Sunday, October 30, 2011

Disney That Never Was: Walt Disney's EPCOT

When Walt Disney ventured into Florida, he had bigger ideas then anyone knew. He was looking for space, and this space would house his greatest innovation: EPCOT. Standing for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Epcot's original concept was the "community of the future", the idea that corporations and citizens would coexist together in an urban living situation that will be forever changing and breaking down barriers. Highlighted in his film that presented the "Disneyworld Resort" to the public, Walt ultimately outlined his plan. 

EPCOT was to be a model community, home to roughly twenty thousand residents. This would be the beginning test for his concept.  The community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. There would be no cars, instead monorails and peoplemovers (like the TTA Poeplemover in Tomorrowland) would take people to the center where the business district was located. Though Walt knew that the MAgic Kingdom would bring  people to Florida, he had hoped that EPCOT would keep people there.

EPCOT would have no landowners, and no retirees. This was supposed to be a utopian city that would be always in flux, much like technology. It was Walt's crowning achievement, and would certainly become a part of Disneyworld if not for Walt's untimely death in 1966. The EPCOT project could not start until the Magic Kingdom park was finished. Walt never saw either project started. Sadly, the plan just seemed inconceivable without Walt's input and direction, so by 1980, the company had decided to go another direction with the EPCOT concept (considering they had a contract with the state of Florida to build EPCOT) They conceived EPCOT Center, and this is what stands on the site of the original concept. 

Though we have a major theme park in Epcot today, it is nothing like the original idea that Walt Disney had created in his mind. Many wonder whether they original plan could have been possible. Though it would have been an amazing undertaking, it seems through Walt's guidance it would have been a definite part of the resort. As we look around today, instances of Walt Disney's EPCOT concept are evident. Future World is a direct descendant from that idea. The monorails movement through and around Spaceship Earth is also a feature Walt would have enjoyed. The biggest issue Imagineers had with the project, and one reason it took almost ten years to create was the constant questioning of "What would Walt do?" It became a sticking point, even to the affect that people like Marty Sklar and John Hench, who worked beside Walt had to take control to make the park what it is today. Hey if you would like to see a part of what EPCOT would have been ride the TTA PAoplemover. Inside the the Stich's Great Escape show building. 

Below is the EPCOT Film Walt created to outline his plans in Florida

Saturday, October 22, 2011

1st Anniversary!

So yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the blog. I want to thank all of the people that have been either following or keeping up to date. I did not think that when I started this a year ago I would be still at it today. It is a great feeling to be still going strong and making some great strides toward bettering the site. Here's to another great year! Thanks again!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

News: Bob Iger to Step Down in 2015?

In a move that may stun fans of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, Disney CEO has decided to step down as of March 2015. Yes, that's right 2015. Why the announcement now in Ocotber of 2011 then. Well there maybe a few reasons for this:

1. The death of Steve Jobs- Iger and Jobs had been close friends and confidants since Disney purchased Pixar in 2006. Jobs' death may have caused Iger to look at his life after Disney. That seems normal when someone loses a close friend.

2. He would like to leave Disney on "good" terms, or on his own terms- Unlike his predecessor Michael Eisner, it seems Bob Iger wants to end his Disney career on a high note. Again this seems noble considering how he came in. Iger has always taken the high road, and done what is best for the company, this might be his way of stepping away before any dissension ever arises.

3. He wants Disney to succeed- He has two lieutenants in Tom Staggs, from the Parks division, and Jay Rasulo, the CFO. It seems he wants to create a succession using one of these two men. 

