Journey to EPCOT Center: A Symphonic History

Journey to EPCOT Center: A Symphonic History

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...attractions sponsored by major corporations. A permanent World's Fair. This would be the Imagineers' greatest challenge yet. This was EPCOT Center. [applause] This is the end of Act One. We will now take a brief intermission before our special presentation.

[lobby music and general crowd discussions] [bell chiming] Alright. I guess that’s our cue. [orchestra tuning] [footsteps] [applause] [orchestra music] [mellow jazz music] The most exciting, by far, the most important part of our Florida project. In fact, the heart of everything we'll be doing in Disney World will be our Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow. We call it E.P.C.O.T. [off screen television] Here it is.

Larger scale. E.P.C.O.T will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry.

It will be a community of tomorrow, that will never be completed. But where do we begin? How do we start answering this great challenge? We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land building a special kind of new community. [phone ringing while TV continues] We don't presume to know all the answers... [voice on phone] Marty. We need you at the studio. Now.

[thunder] [voice off screen] When did you start to work for Walt Disney? About a month before Disneyland opened in June of 1955. How did you come to be Walt's communicator? I had to try to think like Walt Disney, because I had to find words that he would be comfortable with saying. I believe we can build a community that more people will talk about and come to look at than any other area in the world. We're ready to go right now. [dramatic music] [rolling thunder] [dramatic music continued] [photos clicking] [photos clicking] [photos clicking] [typewriter clicks] [sad, dramatic music] [music concludes] [Bossa Nova music] One of the first buildings to be completed on the site was this handsome information headquarters and reception center The Cinderella Castle towering above Fantasyland like a vision from a fairy tale. [voice off screen] Roy Disney had planned to retire and came out of retirement to make the Walt Disney World property a reality for his brother.

The rooms for this hotel were assembled in a nearby factory and fitted into this fourteen story frame like drawers into a chest. It's a prototype of a whole new way to build. [overhead announcement] John Hench, the architects for Welton Becket are waiting for you in the conference room. This is Johnny Hench, who's in charge of this particular project.

[offscreen voice] We've been over this a thousand times. It's just not feasible. Look, John, I'll be frank with you. If you want us to put that train through our hotel, we are prepared to resign from this project.

[pen scribbling] [Bossa Nova music continued] May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration to all who come to this happy place. A Magic Kingdom where the young at heart can laugh and play and learn together. [Bossa Nova music concludes] Roy Disney made a fantastic commitment. He put so much into it that three months after we opened Walt Disney World, he passed away. But impeachment of a president is most drastic for it can bring down an administration of the government.

I'm sitting here like talking to a frog. Pleasure to be here. They wrap their stories out and edit them not on typewriters, but through a computer. Disney World is under construction on what has been dubbed the ultimate thrill ride. The new addition to the Tomorrowland section of the park to be named Space Mountain is set to debut later this year or early in 1975.

The attraction marks the end of phase one of the Walt Disney World Resort. The next phase of Disney's Florida project is expected to feature the long anticipated Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Walt Disney’s dream of a city of the future.

The Disney people have not commented on the project's development for some time, but public intrigue has yet to die down. [phone ringing] [TV off screen] More information on Epcot is expected when details on phase two... [voice on phone] Marty.

We need to talk about E.P.C.O.T. [people talking over each other] Settle down now. Settle down.

One at a time. Don, come on, now. We're not seriously going to build this city, are we? We have to.

What? Gimme that. We announced E.P.C.O.T. to the entire country. Everyone knows about this place, and they expect us to build it. If they expect us to build a city, let's tell them the truth. We already did. Walt Disney World has the most advanced transportation and communications infrastructure in the nation, the city of the future is right here.

We already fulfilled the promise. Nobody's going to buy that. They want E.P.C.O.T. We said we would build it. We should build it.

Nobody could build this. Walt could. Walt’s dead. Hold on now. Come on. [arguing over each other] Gentlemen, this is no way to get your words out.

[projector clicking] Everyone, we're not going to get anywhere if... [continued arguing and projector clickings] We could be the laughing stock of... [fist slam] [a mix of projector clicking, fist slams and people talking over each other] Wait... What if it is a community, just not a city? An experimental community of... thinkers. [horn music begins] Like an institute? Like an institute.

