Could Walt’s Vision Of EPCOT Be Applied to Shaping the Future of LeBreton Flats?
By: Grace Hill
Hi, my name is Grace Hill and I am a proud learner at Blue Sky School, a not for profit Independent school in the Kanata South area. At Blue Sky school we like to reach for the stars, and that is exactly what we are doing in our most current project: Developing the LeBreton Flats area.
Our plan is to gather public input by running several workshop to citizens of the Ottawa area of all ages. This means schools, workspaces, and universities. Then, we are hoping to gather all that input and shape it into a report to send off to the current organization who plans to develop LeBreton Flats, The National Capital Commision.
This is a huge, ambitious project, and there is so much to learn! So, of course, the first steps for embarking on this journey were learning more and researching about this topic. This is a very open ended first step and we were all fully expecting we would go on different learning journeys, I just never knew I would get into something as magical as this!
One of our first research prompts (given to us by our project manager aka teacher Shauna Pollock) was to look in to some of the well thought out public places in the world. This was an especially intriguing prompt to me so I decided to dig into this subject a bit. Shauna mentioned as an example of this was the original plan of EPCOT. I did not know a whole lot about this place before and it sounded interesting enough so I started looking into it more. I was absolutely blown away by what I learned!
EPCOT stands for the “Experimental, Prototype City of Tomorrow”. It is a place that is ever changing and evolving into something new. This vision was right from the mind of the Mickey Mouse creator himself, Walt Disney. Walt Disney started his career as an animator and is commonly known for creating the first ever animation with ‘Mickey Mouse’. Continuing on this path he also created the groundbreaking production of “Snow White and the Seven dwarfs” He was a pioneer in the industry , and was recognized for this globally after winning multiple awards! After a while though, he got bored of this and moved on to other projects such as creating and opening the first ever Theme park of “Disneyland” In California. The park was a huge success, and there was nothing like it! Who would have thought taking something so imaginary like cartoon characters and princesses, and creating it in the world around us! Nevertheless, Walt Disney moved on yet again to create another groundbreaking ideation of “Disney World”. Everyone knows it, everyone loves it, but not everyone know what his original plan was for a portion of the park called “EPCOT.”
“The most exciting, and by far the most important part of our Florida Project - in fact the heart of everything we will be doing in Disney world- is the Experimental, Prototype City of Tomorrow, we will call it EPCOT” Walt Disney said as he was releasing some plans and blueprints on EPCOT. The vision for EPCOT was simple to Walt, it would be a place where people could work, dream and play. Walt was known for being ahead of his times, but I think he might be even ahead of our times as well with this concept. The lifestyle was set as laid back and relaxed, but also playful, fun and creative, He gave off this vibe with the design of the city.
(Epcot map (right))
The city is designed like a wheel, with the middle being the main tourist attraction of the big hotel travelers would stay in. Around this we now get in to to the urban plan. This is where all the work places would be and the shops.
Then as we go further down we get in to the residential area with a complete suburban lifestyle, promised to be accessible to everyone. Here we have residential housing and recreation such as schools, parks (amusement and non) and churches.
Then we move further down to the industrial area. Not a lot of plans were showcased here since Walt died before he could finish.
Throughout the city ran people movers, a new mode of transportation while all gassed powered vehicles were stored and ran underground. The people movers were above ground so pedestrians were free to walk anywhere without fear of automobiles.
Unfortunately, the plan was never followed through on as Walt was an avid smoker and died of lung cancer shortly after the Epcot film was shot. Epcot was turned into a dream park and is what it is today.
Everytime I think of this plan I smile. It fills my heart with so much joy the feeling of being in Epcot. I am also sad that this wonderful dream was never followed through on after he passed. Walt Disney has definitely challenged the way I think about cities, and how they can be more than just places we live, they can become places that sparks joy. What if we could do this with LeBreton Flats? What if the area can be a place of our wildest dreams, our deepest desires. What if we, a bunch of dedicated youth, come together and finish the project that Walt started here in Ottawa? Like Walt said, “All our dreams can come true, as long as we have the courage to pursue them.” So what do you think Ottawa, do we?
LeBreton Flats Team at Ottawa U! From left to right: Chrystia (Partner, Ottawa U), Madison (Blue Sky school), Carson (Blue Sky school), Will (Blue Sky school), Grace (ME), Evin on computer (Partner, Belouga), Midia (Mentor), Shauna (project manager)
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