Epcot........a history part one. - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Of all the many and varied ventures that Walt Disney was involved in during his lifetime, Epcot was possibly closest to his heart.
Sad to say, then, that he did not live to see the fruition of his dream and as we shall discover later it never did come into being quite as he had planned.
In Walt' s heart, he had seen an ideal city being brought to life. He called it Progress City and he was going to build it in a circle with the businesses at the core. Surrounding this would be the schools and sports and leisure facilities and on the outer perimeter all the housing. He planned to have this new city be self governing and self supporting and make it a prototype for new cities throughout the world.
Traffic would move round in underground tunnels and pedestrians would be transported by monorail. All homes would be rented at a fair rate and he planned to have 20000 people living there. Technology was one of Walt' s passions and he planned to incorporate as many new ideas as he could.
I well remember taking my family to The Magic Kingdom in the early eighties and seeing a film made by Walt in which he outlined his dream. It seemed such a futuristic concept at the time but somehow you doubted that a man who had so much happen in his lifetime could be thwarted.
After the death of Walt, the commmercial ideals of the board overtook Walts more philanthropic dream and it was decided to turn Progress City into a theme park and rename it Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) It is thought that the original concept would have been impossible to see through anyway.
Some years later the Disney idealised town called Celebration was built. This is now not under the control of the Disney corporation but has made a fair stab at an idealised community. The inspiration for Celebration comes from the past and not from the future so Walt' s ideal has been turned right on its head.
Epcot took 3 years to build and is twice the size of Magic Kingdom. It opened its gates in october 1982 and a someone from each of the countries represented poured a gallon of water into The Fountain of Nations as a gesture of unity.
Disney are famously tight lipped about costs but estimates put final bill at around a billion dollars!
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