Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#8 - The Golf Ball

Category: Landmarks
Category Rank: 2

Park: Epcot
Park Rank: 1

We arrive at the top nostalgic item from Epcot, and it is not a surprise.  The Golf Ball stands out as the most memorable item from the park.  Indeed, the Golf Ball is basically a symbol for the entire park, as there are common internet inquiries asking "Why does Epcot look like a golf ball?"

The answer to that question is, Epcot does not look like a golf ball, the Spaceship Earth ride looks like a golf ball.  But, the follow-up answer is they wanted a futuristic shape modeled after the biosphere in the 1967 Montreal World Fair.  The dome was further inspired by science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who helped design the ride.

Hailey can provide you an entire treasure trove of trivia on this structure, having given a presentation on it last year in school.  Some items worth pointing out, in addition to the geometric facing that covers the exterior, is the unbelievable drainage system built into the attraction.  When it rains, all the water goes in through one-inch gaps in the panels and flows down through a channel into the World lagoon.  In addition, there are actually two domes, the famous exterior and and interior dome meant to house the ride.

We earlier mentioned that the Golf Ball is known as Spaceship Earth, which we covered earlier on our list.  As we also mentioned earlier, the Golf Ball part of Spaceship Earth is really a different attraction.  We are 'attracted' to it for its majestic beauty and iconic shape.  In reality, that external shape is more important to the overall attraction.  If we were to gut out the ride and just have an empty structure, it would still be the most memorable thing in the park.  If instead we were to strip away the golf ball and put the ride in a big box... well, it would lose some of its impact.

One thing to consider with this entry is the idea of a landmark.  A landmark typically has quite a bit of appeal to it for individuals who have not yet visited it.  Much like the arch in St. Louis, the Hollywood Sign, or the Statue of Liberty, a landmark is a recognizable attraction that immediately makes you think of the location.  In this respect, Disney has done a masterful job of featuring an iconic landmark in each of their four parks.  Er, three parks.  Sorry Sorcerer's Hat.

While a landmark has appeal to those who have yet to visit, it tends to be a letdown after you have visited a couple times.  Individuals who have been to New York will reminisce more about the ambience of Broadway or of 5th Avenue.  Maybe even a stop at Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden.  Landmarks can maintain their majesty, and they are something to behold on the plane arrival, but they really are not what keeps that nostalgia for you.

What's interesting is that these central landmarks to the WDW parks don't follow that rule.  For me, at least, they keep their prestige.  We always get our photos by them, and there is something special seeing them from lookouts throughout the park.

What is also interesting is that there really aren't any accidental landmarks, either.  Disney obviously intended the Golf Ball and the Castle and the Tree of Life to be landmarks given their proximity and the views that you have of them.  But other items don't really rise to that landmark status.  The Hollywood Tower of Terror is the tallest structure within WDW, and it has a fairly iconic status, but the structure itself is nothing compared to the ride within (definitely a thrill ride, and therefore ineligible from our list).  The balloon ride in Downtown Disney is perhaps the only other one I can think of, and it too is weak at best.

We are up to #7, and we actually go back to Downtown Disney for the 2nd and last item from there on our list.  No, it isn't the balloon, but it is the biggest store in the entire WDW.

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