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Entries in epcot (16)

Thursday
Oct182007

Mickey Futurism (1980s)


Jeff over at Hyperion 2719 has this photo from the 1980s of assorted Disney characters in their futuristic rainbow costumes.

See also:
EPCOT's Horizons
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)

Thursday
Jul262007

EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)

The diverse and informative Disney blog, 2719 Hyperion has a very interesting post about the publicity materials sent out prior to EPCOT's opening on October 1, 1982. Below is a description of the attraction New Horizons from an early brochure.


New Horizons
An underwater colony is one of the future habitats highlighting your journey through New Horizons, presented by General Electric, In the Omnimax Theatre, you'll spiral through eight-story-high projections of the macro and micro worlds that form the building blocks of our future. And you'll take a whimsical look backwards at the tomorrows imagined by visionaries of the past.


See also:
EPCOT's Horizons
The Simpsons go to EPCOT
Astuter Computer Revue
Westcot (1991)

Thursday
Apr122007

The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929)

The Hugh Ferriss book The Metropolis of Tomorrow, originally published in 1929, is an amazing work broken up into three parts: Cities of Today, Projected Trends, and An Imaginary Metropolis. Needless to say, the last section is most intriguing for our purposes.

The image below is a radial design for a city that pops up many times in the succeeding years, notably in Walt Disney's original design for EPCOT.The first center to be seen is that structure, or complex of structures, in which the control of the business activities of the cities is housed. Here is located the seat of government of the city's practical affairs, including its three chief branches - legislative, judiciary and executive.

At this closer view we can distinguish in greater detail the characteristics of the tower-buildings. The tower itself rises directly over the intersection of two of the master highways to a height of 1200 feet. There are eight flanking towers, half this height, which, with their connecting wings, enclose four city blocks. The center extends, however, over eight adjoining blocks, where its supplementary parts rise to a height of twelve stories.

We see, upon examining the Avenue, that more than one level for traffic is provided. Local wheel traffic is on the ground level; express traffic is depressed; pedestrians pass on a separate plane above.

Beyond the center, the lower districts of the city are visible, together with the radial avenues which lead to the other tower-buildings of the Business district.

Wednesday
Mar142007

Westcot (1991)

In 1991 the Walt Disney Company announced plans for a 470-acre expansion of its presence in California. This expansion was to include an "EPCOT West" or Westcot. The proposal is interesting if only for its ambition. Westcot was to be a "World's fair-type attraction in Anaheim," with the featured attraction being a 300-foot-tall Spacestation Earth, modeled after the 180-foot-tall Spaceship Earth in Florida's Epcot Center.

According to a New York Times article from December 13, 1991:

"The heart of the new resort will be Westcot, with Spacestation Earth at its center and, fanning outward, pavilions named the Wonders of Living, the Wonders of Earth and the Wonders of Space, along with cultural exhibits. 'Westcot is expected to draw 10 million visitors in its first year,' said Kerry Hunnewell, vice president for the Anaheim Project."

According to the New York Times, the head of the Westcot project resigned in December of 1993 without any reason given.

Many Disney-related blogs including Jim Hill Media, 2719 Hyperion, and Mickey News have covered this story if you're looking for more information.

See also:
EPCOT's Horizons 19 Feb 2007
The Simpson's go to EPCOT 14 Feb 2007
Astuter Computer Revue 8 Feb 2007

Sunday
Feb182007

EPCOT's Horizons


The EPCOT attraction Horizons was a great introduction into the world of paleo-futurism. The ride took you through past visions of the future as well as "present" visions of the future. For this ride the "present" meant 1983, the year it was built.

The ride was permanently closed in 1999 but Horizons is not completely lost. Some have posted video of the ride while others have posted the audio of the attraction in its entirety. Intercot has a complete video ride-through but it's a low-resolution RealPlayer file.

