20 April 2010

Master Plan 5

Master Plans have a funny way of being usurped, especially in the realm of Disney theme parks. Disneyland had sixty-seven master plans before Walt and his team finally hit upon the right combination of adventures to open the park with. The process improved over time, as the Imagineers opened Walt Disney World with the seventeenth version of the Vacation Kingdom’s plan. With all of that in mind, I thought it would be intriguing to examine Master Plan 5 of EPCOT Center, which was released in 1977.

By 1977, the ideas of Future World and World Showcase being the fundamental lands of EPCOT Center were firmly cemented. Though Master Plan 5 admitted that some of the pieces of the plan would undoubtedly change before the park opened, it held firm to the belief that the two areas that would comprise EPCOT Center would remain, and so they did. The plan was also correct in its assumption that pavilions and attraction concepts would also change before 1981. Let’s go ahead and look at each piece of the EPCOT Center puzzle as seen in 1977.

Spaceship Earth – The introduction to EPCOT Center, both in idea and implementation, the show presented inside the geodesic sphere was meant to showcase ‘the relationship between communications and humankind’s continuing dynamic-survival.’ This communication-as-a-tool message, complete with the adaptability of communication to various forms, such as books, language, and computers, was critical to the understanding of the concepts, and how they were being presented, throughout the remainder of the park.This message, as it turns out, would be precisely what was conveyed to guests, through various incarnations, for a majority of the EPCOT Center and Epcot’s first twenty-five years.

Communicore – The hub of EPCOT Center was to be a ‘global marketplace of new ideas.’ In Master Plan 5’s version of Communicore, this global marketplace include Telstore (a video library meant to showcase the video information market), Informat Arcade (an array of wild information exchange and newfound means of information retrieval),Good Health Emporium (the pharmacy of the future), Future World Travel Port (information kiosks where data imputed by guests would populate virtual previews of potential vacations), Future World Office (a paperless office environment), and FuturePlan (a career planning station featuring new fields and second career opportunities).While some of the individual components would shift before EPCOT Center’s opening, the main vision of a global marketplace would remain in place throughout Communicore’s lifespan.

Life and Health Pavilion – EPCOT Center was centered around the idea of human life, specifically ways to make our interactions with each and other and the world around us better, this pavilion would open the doors for guests to gain a ‘new awareness and appreciation of themselves.’ The Joy of Living would showcase the life of a human, from birth through the elderly years. The Incredible Journey Within was meant to me an exploratory journey of the inner workings of the human machine. Meanwhile, the Great Midway of Life would be an expo of exhibits and experiences intended to impart the idea that good health is shaped by personal choice.When Wonders of Life opened in 1989, many of these concepts were modified, plussed, and found new life in a form similar to Master Plan 5’s vision.

The Land – Natural resources are not unlimited, but had been treated as such for many years. The goal of this glass-spire pavilion was to make guests aware of this problem and express ‘the need for harmony between man and his home.’ Master Plan 5 did not include details on The Land’s experiences, but knew that information on resources, environment, and farming needed to be conveyed in entertaining fashion.The Land opened within EPCOT Center with innovative greenhouses, a man-as-earth’s-protector film, and a show seeking to develop better dietary habits, balancing the ideas of Master Plan 5’s The Land pavilion with a theme focusing more on food and agriculture than environment.

Transportation – Like communication, transportation has moved man from one innovation to another, and this experience would showcase ‘how man has progressed through time in direct relation to his ability to move from one location to another.’ The pavilion would feature transportation simulations, inspire with concepts and prototypes of future transportation modes, and follow the trail from humble designs to current transportation designs.Many of these Master Plan 5 concepts would be tweaked, but would find their legs within the World of Motion’s main touring attraction and TransCenter.

Energy Pavilion – In the latter half of the twentieth century, energy became a chief concern of the world. This pavilion, topped with solar panels, was to explore the ‘potential of raw energy available.’ The Master Plan 5 exteriors were surrounded by various potential energy sources, while the interior show features the formation of fossils fuels and the futures of energy, each piece of the story culminating in an energy storm featuring wind, volcanic eruptions, lightning and rain, and fire, among the other energy possibilities.The Universe of Energy kept this message alive, bringing about awareness of potential energy sources yet to be tapped.

The Seas – Covering more than two-thirds of the earth, the seas are filled with history, discovery, mystery, and wonder, all of which would have been covered in the pavilion surrounded with 'authentic ocean environments.' The concepts in Master Plan 5 called for a show, entitled Spirit of Mankind, in which the seven sailors who charted the seas guide guests through the explorations of the seas. The plans also called for another journey, this one through the depths of the ocean, with the king of the seas, Poseidon, as the guests’ guide. Meanwhile, at Sea Base Alpha, oceanographic exhibits, marine life, and a restaurant under the sea were all planned.While Poseidon’s journey and the guided trip with mariners never breached the surface of the water, The Living Seas opened in 1986 with oceanographic and historical exhibits, as well as a tour through the underwater environments of Sea Base Alpha.

Space – The depth of the final frontier has barely been scratched, but this pavilion would seek to address ‘the challenges and possibilities of future space technology and exploration.’ The Space Vehicle proposed in Master Plan 5 was a massive theater ship designed to take guests from the days of stargazing, to current space programs, and into the fringes of the known wilds of space.While Horizons would use some of Master Plan 5’s ideas for discussing the past and future of space exploration, neither EPCOT Center nor Epcot had a pavilion dedicated to the history and tomorrow of space travel until Mission: SPACE began flight training to Mars in 2003.

The American Adventure – This pavilion, which would feature ‘the remarkable three-century story of the American people,’ was meant to border Future World and World Showcase as the gateway to the remainder of World Showcase. The program would cover the history of the country, and the nation’s eternal optimism, from the pilgrims arriving at Plymouth through to the moon landing with hosts Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Will Rogers.In the end, the American Adventure was moved directly across the lagoon and Will Rogers was moved from host to historical figure, and the American Adventure was left without a guide for the twentieth century, but the heart of the American Adventure endure from Master Plan 5 through to the opening, and current, incarnations of the show.

World Showcase – World Showcase, with its design, attractions, dining, products, and native Cast Members would be ‘the first permanent international exposition.’ Authentic food, architecture, and young adults form the host countries were all part of the global ambassadorial nature of what World Showcase’s global community would be.The concept of World Showcase had been pitched to a plethora of nations in the years leading up to 1977, which had meant massive amounts of concept design work for nations from across the globe. As of Master Plan 5, the focus would begin shifting to fine-tuning the ideas and concepts for nations that showed the most potential. World Showcase would open with nine nations, with the additions of Morocco and Norway in the years to follow.

Overall, Master Plan 5 had a great many of the concepts that would open with EPCOT Center nailed down, at least in theory if not in the actual form that would be executed. Looking back at this set of designs not only gives us a glimpse into what might have been, but also insight into the process that created the future of the world in 1982.

1 comment:

SamLand said...

OMG. Where do you find this stuff. This is incredible. In some ways you can see how the ambition kept getting notched back in each master plan. Excellent post.