Now that... that's not a bad idea. [music swells] We believe that to attain Walt Disney's goals for E.P.C.O.T., we must avoid building a huge brick and mortar community with a limited number of permanent residents. We must instead develop a community system oriented to the communication of new ideas. E.P.C.O.T.'s purpose, therefore, will be to respond

to the needs of people by providing a Disney-managed forum where creative men and women of science, industry, universities, government and the arts from around the world can develop, demonstrate and communicate prototype concepts and new technologies which can help mankind to achieve better ways of living. A dynamic and achievable approach to E.P.C.O.T. is rapidly coming into focus. A series of meetings are underway at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort. It appears that Walt Disney Productions is ramping up their efforts to make Walt Disney's dream of E.P.C.O.T.

a reality. Disney has already recruited astronaut and scientist Gordon Cooper, former assistant Secretary of Commerce for Tourism, C. Langhorne Washburn, and even science fiction author Ray Bradbury, to act as E.P.C.O.T.

ambassadors in the hopes of attracting additional support for the project from government and industry. E.P.C.O.T. will serve as the catalyst for bringing together ideas and innovations. We are currently planning to explore such critical fields as transportation, energy, education, health and medicine, agriculture, outer space, oceanography, communication and the arts. E.P.C.O.T.

will stimulate new concepts to better understand the great challenges facing people around the world and possible solutions to these great challenges. E.P.C.O.T. activity will embrace three major functions. Number one, Administration. Disney will create an independent nonprofit organization devoted to carrying out E.P.C.O.T.’s philosophy.

Participants will be drawn from Walt Disney Productions, WED Imagineering, industry, universities, public agencies, foundations and other organizations. This council will be named the E.P.C.O.T. Institute. Number two, Research and Development. We will create activity centers, laboratories and testing sites in order to create the special kind of community envisioned by Walt Disney.

The ultimate goal of which will be to prove or disprove the potential of new concepts and new ideas. These testing centers will be named the Satellites. Number three, showcasing and communication. The products and findings of the E.P.C.O.T. Institute and the satellite projects will be showcased in a high capacity public facility accessible through the resort's monorail line. Visitors to Walt Disney World will be able to visit this theme center where they will be exposed to a series of entertaining and instructive information experiences.

The theme center will be named Future World. As guests enter the Future World Theme Center, they will be treated to a Circle-Vision show presenting an overview of the activity happening throughout the E.P.C.O.T. satellites. Beyond this, visitors travel down the information plaza and from there to multiple show buildings covering the fields of community science and technology and communication and the arts. Down the monorail line from the Future World Theme Center is the World Showcase.

Two large semicircular buildings in which the nations of the world will develop an exhibition of their cultures and products. These attractions are just the beginning of the next phase of the Walt Disney World Resort. In the decades since Walt Disney made his concept of E.P.C.O.T. known, it has become apparent that government and industry have both lost the public's trust.

E.P.C.O.T. is dedicated to the belief that trust in our democratic institutions and the free enterprise system must be reaffirmed by creating a new horizon, an optimistic voice, that we must look not only to our past, but to our future and our potential. So these are our plans for E.P.C.O.T. We're projecting construction to start on the World Showcase in 1978 and open in 1980. After this, we will begin work on the Future World Theme Center and the other satellite projects. We'll now take a few questions.

[reporters clamoring] Mr. Walker, with this course, aren't you departing from Walt Disney's original idea? No. We believe we are doing it just as Walt would have wanted it. Walt wanted E.P.C.O.T. to always be in a state of becoming,

and we think we're right on that idea. Our next step is to do our marketing and get the foreign countries convinced of this project. [reporters clamoring and camera’s clicking] [melancholy music] [fast-paced string music] We simply don't have the support, boys.

We need to figure out a whole new way to do this. We need an idea that will excite folks enough to cooperate. [drumroll and horns] Disneyland park was constructed from master plan number 67.

Walt Disney World was constructed from master plan number 17. EPCOT is on just its fifth master plan. This community of ideas has taken a monumental creative step forward World Showcase and Future World together in this EPCOT Center provide a beacon of hope and optimism to the world and finally make Walt Disney's dream a reality.

As we proceed with our creative process for the EPCOT project, specifics of this plan will undoubtedly change, time and time again. We at Walt Disney Productions, and WED Enterprises believe in this idea, and we are proud to make the first public presentation of EPCOT Center with this Master Plan 5 [typing noises] [music concludes] [rhythmic envelope handling and sticker peeling] Walt Disney Productions invites your organization to be a part of Walt Disney's final dream. Introducing EPCOT Center, the greatest American Enterprise forum ever conceived. In our Future World a wide array of industries will be presented to the public with sponsorship opportunities in such areas as The Land [gentle music] The Land Pavilion will illustrate man's role as a protector of this finite resource, as well as his choices in maintaining and even enhancing the delicate balance within the natural environment. Contained in the pavilions tall glass crystals, the biomes of the world act as the setting for a hot air balloon ride on which guests will learn the need for harmony between man and his home on The Land. For a trip above the atmosphere, the Space Pavilion will transport passengers to the outer frontiers of the universe.

