Would Walt Disney's vision for EPCOT have worked?

Posted Monday, July 2, 2012 10:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Sam Gennawey, 52, is an urban planner in Pasadena, Calif., and author of "Walt and the Promise of Progress City." The book explores the late Walt Disney's original plan for Epcot, then called EPCOT, short for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow." He envisioned it as an actual "city of tomorrow" with residents, rather than simply another theme park.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 8:10 PM

Well, I definitely have a new book to pick up! I still glance through Married to the Mouse every now and then to refresh my memory on certain points. Excellent book if you interested in stuff like this.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 4:41 PM

I have read just about everything on Disney, particularly the Florida property, and I have to agree with others who say that EPCOT as Walt envisioned early on probably wouldn't have worked. He alluded to it himself in the later years.

The problem is that in an America that is used to Democracy, the people have a funny way of wanting more control of their destiny. That was even evidenced in Celebration when people started to become disenchanted with the school system for starters.

But, they had to continue using the vocabularly of a "community of tomorrow" in order to get the special taxing authority they wanted not too mention the autonomy of working outside the purview of local and regional government. As much as I love Disney and what they have done in Orlando you really cannot deny that they are a private entity receiving numerous financial benefits (likely amounting in the billions of dollars) that no other private entity can receive.

In fact, Disney-MGM Studios beat Universal Studios to opening largely because Disney could avoid the government beauraucracy that Universal could not.

There is also something to be said for Disney taking no responsibility for employing a largely low wage workforce but not providing any kind of low income housing for those employees. If Disney were an actual City then they would have that mandate. Instead, local governments are left to pick up the pieces.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that Disney hasn't been good for Florida. Without Disney Orlando would be Ocala. But, I'm not sure there has been balance in the relationship.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 5:20 PM

He alluded to it himself in the later years.

The already-mentioned book, Married to the Mouse, has some pretty good evidence that Walt already knew it couldn't work for these very reasons before he even made the Florida Project film. MttM addresses some of the economic and social consequences for Orange and Osceola counties of the low-wage labor force as well.

Edited to add: for anyone even a little bit interested in the business of themed entertainment, that book is nearly required reading.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Tuesday, July 3, 2012 5:21 PM
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012 6:22 PM

wahoo skipper said:

There is also something to be said for Disney taking no responsibility for employing a largely low wage workforce but not providing any kind of low income housing for those employees. If Disney were an actual City then they would have that mandate. Instead, local governments are left to pick up the pieces.

I laugh every time I end up perusing the RCID 20 year plan(s) and get to the housing portion. Its really about the biggest joke there is when it comes to those kinds of things.

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