Innovating Relentlessly: Epcot's Opportunity

Innovating Relentlessly: Epcot's Opportunity
Disney's internship competition--where new generations of imagination come alive.
Disney’s internship competition–where new generations of imagination come alive.

In a recent interview by Eyes and Ears–Disney’s internal newsletter–Bob Chapek identified four key strategies:

  1. Reinforcing the Disney Brand
  2. Connecting Guests to Key Franchises
  3. Extending the Reach of the Disney Brand
  4. Innovating Relentlessly

With respect to the latter, he noted “…in order for us to stay ahead, we must innovate relentlessly and with the clear goal of exceeding Guest expectations constantly. This applies to everyone, in every function, and all of our programs and initiatives.”

In a previous post, I noted that #FreshEpcot was a misnomer for this year’s Flower and Garden Festival. I also suggested “Eggxactly” one way that the park could really take things to the next level in the last post. Today, I want to suggest a process Disney already uses that could better implement toward that innovation.

Every year college and university students from around the U.S. compete to be finalists in Walt Disney Imagineering’s (WDI) Imaginations Design Competition. This competition is in its 25th year (where was it when I was in college?!). It’s a great program because it serves to help participants learn about WDI while giving Imagineering the chance to identify new potentials.

This year the winning team came up with a proposal called “Mickey’s Magic Garden”, intended to be a sort of traveling show that would tour the country and provide guests a sense of what can be experienced at the Disney parks. The winning team came from a proposal that combined the talents of students from Ohio University and University of Washington.

The first place team (From Front Row Left to Right) Geoff Backstroke and Katie Eastman (Back Row Left to Right) Courtney Irby and David Borning Disney photo by Gary Krueger.
The first place team (From Front Row Left to Right) Geoff Backstroke and Katie Eastman, (Back Row Left to Right) Courtney Irby and David Borning ©Disney photo by Gary Krueger.

Here is a layout of how they designed their attraction. It features multiple themed lands, custom designed rides, walk-through attractions, character greeting experiences, and a wide array of themed dining opportunities:

© Disney

While the design of this attraction was not intended for the parks, it is a temporary style attraction Moreover, I find it ironic that with such a competition the winner comes up with something imaginative around gardening. And yet what exists at Epcot doesn’t implement any of these concepts. I think that, if Epcot wants to innovate relentlessly as Bob Chapek insists, something new needs to come of the Flower and Garden Festival. Create a real, Fresh Epcot.

J. Jeff Kober

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