Planning.

The other day, when I wasn’t feeling well and was trying to get my bearings back while lying in bed, I watched the original EPCOT video as narrated by Walt Disney in 1966.

I had never seen the video in its entirety but I had seen some snippets in the Walt Disney exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I found watching the entire video to be quite fascinating as I have a very strong admiration for Walt Disney’s ability to foresee “a future”. While there are elements of the original vision in the Epcot we know today, EPCOT was to be a planned city, designed to very detailed specifications. Cars and other motor traffic would have been pushed to parameters and underground. Innovative public transportation would have been the norm; the People Mover at Magic Kingdom and the Monorail would have been key in moving the folks at EPCOT about the city.

As an almost Civil Engineer, I am thoroughly fascinated by the hub and spoke concept, especially as it was depicted in such a geometric design. Automobiles would not have encountered traffic lights as the design of the roadways would have incorporated roundabouts and non-conflicting intersections.

I love the idea of more people walking and less people driving. The only thing that I didn’t really agree with was the climate controlled aspect; I’m a sucker for fresh air.

I think Walt had some great ideas with this original concept of EPCOT and it’s unfortunate that more of our urban renewal projects in the United States don’t share his vision. A lot of what we do seems to be patch up jobs or addendum so to existing city layouts. Wouldn’t it be something if folks got together and built a new city from the ground up today?

The only thing that comes to mind as being remotely close to Walt’s vision is the “Spaceship” being built on the Apple Campus in California. I am anxious to visit that someday. I think we need a lot more in the way of forward thinking people in the world.

When we visit Disneyworld I’ll often comment that Epcot is my favorite of the theme parks. While it isn’t what Walt originally intended, I do like the awareness, educational and social components of the theme park. I feel like while all of Disneyworld is designed for families to have fun and to lose themselves in their vacation, Epcot has the added bonus of bringing just a touch of education to the experience.

It’s not the same as living in a well designed, ultra-high tech city, but at least it’s a start.

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