February 28, 2006

Leave a Legacy

Just another of my random musings. At Walt Disney World's Epcot, you enter into the park right in front of their centerpiece, Spaceship Earth. As you walk in you go through the "Leave A Legacy" gardens.

Leave A Legacy is part of the ongoing efforts to allow people to leave a bit of themselves at DisneyWorld (Legally, without scattering peoples' ashes into the Seven Seas Lagoon). First, they sold the paving stones that stretch for miles around the big lake. You could have your family's name and a year engraved in a 6" hexagonal brick for $50 or so.

Not a bad idea. It more than financed the repaving of the seldom-used walkway, taking in about $200 a square foot. A friend of mine even bought one in DisneyLand to propose to his now-wife. So when disney decided to expand the idea, they did what any real estate developer does: Go Vertical and maximize your profit.

So now we have "Leave a Legacy", which was introduced at the Epcot millennium Celebration. For $35 you can have a 3" monochrome picture of your family engraved on metal plates which are attached on stone columns in the entrance to Epcot. Since the individual items are smaller, and they are displayed vertically, you can squeeze more in, and it generates $560 per square foot.

The only problem is that it reminds people of the Vietnam Memorial. The displays look like tombstones. A nicely planned graveyard, but a graveyard nonetheless.

Leave a Legacy

The architects say it's supposed to "subtly lead the eyes up to the great heights of Spaceship Earth." But on a recent trip, I discovered the hidden purpose behind the design: In the case of Spaceship Earth's enormous globe breaking free from its moorings, the "Leave A Legacy" memorial gardens will act as a ramp, directing the rolling geodesic structure down the center of the entryway, away from most of the crowds. Kind of like the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

It's a safety feature. With the gardens in place, guests have to go up the sides and not directly up the middle. That is why the Legacy pillars have to be at least 6' tall, so that they will shield the guests and distribute the sphere's weight evenly over its tops, allowing it to roll (mostly) harmlessly into the parking lot.

This has been another episode of "Disney Conspiracy Theory Theater". Until next time, I'm your host, Chris saying, "TTFN."

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