Judge tosses out suit alleging Disney stole idea for Epcot

Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2004 10:01 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused the Walt Disney Co. of stealing the idea for the Epcot theme park from an artists rendering allegedly shown to the company in the early 60s. The judge said that no evidence indicates Disney had access to concept rendering of a "Miniature World" park.

Read more from AP via ABCNews.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 10:12 AM
Thank god. There is a reason why Disney has a policy against looking at outside ideas for a reason. Not only that, but the orgional EPCOT Center didn't even look anything like what it does today, and don't forget Future World. Anyone find it a little odd that ABC decided to report this good news for Disney?
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 10:54 AM
It was a ridiculous lawsuit to begin with. As "The Mole" mentioned... the original EPCOT was not at all designed or imagined as the park it eventually became.

Originally Walt himself proposed the idea of building an "experimental community" that would utilize advanced science and technology to function. The idea was that (then) highly scientific ideas could be tested on this contained community of sorts in order to help sophisticate and introduce new abilities to the general population.

Things like solar energy, cellular communication etc. were in extremely infantile developmental stages then. The concept was to develop a working community that would function off of these experiments. Hence the name "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" or EPCOT for short.

I think Walt first introduced the idea in the late 50's to Imagineers who then began toying with it. He then introduced the fully imagineered concept to the public on "The Wonderful World of Disney" in the mid- 1960's. Of course, Walts dream never seemed practical and many thought it more than a little odd that Walt wanted his own "communty." The concept was back burnered, and essentially died with him.

Well, that is until Disney decided it was time to add a new park to the booming Florida mecca. The idea re-surfaced, but was completely overhauled as more of a science park concept where everyone could visit and see developing technology... not just a select group of "community members." Hence EPCOT was ressurected.

Actually, I think a ton of EPCOT's 80's concept evolved out of the ever growing draw that Cape Canaveral was having. People were visiting Florida in droves to see shuttles lift off... making the base there a major tourist draw. Disney, being the marketing gurus they are, saw the ability to capitolize off of it as well.

The World Showcase, as I understand it, acted as more or less a filler for the back half of the proposed park. And various countries around the world were invited to build their own exhibits showcasing their cultures and advances.

The idea was, guests visiting the park would first see a great example of "look where we are headed" and then in the back half of the park see a great example of "look how far we have come." It was also a very smart way to attract and capitolize on the abundant amount of foreign visitors that the MK was seeing. Not to mention that the contributing countries would, by effect, be helping fund the park. Very, very smart.

If you follow the history of Walt Disney and his parks... there is a HUGE simularity of EPCOT to the "World's Fairs" that Walt was so fond of. So many rides and attractions (Pre-parks) were developed by Walt Disney Inc for the immensely popular (at the time)fairs. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, It's a Small World etc. etc. etc. were not park originals, they were just added after they had been developed and used at the World's Fair.

Since the "World's Fair" of yesteryear is essentially non-existant.... EPCOT sort of served that ideal and harkened back to those days. Well, originally. Now the park is essentially a shell of it's original intended concept.

Shaggy

*** This post was edited by Shaggy 11/16/2004 11:41:11 AM ***

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 11:21 AM
Good point there Shaggy and I agree with what you say.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 12:07 PM
I was acutally refering to the origional plans for Epcot, when it was to be placed near the TTC. Back then it more resembled Innoventions, with each country having windowspace around a courtyard. The building was futuristic and not like how they are now.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 1:02 PM
These law suits seem to lose sight of the concept of "obvious". There are certain things that don't qualify for protection as general concepts since they are just that, "obvious". In amusement park themes, US History, World History, World or continent show cases, regional showcases such as wild west, the future, the Bible, the ocean, the mountains, old fashioned amusement park, sports, all of these are pretty obvious themes; and I can't see where they are entitled to protection.

Actually, if anything was ever possibly entitled to protection it might have been Disney's original general concept of themeing the park.

Of course, details of design may be entitled to protections, as are trademarks, specific cartoon and literary characters, etc.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 1:15 PM
If this guy's painting was of an international village, then maybe his estate should try suing all of the countries who are part of World Showcase.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 1:47 PM
THE MOLE, actually the article is written by the AP, not ABC. However it is likely that ABC placed the hyperlink in a more prominent location then the other new services. ;-)
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