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Dispatch from 2024; London High Street reimagined


Time In: Disney’s Global resort brings London High Street to India

Tomorrow the latest Disney Global Resort opens in Noida, India, along with its awaited top attraction – the “Modern London High Street” – a late twentieth century replica of shops, cafes and workplaces of times long gone.

At the press preview, Disney’s Resort CEO explains over Skype how much of the collection had been donated by eBay, the exhibition partner, which a decade ago started recovering unwanted goods from auctions –particularly artefacts Google glass rendered redundant as we started to superimpose digital furniture and art onto our blank home walls.

To enter the high street we receive a printed replica of a British Airways ticket. A rare piece now that most airlines have collapsed following the rise of online immersive meetings, which made business trips redundant and leisure travel in turn prohibitively expensive, leading to a boom in virtual local resorts.

We pass through a decommissioned Airbus 380 business class deck and get to the High Street, where we find a replica of a luxury Oxford Street Wedding shop. Featuring a dressing room complete with real mirrors, a leather stool and hooks, the shop talks of a time before online body-metric avatars, social network recommendations and instant customisation – a time when brides-to-be had to go to shops like this with their friends to try things on and get their opinion. Upon leaving the shop, the smell of real flowers reminds us of those archaic, tangible presents of love we used to buy before virtual gifts became the norm.

Next stop takes us to an originally restored Hackney coffee shop, where Arthur Carpenter, a recent immigrant and Cast Member playing the role of a former Shoreditch Hipster, offers us a flat white and then drives us in a chauffeur driven, not a robotic, black cab to a replica post-industrial warehouse, similar to the one he used to work in before the 2018 crash. Inside, an advertising workspace with an office desk, an Aeron chair, complete with a cabinet, computer, keyboard, mouse and monitor. This is truly a unique piece, and a stark reminder of how, not that long ago, people actually ‘went’ to work.

The tour finishes at the “Jamie Oliver Cooking with Friends” restaurant. Amused by the paper-menus and the presence of real waiters, we struggle to understand what the point of restaurants once was. Difficult to figure it out now we all get our chef-market meals delivered by drones at home.

In any case, the resort is diverse, entertaining, and at times, challenging. A good family day out that makes you wonder how we could have ever lived in an imperfect, analog world. The next Global resort – the Olympics unplugged village – will open at the end of the year in Kenya – surely one not to miss with your remote personal Google Glass proxy-assistant.

Written by Alexander Grünsteidl, edited by Carmen Marrero, published July Wired UK Magazine 07.14
As part of a feature on journalistic dispatches from 2024 written as a series of contemporary news items by a range of writers, artists, industry experts, academics, philosophers and futurologists, to creatively interpret some of the social, political, technological or cultural changes they see coming, built around an informed forecast of how one or more aspects of life will have changed by 2024.

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