“What future did you choose, Dad?”
My oldest asked me that after we got off the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney’s Epcot Center. Or, as my youngest calls it, The Apricot Center.
The ride is the one that takes place in the big Epcot ball. The basic story is about how human communication has advanced from writing on cave walls to this marvelous thing we call The Internet.
Near the end of the ride, you get to choose, on a screen in front of you, how you’d like your future to be. Riding with the Apricot girl, we chose a future focused on the Home, living in the Country, in a dwelling made of Natural Materials, and Car-pooling to work.
From this, the Disney people created a video using 0ur faces, to show us living in a home that runs on green energy, in a world that’s less polluted and a lot more sustainable than the one we have now.
So I thought to myself, “This is pretty positive. Rather than focus on the next Disney movie or something from the Epcot Gift Shop, the take-away message is one about energy, protecting the planet, changing the status quo.”
It’s not like the Disney World experience emphasizes those things. Besides Epcot, we saw Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Disney is a place of excess and consumerism. But it’s also a place to spend time with your family. And of all the rides and attractions we saw on our recent trip, I’d have to say that spending time with my wife and two girls was the highlight.
So does the message of green really fit with this Disney experience? Sure. Why not? Disney is a happy place, without the troubles of modern life (at least on the surface). The Mickey Mouse people have built in several positive lessons as part of this, including the Epcot ride, and conservation messages throughout the parks.
It would be easy to dismiss the green at Disney as window dressing. And it is, to some extent. But it got my kids talking.
After we got off the Epcot ride, they played a game that required them to use various forms of electricity to power a city.
“Don’t use the coal,” my oldest daughter yelled to her sister. “Use wind and solar.”