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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Theme Park Thursdays: Walt's Master Plan

Guests used to DISNEYLAND's operations are often surprised when they first arrive at Florida's Magic Kingdom Park. For decades, DISNEYLAND guests would park their cars in front of the park, then either take a tram or walk to the easily accessible front gate. In Florida, guests drive down a highway into a confusing auto toll booth, then get guided to a parking space. From here, they board a tram that takes them to- the Transportation and Ticketing Center. From here, they must get on either a boat, a bus or the monorail to finally arrive at Magic Kingdom's front gate. It creates a wonderful illusion that one is entering another world, though waiting for a tram then a boat or monorail is a bit time consuming.


The experience would have been much different if Walt Disney's original plans had been realized. The "Seven Seas Lagoon" that stands between the park and the parking lot would not have existed; Walt Disney had originally planned for that to be a green area that could be used for future expansion. (The current lagoon is labeled below with a 4). "Disneyland East" is shown below labeled #1, ringed by its various themed hotels. Guests of the hotels would have been able to walk to the park easily from their hotel rooms in a design similar to the current setup in Anaheim. 


If you weren't staying in a Disney hotel, you would have been guided to the main parking lot that was miles away, marked with a 3. Your only mode of transportation from here would have been a monorail which would whisk you north to the park, cutting right through EPCOT, which would have been a real city. The announcer on the monorail would fill you in on this City of the future, inviting you to tour it after your visit to Disneyland East. (EPCOT is shown above as #2.)

Sadly, Walt would pass away before any construction began. His brother canceled all of Walt's plans and substituted his own vision- that of a 'Vacation Kingdom'. It was Roy who approved expanding Bay Lake, creating the "Seven Seas Lagoon" separating the parking lots and hotels from the newly renamed "Magic Kingdom Park". Instead of ringing the park, the hotels would ring the lagoon, creating a need for a monorail and boat system to ferry people to the parks. EPCOT was completely tossed out, only to be resurrected years later to silence guest complaints. (Though it would be 'EPCOT in Name Only'.)

Could Disney World have worked as originally planned by Walt Disney? Possibly, though it is hard to say with any certainty. Roy Disney didn't think so, but then he doubted that Mickey's first cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, DISNEYLAND or even Matterhorn Mountain would be successful. Though even if he had gone ahead with the original Disney World plans, they might not have succeeded without the visionary man who dreamed them up.