Highlighting man's efforts to reach out for the stars around him. From the early Pioneers who looked and wondered to modern day space travelers and their triumphs. Guests will board a huge interstellar space vehicle and take a trip into the unknown, where they will learn of the challenges and possibilities of future space, technology and exploration.

After experiencing outer space, guests can journey into inner space at the Life and Health Pavilion, in which they will discover a new awareness and appreciation of themselves. The incredible journey within will take visitors on a thrilling and spellbinding exploration of the inner workings of the fascinating, complex human machine as they travel through the intricate passageways of the body. For an adventure below the waves, guests can dive into The Sea.

Sea Base Alpha allows a glimpse into an authentic ocean environment with live Marine life, an undersea restaurant and a showcase of oceanographic exhibits and displays. In another adventure, visitors will journey through the ocean depths and sail through moments of peril and triumph, including a meeting with the Sea Lord, Poseidon. This is just the beginning of the partnership opportunities of Future World, with more availability in the areas of transportation, communication, energy and more. Join the Future World at EPCOT Center.

Contact Walt Disney Productions today for information on sponsorship opportunities, budget timelines and availability. [clock ticking] [sigh] [page turning] [phone ringing] Hello. [voice on phone] Card, I have Roger Smith from General Motors on the line. He's asking about EPCOT.

Seriously? Put him through. [phone connecting] [voice on phone] Hello? Hi, Roger. Yes. We'd be happy to. We'll come out and give you the full pitch. [jaunty music] We need to put on a good show.

This is it. If we can get them on board, EPCOT will get the green light. Walt Disney Productions is sending representatives to the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, to make their case for the long anticipated EPCOT. GM President Pete Estes is expected to hear the Disney pitch and make a decision on the proposed sponsorship in the following days.

Gentlemen, thank you for having us. For your consideration, EPCOT Center. Can I get the hook? Yep.

Here ya go. Did you hear about yesterday's meeting? No. What happened? So Rolly’s back and Marty asked him to work on the master plan. I thought John was working on the master plan. He is, but they're not getting anywhere. So Marty asked Rolly to take a crack at it.

Except for Marty didn't tell John that Rolly was working on a new plan. So they get into the meeting with Card and Donn and Ron and John and John and Marty tells Rolly to present his new plan. And John blows up on them. He says, “Roland, you've been with this company all this time and you haven't learned a damn thing.” And Rolly starts yelling back, “At least my master plan is better than what you came up with.”

And John stands up and raises his voice and then all heck breaks loose. A bunch of the guys start chanting. John. John.

John. Trying to poke him just to see what will happen. And John gets all red and just leaves the meeting. And he's halfway down the hallway and he yells, “You'll have your damn master plan in a week.”

Good grief. Do they make up with one another? Oh, they're fine. It's nothing.

John even came up with a new master plan. Looks a little like Rolly’s. Classic. Did you hear that General Motors signed on? Pretty exciting.

Finally got that sponsorship. What do we do next? Time to get some more. [strange music] Walt Disney dreamed of a showplace for the concept of tomorrow that would never be completed, but always introducing, testing and demonstrating new ideas, new materials and new systems. In 10 minutes, the Duke boys make their English debut in the UK premiere of “The Dukes of Hazzard”. But now, the news at 5:40.

Margaret Thatcher continues her campaign for prime minister with a pledge to cut taxes and public spending. Mrs. Thatcher is rejecting Prime Minister Callaghan’s challenge to a televised debate. The UK's Energy Board says that they have tried and failed to recreate the errors of the nuclear accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island.

This follows reports that public confidence in nuclear power has fallen significantly since the incident. Representatives of Walt Disney Productions are making stops in Europe this week in an attempt to secure government contracts for their EPCOT Center project. The company is increasing their commitment to international markets with a new Disneyland to be built outside of Tokyo, Japan. The EPCOT Center project, to be located in Florida's Disney World, requires multiple world governments to each pay in the range of 30 million US Dollars, around £15 million to have their country featured in the World exhibition.

So far, no government has committed the participation fee. With groundbreaking on the Epcot Center nearing, this will be Disney's final tour and their last chance to secure the necessary contracts. These stories and more after the break. [gentle music] Today, we begin what will be the largest private construction project in the nation. We make this step forward in great confidence.

