Walt Disney and the Quest for Community / Edition 1by Steve Mannheim
Pub. Date: 12/23/2002
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
During the final months of his life, Walt Disney was consumed with the world-wide problems of cities. His development concept at the time of his death on December 15th, 1966 would be his team’s conceptual response to the ills of the inner cities and the sprawl of the megalopolis: the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow or, as it became known, EPCOT. This beautifully written, instantly engrossing volume focuses on the original concept of EPCOT, which was conceived by Disney as an experimental community of about 20,000 people on the Disney World property in central Florida. With its radial plan, 50-acre town center enclosed by a dome, themed international shopping area, greenbelt, high-density apartments, satellite communities, monorail and underground roads, the original EPCOT plan is reminiscent of post-war Stockholm and the British New Towns, as well as today's transit-oriented development theory. Unfortunately, Disney himself did not live long enough to witness the realization of his model city. However, EPCOT's evolution into projects such as the EPCOT Center and the town of Celebration displays a remarkable commitment by the Disney organization to the original EPCOT philosophy, one which continues to have relevance in the fields of planning and development.
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I have read and researched most every book about Walt Disney and specifically the Walt Disney World Resort. Mannheim provides very interesting and detailed new insights details about Walt's own plans for the Florida property. An excellent read. (I enjoyed the book so much, I've included a link to it on my own website!)
It is clear that it will be the responsibility of historians to accurately reflect the influence that Walt Disney had upon the development of cultural and social structures; beginning during the twentieth century and continuing into a new millennium. Though Walt Disney reflected the social values of his contemporaries in the United States, he also tapped into the essential curiosity that drives all human beings toward exploration and discovery. It is that final phase of Walt Disney's bold and creative exploration that provides the backdrop for this important study. In 'Walt Disney and the Quest for Community', author Steve Mannheim brings Walt's original idea for EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) back to the table after almost four decades of neglect. While the creation of Epcot Center at Walt Disney World provides for an interesting day of amusement, the origins of EPCOT (the community) had far greater implications. Those living and working at the EPCOT of Walt Disney's mind would participate in an innovative commercial, social, and political experiment that would be unprecedented in human history. Regrettably, the genius of Walt Disney was revealed to be finite with his passing in December 1966. With Disney's death, the dream of EPCOT as originally conceived was shelved as being unattainable without the necessary provision of Walt Disney's personal authority and command. Mannheim's text explores the historical context and influences upon Walt's research and imagination, along with many first hand interviews and accounts from those who worked closely with Disney during this exploratory period in the mid 1960's. The text is expertly researched and provides the most thorough account to date of the vision behind Walt Disney's final dream: E.P.C.O.T.