Wednesday, November 28, 2012

EPCOT: From Experimental Prototype to Linking Nations and Ideas

Though the 30th Anniversary was October 1st, We thought it was time to take a long look back at the development and creation of Walt Disney's crowning achievement. 

    “Welcome to a little bit of Florida in California.” Walt Disney was about to reveal to guests the ideas that WED Enterprises would be implementing into the recently purchased Florida land cod named, “Project X”. The now famous EPCOT film thought of as the lasting image of Walter Elias Disney became a rallying point for Disney fans around the world. The culmination of the Florida Project would be the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
            EPCOT, as it would come to be known would become a working, living and breathing city. This utopian community would become a beacon of the future for all as a technological marvel that presented reliable public transportation and the ability to become completely self-sustaining. This was Walt Disney’s ultimate goal and his crowning achievement in a career full of accolades and praise. Walt decreed that, “EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are emerging from the forefront of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed. It will always be showcasing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems."

            The plan included industrial, commercial, and residential zones, with a monorail transportation service moving residents from the outside in. At the center of the city would be the commercial and downtown district, completely enclosed by a dome, protecting residents and guests from the elements. Walt had hoped that by instituting tours of the EPCOT city, visitors would take ideas and thoughts back to their own communities and stimulate progress. The concept is still recognizable in some form aboard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, as the Progress City model resides within the show building of Stitch’s Great Escape.
Sadly, the unfortunate passing of Walt Disney in December of 1966 led many to wonder the logistics of such an undertaking, and whether the costs of construction would make the project feasible. With men like Martin Sklar and John Hench leading the production, there was a sense of calmness within the company considering Hench’s storied career with Disney and Walt specifically, and Sklar’s connection writing Disney’s personal material.
This led to two distinct ideas worthy of the EPCOT moniker. There was the designed Future World, which included new ideas and technology being presented to visitors. This concept was considered the closest link to the original concept, as it stuck to the theme of advancing technology and the look to the future. The other design was an expanded World Showcase, showing the link between all nations and their ability to work together and coexist. These two models continued to expand, until a meeting with the then head of the company Card Walker and Donn Tatum. This meeting led to Sklar and Hench taking the two models and pushing them together. In one instant, EPCOT was born.

The EPCOT Center theme park would become a permanent World’s Fair, which was ironic considering the 1964 World’s Fair brought about much of the ideas and concepts that Walt Disney ultimately planned for Florida. The theme park contacted people like science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury to create attractions and shows that informed guests of a vision of the future. With attractions like Spaceship Earth, The Universe of Energy and World of Motion, EPCOT would inform guests of our roots, and our plans ahead. Conversely, World Showcase would present guests the ability to see countries, what they are known for, and how they coexist in the world. Upon the opening of the park the Fountain of Nations proved unity between the countries within the World Showcase, as each country (plus representatives from other nations) poured a gallon of water from their homeland into the fountain.  

Though the EPCOT concept did not materialize as Walt Disney had initially intended, its legacy cannot be measured. As it nears its 30th anniversary it is important to note that though the park is not exactly what was planned, the entire Walt Disney World Resort has been positively affected by its creation, and its original concept. Without the vision of Walt Disney, guests would not be riding Monorails from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, and the WEDway PeopleMover (or TTA) would not exist. The city of Celebration is especially grateful, as the Disney Company used some of the concepts of their innovated visionary to create the living city. EPCOT is not only a theme park, but should be looked at as a place that links ideas and beliefs as well as the world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Places, New Experiences

I can now announce it as it has become official, I have begun writing for the website It is an honor and a privilege to write for such a distinguished site in the Disney fan community. It is a huge step forward, and though I will still be posting here regularly, I am hoping this turns into a regular spot. I ant to thank Herb Leibacher for the opportunity and hopefully this leads to more expansion and exposure for the site.

My first article can be found at World of Walt- Gone but not Forgotten

Friday, November 23, 2012

Things are Looking Up!

