This month I wanted to get a look from above and explore an uncommon map. I didn’t know what I wanted to specifically do this month but I knew where I wanted to start: with a mouse.
Disney is one of my favorite things in life. Growing up I’ve watched all the animated movies in the 2D animation renaissance with Lion King, Alladin, A Goofy Movie, The Rescuers, etc. I’ve also grown up going to Walt Disney World many many times, and still do to this day. My favorite park is EPCOT, because it embodies something that I personally love, progress. Walt Disney was a huge advocate for progress, technology, and the improvement of human life. This forward thinking is the sole reason that I think the Disney company has been and will continue to be the forerunners of animation, entertainment, and experience.
But the EPCOT we all know and love today, is not the one Walt Disney had in mind. To see his original vision, we need to go back over half a century.
If you didn’t watch the video, it lays out the plans for a planned city where people can live and work while also having very close access to the Magic Kingdom, which was the only park at the time. There was a lot of emphasis on where people would work and help drive industry and innovation.
The master plans for Floridaland (which EPCOT is inside of) has a couple areas to it: We start at the bottom at the airport with monorail and road access to the rest of the park. Next on the stop are the “motels” and an 11,000 car park. Now, I put motels in quotes because these buildings do not resemble the motels that we are used to seeing. This area also has the registration area for new guests to check in as well as some forested areas for RVs and Campers.
To put this map into scale, the black grid lines in the background are 1 square mile. With that scale in mind, these motels actually have an 1,800 foot diameter. The first part of this month’s project was to recreate a layout of what one of these “motel circles” might actually look like from what I can see on the map.
I did a very basic overhead layout of the buildings (in black), the roads and parking lots (grey), and the walkways (brown). What I actually discovered about these so-called motels is that they are absolutely massive. Each motel wedge, assuming that the motel is only two stories tall, can actually hold about 300-400 rooms (each room at least 250 sq/ft). So given how each motel plaza includes four buildings, each plaza is at most 1,600 rooms. For context, the entire Pop Century Resort in Disney World has 2,880, which spans ten different buildings that each have four stories. Essentially, two of these motel circles equals Pop Century. I think calling them “motels” is lowballing them a tad bit.
Disney had four of the motel circles planned out with space to build three more. All of which were just for Magic Kingdom, plus two RV/Camper parks, each as big as two motel circles. Now we move north the next stop: The Industrial Park.
Now, from here on out this area will be the focus of this month’s project. This is where the progress was supposed to take place. Disney had an industrial park planned with six plazas, totaling 24 different buildings in which companies could come in and work on new innovations.
I wasn’t able to find very good pictures of close up details of what these plazas should look like or how people should access them. Looking at the master plans I was able to piece together what the experience of working in the Industrial Park would look like. Obviously, we have the park itself where people work, but getting there or who would go there wasn’t as obvious. From the overhead map the monorail looks like it makes a stop at a central hub where people can hop on People Movers to the six plazas. But this doesn’t look like the usual path that most people will take, but rather, what executives and outside people paying a visit would use, coming off the airport to check into the EPCOT center hotel or popping over the industrial park for meetings.
The intended path for the average worker in the industrial park actually starts to the east. There is a rarely mentioned residential and municipal octopus area. This residential suburb can be accessed from the main highway and has a dedicated road leading right to the Industrial Park. This is where the majority of workers would have spent their lives living. It appears to have a small town central with suburban offshoots that include all the residential houses.
Another thing to note is that the main highway roads that go through the industrial park next to the monorail do not appear to stop. This leads me to believe that the guests who park at the motels and trailer parks would not have direct access to the industrial park. There are some side roads that can access the industrial park but they seem to be intended for Disney vehicles.
Back to the industrial park. I spent the rest of the month exploring this park and making a more accurate and detailed map of what that would look like.
Because I don’t have time to place every single tree and parking space I focused on one plaza.
I named all the different plazas based on famous imagineers that were instrumental in the design of WDW. The South West building is named after John Hench, who designed Cinderella’s Castle, Space Mountain, and other aspects of the Magic Kingdom.
Coming in closer, I was able to calculate the square footage of all the different buildings as well as how many cars could feasibly fit. Nothing here is very accurate as all the images I based the map on are very low res so I’m making a lot of guesses.
Furthermore, I decided to give more detail to the walkway and surrounding areas. If I was a worker here, what would I want in my surroundings? I added in some ponds and fountains as well as areas for people to get outside to grab some coffee or food from stands and have a nice lunch outside on the benches and picnic tables.
Now I have absolutely no landscape and architecture skills whatsoever so I’m probably way off on how to represent those on a map. But I had a lot of fun basically unlocking the decisions made for Floridaland on how people travel in and out of the park. What the entire customer journey is supposed to be from landing at the airport to checking into your motel or the central EPCOT hotel and houses.
If I had more time to explore this map further I would love to finally get into EPCOT central. There are a lot of interesting ideas for a planned community there that I think might bring up new way of thinking about how we interact with our environment and how we have to adapt our living style.
I got a lot of my information from this site. They have a lot images in the best quality possible.
You can download a zip file of my map recreations and see the progress I’ve done (WARNING: 170MB Illustrator Files). I started to layout all the roads, monorail, and people mover lines as well before deciding to scale down the project to just focus on the industrial parks.