The photos posted are from the book Walt Disney's EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow and actually appear to be scale models likely produced before the ride even opened. One of the most memorable things about the ride was the smell of oranges during the "desert farm" scene pictured below.

The photo caption reads:

Horizon's ride-through attraction culminates in "Tomorrow's Windows," a revealing look into future living styles. This city apartment of the future, [above], boasts a spectacular view of the twenty-first-century skyline. While the man plays a "symphosizer," his wife chats with their daughter via holographic teleview. From the control pod of the desert farm, [below], a woman in a jumpsuit directs the work of robot harvesters. Her desert hovercar is parked behind the control pod.

Wednesday
Feb142007

The Simpsons go to EPCOT

Fans of Disney's Epcot, (the theme park formerly known as EPCOT Center), seem to fall into three categories:

1. Angry
2. Bored
3. Nostalgic

There are a number of websites devoted to EPCOT that critique the theme park and Disney management for letting it become the laughstock it now seems to be. (For the Simpsons's take, check out the video at the bottom of the post.) Here is a small sampling of those blogs and sites I have come across which seem to make very relevant points.

EPCOT Central
Waltopia
Re-Imagineering

Tuesday
Feb132007

The Future World of Transportation

I remember checking out this book at my elementary school library and being fascinated with the prospect of futuristic transportation. In the second grade I even did a science project on "Cars in the Year 2000." (In 1992, the year 2000 still had some significance to a second grader.) My cars traveled on an electric grid throughout cities. Nowadays, my hope for the technology of the future mostly resides in ideas like wireless power and the prospect of setting up wireless power grids, much like the wireless internet infrastructure some cities are adopting.

Chapter 1 of The Future World of Transportation opens with the ambitious "Report from the Year 2050." Their future is filled with "Ultra Jets" (described in the glossary as a double-decker plane of the future which loads passengers and cargo while hovering in the air) and "autoplanes" (a combination airplane and car) but, "there is still only one terminal for space flight, the Earth International Space Port near Tucson, Arizona [which is] used largely by people who have business on the satellite space stations, or 'space-habs' or by those going to one of the new space station resorts."

The second chapter is basically an advertisement for the now defunct World of Motion ride at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World while the third chapter explores the history of transportation from the invention of the wheel to "current" flight technology. The fourth chapter is called "Moving Ahead on Land" and starts getting into some great paleo-futuristic territory with the "Planetran, a sleek magnetic levitation train propelled by electromagnets, [that could] whisk passengers from New York to Los Angeles through underground tunnels in less than an hour." Now that's what I'm talking about.

The fifth chapter explores "The Future at Sea" and basically guarantees the young readers that they will see three-wheeled land/sea vehicles powered by water jets in their lifetimes. The idea of their "floating hotel" is the most intriguing, as it appears that the hotel itself could, "move between ports on a cushion of air at 50 miles per hour." There appears to be no explanation necessary as to why someone would want a moving hotel in the paleo-future.

Chapter six lays out the somewhat mundane history of speed on land, sea and in the air but gets into amazing paleo-futuristic territory with the demonstration of a WASP or Williams Aerial Systems Platform which, according to the glossary is "a one-person flying device that is powered by a small turbofan engine." Personal rocket packs, here we come.

The book ends with a chapter called "Giant Steps into Space" which, as we all know, is the final frontier. Again, I can't help but wonder if any publisher could put out such an earnest and optimistic book for children today. The sincerity with which this book addresses the beautiful technology to come is astounding. Part of me laughs off everything in this book as fanciful and naive dreaming. Another part of me longs for that cynicism to be overtaken by hope for the future and the desire to again be amazed. Because, if the iPhone is the only thing that will revolutionize the way we live (as I believe on some level it will) we seem to be far from the "future" EPCOT sold us in 1982.

(I also own The Future World of Agriculture and The Future World of Energy, so don't you worry, those are coming soon. Also, I'll Flickrize more photos from this great collection when I find more time.)