Total Immersion: The Illusion of The Living Seas
While the original Living Seas pavilion went through significant changes, as seen above, I’m a staunch defender of version we ended with in EPCOT Center.
Despite not having a concrete ride, and instead opting for a series of smaller shows, The Living Seas took these concepts and made them into one large experience, which I think was the true charm, and even beauty of the pavilion.
The driving idea was the environment, and The Living Seas was the only Future World pavilion that created one, and actually let you explore it on your own, rather than just show it to you as you went along your way (usually in a Omnimover)
Living Seas wasn’t just a aquarium with a movie and a atmospheric ride through it’s tanks, it was a full bodied illusion, designed to actually place the guest in the future of sea exploration and biological research. Besides for the preshow and queue, which, I think, were more in line with EPCOT Center’s classic line of exhibition, the rest of the pavilion was based around how real, and even how believable a environment such as this could be.
The illusion of the Hydrolators, which took you “down” to the dark and mysterious SeaBase Alpha, the purely transportive SeaCabs, and the, frankly, very aesthetic and size of the exhibition areas lent themselves to the idea that underwater living was a possibility, and a exciting one at that. Out of all the environments presented to us in Future World, the world of the future, underwater, was the only one we could walk around in, dine in, explore, and actually drink it all in.
Ironically… it was immersive. SeaBase Alpha surrounded you, was real, and was captivating.
Today….. the illusion is dead, as the hydrators are gone, sunlight streams into “SeaBase”, and Nemo dominates the pavilion. There’s nothing futuristic about that at all. And not to be hyperbolic, but that loss is one of the greatest losses that EPCOT Center has suffered.
Hopefully, one day, we can drop the synergy of a cartoon fish, and return The Living Seas to a place of realism and scientific exhibition.