Disney has added models and textures for Walt Disney World to Google Earth. While the blog entry describes it as “the second best thing to being there,” it’s a little slow and fuzzy, and it’s more like walking through a papercraft version of the parks and hotels than it is like exploring a new virtual reality action excitement realm in 3D cyberspace.
I think I’ve just been spoiled by virtual fly-throughs in movies and games. Still, even though it feels a little like something we should’ve been able to do in the mid-90s, it’s neat to get a bird’s-eye view of everything, and to get a better feel for the gigantic scale of the resort. Making so many models must’ve been a huge task; considering how many fans like me would’ve paid (and actually have paid, in the past) for a virtual fly-through of the parks, it’s nice to see it rolled into the marketing budget and given away for free.
It also lets me send out a link to my favorite spot on the planet. (I’m new to Google Earth, so I’m not sure if there’s an easier way to link to specific locations & views than just sending the file around. Their “community” features seem designed specifically to keep you from uploading stuff to the site.)
You can’t see the actual fountain in Google Earth, but seeing it doesn’t explain why it’s my Happy Place, anyway. It’s an inexplicable combination of nostalgia, proximity to Test Track, being with my family, being on vacation, the passing monorails, the Epcot theme music looping in the background, being surrounded by the 1980s Vision of the Future, the womb-like moist heat of central Florida in summer, being full of not-particularly-good-but-somehow-comforting theme park food, and realizing I’m at the nexus point of a thousand cool things to do.
Other favorite spots are my favorite hotel and my favorite ride. I’m sure there’s non-Disney World-related stuff on Google Earth that’s interesting to see, but even the blurry, low-poly version is hard to leave.