by United Technologies. It was deemed to be the 6th largest man-made ocean featuring an impressive nearly 6 million gallons of salt water.

It provided both entertainment and education. A quick run down of the attraction is as follows. You had a short pre-show movie called "The Seas" which talked about earths volcanic past and how our oceans where formed.  From there you entered a false elevator called a "Hydrolator" which gave the illusion of descending hundreds of feet into the ocean, your destination being Sea Base Alpha. From here you would enter your "Seacab" which would travel though the ocean, giving you information along the way and drop you at your arrival point.

 Once you arrived at Sea Base Alpha you had plenty to explore. Themed as an experimental underwater laboratory, you could watch how waves are made and how they effect the ocean and land. One could stand for hours at the huge animal viewing areas, allowing you to see into the man-made reef. Plenty of technology was involved also- Wetsuit and Diving was displayed and talked about plus what advances have been made. You could learn about marine mammals, the oceans ecosystem and so much more in one quick shot. All presented to you on an easy to understand level so that most people could easily grasp what was being talked about.

Which brings me to Nemo and why it annoys the piss out of me.

 The Edutainment is gone. That is today's crux of the problem- if something isn't 95% entertainment and 5% learning, people won't like it. The Seas with Nemo and Friends is no exception to this new rule in a dumb world.

 Most of the education is gone, replaced with cartoon fish which don't really tell you anything other then "be nice to the ocean". They don't tell you why or even why not- just be nice.  You don't even get classic Disney with this attraction, you get said cartoon fish projected onto the glass with those real fish things sometimes swimming behind that. It's an over-glorified fish tank. If I wanted to see that, I'd stuff "Finding Nemo" aquarium decorations in my home aquarium!

 The area that was once "Sea Base Alpha" has become an even bigger joke. Years ago the pavilion had many employees who happily answered questions, today your lucky to find any outside of the gift shop (we saw one trying in vein to get kids to interact with static display of cast fish bones who then left to assist the diver that came out of no-place).

  People tend to head straight to "Turtle Talk with Crush" then they leave.  The education parts have been relegated to signs, sometimes featuring more cartoon fish. There is no narration and no point anymore to the few remaining exhibits, the only area we found employees talking about the animals were at the Manatee tank. No one is really impressed with it, except for kids who are there only for the cartoon fish. I was bored stupid in 10 minutes flat, perhaps I'm now the minority but I enjoy learning new things. The Seas with Nemo and Friends has almost none of that left.

 I do remember one funny moment though- Someone spotted a sick/dying fish in the tank. You would have thought someone was in there with a trident hunting the thing the way people reacted!

 They were utterly appalled at the idea of an animal dying at Disney- How DARE they show that to children!  Fish live and die, it happens- Remember that whole "Circle of Life" thing which Lion King taught us?  Disney didn't do it on purpose, they can't control when an animal (any animal) will reach the end of it's life. It's sad but it's life. To act like they can just shows how dumb people have really become.



 Overall, the pavilion felt like a hollow shell with a new coat of paint. Granted, the yesterday version had it's own problems but compared to the new version- it was genius. This is a raging problem with Epcot today, the core of it's main belief-  Teaching Education, Innovation, Technology through  Entertainment has been striped from the corpse.

 It's a sad thing but what more can you expect from a world where everything has to be pasteurized for you?