EPCOT is not for a family of six who wants to spend their time being passively entertained. EPCOT is not for small children who want desperately to dine with a princess or pirate. EPCOT is not for people who find the news and documentaries boring and pointless. EPCOT is not for guests who feel education is meaningless.
Some theme park fans scoff at this kind of longing for silly little things like educational value and enlightenment in Disney parks. A commentator on EPCOT Central expresses the opposing viewpoint.
That fact of the matter is that you have to change and grow if you want Disney to remain #1. the things that were once fun and thrilling arent so much now a days, now a days poeple want thrill rides and less education.
I've never heard an abandonment of education mentioned in the context of "growth," but the point is clear, we just aren't that into learning anymore.
The common perceptions about what people believe and how things really are in the world are often wrong. For example, 75% of Americans believe that crime is going up and getting worse. However, statistics reveal a long-term downward trend in crime throughout the country. Another example is that many Americans believe illegal immigration is ruining the country. The best studies show that there is probably not a huge impact positively or negatively. It's a real issue, to be sure, but the outrage is not proportional to the net result (see the work of Borjas, who is quoted by both pro- and anti-illegal immigration advocates). By the way, what would most people say when asked which state downloads the most porn? California? Actually, it's Utah.
But one of my biggest disappointments is this idea, so astutely stated by the EPCOT Central commentator, that Americans are not interested in education anymore and that in some mythical time they were more interested in education. We are not interested in learning anymore. We are not interested in intelligent entertainment anymore. Are kids, for example, simply mindless drones that exist only to be molded by commercial interests, flashy colors and derivative entertainment? Based on what I see coming out of entertainment companies, this is what the really smart people who run them actually believe as they routinely underestimate the intelligence of America. Individuals get in on the act as well, often underestimating the intelligence of each other in a kind of elitist superiority contest.
As is usually the case, this kind of widely held belief is dead wrong. A cursory glance at the top 1000 web sites according to Google shows that Wikipedia is number four with an estimated 390 million unique visitors per month. A closer look at the most popular Wikipedia entries include historical events, entries about specific countries and historical figures. Every month, millions of pages about math, science and history are served up. The arts, too, get a good look. William Shakespeare is in the top 100. And yes, you'll find plenty of traffic for entertainment figures near the top, but educational entries are often spread among many more specific entries in a particular field of study. There's only one Michael Jackson. Even Abraham Lincoln made the top 25 for 2009. Clearly, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln ought to be shuttered forever. I can't imagine how hard the fight was to get that attraction reopened.
The fact of the matter is that education is more popular now than it ever has been. More people are going to college than ever before. Woman outnumber men in universities today. Don't be fooled, people are smarter and more curious than they ever have been. Children are as curious about knowledge today as they were in 1955. Nothing has changed but our perceptions.
There's a demand for learning, especially learning that educates as well as entertains, and the powers that be at Epcot are missing the boat.