|By Keith Mahne|
The name EPCOT derives from the acronym “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”, a Utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. In Walt Disney’s words: “EPCOT… will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.” Continue after the page break and let’s see for ourselves what Walt’s EPCOT might have been like…
Gosh, I love those videos!! As a recap, Walt Disney’s original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. 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. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and PeopleMovers (like the one in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland). Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground.
Walt Disney said, “It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won’t let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed.” The original model of this original vision of EPCOT can still be seen by passengers riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority attraction in the Magic Kingdom park; when the PeopleMover enters the show house for Stitch’s Great Escape!, the model is visible on the left (when facing forward) behind glass.
What if Walt would have made it long enough to build his original plains for EPCOT? Would it have succeeded back then or even in today’s world? If Walt’s EPCOT would have been built the way he originally intended, I like to believe, just like he did for the theme park business, it would have paved the way for American communities and how they are designed today. Walt had an incredible talent to see things with one foot in the past and another in the future. Unfortunately, Walt never lived to see what could have been his best creation come to life. Just like when he decided to create Disneyland, people doubted it would work. Walt has shown that he certainly wasn’t afraid of the unknown and proved that time and time again. Sadly, we will never know for sure if it would have made it as an actual city. If there is one thing we do know for sure it’s that usually whatever Walt Disney dreamed up… eventually succeeded and the world came away better for it! We sure could use you now Uncle Walt.
Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.