EPCOT: Walt’s Vision

In honor of Epcot‘s 35th birthday on October 1 of this year I wanted to do a post on the history of this incredible park. Walt’s vision and how it has evolved and come to the be the Epcot we know and love today.

ecptrEpcot was a unique and groundbreaking vision, created in the mind of Walt Disney. Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, In Walt Disney’s own 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 new systems. And Epcot will always be a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”

Courtesy of the Walt Disney Company

Let’s think about that for a minute. A community of tomorrow that will never be completed. That is what all Disney parks and enterprises live by; a constantly evolving dream and plan of innovation. Walt Disney died in 1966, when Epcot was still a concept. He never lived to see Walt Disney World come to be but his vision lives on and Roy came out of retirement to make sure that Walt’s vision for Epcot and Walt Disney World was brought to life, even though the Epcot we know and love today, is much different than what Walt envisioned in his minds eye, we can only hope that as he looks down from Cinderella’s Castle in the sky, he is proud of the Epcot that came to fruition.

Epcot as envisioned by Walt Disney. Photo courtesy of The Disney Company.

Epcot opened on October 1, 1982. Walt Disney’s vision for Epcot was actually a city. A place where people lived and worked. “A community of tomorrow, that will never be completed.” Walt Disney. In his vision, 20,000 people would be selected to live in this prototype city. Inhabitants would live in a “bubble”. This bubble would be a completely controlled environment, everything would be monitored and controlled, including the weather.

The community would include shopping centers, a hotel, restaurants and more. Every member of the community would have a function to help maintain the community. No one in the community would be without a hand in making it work. This prototype city was Walt’s vision for what could be done in major cities all over the world.

walt disney shooting film
Walt Disney during filming of short project on his vision for Epcot and Disney World. Filmed two months prior to  his death. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Company.

Clearly, this is not what Epcot evolved into. Once he died, his vision morphed into the theme park we know today with one part of Walt’s vision a pillar of what Epcot would start out as and continue to evolve into. A community of tomorrow, never to be completed and ever evolving.

When looking at Walt’s vision of a societal utopia and the World Showcase in the current Epcot you can see snippets of Walt’s Utopian society, spanning the globe. Countries and the people of those countries living harmoniously and peacefully side by side.

transportation center below disney
Concept art of the transportation system for Epcot as envisioned by Walt Disney, courtesy of the Walt Disney Company.

The ideals of Walt Disney’s Epcot live on throughout Walt Disney World and in Epcot itself. The transportation that Disney envisioned for Epcot can be seen throughout Disney World, with the monorail system and the constant evolution and expansion of transportation throughout the parks and resorts. The Walt Disney Company’s creation and control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (enough for a whole other blog post) and also Lake Buena Vista, one of two Florida Municipalities (Bay Lake is the other) completely controlled by the Walt Disney Company.

epcot4So while Epcot is certainly not the controlled environment society that Walt Disney imagined; the Epcot we know today, the one celebrating 35 years of magic on October 1, 2017, it is an incredible glimpse into the mind of Walt Disney and the potential for the world as he saw it. With the changes coming to Epcot, the evolution continues and we can only wait to experience and embrace the amazing things on the horizon.

Thanks for stopping by. There is enough fascinating information on the history and future of Epcot to make over a hundred blog posts and I am sure I will do more. Walt Disney was a one-of-a-kind human being, there will never be another. We continue to honor him and his ideals everyday and that never will die. I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that you  never lose sight of this; that it all started with a mouse.



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