Disney’s next big film, “Tomorrowland,” starring George Clooney is in theatres Friday.
If you’ve seen the trailers, it’s kind of difficult to decipher what the film is all about.
A young girl (Britt Robertson) is transported to a mysterious, futuristic world called Tomorrowland, at the touch of a magic pin.
In actuality, the film, named after the futuristic section of the Disneyland theme park, was inspired by Walt Disney’s original vision for 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. Bits and pieces of it can be seen in trailers and features promoting “Tomorrowland.”
Disney produced the nearly half-hour video, found on YouTube, for Florida Legislators to get permission and rights for his project. In it, Disney laid out his big ideas for his massive Florida project.
Called “Project X,” Walt’s Florida expansion 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.
While Disney’s film brings this vision to life a la Tomorrowland — a place full of hopes and dreams — Disney’s original video for Epcot 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 center 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).
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 in New York.
All together, Disney wanted to build five sections consisting of his own airport of tomorrow in Osceola county, an entrance center, an industrial park covering 1000 acres, a theme park (Walt Disney World) and the heart of the Florida project ...
The main point of Walt's Florida project was to focus on his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow … EPCOT.
The city was to be a 'planned environment demonstrating to the world what American communities can accomplish through proper control of planning and design.'
It was never completed. Rather, EPCOT was to be a 'living blueprint' of the future developing solutions to city problems.
Inhabitants would live in a 50-acre climate-controlled snow globe where they'd be 'protected from rain, heat and cold and humidity.'
The sphere shaped community would act as a wheel, with the hub of transportation located in the center. Routes branched out from here to all sectors of the city.
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.
EPCOT's Transportation Lobby to get on and off monorails and Peoplemovers would be housed beneath the town's epicentre. Think of it as similar to an underground subway terminal like NYC's Grand Central.
A singular road provided access to get out of the city 'bubble.' However, it was suggested most residents would drive their vehicles only on 'weekend pleasure trips' or vacation.
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 was encouraged that many work in the town's nearby industrial park's facility centres.
There, Disney staff would 'work with individual companies, looking at experimental prototype plans, research and development laboratories and computer centres for major corporations.'
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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