The 21st century began on Jan. 1, 2001, but for Disney fans it had been in full swing for more than 18 years, since the opening day of EPCOT Center on Oct. 1, 1982, when a sleek and optimistic vision of the future debuted in a theme park unlike any other built before or since.

Late last year, Disney started a massive overhaul of EPCOT, which will see more Disney characters and brands added to the park, and update many of its attractions for the actual 21st century – which has arguably proved a fair deal bleaker and less promising than the happy visions Disney conceived for EPCOT.

Disney's version contained daily flights to space, boundless energy, harmony with the earth and its oceans, pollution-free transportation, and a unifying message of peace and unity among people from every nation. The future didn't quite turn out that way.


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Maybe age really is just a number. When The Golden Girls debuted in September 1985, its four stars were, on average, not quite 60 years old, but they were considered "senior citizens."

Thirty-five years later, the fashions, the technology (or lack of it) and some of the attitudes may seem outdated, but in the most important ways The Golden Girls has hardly aged a day.

Thanks to syndication, cable and now streaming, there has hardly been a day when TV viewers couldn't visit Dorothy Zbornak, Rose Nylund, Blanche Devereaux and Sophia Petrillo at 6151 Richmond Street in Miami (don't Google Map it – it's a made-up address). From 1985 to 1992, The Golden Girls was a Saturday-night fixture on NBC, so much so that it never budged from its 9 p.m. time slot throughout its seven seasons on the air.

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Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

My mother went to the hospital when I was 14, and it was the first (but certainly not last) time she talked about what my sister and I should do if she died: "Don't be sad. Say goodbye, and then go to a movie."

She was released the next day, but her guidance has always stayed with me. When times are tough, movies are an escape into a different world, one we enter for a couple of hours and then leave, emboldened, entertained, moved and sometimes even changed. Things don't have to be bad for movies to work their magic; they are equally transformative when life is grand.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon movies and movie theaters around the country. For the first and only time since movies were invented, cinemas across the globe have shut down. World War II couldn't do that. The Great Depression couldn't do that. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination couldn't do that. Nothing has ever gotten in the way of the movies, until now.

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In the 1960s and 1970s, the world seemed to be falling apart – cultural, social, economic and political upheavals imparted a general sense of gloom that pervaded everything, and the movies reflected that. In part, that was through gritty, independent films that presented a bleak view of the American landscape.

There was another side of Hollywood, though, which found a way to capture the discomfort and fear of the time and turn it into something spectacular: the disaster film. Starting with the huge success of the all-star Airport in 1970, movie producers discovered that putting movie stars in peril was big business.

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