This is an inevitable and logical step in the growth of Walt Disney World. We believe in the state of Florida as the most desirable tourist destination in the whole world. [acoustic guitar music and horns] [VCR noises] Welcome to WED Enterprises. We are happy to have you as part of our team. WED was founded by Walter Elias Disney in 1952 during the creation of Disneyland Park.

Since then, we have designed hundreds of themed areas and attractions in California, in Florida, and now around the globe. Walt Disney Productions is in the business of fun, and we have fun with our business. Whether you're an Imagineer at WED or a cast member in one of our theme parks, your position is integral to our show and no role is unimportant.

Our CEO Card Walker, got his start in the mailroom all the way back in 1938, and he is now leading our organization into this exciting new era. From the moment you start at WED, you will be working under the guidance of brilliant artisans. Many of these Imagineers worked with Walt Disney himself, such as Marty Sklar and John Hench, who are leading the creative development of our EPCOT Center project.

Our Imagineers are busier than ever, and WED is relying on a new generation of Imagineers to make these dreams a reality. This young group of artists never worked with Walt Disney, but instead grew up admiring his work. Such is the case for Tony Baxter, who recently designed Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, an exciting new roller coaster now open at Disneyland and under construction at Walt Disney World. Now Tony and the other Imagineers are dreaming up attractions for EPCOT Center's Future World. But designing the future is no small task. Well, I think one of the real challenges we face with Future World is creating a place that not only is terrifically hopeful for the future, but a place that's going to be a lot of fun for the audience.

That's going to be a part of our Future World. [xylophone music] Okay, so we move China up to opening. We delay Equatorial Africa to '83. Do we think we'll be able to get the imagination ride out in time? They're saying it'll just be the film. Okay, so imagination and the GE ride will be in phase two, along with... The Sea, Life and Health, Morocco, Denmark.

So for opening day, we should have four rides in Future World and one, two, three, nine countries for Showcase. Yep. You think we can do it? I don't know. But we're gonna.

[gentle flute music] We can do it. We can do it. We can do it. In this painting, I try to make people understand how man communicates.

The meaning of communication. How important and powerful communication is. I like to use the metaphor of a blank piece of paper.

On the one hand, it can be the most frightening thing in the world. On the other hand, it can be the most exciting and the greatest opportunity. You can let your imagination fly in any direction. You can create whole new worlds.

Where have we come from? Where are we going? The answers begin in our past, in the dust from which we were formed. Answers recorded on the walls of time. So let us journey into that past. To seek those walls, to know ourselves and to probe the destiny of our Spaceship Earth.

With growing knowledge and growing communication, we have changed our lives, changed our world. And now, here is Walt Disney. I think it's important to build something like EPCOT. Kids come in, as we all do at a certain age, looking for their own futures there. It isn't a very simple process.

Your first idea more than likely isn't going to work. And if you're lucky, maybe your sixth or seventh idea is going to work. Now our future world draws near and we face the challenge of tomorrow. We must return and take command of our Spaceship Earth. To become captains of our own destiny.

To reach out and fulfill our dreams. Walt Disney’s Greatest Dream is now a reality. Welcome to this very special place. We call it “EPCOT” A man by the name of Carl Hodges, who is a director of the Environmental Research Lab, designed the food growing system in The Land pavilion. And we were outside the pavilion. All of a sudden, he stopped dead in his tracks.

And he said, I just realized that in the next three or four hours, more people will see my work than in the 30 years I've been doing this. The folks that brought you Mickey Mouse and Disneyland are about to bring you EPCOT. Now comes EPCOT. EPCOT Center. It was a dream three years ago.

It will open up in just about 40 minutes from right now. It is not what Walt Disney had in mind back in 1966. He envisioned a futuristic community, a real town.

This is something else. It's a Disneyland for adults, a huge theme park whose theme is life in the immediate future. This morning, another section of Walt Disney’s World is opening. It's called EPCOT. It took three years to build and covers 260 acres. More than 7 million people are expected to visit EPCOT in its first year.

Business that was built on Mickey Mouse is gambling a lot on EPCOT, it’s hoping that you will want to see into the future. And the investment in Epcot represents half the company's total assets. Total eventual cost, 1 billion dollars. $1 billion.

The Disney people are betting $1,000,000,000. This is being called the biggest entertainment gamble of all time. And the future of the company that built it, Walt Disney Productions, rides on its success or failure.

2023-11-23 10:01

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