First Thoughts of Epcot
A newly redesigned Tomorrowland opened at Disneyland in June 1959, but Walt’s thoughts of the future were no longer limited to the confines of an amusement park.
The first three decades of Walt’s work life had been dedicated to entertainment -- whether through animation, live-action films, or Disneyland. But he had learned a great deal more than just how to make people laugh or cry. He had learned how to educate, how to use technology, how to deal with large crowds of people.
He was ready to start using all this information for something far more ambitious than any of his prior efforts -- a city of tomorrow.
About the time of the new Tomorrowland’s opening, Walt started talking with close colleagues about the possibilities of designing a real future city. In 1960, a tiny handful of select individuals began to participate in the planning of what may have been Walt’s most ambitious project: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or Epcot.
“Walt wanted to try going beyond the park experience,” said adviser and consultant Harrison “Buzz” Price. “He wanted to try improving the environment, the urban setting. He was full of ideas about what that place would be like. Epcot would not be just a park, but an urban experiment where you could try to improve the way people live, creating alternatives to our frantic automobile existence.”
“Walt was troubled by what he saw as the diminution of neighborhood,” recalled author Ray Bradbury about his friend Walt. “All you had to do, even 30 or 35 years ago, was to walk into Hollywood to see the destruction of the city. And he saw the coming of the mall. If the city fathers didn’t know what cities were, people like Walt Disney were compelled to know.”