Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ratatouille? Why not?

World Showcase needs more attractions; that much, Epcot fans can agree on.  Where they disagree, however, is what kind of attraction.

Oh Kim we hardly knew ye.
(c) Walt Disney World 2012
World Showcase is great, I have spent many beautiful Florida evenings strolling around the lagoon taking in the sights, the smells, and the sounds of eleven nations.  Sadly, World Showcase has not received a "new" attraction since Maelstrom opened in 1988 unless you count "Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure."  There have been updates, but the most recent ones occurred nearly five years ago with "Oh Canada", "American Adventure", and "Gran Fiesta Tour."  Five years is a long time in theme park years.  In Epcot's case, that is 1/6 of its 30 year history.  If you do not count the upgrades or Kim Possible, it has been 24 years since World Showcase has gotten an attraction that is not a restaurant.  That is 80% of Epcot's life.

La Hacienda, La Cava, Via Napoli, etc. have been solid additions to World Showcase, but World Showcase was already heavy on dining.  In the past 30 years, there have been plans, promises, and work on done for new attractions in World Showcase.  A few pavilions even have showbuildings or spaces for showbuildings just sitting there waiting to be used.  There are even spots for more pavilions.  World Showcase is huge.

Hardcore Epcot fans want new World Showcase pavilions.  I do not necessarily disagree with them, but I want Disney to finish the pavilions they already have.  It reminds me of the obsession with a fifth theme park at Walt Disney World.  As it stands, Disney has a hard enough time keeping up with four theme parks (I am sure this is a very daunting task.)  They should build out and finish what they have now.  When that ends up not being enough, then they should expand.  I understand the desire for a new pavilion, but it is not time for that yet.

Ratatouille previously had a presence at Epcot in 2007
for the International Food and Wine Festival
Credit: Yesterland

I love Epcot, and I love its history, and I am ready for a new attraction in World Showcase as long as it reasonably fits.  In my opinion, Ratatouille is a reasonable and good fit for World Showcase, Epcot, and the France Pavilion.  If you were not aware, a Ratatouille ride and area is currently under construction at Walt Disney Studios Paris.  One would imagine that it would be very easy to clone it and add it to the France Pavilion.  

(c) Disney-PIXAR 2007
People bemoan the thought of the Ratatouille attraction because 1) It is the "Sacred Cow" of WDW, Epcot; 2) It is a PIXAR property; 3) something my friend EPCOTExplorer calls "Heavy-Handed Narrative."  I understand that argument, and I can respect it.  For so long, World Showcase and most of Future World has escaped the synergy and character invasion that is rampant in Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom.  However, characters are nothing new to Epcot, and for the most part, they are not very obtrusive  save for the case of "The Seas with Nemo and Friends."  The meet and greets in World Showcase are very organic and necessary.  They are an easy and harmless way to get kids excited about World Showcase, and maybe, just maybe they will make a connection between the characters, the movie, and the country.  See? Meet and greets CAN be edutainment. 

Ratatouille Kitchen Calamity
(c) Disney

I think the big fear is that Ratatouille would do to France what Nemo did to the Living Seas (although some would argue that is a good thing.)  I have a few qualms with "The Seas", but the ride is well done, just misplaced.  There was a missed opportunity to connect the ride with the point of the pavilion, but instead, the powers that be opted for a rehash of the movie: Nemo gets lost; we find him; music!

Ratatouille as a part of the France pavilion is different than the Nemo takeover of The Living Seas.  For one, Ratatouille would ideally be confined to its attraction.  Second, Ratatouille is a modern day French story, and World Showcase pavilions tell stories from their respective countries.  Granted, most stories are much much older than Ratatouille, but it is the same idea.  The closest example is Gran Fiesta Tour which is loosely based off of "The Three Caballeros."  That attraction may not be the best, but it is a decent attraction for the space they had to work with.

(c) Disney

Most importantly, the French like and accept Ratatouille.  If they did not, Disney would not be building a Ratatouille area at Walt Disney Studios Paris.  And why would they not like it?  It was one of PIXAR's artsier films.  If Ratatouille is good enough for the French at their Disney resort, it should be good enough for their pavilion in Epcot.

The addition of Ratatouille also suits Iger/Rasulo/Staggs/Lasseter model for new attractions.  It has synergy and it is PIXAR.  They can sell Remy plush, DVDs, and draw people to a bare section of World Showcase.  A big draw in World Showcase would conceivably take some of the heat off of Soarin' and Test Track. Right now, the biggest draw in World Showcase is Maelstrom.  The days of an original, culture-heavy attraction in World Showcase are most likely long gone. 

In conclusion, I believe that Ratatouille would make a great addition to the France pavilion, World Showcase, and Epcot.  It would go a long way to revitalizing that half of the park and increase attendance at a park which saw no growth (or decline) last year according to the TEA report released last week.

Comments?  Leave one below or tweet @CaptMichael87 and/or @Parkscope

1 comment:

  1. Good post; I'd agree that Ratatouille makes sense for 2012 Epcot/WS. But I'd not want to add it as a replacement for Impressions de France... there seems to be plenty of room for a show building behind and to the east of the pavilion. Not sure how far back the new bakery building goes, any intel there?

    Fortunately the movie was recently upgraded to a flawless digital print, so I wouldn't think they would tear it out.