by Josh Taylor
Rarely do I ever complain about Disney Imagineering having a bad idea. I think their follow-through with some concepts may lag from time to time due to economic or time constraints, but I rarely find that Imagineers have the wrong idea. Then in the early 2000s, Imagineers had big plans for Epcot with a project code-named under Gemini that would turn Future World into Discoveryland, a concept, and name, that had been rehashed several times. The main attraction to this new Discoveryland at Epcot would be Time Racers.
Time Racers would be set inside of Spaceship Earth. The current Spaceship Earth omnimover attraction would be pulled out and a roller coaster track would be put inside the giant white ball. The idea for the attraction would be “Traveling through Space and Time,” having projections thrown out in front of guests riding on the track. The high speed thrill ride would take you through many famous places and eras before jet setting you off into the future and then arriving back in the present day at Epcot. The queue for the attraction would also bleed out to the left of the attraction, forcing most guests to walk into the queue or to the right, moving toward The Land pavilion.
The reasoning behind replacing Spaceship the Earth attraction with Time Racers is the stigma that Epcot has always had. Project Gemini would help transform the park from an “educational” park to a thrilling experience through science and history. I think Time Racers, which was scheduled to open in 2006, would have helped in changing those ideals. Like with Doctor Who, people are intrigued with the idea of time travel, but it has to be done in a cool, less-scientific approach. Most guests aren’t interested in how it works or the details of time travel, they just want to see Egypt being built or what their city of the future would look like.
On the flip side of this, losing the original Spaceship Earth attraction and replacing with a roller coaster with less plot or story and more thrills and action isn’t really Disney to me personally. That being said, stripping Spaceship Earth and adding Time Racers is like wrapping a high speed roller coaster track around Cinderella Castle. The balancing act of delivering a family-friendly destination more suitable for children than any other park in the world as well as having thrill ride attractions that appeal to teens and adults is difficult. I understand that Imagineers are trying to broaden the appeal of Epcot, but changing the entire concept of the park is a bit horrifying. You aren’t just changing one attraction, you are changing the whole symbol and meaning behind the park itself.
Finding the middle ground, I do think this attraction could be fun and work, but in another location. Take the Wonders of Life pavilion for example. Currently it is used during festivals and special events, but that area could be so much more. Why not tear it down and replace that pavilion with a Time Racers pavilion. Bring in Doctor Who or create your own characters. Bring back the Dreamfinder. The pavilion could stand alone as something great, it doesn’t need to replace Spaceship Earth.
The Gemini project was dropped due to the $500 million dollar budget that Disney didn’t want to spend. Other structural issues with Spaceship Earth also had an effect on the project. How would they put the track inside? Or could they even put the whole track in there? So we never saw this upgrade to Epcot happen. Is it for the better? In my personal opinion yes, but that is just personal preference. Discoveryland and Time Racers could have made Epcot into a bigger, more attractive park to guests. We will never know.
What’s your opinion of Project Gemini? Should Spaceship Earth or any part of Future World change? Could the Time Racers attraction work outside of the Spaceship Earth area? Should Epcot be less educational? Leave your thoughts and ideas! I always love reading them.
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