Friday, February 18, 2011

Walt Disney's Utopian city design ideas

A little known factoid is that the EPCOT Center at Disney World was intended by Walt Disney to be a model of modern city design. He had a grand Utopian vision of a perfect city, where most of the perfection would be in its transportation system. It relied on an electrified transportation system (the Disney Monorail) running between homes and work areas, allowing for most commuting to be with that transit system.

His design was one of those utopian designs where the visionary designs the perfect city from a blank slate, rather than having to place that perfect city into an existing city. This non-organic process probably won't result in the perfection the visionary believes will result. Further the times where blank slate city construction can occur are few and far between.

The Disney World area is, however, one of those times. The Disney Development Corporation bought up a huge chunk of the middle of Florida, enough for a blank-slate-city, with the vision of developing Disney World. The design however was left on the drawing board with Walt Disney's death in the mid 1960's and the project morphed into a straight up amusement park.

This video is Walt Disney's pitch trying to sell the project to the Florida Legislature (and others). It is also available in a two-DVD set: Walt Disney Treasures - Tomorrow Land: Disney in Space and Beyond

In the 1990's the Disney Development Corporation did develop Celebration, Fl, as a kind of utopian city. "Disney CEO Michael Eisner took an especially keen interest in the development of the new town in the early days, encouraging the executives at Disney Development Company to "make history" and develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney's vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). DDC executives collaborated extensively with leaders in education, health and technology in addition to planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for the town." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebration,_Florida