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Entries in epcot (16)

Monday
Aug152011

Disney's "Project X" in 1966

It's easy to forget -- even for a Disney nerd like myself -- that before Walt Disney died of lung cancer in December of 1966, EPCOT (the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was supposed to be a real city. The code name "Project X" was given to the undertaking that would eventually become Walt Disney World, which today includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom parks.

The illustration above is an aerial view of Project X, while the image below shows the thirty story hotel that was to be the centerpiece of the city of EPCOT. Both are from the excellent book Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance, edited by Karal Ann Marling.

 

Sunday
Aug302009

My First Thoughts on Paleo-Futurism (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Disney)

Me and Goofy (circa 1989)I've visited Walt Disney World about 20 times.

Now, for an elderly woman living in Orlando, Florida, this might seem like an appropriate number. But for a 26-year-old man who's lived his entire life in the Midwest, that number is fairly absurd. My parents got me hooked at a young age, and while my perspective on the Disney brand and favorite activities in Disney World have both drastically changed over the years, I keep going back.

It was in EPCOT Center that I first started thinking about paleo-futurism. By the mid-1990s, EPCOT was looking stale; a future frozen in the early 1980s. The park was almost a monument to a historical future, rather than a hopeful tomorrow, and even young children could sense this. Though an extreme comparison, it was somewhat like visiting Flushing Meadows to see the decaying remnants of New York's 1964 World's Fair.

EPCOT as a theme park sparked my interest in this concept -- a concept for which I didn't yet have a name -- but one ride in particular stands out as the most reflective, yet forward-thinking. Horizons was opened in 1983 and featured both a history of the future, represented by an animatronic Jules Verne, and the future as imagined in 1983. Disney and this ride have so invaded my thoughts that any time I smell oranges I still imagine the "farm of the future," as was briefly depicted during this ride.

Though the ride closed in 1999, I can still play through every scene of Horizons in my head. The ride stands out as an experience that introduced me to thinking about histories of the future, and got me to thinking about what futures survive in our collective imagination. Like movies forever lost to history because of negligence and poor archiving, I feel a special sense of loss that most will never get to experience this ride in person.

Oh well, at least Epcot still sells booze. Pour some out on the curb for Horizons. Or don't. That alcohol ain't cheap.

The clip below is from the 1991 souvenir video, A Day at EPCOT Center.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Sunday
Oct262008

Report From the Year 2050 (1984)

My interest in futurism can probably be credited to two things: Disney's EPCOT Center and children's science books of the 1980s and 90s. One of my earliest posts here at the Paleo-Future blog covered the EPCOT Center book, The Future World of Transportation. I vividly recall checking out the three books in this series from my elementary school library, my sticky fingers pawing through the technological promises Baby Boomers never saw materialize but insisted we Millennials would soon enjoy. Just over that horizon, just a little further! The year 2000 is going to change everything! We swear! 

The number is just so big. And round! 2000! Look at all those zeros. 2000!
To the author's credit they figured out that to sound even remotely plausible and still make me wet my Underoos over the advanced technology featured in the book, one had to open with a year further out than 2000 A.D.

 

And thus the first chapter, titled, "Report From the Year 2050." Below are four renderings of technology we are certain to have by the year 2050 (if those lying, deceitful Baby Boomers are to be believed).

 

Monday
May052008

What the future didn't bring


Paleo-Future readers in the Twin Cities may have noticed a certain blogger on the front page of today's St. Paul Pioneer Press. No, it wasn't my idea to pose, fake-blogging on my bed. We have a small apartment. The living room is filled with books and there's no place to sit. The photographer didn't have many options.

A couple friends of mine made a bet about how early in the piece Disney or EPCOT would be mentioned. Nic won. He guessed the sixth paragraph.

It was the fifth.

Matt Novak has seen a vision of the future. A lot of visions.

 

That's because in the past year or so, the 24-year-old St. Paul resident has turned himself into a sort of accidental expert on the paleo-future: depictions of the future from the past.

He collects and comments on yesterday's predictions of tomorrow on his blog, www.paleofuture.com, which has become a sort of online museum of a promised world of jet packs, meals in a pill and sex with robots.

Novak said the project, "a look into the future that never was," started in January 2007 when he was taking a writing class at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. One of the assignments was to create a blog.

He'd always been interested in the fantastic, strange or goofy predictions of the future, dating back to a childhood visit to Disney World: "In the 1980s, EPCOT was a thing that already looked dated." There also was his second-grade diorama in 1992 of what the world would look like eight years in the future: "Cars on magnetic tracks, all sort of crazy things like that; 2000 was such a magic number, the world would be so different."


See also:
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Article for MungBeing
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Postmodern Paleo-Future

 

Thursday
Apr032008

Disney Paleo-Future Muxtape


The Paleo-Future Muxtape is currently featuring 12 tracks of Disney paleo-futurism. Listen while they're hot because this will be a constantly changing mix of audio. For a less paleofuture-focused Disney audio adventure check out the Epcot Muxtape.

See also:
EPCOT's Horizons
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
The Simpsons go to EPCOT
Astuter Computer Revue
Rebuilding Tomorrowland (1966)
Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past (1997)
Tomorrowland, Disneyland Opening Day (1955)
Space Station X-1 (circa 1955)

Wednesday
Mar262008

Sea City of the Future (1984)

This image appears in the 1984 book The Future World of Agriculture and illustrates futuristic farming techniques near a sea city.

Robots tend crops that grow on floating platforms around a sea city of the future. Water from the ocean would evaporate, rise to the base of the platforms (leaving the salt behind), and feed the crops.


 

See also:
Sea City 2000 (1979)
Robot Farms (1982)
Farm of the Future (1984)
Superfarm of the Year 2020 (1979)

Tuesday
Mar182008

SMRT-1 Concept Art (1982)


This concept art for the SMRT-1 robot at EPCOT Center is dated May 3, 1982. SMRT-1 was featured at the Communicore exhibit and "spoke" with visitors via telephones while playing trivia games.

The Widen Your World website has a pretty thorough breakdown of the Communicore exhibit. Their photograph of SMRT-1 appears below. Communicore was closed in 1993 and converted into the Innoventions exhibit in 1994.


Be sure to check out one of the Paleo-Future blog's earliest posts, which happened to be about the The Computer Song. The Computer Song was from the Communicore attraction, Astuter Computer Revue, and certainly gives you a taste of the early-EPCOT atmosphere.

See also:
Astuter Computer Revue
EPCOT's Horizons
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
The Simpson's go to EPCOT
Westcot (1991)