The original plan for EPCOT: What were they thinking?


After discovering I was searching for other people’s fireworks videos. I stumbled over this segment has to be from NBC’s Wonderful World of Color. Walt starts laying it on pretty thick about the plans for EPCOT and showing early map concepts of WDW. Hub and spoke. WEDWays all over the place. Then they start to talk about the base of the city being three layers thick. I think “yeah right, all carrying infernal combustion engines all pouring exhaust into tunnels”. Then I think "they’re gonna do this in Florida? What are you going to do, build a mound 40 feet tall for a base cause there’s no bedrock and if you dig down 40 feet, you’ll be in the water table. So, I’m thinking, California, 1965, hmmmmmm. I think the Imagineers must have gone to a Merry Prankster acid test. But even if they did do it, can you imagine the price of a single family home on Disney porperty? Or is that supposed to be your property, like Disney would ever sell this land.
Any thoughts?


I say: dream big!!! Walt had all sorts of wonderful ideas, some may have been a bit out there, but ya never know unless you try. However, if anyone could pull it off, it would be The Disney company.


Hey, I’ve got the Disneyland Fantasyland dvd set of the Werner von Braun space programs. Dreaming big is one thing. Being slapped in the face by reality is another. I remember seeing the GM Futurama at the 64-65 World’s Fair. I remember the clean, symetrical vision of the future everyone was selling. Well, it’s 40 years later, and the vision of the future is vastly different. The original EPCOT was a vast dream, and looked great from the air. But that was a big problem with the post WW2 visions of the future. They were designing and building to look good from the air. Consider the cloverleaf interchange. Really, you have to watch this, and then overlay what has actually developed. It seems that DTD fulfills the function of the office, hotel, shopping, entertainment, andit’s said that Celebration is the EPCOT residential area. That center building looks a lot like the Marriot World Center or maybe the Grand Cypress. But you really have to watch this, it’s amazing!


I kind of wish that Walt’s dream had come true.


Walt was a dreamer, A big idea man. He knew he needed to build another theme park on the east coast to tap into that market. He wanted it to be more than just another Disneyland. If you read any of the bios on Walt, he was really into city planning at the time he was developing EPCOT. If he had lived to see his dream become reality, who knows. It may have worked, it may haved flopped. The one thing his staff and family realized after his death, is that the original plan for EPCOT would have cost BIG$$$. Nobody was willing to take that gamble.


I think today’s town of Celebration is mostly what Walt’s vision was only not in a theme park setting.

Karen :mickey:


I’ve heard that too.
As for Walt being into city designing, sure. Starting in the late 30’s after the Depression and before WW2, there were these utopian visions of the “world of tomorrow” (hey, that sounds familiar too), the best example being GM’s original Futurama. This school only intesified after the war when when much of Europe had to be rebuilt from rubble. Back in the states, all the GI Joes and all the Rosie Riveters were booming babies and moving into Levittowns. More dreams of the city of the future. Into the 60s and we start to awaken to the environmental and societal truths that massive megablock hub and spoke cities, no matter how much green belt is included, are not going to work any time soon. In ways, the hub and spokes of Walt mimmick the belt interstates that circle major cities while two interstates cross inthe center of town. The best and worst example of this is Washington, DC and it’s beltway. As originally designed, I-95 was to go straight through town. STRAIGHT THROUGH TOWN? UNDER THE CAPITOL? Oh NO, not in my back yard. NIMBY killed the megacity of the future. Plus, the hub and spoke create the “edge city”, sub-urban business centers where the urban companies have fled to, following their employees out to the edge, and dooming the city center.
Did Walt pass too soon to begin to see these trends starting to happen? Yes he did. Not that that’s his fault (oh wait, he loved his cigarettes too much). But as the 60’s ended and we moved into the 70s, especially after OPEC brought us to our knees in the winter of 73-74, Walt’s vision of EPCOT was pretty much doomed to be a blurred vision at best.
I smell a doctoral dissertation in this. Any civil engineering doctoral candidates out there?


I don’t care if it was a bad idea… I’d LOVE to live in a “Disney city.” :biggrin:


And it’s called Celebration, though to a lesser extent, Lake Buena Vista.


Several folks have eluded to Celebration being like Walt’s “dream”. Just wondering, have any of you ever been to Celebration? It’s really nothing at all like Walt’s dream city. There are no people movers, or monorails, or underground roadways or hubs or anything even remotley similar to Walt’s ideas. Next time you go to WDW, ride the wed way people mover…oops, sorry, tomorrowland transit authority, and when you get inside one of the “tunnels”, you will see a scale model of Walt’s vision for a future city. Then, take a trip to Celebration if you brought your car, and you will see what I mean. By the way, Disney no longer owns or runs Celebration.


Sorry SG Uncle Walts dream for EPCOT was brilliant. Celebration is not even a glimmer of what EPCOT was suppose to be like. We are only now considering some of the ideas he was thinking about way back then.

