Disney’s ideal communities: Epcot and Celebration

“…[Walt Disney] called it Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or Epcot, and it was to be an actual town. Its twenty thousand inhabitants would live beneath a giant dome and be zipped from skyscraper to skyscraper on a high-speed monorail.

The town, he explained, would be ‘starting from scratch on virgin land and building a special kind of new community that more people will talk about and come to look at than any other area in the world.’ There would be no slums, and no unemployment, because people without jobs would not be allowed to live in Epcot. There also would be no home ownership, because everyone would rent from Disney’s company.

Faced with the promise of Disney’s golden touch, the politicians rolled over. In May 1967, the legislature approved the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a sovereign government to manage a theme park.

…The utopian vision, and the venerated leader’s words preserved on celluloid, were resurrected for the selling of Celebration. When we sat through the slick presentation video at the Celebration Preview Center on our family’s initial trip, in February 1997, we watched Walt talking about his dream of building from scratch a community that people would talk about and visit. Although we knew he was talking about his dead dream for a city of the future, it appeared for all the world that Disney was describing Celebration. A man sitting next to us whispered to his companion, ‘He hasn’t aged at all.'” (Frantz and Collins, Celebration, USA: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town, p. 26-27)

Another comparison the readings invite is with Levittown. Click on the pic to see an online exhibition on Lewittown.

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