Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney

Really enjoyed this documentary on Walt Disney’s forward-thinking approach to technology, his patriotism and his futurism. He directed the creation of many innovative film techniques. His studios created multi-pane animation to more realistically capture perspective, so characters can approach a cottage on the horizon without the moon getting equally bigger. He paid extra to record his films in color when most televisions could only support black and white, knowing this would be advantageous in the future once color television came to a mass market. He also would first shoot his animated feature films in live action, so he could direct and edit the scenes, thereby substantially reducing animation costs later by making it easier for animators to understand what he wanted.

Walt Disney also patriotically supported his country during World War 2. When the government wanted to seize Walt Disney Studios for airplane production, he convinced the government they are better off letting him create wartime campaign messages to help the public understand why they are fighting and how they can contribute. He also created instructional pilot training videos. He also, on his own dime, created a documentary extolling the need to invest in and develop a long-range strategic bombing capability to soundly defeat the Japanese at a time when the capability was not yet technologically feasible. How many tycoons today are this patriotic?

Furthermore, Disney envisioned a theme park that would offer a chance to escape and create lifetime memories for the average American when most investors and commentators thought Disneyland sounded like a ridiculous and colossal boondoggle. History has proven him right over popular opinion yet again.

His last great passion and vision was EPCOT: the Experimental Prototypical City of Tomorrow. This was not a theme park, but a chance to plan a futuristic city designed to capitalize on tomorrow’s technology. Among other ideas, Disney planned for monorail-based mass transit, kitchens with next generation major appliances, underground highways, and a deeper underground layer for service vehicles such as refuse collection. Makes you wonder what we would have gained if only he had another ten years.


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