by Marty Sklar & Jeff Williams

The original 1967 E.P.C.O.T model at the Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, 1967
(c) The Walt Disney Company

In 1966, Walt Disney tasked his team with producing a film (written by Marty Sklar) and a model (primarily designed by Marvin Davis, based on concept art by Herbert Ryman) in order to promote E.P.C.O.T (the city) to the Florida legislature.  Ryman’s artwork, as well as the unfinished centerpiece of the model, the E.P.C.O.T Hotel, is featured in the film.

After Walt’s death in December 1966, however, hopes for building a city in Florida diminished, but it was decided that the model should be completed anyway, by a team led by Johnny Franke.  Members of the team included Roger Broggie, Jr., Yale Gracey, George Windrum, and many others.  

The original 1967 E.P.C.O.T model at the Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, 1967
(c) The Walt Disney Company

After a highly successful two-year run at the New York World’s Fair, GE committed to continuing sponsorship of Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at Disneyland.  At the Fair, GE® operated a post-show attraction where their products were presented in a mock-city environment called “Progress City”.  When the Carousel opened at Disneyland in 1967, it was still too early to pitch the E.P.C.O.T community Walt had envisioned, so the decision was made to display the completed model to guests exiting the attraction.  It was here that the E.P.C.O.T model was renamed “Progress City”.

The original 1967 E.P.C.O.T model at the Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, 1967
(c) The Walt Disney Company

Following the opening of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971, Marvin Davis circulated a memo (dated August 1972) in an attempt to get the E.P.C.O.T project moving again.  Davis’s effort, along with urging from GE (who sought to reinvigorate the show by attracting a new, east coast audience) resulted in the Carousel moving to Florida, along with the Progress City model.  John Olson recalls being shown the model by Jimmy Elliott in 1974, while it was in storage, awaiting transport to Florida. When GE elected to forego a post-show area in the Florida park, John Hench designed the current one-story building featured at Magic Kingdom.  Because of this change, however, the Progress City model became expendable, but “show” was still needed to fill in space along the WEDway PeopleMover track, and so it was decided to use the model for that purpose.  Unfortunately, though, it had been cut into pieces for its cross-country voyage, and because the entire model would not fit into the new space, much of it was discarded.  

Since 1975, the remaining 1,428 square foot portion of the model (including most of the elevated “downtown” section, about half of the “Green Belt”, and roughly one cropped residential area) has been on display along the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (WEDway PeopleMover) ridepath.

by Sebastien Barthe and Robert Rowe

Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, 1967
(c) The Walt Disney Company

The Carousel of Progress was one of Walt Disney's attractions developped for the New York's World Fair in 1963-64. Guests stayed in their seats as an outer ring of six theaters moved around a fixed, circular section. While guests were entering into one theater and exiting from another, guests in the other four theaters were watching the tireless Audio-Animatronic actors in the four acts of the show depicting the evoluation of the science and technology in our lifes through the eyes of the same family. When the Fair ended, Walt Disney had a perfect attraction to export to Disneyland. Walt Disney died in December 1966. He never saw the July 1967 re-opening of the attraction this time at Disneyland.

The original 1967 E.P.C.O.T model at the Carousel of Progress, Disneyland, 1967
(c) The Walt Disney Company

After the show, guests boarded a speedramp that would take them to the second level of the building. On the upper level, a 4-minute post show, narrated by Mother and Father, with a few barks and growls from their dog, coincided with guests gazing at an enormous model of Progress City. Progress City was based on Walt Disney's original concept for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (E.P.C.O.T) and the Walt Disney World property.

Before the fifth act, located on the upper level of the Carousel, the fourth level of the show included a sneak peak of E.P.C.O.T. through the window of the family's living room:

Act IV of the 1967 Carousel of Progress, Disneyland.
(c) The Walt Disney Company


This city was the preview of Walt's vision for E.P.C.O.T. Extremly detailed, the model features all of the major key elements of his project:

- the radial design
- the urban center and its towering hotel
- the green belt
- the industrial park
- the Monorails and PeopleMovers.

E.P.C.O.T model residents within the miniature buildings
(c) The Walt Disney Company

E.P.C.O.T's model was truly amazing: 115 feet wide, 60 feet deep, with 1400 individually street lights, 2500 moving vehicules representing future transportation, 20.000 trees and 4500 structures / buildings. Disney Imagineer George Windrum recalled that, at Walt Disney's insistence, the interiors of the 1/8 inch scale buildings of the original Epcot model, which were barely visible through their tiny windows, had to finished, furnished and lit. The guests might not notice but Walt would know the details were there.

Progress City was truly a model city.  This miniature city was built at a scale of 1/8-inch equal to 1-foot.  It represented a 3-dimensional vision of E.P.C.O.T, Walt Disney’s vision of a model city of the future where “people could live a life that they couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.”

Starting in the south, the resort was supposed to contain: a jet airport, a motel complex, an industrial park (including a nuclear power plant), the city, lakes and resort area, and the theme park.  These complexes would have covered close to a square mile each; and would have been located along a spine of the resorts main highway and interconnecting monorail that stretched almost the entire length of the property.

Instead, smaller versions were created to give viewers a sense of the entire scope. The model contained a small amusement park. But even this tiny amusement park was well thought out and planned.  Everything that would be needed for a real amusement park was included.