Bob Igers' tenure at Disney has been nothing short of phenomenal. From his patching of the relationship and eventual purchase of Pixar, to the purchase and addition of Marvel it seems the Disney Company is on the right track on his watch. Though it will be sad when he leaves in three years, he seems to have the company moving in the right direction. Considering he has been at the reigns for six years without any issue is a testament considering the state of the company when he arrived on the job, he has done some fine work. Lets hope the future remains bright.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

History of WDW: The Timekeeper

Added as a part of "New Tomorrowland" on November 21, 1994, The Timekeeper was an attraction that spanned the entire globe, from Paris to Tokyo with a stop in Florida along the way. Surprisingly, The Walt Disney World version was the last to open. The attraction was a circle-vision 360 show, the first such attraction in this format to have a flowing plot, as well as audio-animatronics. The stories narrative style followed the adventures of "9-Eyes" as she travelled through time on a research and record trip.

The attraction was originally housed in "The Transportarium" which was later renamed to the "Tomorrowland Metropolis Science Center" to keep the canon of "New Tomorrowland" in tact. Guests were introduced to the Timekeeper (Robin Williams) as he presents not only his invention of the time machine but his creation 9-Eyes (Rhea Perlman). As guests move into the circle-vision theater the presentation changes to show 9-Eyes vision as she travels through time. With the Timekeeper as the narrator, 9-Eyes travels through the ice-age and eventually to a meeting between H.G Wells (Jeremy Irons) and Jules Verne (Michael Piccoli) As Wells' departs, Verne is introduced to 9-Eyes and quickly wants to learn more about the future. After mistakingly bringing bit 9-Eyes and Verne back to the present, the Timekeeper decides to show Verne exactly how his creations became realities. As the Timekeeper finally returns Verne to the sight of his presentation (after a few failed attempts) we are once again met with H.G Wells, who as it turns out is trying to figure out what has happened to his friend, and who 9-Eyes is. The Timekeeper decides to send 9-Eyes to the future, and is once again met up with Verne, now with Wells aboard his own time machine. The show ends with the successful demonstration of time travel.

The Timekeeper was a popular ride upon opening, but had issues that attributed to its rather short history.  Probably the single greatest reason for its demise was its setup. As a show, guests are used to sitting and relaxing (one of the major reasons shows are generally well attended) as well as watching in one direction. The Timekeeper as it was setup, forced guests to stand and lean on handrails, as well as never really have a major focal direction. This led to confusion, and a lower attendance as well. Many people also attribute its lack of connection to Disney as a cause of its demise. It was also known that The Timekeeper had a pretty hidden entrance which made it often overlooked. (it seems that Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor has a similar issue now)  The events of September 11 also had a major affect on this attraction as it featured a scene depicting the World Trade Center. Many executives were ready to close the attraction around that time, but it remained open. The attraction's attendance eventually waned, and in the early 2000's it went seasonal. This generally is the death bell ringing as the attraction eventually closed on February 26, 2006 to little fanfare.

The Timekeeper is generally considered as one of the greatest "extinct" attractions. Part of the reason for that is its short life span. The attraction was open for just over 11 years, which is a relatively short life for an attraction. As an attraction, The Timekeeper has gained a cult style following, with videos on youtube as well as other sights commemorating its inclusion in Walt Disney World as well. Most people believe that if it would have had any type of seating, we may still be seeing it in Tomorrowland today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disney Releases Statement Regarding Fantasyland Update

As per the Disney Parks Blog, the storybook circus has become a more concrete visual that many have been wondering about since it's announcement. It is now confirmed that the new Dumbo attraction will feature "dueling Dumbos'." What does that mean? It tells us that for the first time in history a DumbO attraction will spin clockwise. It presents the concept that the Dumbos will spin opposite of each other. Also we have learned that The Barnstormer will not actually change names. The reimagined theming is taking place but the name of the attraction apparently will remain. Lastly, we have learned that the "Fantasyland Train Station" (not Storybook Circus Station) will be open to the public in early 2012. This give guests more of a concrete say over when the expansion begins opening to guests. Hopefully this is the beginning of many announcements regarding the expansions opening and continued development.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy 40th Disney World!!!

I would like to take this moment to say Happy Birthday to the Happiest Place on Earth..! As we look back we can honestly say that Walt Disney would sure be proud of what the resort has become as of today.