by Daniel L Rappaport
Please read to the bottom, as there is a surprise!
"Hey! What's up Nova Corps?!"
- Star Lord "I'm far, far more important than Star Lord. Who does he think he is, anyway?", asked an exasperated Morgana.
"I really don't think that you should be questioning the Guardians of the Galaxy.", mentioned Ariel. "Ha! We made them! We make everything!"
"Are you sure about that?", said Lazul.
If you would like, please read my statement on why I have blog posts on Disney here.
I have been lucky enough to have gone on Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rewind, twice now, and I really have to say that it is, of course, the finest work that I have seen, out of Walt Disney Imagineering, in roller coaster design, to date.
As many people, I am sure were, I was extremely curious to know how in the world this franchise was going to fit into Epcot?
Was it going to be horribly shoehorned, with little to absolutely no regard of the awesome edutainment value that is the absolute core of this park?
Should it be tacky?
Was it going to be a simple, and not well thought out cash grab?
In the former Epcot Experience show, where, in brilliant Circle Vision 360 format, coordinated with a fantastic central model, there was, maybe, a handful of minutes on it. It didn't show too much, in terms of the story and what was going to happen.
Honestly, it didn't have too, and, I am sure, when they put that show together, Imagineers were still conceiving of it all themselves.
Still... It did little to quell my fears of the above. At the same time, being that I know Disney, my gut kept telling me to reserve judgement, and wait until I can actually get on it.
I was absolutely blown away.
Not only does it educate, but it does so in the most adorable way. It uses the fiction of the Guardians of the Galaxy, to teach whomever goes through the attraction, about our galaxy, space, the possibility of alien life and time travel, and the list goes on.
I don't think that I am really giving too much away, here. Even if you were to watch a spoiler video of the whole thing, from beginning to end, you will still be a changed person after you have ridden it. No amount of internet media, V.R., A.R., etc... could possibly replicate actually going on the attraction.
This is due in large part, because the queue, pre-show and main show (the actual roller coaster) are all elements that a flat screen could just never do justice.
Heck. You are even missing the thrill over what which of six songs will play, when you are on the coaster!
At least, now, when reflecting back on the edutainment aspect of it, and knowing how Walt Disney Imagineering thinks, I would absolutely chance a bet that they definitely thought about how much educational content to put in, vs. how much of the fiction.
I think that Test Track was an amazing move, in this direction, while, not really having any real Disney owned mythology to that story, is, for all intents and purposes, the first real thrill attraction in Epcot.
And, it has been immensely popular since. It isn't unheard of to have queues averaging 90 minutes or more.
Corporate also loves attractions with a high throughput. The faster a guest gets on and off an attraction, theoretically, the more time they have to buy food, merchandise and partake in other paid services.
Now, I don't think that this is really an exact science, and with this being said, Disney attractions and adventures are definitely, the most detailed, immersive and plot rich, in the world. So, it isn't only about guest throughput.
Bringing this back to Guardians, and the evolution of the Epcot attraction, the balance of education and entertainment, is not only multi-layered, but incredibly rich. Clearly, Disney didn't want a dissertation on the mechanics of the universe, how cities are built (yes, that's in there), how wormholes might work, or even any encyclopedic length articles on the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves.
As per usual, they wanted to create something new, different, heartwarming and pushes the boundaries of what edutainment can be and is becoming.
And, I mean... Of course..... Merchandise will fly off the shelves. And, why not? I don't want to even begin to think about how much just this attraction alone costs to run, per day.
Now, the roller coaster itself is a bit of an engineering miracle. Take Disney's own, invented omnimover (what is used on The Haunted Mansion and The Little Mermaid), and put it on a roller coaster.
This just happens to be the largest indoor roller coaster - in the world.
The reason being is that Disney wants to direct your line of sight to exactly where they want it to go. Trust and believe. On a coaster as dynamic as this, you really do want that. Without it, the story (and, yes... The plot does continue on the coaster itself) would be far, far more difficult to figure out. For me, because this particular plot (and I really don't want to give away too many more spoilers than I already am) is so rich in detail, it took two trips and a YouTube video of someone explaining it to me, before I got every last detail.
The very first time I went through it, I was just so immersed in the spectacle of it all, that it was a bit difficult for me to follow the exact path of the cosmic generator, why we were even going backwards, when we launched, in the first place, who Xandarians and Terrans were (because, we are both humanoid species), etc... Don't think ill of me.
I was also shuttled through the queue the first time around, a bit faster than the second, so, I didn't get as much detail.
Now, I love the very front of any coaster. In hindsight, especially on this one, the front is probably the worst place to be, from a plot perspective, because you don't get all of the detail that is happening on the enormous screens (as hard as Imagineering tried).
The second time around, I as actually in the very back and it was much, much better.
Okay. Enough about this incredible attraction.
How does this inspire Pazzaria Productions, and what does it mean for my company, moving forward? Well.... Throughout my relationship with this attraction, I have been thinking about this very notion. What can be learned, here?
I think that I am inspired, most, by how the fictional narrative enhanced the educational one, and how that played out throughout the experience.
These notions can certainly be played with, intertwined, broken down, made better, etc... I am absolutely a child of Epcot and recall the park as far back as the original Horizons and Universe of Energy. I even remember World Showcase pre Morocco.
Indeed, it is definitely my favorite theme park, hands down.
What kinds of edutainment projects will Pazzaria Productions come up with?
It just so happens that we are currently working on an augmented reality experience of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Where is the "edutainment" part, you might ask?
Well, I certainly studied it in high school, and it's my favorite Shakespeare play. Are we surprised?
I want to do the entire play, for sure.
As I write this, this definitely brings to mind how I might do a "making of". Maybe I integrate some of the characters into it. Maybe they travel through time, from the Renaissance era, to now, to explain to us the genius of Shakespeare (in a respectful way, of course), all in augmented reality.
The technology is here, and I think that it would be a really, really awesome thing to do.
Is augmented reality groundbreaking? No. Not exactly. Neither is a roller coaster, in and of itself, right?
It's a fairly nascent industry, with tremendous opportunity to explore a ton of possibilities.
Likely, these will all come about, through the development process.
With that, I say that no matter how long you have to wait in a virtual queue, or, if you have to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for it, it's worth every moment of your time and every penny. I don't really say that about every Disney attraction, because, to be honest, many aren't worth it. This, I would ride over and over again, and definitely plan to. "Bravo! Bravo to Daniel and his brilliant assessment!", cheered on Lazul.
"Eh... It was halfway expected....", quipped Kabire.
"Kabire. Don't you see the power of such words? They have the power to change even what we do. After all, much like those clever Disney Imagineers have done, he is a part of the same, shall I say, "stardust", as we are.", said a very wise Grenadiya.
"Everyone, now... One... two... three...", exclaimed Ariel.
"Ugh. If I must.", complained Morgana.
"LIVE! YOUR! FANTASY!"
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