October 1966, a 24 minute film was made that would have an impact on millions of people spanning decades and will forever go down in history.
This was “The Florida Project” or “Project X” when it was a secret.
For those that do not know or haven’t been told before, this was the film where Walt Disney explained what his team were going to build in Florida including the groundbreaking idea for E.P.C.O.T. This was recorded just 2 months prior to Walt’s death and the narration was written by Disney legend Marty Sklar. This was to introduce and pitch this concept to the public.
Disneyland in California had opened on July 17th 1955 and had been a major success but Walt was frustrated over his inability to control or influence what was built just outside the boundaries of his Disneyland property. A pivotal turning point was when Walt and his team of Imagineers developed shows for four pavilions at the 1964-65 New York Worlds Fair. This was the first test to see whether the Disneyland concept would work on the East Coast and it did.
Walt scouted many locations for his East Coast project and finally settled on Central Florida. This was due to the high volumes of traffic they would get from the I-4 and Florida Turnpike, also being created was Orlando International Airport. The weather in the region was also ideal, to allow a year round operation of the park and the opportunity for outdoor recreational activities.
The land was purchased under assumed names to not attract attention such as Reedy Creek Ranch Corporation and Latin-American Development And Management Corporation. The total land purchased totalled 27.258 acres and cost just over $5 million.
The film also concentrated on Disney’s boldest project Epcot Center. This was miles away from the Fantasy of the Magic Kingdom Park. Many were not sure if this concept would work, like how would the Disney characters be incorporated? And would this be as appealing to people like the Magic Kingdom was?
Walt wanted to build a complete living and working city for a growing community, this was known as Progress City and you can see the model for this when you ride the TTA at the Magic Kingdom. This was fitting as Walt only wanted to use electric vehicles such as monorails and people movers. The concept for Epcot was exciting and fresh but suffices to say the park looks completely different from what Walt’s vision was. But even though he did not build the Progress City community I’m sure he will be fine with the millions that are in the ever growing Disney community today.
Walt died in December 1966 before construction had even began on Disney World and many were uncertain if the project would proceed without their leader. But the uncertainty didn’t last long however as Walt’s brother Roy stepped up and made sure his brother’s dream was completed. Roy had been Walt’s business partner for forty-three years and insisted on changing the name from the original “Disney World” to “Walt Disney World” in honor of his younger brother.
This video is a must see for any Disney fan. For me it shows Walt’s love for what he wanted to achieve and the excitement that he has for this project. It also shows that if you have a dream don’t be afraid to follow it and eventually achieve it.
Below is the link to the full 24 minute film and I urge everyone to go watch it and see what Walt’s original plans were. I would also like to know what people thought about the original plans and how Epcot turned out, So leave a comment or send a tweet @detailsofdisney. Would love to hear your thoughts.