Walt Disney World’s Epcot — the park-within-a-park that encourages children to appreciate the fact that there are literally hundreds of cultures in the world besides the American one — is a good place. There are not so many cool rides, especially now that Norway’s Maelstrom has been replaced with some scary Frozen-themed thing, but it is educational and optimistic. The theme of the nightly fireworks and laser show (IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth) is basically “You know what we don’t talk about enough in schools? Multiculturalism. Diplomacy. How chill it is that we are all different.”
So it’s an interesting moment for Disney to elect to transform the park’s central feature, Spaceship Earth, into a Death Star.
I’ve never been in charge of an enormous theme park, and I never will be after the way I mismanaged all those Rollercoaster Tycoon simulations, resulting in hundreds of untimely deaths by drowning. But plopping the number one most recognizable symbol of a fictional military dictatorship into the center of Epcot at this particular moment in history feels ill-advised.
Am I alone here? I am a reluctant fan of The Force Awakens, a pretty good film I saw while eating a really good breakfast sandwich, and I am more than happy to see Disney incorporate Star Wars into its many lovely parks. I’ll accept it even at the expense of beloved classic attractions, something grown-ups tend to rail against because they forgot this isn’t about them anymore. But dropping in a man-made moon known for annihilating planets in the name of imperialism is kind of dark?
I mean, there is an enormous laser. It’s pointed at the sky. It looks like an actual horrific weapon as portrayed in several feature films about futuristic warfare. I don’t know, maybe I’m just afraid of everything now and I don’t love that this looks sort of like a huge eyeball.
The makeover is part of Disney’s ongoing push in support of its new Star Wars films, the next of which is due out December 16th. Disney will also add “Star Wars Land” sections to both Florida’s Walt Disney World and California’s Disneyland.