When I posted my EPCOT rant last week, little did I realize that there was a bit of a wave of EPCOT discussion sweeping the web already. Specifically, this thread on WDWMagic discussing a recent interview with Imagineer Eddie Sotto. The article itself is revelatory; it’s full of Sotto’s ideas of what Tomorrowland and EPCOT should be, and how the DVC concept could be leveraged into finally bringing Walt’s Progress City to life. It’s all spot-on. Long-time readers will know that I’m always grousing that Disney should put a single Imagineer in a position to supervise EPCOT as Joe Rohde does with Animal Kingdom. I’m convinced now that were I in charge, I would beg Sotto to come back to WDI and transform EPCOT into what it deserves to be.
For those who don’t know Sotto’s work, it includes development on Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, Tokyo’s Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, Disneyland Paris’s Main Street, the unbuilt Sci-Fi City concept, and outside projects like ABC’s Times Square Studio and LAX’s Encounter restaurant. He left Imagineering in 1999 and, showing just how good his taste actually is, named his design studio “Progress City.”
Anyway, while the discussion of EPCOT on WDWMagic is fascinating, the most interesting (and somewhat infuriating) thing that I discovered was a link to ULTra. ULTra is a personal rapid transit system that will see its first use later this year at London’s Heathrow Airport. In all the talk about what Disney should be doing to re-invigorate EPCOT or solve the transportation solutions at Walt Disney World, this is happening on the other side of the world. Look at this!!
Why isn’t Disney doing this? How can they be falling behind this far? To me, this tech is fantastic. This is exactly what Walt was looking for, what he had planned for EPCOT, and what he was advocating for as early as 1958 in Magic Highway, U.S.A.:
The ULTra is straight out of a Ward Kimball animation, or Tomorrowland 1967, or Walt’s EPCOT film. It builds upon the work that Imagineering once started with the Houston WEDway, combines those ideals with styling from the age of Steve Jobs, and would be perfect to serve the needs of Disney’s guests. Someone slip it to Bob Iger, please?