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.
'This is exactly the sort of research and writing about my father and his work that he deserves.’ - Diane Disney Miller
'Steve Mannheim’s book about Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center is that rare combination of solid academic historical research and a great read� about one of the most fascinating people of our century. It makes fascinating reading both for students of city-building and Disney fans.Â While Steve’s vivid descriptions make us wonder what Walt Disney’s original plan would have been like had it been built, EPCOT todayÂ embodies his vision of a living urban laboratory.’ - Richard Peiser, Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development, Harvard Design School, Massachusetts, USA
'This book provides the best account of a remarkable accomplishment of America's most influential modern urban planner - Walt Disney. Disney's genius went beyond amusement parks to the creation of the new suburban communty form. Mannheim does a remarkable job in detailing the Disney’s revolutionary urban planning contributions that shape most of the modern world.’ - Edward J. Blakely, Dean, Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University, New York, USA
‘Walt Disney and the Quest for Community" is an outstanding book that uncovers new knowledge about Walt Disney's prolific concept for an experimental city. Author Steve Mannheim's meticulous research, including first-ever interviews with many of Walt’s colleagues, develops a fascinating documentary on Disney's final creative initiative before his death in 1966.The book is the first to reveal Walt Disney's deep personal concern for the urban "crisis" of the time, and his effort to focus the creative genius of his design team on the condition of cities. While Walt Disney's death left a void in the leadership necessary to realize this ambitious project, Disney's original thinking continues to be a provocative potential source of concepts for contemporary urban design and development.Although experiment, trial and evaluation are an accepted process in most scientific and artistic endeavors, city design rarely has the opportunity to benefit from creative exploration through a full-scale living laboratory. Walt Disney’s concept for an experimental city as a testing ground for urban innovation is an idea that remains relevant to advance future urban development.’ - Gerald Gast, Associate Professor, Portland Urban Architecture Programme, University of Oregon, USA
‘…provides a valuable, largely technical insight into Walt Disney’s approach to tourist planning.’ - Architectural Review
‘It is a window into the mind on one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century while he was wrestling with his grandest project. It is a well-documented historical account of the decision-making processes regarding EPCOT as well as a description of the ideas that influenced the concept…if someone wants to know more about what inspired Walt Disney's visions, and how these visions were turned into reality, this book is an indispensable resource.’ - Regional Studies
‘Walt Disney and the Quest for Community contains a wealth of views and facts.' - International Planning Studies
‘Steve Mannheim has written a useful, detailed and intriguing book…Urban designers will want to read this book to understand the personalities and planning processes that produced EPCOT. Mannheim also discusses many of the historical precedents and urban planning ideas that influenced Disney and his staff. He has performed a valuable service in gathering and synthesizing a large amount of archival evidence and interview material on Walt Disney’s last foray as a visionary builder…This book is strongest in its detailed documentation of EPCOT’s planning, construction and operation.’ - Journal of Urban Design
‘…a window into the mind of one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century while he was wrestling with his grandest project. It is a well-documented historical account of the decision-making processes regarding EPCOT as well as a description of the ideas that influenced the concept. If someone wants to know more about what inspired Walt Disney's visions, and how these visions were turned into reality, this book is an indispensable resource.’ - Jeffrey Sasha Davis, Pennsylvania State University, USA
‘For professionals, practitioners, and students of community development, and those who seek to regulate it, Walt Disney and the Quest for Community provides a nugget of unique information. For those interested in creative leadership, it should be required reading.’ - Roger L. Galatas, Urban Land
‘…a prescient insight into what Walt was thinking about as he approached the opportunity of his new 28,000 acre site in Florida…[Disney] was deeply involved in trying to articulate EPCOT, a concept of a new kind of community and lifestyle…the first definitive assessment of this context.’ - Harrison ‘Buzz’ Price, member of Disney’s original EPCOT team and author of Walt's Rev
Contents: Concept: Physical planning; Transportation: the end of autopia; Architecture and construction. Site: Site and technology; Landscaping. Economics and marketing: economic analysis and finance; Marketing. Regulation and Governance: Regulation and community governance/social planning; Operations and management; EPCOT after Disney; Bibliography; Index.