Epcot at 40: How Walt Disney World Inspired Me to Be a Technician

People celebrate in front of Epcot.

Epcot Center Opening, October 1982

The Walt Disney Company / Media Archive

It was 1972. I was three years old. At the time, our nuclear family was me, my mum and my dad, living in Queens. My brother wasn’t born yet, and that was too early for my immediate family and my formative memories. Although I don’t remember the exact details of that period, I do remember it as a happy time.

The family vacation that started it all

One of my early memories was our vacation that year to Florida and Walt Disney World, which had been open for about a year. we stayed in Polynesia Village Resortone of the only two properties that opened first in the park, the second being Contemporary resort.

I don’t remember much about Polynesian in 1972, but I do remember visiting Contemporary.

The Contemporary was, at the time, a super futuristic and state-of-the-art resort hotel, with a giant open interior space where you could see all floors in the ‘Grand Canyon’ interior atrium. The park’s transportation system, the fully suspended monorail, stopped inside the lobby – you never had to leave the air-conditioned hotel confines to board.

also: This hotel uses technology in a really scary way (but some will love it)

Inside the contemporary resort.

Contemporary Disney World Resort Courtyard

The Walt Disney Company

The original hotel only had 383 rooms within one building (expanded to 655), but for a three-year-old, it was gigantic and awe-inspiring. I haven’t been back in 50 years, but I remember it clearly.

This hotel was originally part of A great master plan by Walt Disney himself But it was not fully realized, as he died of cancer in 1966 before construction of the park was finished. In accordance with his wishes, in addition to amusement parks, Walt Disney World had to contain the experimental model of the city of tomorrow, where people live and work in imaginary and futuristic bliss. EPCOT was to be the first “smart city” with amenities and automation that people could only dream of at the time.

Instead, we ended up at the amusement park in the perpetual world we have today, to celebrate its 40th birthday this week.

The future of Disney and the World Expo

The model Walt Disney town was influenced by the design of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, a showcase for the future of American industrial prowess: consumer goods, transportation, technology, and the space age. I live in New York City Flushing MeadowsIt represented 80 countries and attracted 51 million people.

The Walt Disney Company (Walt himself) has been heavily involved in many exhibitions, Show Technologies It will later be used in its gardens.

Unisphere and New York State Pavilion at night.

Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair

New York City

My parents grew up close to the site and both worked there. During my childhood in the seventies, my father took me to see the remaining structures. This included Unisphere (Undoubtedly the inspiration for EPCOT’s geosphere), the New York Hall of Science, and the New York State Pavilion with its giant amphitheater-like towers and circular watchtowers.

Ten years after the exhibition ended, as shown in the documentary Modern Ruin: World Expo PavilionThese buildings were already dilapidated and neglected, but they were still impressive.

Today we call this architectural style and futuristic aesthetic design. This design ethos has been carried over into all aspects of Walt Disney World, including the monorail transportation system and EPCOT, which was built in the late 1970s and opened in the early 1980s with (now no longer in existence) future world suitewhich I also visited shortly after it opened when I was a teenager.

influence on generation

Disney greatly influenced children growing up in the ’70s, as we didn’t have as many entertainment options on TV as young children today. The wonderful world of Disneya show that aired on NBC during prime times on Sunday evenings from 7:30-8:30 p.m., which featured Disney cartoons and movies (often Segmented over multiple weekends), Possess opening sequence Tinker Bell Tournament, with photos of the park and brief conceptual photos of EPCOT.

In retrospect, I realize this is consumer propaganda, but as a child, I was fascinated by it. Every kid I knew religiously watched this show and, as a result, begged their parents to bring them to the park for vacations in the Sunshine State, whether they could afford it or not.

Disney’s futuristic world and EPCOT’s early conceptual graphics undoubtedly influenced others. dome city Logan RunShe appeared in 1975 in a dystopian science fiction movie (one of the first films I remember seeing in the theater with my father), bearing more than a passing resemblance to Walt Disney’s unrealized experimental city.

The Domed City from the movie Logan's Run.

Run Domed Logan City.

United Artists Digital Studios / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Amazon)

Looking at EPCOT today, you can easily take pictures Michael York, Rickard Jordan, Jenny Agutter and Farrah Fawcett – They all had posters when I was a teenager – They run between the geodesic dome and surrounding structures.

There’s also a lot of this aesthetic in other sci-fi movies and TV series of the ’70s and ’80s that the kids of my generation enjoyed. Glen Larson (Producer Battlestar GalacticaAnd the Buck Rogers in the twenty-fifth century, And the riding knightPossibly a student of Walt Disney’s future.

The effect is evident in the actions of others such as Mr. Medwho did a lot of concept designs behind it Blade RunnerAnd the Aliensand Disney you can see. as well as in drawings Ralph McCurrywho was one of the main influences behind the appearance of star Wars The movies, which Disney of course would own and profit decades later through the Galaxy Edge theme park.

If you look at how Apple’s “Spaceship” Cupertino headquarters was built, there’s some original Disney EPCOT there too — and no doubt Steve Jobs had Uncle Walt somehow in mind when he was planning it.

Technology dazzling

The futuristic vision of Walt Disney World made an indelible impression on me long after my first family vacation. It occupies an essential part of my memory and affects my life the same way I watch old episodes Star Trek Do. GrandMr., introduced me to the series in its early reboot during the ’70s.

Chiefs are like life in the Hall of Presidents.

Voice animation in the Hall of Presidents

Disney parks

Although EPCOT never became the perfect city that Walt Disney wanted, it would be wrong to say that aspects of the theme park diminish the experience — if anything, they embarked on it.

In the eyes of a three-year-old, the cast members wandering the park in Mickey Mouse and Goofy costumes had nothing on Tiki Birds or the Abraham Lincoln cartoon.

I vividly remember my first miracles from enchanted tiki room and the Presidents’ Hall How did these things come back to life?

realistic moving sound It startled me, but I knew – and understood – that they were artificial and robots even back then.

I realized that what made them come to life was not represented in fashion but technology. And even at the age of three, even though I didn’t understand what “professions” were or what people do in technology, I knew I wanted to make things like this or work with something like this when I grew up.

Why am I a technician today? There is no doubt that the idea began with that family vacation fifty years ago. So for EPCOT, I wish you a happy 40th birthday – and to Walt Disney World, a happy 51st.

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