Friday, November 22, 2013

Future World might have been Discoveryland

WDW News Today has this post by Joe Notaro about a major project at EPCOT in the early 2000's that never came off the drawing board, at least in its original scope.  An initial "simple" upgrade of Future World at EPCOT morphed into a major project code-named Gemini. Disney was looking for ways to improve parks that needed changes to improve their appeal with guests, or were "not aging well".
The simple refurbishment of Future World turned into a major overhaul, complete with a name that would befit even Walt Disney himself: Project Gemini. This concept would completely revitalize the area of Future World, and bring it back to the original edutainment concept for the park. Guests would immediately notice a change in the signage and the overall theme of the land. The Future World name would be replaced with Discoveryland. Imagineering believed that the name Future World placed immense pressure on them to keep coming up with concepts, attractions and technology that was believed to be futuristic. With a name change, Imagineers thought there would be less pressure on them to continue pushing the envelope.
One of the planned changes was to put a roller coaster named Time Racers inside the dome, but there was concern that the structure would not stand up to the physical stresses. The project was not approved, reportedly for financial reasons.
Money became a serious issue. Rumors persist that after the Project Gemini concept was pitched, it was shot down quickly and sent back to the drawing board with the directions to cut costs. It seems the most expensive piece to the project lied in the redesigned Spaceship Earth, and many Imagineers even wondered if the structure could hold the weight and torque of a roller coaster. Also, there was the issue of logistics– it would be difficult to move construction into the geosphere.
So, Project Gemini never made it off the drawing board in its original form.  The only piece that made it into reality was Soarin' but not in its own pavillion as planned.  An interesting bit of information is that Microsoft might have sponsored Spaceship Earth, but that role went to Siemens.

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