Andy Yan, our very own Duke of Data and Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University shared his discovery of this dated gem from 1966. Filmed just two months before Walt Disney’s death, the YouTube video below describes Mr. Disney’s next big project.
Walt Disney of Disneyland fame had read a few of the old classic books on planning and had decided to make EPCOT~the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow~ as a way to get industry working on innovation technology that would support the people living in the experimental community. You will see Mr. Disney holding up plans that look more like amoeba swimming around, with a bit of Buck Rogers streamlined arty design.
Of course you just can’t go and repurpose a town to create an experimental community, so Disney bought 47 square miles of swamp in the middle of Florida, got permission to create his own municipality, and made plans for 20,000 residents to live there. Just like Apple’s headquarters everything was circular with plans showing businesses in the centre of the proposed town and residences on the suburban perimeter.
The video below is cringe worthy for several reasons, with the drawings looking strangely similar to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities and the Radburn Plan. Walt Disney was basically building a new town where he planned that workers and industry would live in harmony and commute by monorail and “PeopleMovers”.
With Walt Disney’s death in 1966, the more conservative Disney board morphed EPCOT into a series of international pavilions and steered away from the creation of a new community.
Indeed, Disney could not get financing for his new scheme unless he agreed to build an attraction like California’s Disneyland to assure investors there would be a source of income.
Forty-five year later we realize the ecological damage that was done by draining the Florida wetlands and the impact that has had on wildlife and Florida’s water table. Disney’s ideas seem outdated and quaint. But it is curious to think that someone that developed theme parks felt emboldened enough by that experience to think that could translate into the creation of a “model’ city.
As Walt Disney stated “Here in Florida, we have something special that we never enjoyed at Disneyland . . . the blessing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.”