It has changed, EPCOT. Future Planet has vanished. New communities are starting to take shape. With construction walls concealing one of the most significant developments in the history of the Florida park, it is also difficult to imagine what may come next. For seasoned EPCOT enthusiasts, it’s a lot to process.
Walt Disney Imagineering’s executive creative director Scott Mallwitz understands it.
We enjoy EPCOT too, he added. “The first year I had the chance to visit, I came here a few weeks after it had opened, and I was completely in awe. It is simply amazing to be able to return many years later and lead a team that is considering how to set up the park for the next 30 years.”
For USA TODAY, he unveiled Disney Imagineers’ plans for the future of EPCOT and their respect to its past. You must return first, right?
EPCOT returns to normal
The Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, as envisioned by Walt Disney, was a real metropolis of progress, populated by residents and workers, as well as visitors who marvelled at the potential of American innovation. After Disney’s death, EPCOT took a different turn, but Imagineers looked back at his concepts as inspiration for the park’s current makeover.
“What did they have in mind? What difficulties were there? What elements of the original version were we unable to accomplish?” Mallwitz enquired.
Some of that idea can be seen in concept art renderings for Progress City, which you can see on the floor of Connections Café & Restaurant, which opened last year.
As this project progresses, “those types of minor tone pieces, little homages to our own past, are also going to be represented in many other ways,” Mallwitz added.
reducing the brutalist style
More open areas like Walt Disney had planned for EPCOT residents are one thing visitors may anticipate.
Visitors may have already noticed a departure from the brutalist design that predominated at the time the theme park was constructed and what Mallwitz referred to as “we need a big building, a big building, a huge structure.”
The issue with brutalism, according to him, is that without an introduction, the work of art just exists as a massive sculpture that is difficult to understand. “I believe that is what happened over the years with some of our structures, and now we are going back and peeling back.”
A further hallmark of Walt Disney’s original intentions, imagineers are erasing physical obstacles and embracing the park’s “hyper, super symmetrical arrangement.” They have entirely changed what was formerly CommuniCore East and Innoventions East and opened the line of sight from The Land all the way to Mission: Space.