OK! Welcome back to our tour of the Future Past!
We left off where Walt’s team was struggling with the responsibility of his legacy…namely, EPCOT.
Well, the Disney team had to continue. The many facets of the studio had always functioned to execute directives from a creative leader. In December 1966, that leadership was gone.
The company had to continue. Yet, the problem facing this company was, “Who’s creative vision shall we follow now?” No one was personally or politically equipped to fill Walt Disney’s shoes. This question alone is why I believe the Disney Studio floundered thru the 1970s. It ran on ‘automatic’ until a new strategic game plan could be devised that everyone under the corporate umbrella could agree upon.
Phase One of ‘The Florida Project” was the acquisition of land and the initial development of the Orlando property. The Magic Kingdom theme park or Walt Disney World was set into motion before Walt’s death. According to Roy Disney’s financial plan, the theme park is where revenue would flow to finance the later ‘phases’ of the “Florida Project”. Roy himself saw to the execution of this first phase as a philosophical debt to his beloved brother. Immediately, Phase One was designed and built.
Let’s move forward to 1974. The company was still dealing with it’s next big move. At this point, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and Mineral King are gone. Vietnam is quickly drawing to a close and optimism is low on the cultural ‘to do list’ for the country. Money is needed to keep W.D.P. afloat. At first, several past concepts are floated to the surface: a St. Louis, state financed park, an expansion of the Walt Disney World theme park, a foreign Disneyland park. For the immediate future, these ideas are dashed. Still, no one is willing to take the reigns left by Walt. What to do?
A facet of the original EPCOT idea was to feature an international presence. Perhaps the Florida expansion could continue with sponsorship from foreign investors? A World’s Fair type expansion that could showcase the cultures of the world in one park!
A World Showcase!
Soon, a presentation was designed and foreign governments were approached. This model had been successful for World’s Fairs and Expos for years. Well, investors were there but the financial plan wasn’t enough to merit a Phase launch. At this point, EPCOT was resurrected.
Perhaps the spirit of Walt’s original plan could be built…an attraction that meets some his original goals while feasibly attaining investment from corporate sponsors.
A new plan was devised to build a permanent World’s Fair attraction…one that would combine the World Showcase/International park with a corporately sponsored, science based park. A true hint of E.P.C.O.T….
This park had to be stylish. It had to make a mark and pull in visitors from all over the world. A game plan was devised. Walt Disney Productions would jump in with both feet…
We pick up with the "New EPCOT" tomorrow......