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Waltopia: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

In 1967, Walt Disney and the Disney Company announced great new plans for a next generation Disneyland, one that was not only an amusement park, but a city of the future.  Their plans were grand, dreams imaginative, hopes phenomenal, especially since they were built upon a land that was both great and unremarkable in the center of Florida, where there was little but flat, and deserted swamp.

In their plans was an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, in short, the EPCOT Center.  Designed to house the residences for many of the people who would work at Disney World, the huge Welcome Center, and adjacent industrial park, EPCOT Center was to be a large scale experiment of an ideal urban life of the future.  Thinking of it from a Disneyland perspective, it was envisioned as the realization of the merging of Tomorrowland and Main Street USA.

Though EPCOT Center never became what it was envisioned to be, I believe that it is relevant today to rekindle the spirit of Walt Disney and start to envision again an EPCOT Center.  Although there are cities around the world that have share some aspects of Waltopia – Curitiba, in Brazil, comes to mind as one prominent example – none that I am aware of have combined the transit and transport infrastructure to the extent of the Disney vision.  In addition to their plans, a community that combines modern knowledge and technology for agriculture, biodiversity, heating/cooling, and energy production, could far exceed the EPCOT Center in overall livability and sustainability.

This movie was made, I believe, in part, to counteract against the communal lifestyles proposed by the Hippies.  Walt Disney, corporate America, and Main Street USA were united in their belief that a more sterile techno-republic was possible and desirable.  I think that it is time, now, to revisit their plans, to merge this vision with the more organic and decentralized livability that is proposed by advocates of Slow Food and Grassroots Global, and to recreate our cities and lifestyles.


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