It appears that the blog will be taken to a whole other level in the coming weeks. There are some things on the horizon, ones that will be announced real soon that will help not only expand the exposure of the writing of this blog, but I personally think it will prove to be a boost to the blog overall. Keep in tune with whats going on. As soon as it happens I will let the cat out of the bag.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Disney Films on the Move

It appears as though the Disney Company has quite a few films and television ventures in the works that might definitely be worth looking into. Some of them are based off actual park attractions, and others are more a concept of the Disney parks and company. Here is just a small taste of whats going on:

1. Jon Favereau's Magic Kingdom- The much anticipated film seems to be making headway, and rumor has it that Pixar has gotten involved in the production. This seems to be the crown jewel in the companies stable right now, but very little is known, and very little is coming out of Disney or Favreau's mouth. All we know is this is down the pipeline, but they are taking their time with it, which is a good sign.

2.  Star Wars 7, 8 & 9- As we have heard the past few weeks (here as well) the Disney Company now owns Lucasfilm Ltd. This has now lifted Kathleen Kennedy to the head of Lucasfilm, which is a big deal considereing Kennedy has been the producer of some of the biggest films in Hollywood (Indiana Jones, ET, Jurassic Park, etc.) and helped co-found Amblin Entertainment (which is Spielberg's big production company) This marks a huge move in the company as it allows a respected and successful producer the keys to the kingdom (no pun intended)

3. Saving Mr. Banks- A film that will eventually put Walt Disney on the silver screen for the first time in a biopic, as it shows the companies attempts to pry the rights to Mary Poppins from author P.L. Travers. Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti, and Colin Farrell are connected to the film, but the big news is that Tom Hanks will be playing the part of Walt Disney. This will be the first time an actor will portray the iconic Disney creator. The film apparently will be released next year, as filming began in late September.

4. Marvel Universe Continues- With Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Cpatain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and The Avengers 2 on the horizon, the future is bright with Marvel Studios.

5. Oz: The Great and Powerful- The prequel to the iconic 1939 classic, this film will show how the wizard ends up in the wonderful land of Oz. Starring James Franco, this film will hit theaters next year.

6. Big Thunder Mountain- This television show is being developed for ABC and may follow one of the backstories of the famous ride it will be depicting. There is not much information except that Chris Morgan, who was a writer on many Fast and the Furious films is connected to the project, as well as Jason Fuchs, who wrote Ice Age: Continental Divide.

7. The Haunted Mansion- Yes they are going down this road again, but this time it looks like it will be different. Again this film has very little to go on, but it is being directed by Guillermo Del Toro, which bodes well for the future of this film. Maybe it will use much of the backstory that the attractions have produced.

As it stands, there is much on tap for the Walt Disney Company in terms of their live action film division. The question becomes how many of these see the theaters, but with their track record (John Carter not withstanding) it appears as though the future seems bright.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Disney Buys Lucasfilms!

I know it is a few days late, but unfortunately Hurricane Sandy did her damage to my area, taking away more than just power and internet, but it appears as though Bob Iger has made his third major purchase during his tenure. It started with Pixar, then Marvel Studios, and now Lucasfilm Ltd. This purchase allows Disney not only the rights to the Star Wars Universe, but also to Skywalker Sound, and notably Industrial Light and Magic, which is the leading special effects company in the business. This announcement was followed by another in which Disney plans on releasing an Episode 7 of Star Wars, seemingly continuing the Luke Skywalker story arc. This is to be followed by two more films, making the Star Wars saga a trilogy of trilogies. Many are worried that it might be made using CGI technology, but word has it that Disney wants the films to be live action as the rest of the films have been. There is also the thought of Indiana Jones, but there has been no word on the legality or control Disney would have over that franchise, as it is tied up within Paramount as well.

This acquisition has led many in the community to wonder of the future of a Star Wars themed land in the resort, notably in the area near Star Tours in Hollywood Studios. Though rumors persist of the backlot express being rethemed to the Mos Eisley Spaceport, no substantial news exists. This will not change peoples thoughts and beliefs that more is coming to the parks as a result of this purchase. Stay tuned for updates about this developing story. This big change to landscape may only be the beginning.