CONFIRMED: Kodak Leaving Imagination Pavilion
So for the last few weeks, filthy little rumor-bugs have been flying around, getting caught in the teeth of the collective subconscious of the Disney message-board community. “Shoo!” they said. “Bah!” The rumors were concerning some recent activity at EPCOT’s “Imagination!” pavilion. WDWMagic had reported that Kodak - who has been a sponsor since the pavilion opened in 1982 - had lost some (most?) of their signage around the pavilion, and recently the “Journey Into Your Imagination” post-show (known as the Kodak “What If?” Labs) has seen walls go up, covering most of the area. Similarly, the pavilion’s spot on park guidemaps has lost the sponsor’s logo. For many, many people - myself included - this was a sure sign that the sponsorship had ended. With no official confirmation from either party (any official word was missing citation), it was hard to postulate what the future held for the pavilion. I wanted to get some confirmation from SOMEONE, so I set out over the last three days in an attempt to get word.
I contacted several folks who work at Kodak, and was met by either answering machines or promises of getting a return call. I finally was able to get in contact with David Lanzillo, Director of Corporate Communications at Eastman Kodak, and asked if the sponsorship was still happening. He promised to see if he could find out, and promptly called me back not too long after. He told me that although he “couldn’t get a 100 percent confirmation” from a few people at Kodak who could give a simple “yes” or “no” due to their being on vacation, he was able to confirm from “several emails sent throughout the company that sponsorship of the ‘Imagination!’ pavilion ended at the end of June.” I asked him if there was any chance of that sponsorship being renewed, and I was met with a rather fast “No.” Lanzillo did ask that I point out that although he couldn’t get in touch with his colleagues, he did urgently request they get in contact with him no matter what concerning the situation.
Now, this brings up several points concerning the future of Future World (and Disney World as a whole). Now that Kodak is out as a sponsor of Imagination!, there are several possible outcomes for this beloved building - some good, some TERRIBLE. Let’s take a look:
Outcome #1: A new sponsor takes up Kodak’s reigns and leaves the building alone, making sure the building stays well-maintained.
Outcome #2: Nothing happens; Disney keeps the building maintained on its own, a la “Horizons” (although that didn’t end too well). Outcome #1 can still happen down the road.
Outcome #3: New sponsor joins, and revamps/redesigns the show building. This can be an overhaul of “JII”, the Magic Eye Theatre, or both. This outcome has 2 branching outcomes, seeing as how a sponsor redesigning the show buildings can either keep the same general theme (with Figment), or completely change everything.
Outcome #4: Disney pulls a “Wonders of Life”; puts the building into seasonal mode until it’s used primarily for Events.
Now, outcome #4 is highly unlikely right now, seeing that “Captain EO” has just returned to the Magic Eye Theatre, but it is still possible. Speaking to #3, though? Several people on Disney message boards have expressed their wishes for any new sponsorship to leave Figment in the pavilion, and not turn it into a coaster or a churro stand. A few people have responded to these claims, and it’s easy to agree with them: An attraction like “JII” doesn’t pull in any crowds at all. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line there that went past the loading area, at least not for a few years. So why would a company invest so much money into something that so few people will see? It would, sadly, make a lot of sense for the next company to take up sponsorship at “Imagination!” (if anyone) to turn some part of the pavilion into an E-Ticket attraction. That way, pouring all kinds of money into the pavilion would be somewhat justified.
Now, when it comes to Kodak’s sponsorship of the resort as a whole (and it’s hard to turn anywhere in WDW without seeing a plug for Kodak), it gets tricky. Is this the end of Kodak as a major sponsor at Disney World as a whole? It’s hard to say, and I didn’t ask (because I’m a genius). However, in my search for someone to give me official word on Kodak’s deal with “Imagination!”, I did speak to a gentleman at the Kodak Corporate Line (800-698-3324), who told me after putting me on hold that “Kodak was not accepting requests for or beginning any sponsorships for the rest of the year.” When I asked him if this was for financial reasons, or if this was a permanent situation, he simply told me he didn’t have access to specifics at the time. So take that however you want - either Kodak is slowly putting brakes on sponsorship deals for the time being, or they’re completely pulling out altogether. Either way, it’s going to be an interesting few months ahead…
Mr. Lanzillo contacted me again this morning to give me final confirmation that “Yes, Kodak is no longer a sponsor of the ‘Imagination!’ pavilion at Epcot, and that relationship ended at the end of June. However, we continue to have a relationship with Disney and we’re investigating other ways in which to collaborate; we’ve had a long-term relationship with them, its been a successful partnership, and we continue to look at other ways to collaborate with them.” Thanks to Mr. Lanzillo for following up; still not sure what this means for other sponsorships at the Resort, but this is better than nothing.