Epcot's American Adventure has entered the 21st century, adding Michelle Kwan, Tiger Woods and the firefighters who raised the flag at the World Trade Center's ground zero to Walt Disney World's show of American history and inspiration.

The update, which adds images from America's most recent 14 years of history, was completed and debuted a couple of weeks ago. This is the second time that American Adventure has been updated since the show, in the World Showcase American Adventure Pavilion, premiered when Epcot opened in 1982.

The 30-minute show runs several times a day. It combines numerous robotic figures performing skits and commentaries -- Ben Franklin and Mark Twain are the hosts -- with music and slide shows of paintings, photographs, movie clips and animation of historic scenes. The theme is the evolution of American spirit from the Pilgrims to contemporary times.

As always with sensitive material, the update was tricky, particularly dealing tactfully with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Historians are included in the process, said Rick Rothschild, the executive show director. Rothschild, who's also a senior vice president with Walt Disney Imagineering, helped develop the original show and the first update. In dealing with 9-11, he and planners focused on how Americans came together afterward to cope and recover, he said.

"What we've placed in our new sequence has to do with paying tribute to all those who were involved," Rothschild said. "This is the sequence that has to do with the spirit of Americans helping each other."

The updates can be found in the last American Adventure segment, a slide show set to a song called "Golden Dreams," which progresses without commentary from post-World War II to the present.

The song remains the same. The durations of the old images were reduced to make time for more images during the song. Previously, the song featured 85 slides. Now there are 110, adding, among other details, Muhammad Ali carrying a torch at the 1996 Olympics, scenes from the destroyed World Trade Center, and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton working together on tsunami relief.

Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com