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EPCOT (Experimental Planned Community of Tomorrow), officially known as the City of Hyperion, Florida, is a planned futuristic city pioneered and built by Hollywood magnate Walt Disney (1901-1992), of Walt Disney Productions (now the Walt Disney Company), in 1967.
Early 1960’s-Walt Disney experiences prosperity and growth in his media empire. Commercial hit after commercial hit at the box office and the popularity of Disneyland emboldens him to tackle his life-long vision of an experimental futuristic community.
1964-Disney uses a bunch of dummy corporations to buy 28,000 acres of land between Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida. The state of Florida grants Walt total municipal jurisdiction over the land, which is twice the size of Manhattan Island.
1965-Construction begins on EPCOT (Experimental Planned Community of Tomorrow). Walt places the theme park on the north side of the city, which is planned to look like a giant wheel when viewed from the air. At the center “spoke“ is the city center where administration offices and shops are located. A 30 story cosmopolitan hotel and convention center would dominate the city, called Celebration Tower, and would be seen for miles.
1966-Walt Disney almost dies from lung cancer, but is saved through means of artificial lungs, from a secret laboratory funded by the company. He directs the final stages of construction from a hospital bed.
1967-EPCOT is completed. An overjoyed Walt Disney attends the dedication ceremony and gives a grand rousing speech in front of Celebration Tower, officially naming the city “Hyperion”. As the first group of people move into the city, Walt is seen by a television news reporters sitting on a bench near the main entrance with his wife Lillian. When asked how he felt, he replied he was “ecstatic“, and that he and his wife were filled with delight just sitting on that bench “taking it all in“
1968-Walt’s desire to be involved in every aspect of his new city sees him declare himself Mayor. City departments are filled with family members and close confidantes from Walt Disney Productions. Hundreds of people move in every week.
1969-Walt Disney has new cameras installed at various points throughout the city. He explains the move is for “the safety and security of the citizens of Hyperion“ Corporate restaurant chains and shops begin to move into the city center.
1970-Aurora reaches a population of 40,000 people, double the number Walt originally figured. The “wheel“ expands two-fold to accommodate the population growth.
1971-Walt Disney’s 70th birthday is celebrated, lasting all year long. Disney makes a speech to his citizens saying that “he has never felt happier “ and that feels he could “ live forever “. Over the summer, he has a bunker built underneath Celebration Tower when tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union flare up.
1972-Journalist Robert Frost arrives in Hyperion with the intent on doing a story on it. Walt ensures that the Hyperion that Frost sees is the Hyperion he wants him to see.
1973-Walt suffers a heart attack, believed by many as a result of overwork managing his entertainment empire and city. As a result, he is forced to greatly reduce his time spent working at the studio. He and his wife sell their house in the Holmby Hills of Los Angeles and move east to his new city in Florida.
1974- Walt and his officials write the Hyperion Codex, a set of rules governing his city. The laws basically establish an “eye for an eye “ style of justice, with guidelines governing everything from clothing to entertainment and social behavior in Aurora. Walt orders video monitors stressing obedience to the Codex in the typical colorful Disney flair set up all over the city.
1975-Roy O. Disney, Walt’s brother, dies. He is buried in a special shrine in the city.
1976-A new governor takes office in Florida, and dislikes the special status given to Walt’s city of tomorrow. Walt Disney invites the new governor to Aurora to see the workings of the city first hand. Walt spares no expense in entertaining the governor and making him feel welcome. By the end of his stay, Walt’s charm and energy unsurprisingly wins the governor over to his side.
1977-A massive string of vandalism hits Hyperion, with unknown people spraying graffiti poking fun of Walt Disney in a not so flattering way. Once found out, Walt is incensed and strengthens security in the city, creating a paramilitary police force to patrol Hyperion (the Enforcers ).
Autumn ’77- The vandals are caught. They are then brought before a drumhead court where they are accused of “disturbing the peace and tranquility of Hyperion” The criminals are then fined and banished from the city, along with their families.
1978-A member of the governing Board of Overseers brings up the subject of Walt Disney resigning his position as Mayor and giving others a chance to be Mayor by holding elections. Walt is shocked that such a request was made on the “ man who envisioned this city and gave it life “ The district overseer returns to work the next day to find his desk cleared, with a pink slip on it indicating his termination and banishment.
1979- Walt Disney endorses Ronald Reagan for president, after incumbent Jimmy Carter induces his wrath by implementing higher tax rates on corporations. Millions of dollars from Disney’s entertainment empire funds Reagan’s bid for President of the United States.
1980-Ronald Reagan wins the election. Walt Disney is offered a position in Reagan’s administration as Ambassador to Great Britain. Walt gratefully accepts. He makes his nephew Roy. E. Disney his personal lieutenant, sharing his mayoral duties with him while making it perfectly clear to everyone that he intends Roy to succeed him as Mayor of Aurora.
1981-Ronald Reagan visits Aurora and loves it, especially the theme park in the city’s northern district. He rides Splash Mountain and the Matterhorn twice. However, the day is turned to horror as Reagan barely escapes an assassin’s bullet. The assassin is caught within the city limits of Aurora, and an angered Walt, blaming the attack on Communists, tightens security even more. A great number of people move out of Aurora, and it takes Walt a considerable amount of publicity and money for his city to rebound from the incident.
1983-A secret vault is built deep below Celebration Tower, so secret Disney officials do not know about it. Only a handful of Walt’s close friends and family know of its existence. Walt, his health beginning to take a downturn, becomes interested with cryogenics.
1984-Reagan wins re-election, again in no small part due to Walt Disney’s deep financial pockets. President Reagan presents Walt with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
1985-Disney Imagineers built a grand statue of Walt Disney and place it in the middle of Celebration Square. Below it lies an inscription “ Walt Disney, 1901-(blank) Father of the City of Aurora, and to the Hopes and Dreams of a Brighter Tomorrow “
1986-Walt Disney is displeased with Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Ronald W. Miller, regretting letting his son in law into the company. He boldly intervenes and has him fired, bringing in former Paramount executives Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg to head the company, as President and CEO respectively.
1990-Walt Disney, now confined to a wheelchair and in failing health, manages to attend the 35th anniversary of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Millions of people flock to Disneyland to meet him and to celebrate this momentous occasion.
1991-Democrat presidential hopeful Bill Clinton visits the aging Walt Disney at his beloved home in Hyperion.
1992-Walt Disney passes away peacefully in his sleep in Hyperion, aged a remarkable 91 years. Millions attend his funeral, including U.S. government officials and some foreign heads of state. Roy E. Disney, the new mayor, ceremonially inters his uncle’s ashes beneath his statue in Celebration Square. However, the ashes are actually fake and Walt’s body is secretly cryogenically preserved and placed in the secret vault underneath his statue by a select few of Disney Imagineers, where it remains to this day.