Sure there are some problems with it but those could have been worked out…man I would love to live in a city with WEDWAY people movers, monorails, and the planning Walt and his time would have put into it.


Yesterday I discovered that this film “EPCOT” was made 2 months before Walt’s passing. I also discovered that I’ve owned it since last June when I bought the Tomorrowland Man in Space DVD set. I decided to watch some of it yesterday and found that this film along with a 25 minute interview with Marty Sklar, also talking about Walt’s vision of EPCOT. I was able to freeze frame when they showed 1966 maps of WDW. Other than the Magic Kingdom, it’s all different. No Seven Seas Lagoon. What would be the Poly, plus a resort that could be the forerunner of the Yacht Club were located on Bay Lake.
I’m sorry, but I’ll stick to my guns on this. The 1966 version of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow is unworkable. All of the 1950-60s ideas of massive central planned cities have turned out to be a dead end in our current climate. A blank sheet of paper solution looks really pretty, but can you imagine how many speed bumps you’ll have to cross before you have your fully functional city of tomorrow populated by 25,000 people. More than government and industry are willing to commit to.


WAY off topic … DT - I love that quote “Stupidity should be Painful.”
Mind if I use it?


Soundgod. You’re so wrong.

Planned communities are ALL there are anymore! They work there. Go to school there. Eat there. Live there. THat’s EXACTLY what he planned.

Sure, there are no monorails, etc. in these communities, but if a high roller wanted to add them, you’d have Walt’s City of Tomorrow. It was a brilliant idea, and it’s EVERYWHERE you look.

Fleming Island, just south of Jacksonville, is a prime example of a ‘planned community’.

They have their own schools, their own shopping district, their own EVERYTHING. THey have no need to leave that community, if they choose not to.

Walt’s idea IS alive and well, it’s just scaled down. No big wedway/monorail systems.

But, if someone had enough of a cashflow and so desired, they could easily have a community just like he envisioned and it would be successful.


I bought the tomorrowland DVD just for the EPCOT film. I have read and studied the idea for a few years now. Walt was way ahead of his time and laid out a vision for a future city. Was it a perfect vision? No not by a long shot but many of the things he came up with are now being used. We need more visionaries in city planning.

I just finished reading this last week:

I feel this is a better version of a planned community then Celebration:

The biggest problem I see in the US city planning is the poor planning. Our cities are awash in sprawl, strip malls, highways, sub-divisions, gated community, monster apartment complexes, office parks, parking lots. Where is the living downtowns (that don’t roll up at 5:50), the parks and greenways to connect, the neighborhoods (with corner stores, restaurants). Why do I have to get in my car to get anywhere?

Many here have said they would love to live in a MK. Why. Maybe because we would have a sense of community with other instead of being isolated away in our cars like so many gold fish.


If I could I would :flowers:

(now all I need is the money…anyone like to bank roll me?)


There’s the big problem. All you need is cash. Things like, if the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) would cost $4 billion to build and equip, how much will building Jim Kirk’s Enterprise cost, let alone Jean Luc Picard’s Enterprise. How much would a fleet of starships cost if a single B-2 costs $2 billion and a space shuttle replacement costs $2 billion and who pays?. It cost Dade County several billion to build a metrorail system that sees less ridership in a year that the WDW monorails see in a day. Massive public works are beyond the scope of the agencies that would be charged with overseeing them properly. Planned communities do get built, but in the end, they always go from being private development to public responsibilities. Columbia, Md, Reston, Va. But they morph because they are not self sustaining.
You are so right about downtown dying or in many cases today, never existing at all. Where and when I grew up in North Jersey things were so much closer and more integrated, perhaps organic. A drive from my home to my college was 6 miles and it was a moderate ride. Going to visit my friend in Fort Lee was a long 14 miles. In South Florida, as elsewhere in Florida, I drive 1.5 miles just to get to my nearest Publix. A 35 mile drive to work is average. I just can’t help but feel that a huge central city like EPCOT would start nice and be WaltOpia, but sure as the sun rises, it will morph into something hideous and ugly.


In 1988 when Miami got it’s basketball team, the new arena was supposed to be part of a rebirth of the “Overtown” area. They had hoped that and the Bayside Mall and revitalized Bayfront Park would serve as magnets. It didn’t work. A second arena has been built, like Miami needs two of them. A people mover was built in three phases. Still very slow growth and not much life after sundown. The class of professionals that was hoped for to occupy the housing never really came. Here we are almost 20 years after, and a two theater performing arts center is being inserted to the north end of this downtown stretch of Biscayne Blvd. There are now new huge condo towers being built. Several have had bad construction accidents. I’m sure all those units are sold, but I’m sure they were bought by speculators. It’s possible that when these buildings are ready to be occupied, they’ll be half empty because the speculators won’t be able to sell everything at break even prices.
There were plans upon plans for downtown Miami, but I still have yet to see plans for a Publix store or a new school.
A new ghost town.


Columbia, MD. :eek:


The cub used to live there. He hated it.