Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 1219: Keeping Attention

There have been a few changes over at the Universe of Energy in the past couple of years. Most apparent is that the Ellen audio-anamatronic in the dinosaur section went missing a while back and hasn't returned due a leak that required her repair. The snake-like dinosaur she was fighting has been removed too, and they've been replaced by a new set of dinosaurs, although Ellen's voice can still be heard faintly, still fighting off the dinosaur and calling out for Bill Nye.

That's just one example, however, of how rundown this attraction is becoming, and from the looks of it, repairs aren't going to be happening any time soon. It's rather sad actually, to see such a wonderful attraction go to waste, the same way many do at Epcot soon before they're eventual closing. The Universe of Energy isn't closing, at least not right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually faced the same fate as Horizons, The Wonders of Life, and Maelstrom.

The problem, however, isn't that the attraction is run down. That is an issue, yes, but that's not the issue here. The truth is, audiences are turned off by the 45 minute show that you honestly can't escape. With an 8 minute preshow, the interior section of the attraction comes up to 37 minutes. 37 minutes that you must remain fully seated in the moving vehicle. If you want to leave during that time, that's not going to happen either, as attempting to exit the vehicle would result in a complete ride shut down, a process that takes quite a while to reverse.

While personally I love heading into The Universe of Energy on a hot day for a much needed break, the general public isn't likely to remain interested for the entire show, even with Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ellen leading the story. Attraction vehicles that were once packed to the rim now sit mostly empty, and if you stand by the entrance even for a short amount of time, you'll hear and see more than one group turn away from The Universe of Energy because "it's too long." The same can be said for other attractions at Epcot, some of which are some of the best at Walt Disney World: The American Adventure and Impressions de France included. The Canada film, located in the far back of the pavilion, is largely overlooked, and while the film in China is more well-attended, it too lacks the crowds it once had.

It's been noted in the past few years that humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, loosing interest after only 8 seconds on average thanks to the high tech world we live in, and it's not lending any help to theme park attractions in general. Where audiences in the 80's and 90's would once find The Universe of Energy, Horizons, The American Adventure, or Spaceship Earth interesting and enjoyable, today's guests look only to the fast paced, character filled, and high energy attractions that are becoming increasingly popular. I'm not saying that we can all sit through attractions like Universe of Energy for an entire day, but I fear that these changes will result in the loss of some absolutely wonderful attractions at Epcot, as well as the rest of Walt Disney World. It's a shame, really, because I think that's where the real Disney really comes out. The focus isn't about how fast you can go or how many drops it has, but it's instead about the story, and often at Epcot, the connections to our real world that have made us who we are and can help tell us where we're going.

What are your thoughts on attention spans and the impact they have on Disney attractions?

Have a magical day!