I’m not too upset by this, as I think it’s great that Epcot is dressed up a bit for a no-charge event, but it would be nice to have more than just 10-15% refreshed/new from year to year. Same goes for Food & Wine Festival. Flower & Garden Festival may be a no charge event, but I find it difficult to believe that Disney isn’t profiting off of it some way or another (merchandise, associated special events, getting people to the parks who wouldn’t otherwise come, etc.), and given that, a little more effort to make it fresh each year–especially given that it’s something that appeals more to frequent/returning guests more than one in a lifetime guests–would be appreciated.
As long as I’m on my list of things I’d like to see change about the Flower & Garden Festival, in addition to new topiaries, I’ll add to the list more topiaries not based on Disney properties. This is a huge one. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that characters from Cars 2 should be in Japan. There is absolutely no sound justification for this. I don’t care if the movie was partially set in Tokyo, it doesn’t make talking cars fit in Japan. It’s insulting to guests, and an affront to the concept of World Showcase. I would speak more harshly, but I’m betting a lot of people reading this have a “who cares” or “close enough” attitude towards the Cars characters in Japan. I don’t.
Whereas Beauty and the Beast and other classic fairytale characters fit in European countries in the World Showcase because they have somewhat rich histories with those countries or at least a somewhat strong association to the country where they’re located, the same cannot be said for Cars in Japan. I would hazard a guess that most people don’t think “Japan” when thinking about Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater character. Regardless of what dumb adventure that character has had in a foreign country, I instantly associate Mater with rednecks. He and Lightning McQueen simply don’t fit in Japan. It’s a contrived association that just doesn’t work.
Similarly contrived is the Toy Story characters in America. Yes, Toy Story was set in America, but it’s setting was hardly relevant to the story. I don’t like these characters being located in America, but it’s not nearly as big of a deal (in the grand scheme of things, neither of these issues are really “big deals,” but you’re reading a trip report about Walt Disney World, and in the context of pressing Walt Disney World “issues,” they’re big deals) of Cars in Japan. The former is more forgivable because the toys aren’t prominently featured at the front of the pavilion, and because there isn’t a whole lot of cultural richness to the exterior of the American Adventure anyway.
Japan has this inarticulable mystique, plus rich theming and layers of details that are broken by the Cars characters. American Adventure, while beautiful and a testament to the powers of forced perspective, isn’t really all that immersive of an “America” experience from the exterior, so there’s less for the toys to break. Plus, perhaps, random toys strewn about in a garden aren’t all that atypical in America. We see plenty of crap in yards here in Indiana! In any case, the Toy Story characters in America don’t bother me as much.
Every other topiary in World Showcase for Flower & Garden Festival is okay, although I would love to see entirely new topiary designs for 2013. I don’t care if the same characters are used, just make them different. Put Beast and Belle in different poses. Give Winnie the Pooh something besides a balloon. Just do something different. I can’t imagine that the frames used to grow these topiaries are all that expensive to redesign.
The worst offenders could be found up by the Wonders of Life pavilion, where the Fab Five could be found. Not only are these characters in these same poses used from year to year at Flower & Garden Festival, they’re used from year to year at Christmas and other times, too. I have photos dating back to Christmas 2007 that show the exact same topiary poses for these characters. Disney moves the characters around and puts them in different scenes, but the characters have the same poses–it’s pretty pathetic.
Of course, our Epcot fun didn’t stop there! Neither did my “airing of grievances…”
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