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

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