Epcot will be a very different park in the upcoming years, changing the layout of Future World, adding more movie-based attractions to World Showcase, possibly including more countries to represent. Bob Chapek, in the past D23 Expo, announced some of the planned project for the park, including Guardians Of The Galaxy, Ratatouille, a space-themed restaurant, hinting at more to come for the second gate of Walt Disney World. The overarching vision of the park blends the hope new technologies; the statement of all countries united, sharing their culture to others. To put it in other words: multiculturalism makes a better world. This is the one theme that keeps its validity in our current times.
Articles and stories about immigration in different countries fill the newspapers and social media timelines. Governments announce measures to deal with this issue, but, in the end, they don’t know what to do. The challenge faced by many institutions is that of inclusion. Some examples are the cases of immigrants demonized and discriminated without understanding their reasons to become part of a new culture.
The involvement of different communities in our societies should be important. Many countries have their own cultures because of the diverse groups and cultures that have migrated, hoping to have a fresh start for their families. Multiculturalism, the idea that people with different cultural backgrounds coexist in the same social space, has been a phenomenon that dates centuries, from the nomads to the conquerors of new lands, and will continue to happen. Why should we blame immigrant for an old cultural phenomenon?
Epcot exposes us to the richness of sharing different cultures; learning about the history, traditions and stories of each country. Visitors are exposed to a variety of culture in the span of a few hours. Their traditions manifest themselves in the cuisine, live shows, merchandise, and attractions that reflect a notion or idea of the country. World Showcase is multiculturalism at its best, having the ability to express different cultures without discriminating or consider a culture superior than the other. Even though Epcot is an US-based theme park, with its pavilion in the center of World Showcase with an unique show, it stills reflects and respects the ideals of each country. Shouldn’t it be that way inside or outside of the park?
One of the highlights for many visitors of World Showcase happens when they chat with the Cast Members of the countries, exchanging their culture with other. It is a way to express different points of view that widen your perspective, considering your interpretation of the world as a whole. You are able to respect their culture, understand it, learn from it, and see how it differs from yours. In a globalized world, it is a necessity to comprehend the different aspects of culture because, like it or not, you will be connecting with that culture in some way, whether directly or indirectly.
The concept of a year-round World’s Fair makes this possible. World Showcase offers a new way to understand different cultures and how they all fit together. You see their differences and similarities. The historical struggles, architecture, food, stories, all of this information brings us to a superior understanding of culture as a quilt that bonds communities into countries, and they now bond us into a bigger, wider, globalized environment.
Even though Imagineers will include characters like Remy from Ratatouille in Paris, Anna and Elsa from Frozen in Norway, and the rumored Coco and Mary Poppins attractions in Mexico and the UK respectively, World Showcase should still expose their visitors to the cultures that each country has. With the current political climate, maybe this small initiative from 1982 could go a long way to make people understand how connected is the world and why we should face challenges like poverty, climate change, discrimination, racism, and terrorism in unison.
These challenges are not Epcot’s nor Disney’s responsibility, but the message carried by World Showcase might shift the minds of young and adults alike, embracing different cultures, learning from each country, facing the realities of a globalized world in the 21st century.