The World That Never Was: Epcot-Part 2

In the last “World That Never Was” we discussed how the concept of Epcot and Disney World got it’s start. If you haven’t read part 1, I highly recommend it before continuing. If you’d like to see Epcot:  Part 1 click here. However, for this post, I would like to jump into the meat and bones of the “Florida Project” as Walt would call it. Disney World was all about Epcot to Walt Disney and nothing else. This was his dream. This was to be his biggest accomplishment. It would be the City of Tomorrow, and people would come in droves to see it.

So what did Epcot look like? Well, from above you may attribute it to the same design as Disneyland, but it was slightly different. Instead of a spoke and wheel design, this was a radial design meaning that the city started from the middle and worked its way out in  360 degrees with each radial area being different. So if you were to walk from the center of the city to the outside of the city, it would become more suburban. You could say, “But isn’t that like most major cities?” Well, yes, but this was to be perfect in every way. If you walked one mile south from the center of the city, it would be nearly identical to the area one mile north of the center. Also, know that residential areas are purely residential, meaning no grocery stores, shopping malls, or strip mall shops like you would find in most suburban areas. If you wanted to shop or work, you had to take transporation closer to the center of the city.

When I say transportation, I actually mean, the only way to get around Epcot. To keep the city from having parking garages everywhere, car crashes, and traffic problems, Walt Disney devised a way that people could get around town without having to use motorized vehicles or any sort, and in fact it can be found at Walt Disney World today. The WEDway People Mover (or Tomorrowland Transit Authority) would be used throughout the city, with several looped tracks going from several suburban stops to the city center itself. This mode of transportation would help keep pollution down, traffic wouldn’t be a problem, and Epcot wouldn’t be a parking garage nightmare.

Car enthusiasts need not panic, as Epcot would have an underground garage and street system. Much like the Magic Kingdom park, Epcot would be built on the second level so that below the city, cars could come in and out of Disney World, and delivery trucks could make there way to the center of the city. So any of you who would want to bring your 1962 Ford Mustang along to Epcot could have, and it would have been stored nicely below the city without worries of hail damage or cleaning off your car from all the dirt on the roads.

Like I had discussed in the previous article, the city center itself would be a large hotel with enough space to house all the visitors to Disney World. The 30-story hotel would be the largest building at Epcot and could be seen from anywhere in the city. The hotel would also have a convention center inside and would also have a full recreation center., but instead of the normal spacious layout of walkways, tennis courts, and pool areas like we see at most Walt Disney World resorts, this would be all contained on the rooftop of the hotel.

Beyond the hotel was the next inner layer of the city. An enclosed area, much like a shopping mall, filled with shops and restaurants from around the world. Sound familiar? That’s probably because many of us have been around the world at Epcot at Walt Disney World and that concept, intentional or not, still held up from the original designs. The People Mover transportation system would rise above the shops and circle them before moving back towards the outskirts of the city. The people working these shops and restaurants would be the people living within the city.

Another interesting concept before moving on, Walt Disney didn’t believe Epcot was a retirement destination. If you were to live at Epcot, you would also have to work at Disney World, whether that be Epcot’s shops and restaurants, the hotel, or the Magic Kingdom. The city couldn’t survive without everyone putting forth effort, so this was not a place for retirees.

Moving from the inner layer of the city to the inner city residential area, this is exactly how it sounds. Think apartments and townhomes amongst busy city neighborhoods. Epcot was supposed to have nearly 20,000 residents with most of them living within the apartments and townhomes in this area. Rent would have been cheaper than a house here, but it is also to note that Walt Disney wanted control of all land at Disney World. That meant, none of these homes, no matter what they were, were for sale. That being said, these buildings would be multiple stories, but none nearly as high as the 30-story hotel.

The connection between the inner city residential neighborhoods and the suburban homes would be what Imagineers call “The Green Belt”. The obvious name for areas with parks for people to meet, have picnics, and enjoy recreational activities if they were residents. This area also held churches, playgrounds, and community centers, and schools. Clearly the place to be on your day off from work was this part of the city.

The farthest part of the city was of course the suburban neighborhoods. This area was not to be as highly populated as the inner city apartments, but was to be a home where residents had a little more space. This area was the farthest reach for the People Mover system and would most likely be the best place to raise a family at Epcot. It is not known how far of a walk to the People Mover a resident would have to make, but through concept art and Walt Disney’s determination that this plan would really work, it doesn’t seem as though residents would have to walk very far to make their way into the city.

Mentioning homes, I do have to state that the living quarters were to be stocked with the latest and greatest applainces, electronics, etc… when moving in. Also, because Walt Disney had pure ownership of land, it wouldn’t be uncommon to come home from work to a brand new upgraded kitchen, bathroom, or living room. Some might be skeptical of letting someone come into their home and replace things, but with your rent, you were assured everything would be okay and the latest, greatest, model of whatever would work perfectly fine in your home.

So what do you think as the reader? Would you visit Epcot? Would you want to live in Epcot? How do you feel about not owning your own property or the thought of never retiring? Maybe retirement for you is to work at Epcot or the Magic Kindom park? Let me know what you think and I will see you all next time.

Josh Taylor
Follow Me on Twitter: @kidredo

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Posted on March 1, 2012, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What a great and fascinating story Josh. Thanks for sharing!!

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