Continuing our Millennium Week theme, it’s time to delve into Leave a Legacy, which most people admit they wish would just “leave” already.
The stunning piece of publicity artwork featured below is fun for a lot of reason. First, gotta love the reach on that girl. Second, considering the face of the Wand in the background it’s implying that the family is on the southern side of Spaceship Earth and the viewer is looking to the north – essentially from within the center of the park. As we all know – there are no Legacy tiles there and certainly no Spaceship Earth behind them from that point. Oh Photoshop marketing department, what fun situations you dream up.
If you’ve read the first edition of the Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia you know that Leave a Legacy was both a monument marking the passing of the millennium and a monumental failure. Of the 750,000 tile spaces they intended to sell on the vertical structures, Disney managed to only ever fill 550,000 spots – 200,000 less than the original number expected to sell out during the initial run. After 8 years they simply gave up in 2007 and left whole monoliths blank.
If you look back to 1999 and 2000 though, Disney was fully behind the project as they had Imagineer John Hench on it – one of the big creative behind EPCOT Center’s original design. In interviews he said that he felt the design of Leave a Legacy was “cradling” Spaceship Earth and “brought warmth” to the plaza. Looking back more objectively it’s fairly plain to see that’s not the case. Hench also felt he was ushering in a new wave of young Imagineers – but these were essentially college interns with little to no experience in major design and certainly nothing on the level of a major iconic theme park experience. Here’s some of the discarded ideas that were worthy (term used liberally) of making the coffee table book that Disney put out:
Yes, those were the noteworthy next best alternatives to the current “looks like a war memorial” motif we ended up with. Now, there is the matter of context. You have to remember that Legacy was added after the Wand (or sort of concurrently with really) but in a way that allowed us to see the 2000 Wand (aka “Millennium Icon”) with the old entry plaza planters.
Remember not to confuse the 2000 Wand with the Epcot Wand. There is a BIG difference in the design of the two that sets them aesthetically leagues apart. The 2000 Wand actually had a sense of proper proportion in terms of the numeral height. It’s not an entire affront to ones aesthetic sensibilities. When it became the Epcot Wand they changed the numeral height and typeface in a manner that threw it all kinds of out of whack. It just became off looking over Spaceship Earth. Anemic at best. Here’s the 2000 Wand looming over the courtyard with the good old flower and trees as the courtyard was partially finished:
As much as we may not agree with it in retrospect as a permanent statement – it’s a balance and decent temporary statement. It is inviting and it has an allure. But the idea that adding Leave a Legacy adds warmth and cradles this visage just baffles. Here’s more “art” that strives to depict the concept in action, but really just leaves the viewer even more concerned over how the final product will look.
It just so abruptly lacks a human element and approachability. In this image in particular, it looks like temporary boxes erected in the courtyard that are waiting to be moved to reveal something else underneath. One does not even want to begin to consider the long-lasting repercussions of the apparent first introduction of “angular people” in Disney’s concept art as they begin flitting around, over-caffeinated, in this piece as well. Long gone are the days of the well-considered characters who inhabit the scenic vistas of yore – no, we’ve got folks dashing around women with trick knees.
The world has also forgotten that Leave a Legacy had an online element as well. A family memory oriented website where you’d map out your history – with photographs sharing memories. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen Disney’s current Let the Memories Begin promotion that encourage your to do nearly the same thing.
And this, this all was the true start of the Millennium Celebration and the current state of Disney affairs – a sign of what had become. Disney completely unwilling to shift from any decisions it had made and everyone involved was firmly now implanted – in fact, promoted – and staying for a while. You want pins? They got pins. You want angular kids? They’re in all the concept art now. Wands? That’s staying – and we’re adding a big ass hat too! Can’t sell Legacy tiles? Who cares! We’re keeping those stones! Same social media team leaders 10+ year later with more power and influence than ever before? You betcha! Unpaid interns culled from design schools at little to no cost making major design decisions while nearly retired WDI “greats” rubber-stamp approval on their work without giving it second thought? That is 100% still happening right now as of today.
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit harsh and ranty – but Legacy just wont leave. The wand finally came down in 2007, but those tiles, they persist despite themselves. Really, it looked like this and they called it “warm.”
- Agreeing that the image and/or sculpture may be replaced or relocated within Walt Disney World at any time, and that the image may be permanently removed on or after the twentieth anniversary of its installation.
So yes, it can be moved at any time and we are a mere few years away from being able to just throw it on the scrap heap entirely.