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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: StormStruck



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

STORMSTRUCK AT EPCOT

By Jim Korkis

I’ve written a book entitled Secret Stories of Extinct Walt Disney World where I have over a hundred chapters devoted to things that have disappeared at WDW over the last fifty years. Of course, I barely scratch the surface of all the things that are gone–including this story, that does not appear in the book.

Opening in October 2009, StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes in Innoventions East was a 4-D weather simulator experience with rain, hail, lightning, falling power lines and pine trees, shingles ripped off a garage roof and even a flying toilet.

In a small room holding twenty guests and lasting fifteen minutes, guests experienced what it was like in a home during a major hurricane.

After the show, under the guidance of a host, the guests were asked questions and were then given the option to make different choices from landscaping to architecture…whether Southern magnolias were better to plant in sand than pine trees, if doors that open out are better than doors that open in and if duct tape on windows really make a difference.

Then the experience was re-run with those new choices incorporated to see if they made a significant difference. It was announced the exhibit would only run for three years but was so popular that it was extended and finally closed in September 2016.

The exhibit was sponsored by FLASH, which stood for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. It was formerly the Florida Alliance for Safe Homes, which explains the “L” in the acronym.

Organizations involved with FLASH include insurance companies; manufacturers of building products that relate to disaster resistance (Simpson Strong-Tie, G-P Dens-Shield, etc.); product retailers like Home Depot; state agencies; the National Weather Service; FEMA; a few builders of disaster-resistant homes, such as Mercedes Homes; and the Salvation Army.

“We hope that guests walk away with a higher level of understanding on how to think about preparation to the next level for the protection of ourselves, our families and our community at large to ensure that on these rare occasions we can protect ourselves and recover,” said Jim MacPhee who was the vice president of Epcot when the exhibit opened.

It took seven years to conceptualize and complete the 3,000 square foot StormStruck exhibit.

Imagineer Joe Tankersley led the creation, direction and design of StormStruck.

“Doing that in a small space is a challenge, but we thought that raised the level of what we were doing here,” said Tankersley. “Our goal with all our Innoventions experiences is first of all to entertain people – we never forget that. We want to give them information they don’t have, to enlighten them and finally to empower them.”

President George W. Bush wrote in a letter read at the opening celebration, “this interactive attraction is an opportunity for people to experience the relentless winds and heavy rains of a hurricane in a safe setting. StormStruck also will help visitors to learn about the latest weather technology and inform them how to better prepare for these devastating storms.

“By encouraging Americans to be better prepared for emergencies and educating them about the danger of storms, you are helping our nation safe.”

The exhibit was especially interesting for Florida guests who lived on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida and was a bit surprising and curious for those guests who were unfamiliar with the hurricane experience.

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Thanks, Jim!  And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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