One of my favorite theme parks is Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. Being able to experience the cultures of different countries in just such a short walk is what makes this park so great. But how Epcot got started in 1982 is quite a remarkable story, and probably epitomizes the forward thinking that continues with Disney’s creators. In addition, Walt Disney himself did not imagine this area as just another theme park, but as something much more visionary.

The Epcot concept from the beginning was the vision of a community that would set an example for other communities to emulate. The fresh thinking regarding construction methods like Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Polynesian Resort Hotel connecting Epcot by a transportation system, the monorail, was quite revolutionary. Special attention was paid to maintaining the environment and the ecosystem. This was a city that was going to start from scratch and become a prototype of cities of the future.

When planning for Epcot began, Walt Disney World was in its third year on its way to becoming the nation’s top family vacation destination. But at that time there were many external forces that would make most companies stop and wait for better times. Right in the middle of Epcot’s planning there was a global energy crisis in the mid-1970s. Not only did this cause gasoline prices to rise (it’s hard to believe we were still paying less than a dollar a gallon), but the Fuel shortages led to long lines just to get gas.

Speed ‚Äč‚Äčlimits were lowered to 55 miles per hour, and all of this had a major effect on transportation across the United States. All of these problems had a significant negative effect on attendance at Disney World, as it dropped by as much as 800,000 guests. But Disney executives, confident that things will always get better, spend eight years developing and implementing Epcot. In 2012 it celebrated its 30th anniversary as the sixth most visited park in the world.

So is Epcot realizing the dreams of its founder, Walt Disney? Probably not entirely, as after Disney’s death, the company decided it couldn’t run the city without the vision of its creator. Epcot has influenced the development of cities like Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista. But most believe it really nailed its showcase of international cultures and customs, which in the opinion of many people, including mine, is Walt Disney World’s top attraction.