Photo: Waltopia Google Video
A few weeks ago, CNBC aired a documentary on Walt Disney, “Walt: The Man Behind The Myth.“The two-hour special explored the life and legacy of the man who created one of the world’s most beloved pop icons, Mickey Mouse, and the world-renowned Disney theme parks.
The documentary first aired in February of last year. Though educational, the special glossed over what we found to be the most interesting bit—Walt’s original plans for Epcot in Disney World.
Check out Disney’s original plan for Disney World and Epcot >
After Disneyland was built in California, Walt had an idea for another Disney project in Florida; however, he passed away in December 1966 before he could see it come to fruition. Before he died, he filmed a video two months earlier expressing these plans in detail.
We found the nearly half hour video Disney produced for Florida Legislators to get permission and rights for his project. In it, Disney laid out his big ideas for his massive Florida project.
Photo: Waltopia / Google Video
Called “Project X,” Walt’s Florida expansion was meant to be much more than Disney World. Forget the theme park. Florida wasn’t about Disney World, though it was a small part of the picture.
Rather, Disney’s plan consisted of building his own perfect Utopian city: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow—Epcot.
The video sounded like a scene straight out of Aldous Huxley‘s “Brave New World” which envisioned a similar world back in 1932.
Located partly in Orange and Osceola Counties, Disney picked the centre of the state for his Florida project on purpose, reasoning it would be easy for tourists and residents to arrive by car.
The land was located between Orlando and Kissimmee, a few miles from the crossing point of Interstate 4 and the Sunshine State Parkway (this was before I95 was finished, of course).
The theme park and all the other tourist facilities—hotels, motels and recreational activities—were meant to fill one small part of Disney's Florida project. This part alone is five times the size of California's Disneyland.
The entire plot of land encompasses 27,400 acres. That's 43 square miles, twice the size of the island of Manhattan.
All together, Disney wanted to build five sections consisting of his own airport of tomorrow in Osceola county, an entrance centre, an industrial park covering 1000 acres, a theme park (Walt Disney World) and the heart of the Florida project ...
Walt Disney is pointing to the entrance centre which would be in between the airport (below) and an industrial park (above).
The main point of Walt's Florida project was to focus on his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow … EPCOT.
The sphere shaped community would act as a wheel, with the hub of transportation located in the centre. Routes would branch out from here to all sectors of the city.
… Along with shopping areas that would recreate the experience of streets of places around the world. (Sound familiar?)
Epcot would have everything you ever needed including theatres for musical productions and dramas, restaurants and resorts.
The WEDWay PeopleMover (this is the real name) would also transport people. Today, these are better known as TTA—The Tomorrowland Transit Authority—in Disney's Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World Resort.
motorised vehicles weren't completely banned from the city. Cars and trucks would travel below pedestrian levels, underground on separate roadways.
Housed beneath the town's epicentre would be EPCOT's Transportation Lobby to get on and off monorails and Peoplemovers. It would be similar to the likes of NYC's Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal.
As for work, everyone would have a job ... a.k.a. some responsibility to maintain the community. While some could choose to work outside of the EPCOT area, it's encouraged many work in the town's nearby industrial park's facility centres.
Near the end of the video, it's suggested this plan could easily work in numerous cities across America.
After Walt's death, the project was deemed impractical and was re-envisioned as a theme park with futuristic architecture and technology. Today, EPCOT serves Disney as a walk-through of the world with countries appearing to co-exist peacefully side by side.
Today, Disney's idea lives on—slightly—in the Utopian community of Celebration located in Osceola County, Florida. The city was designed and planned by the Walt Disney Company in the early '90s.
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