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DIX note

This article is a summary of the article Peter Blake wrote for the June, 1972 issue of the Architectural Forum magazine.

WALT DISNEY World – its vital statistics are awesome: it covers 27.443 acres, which makes it twice as big as Manhattan Island and twice as big as the much-touted new town of Columbia, Md. It represents an intitial investment of $400 million, four times that for Columbia and five times that for another urbanistically certified new town – Reston, Va.

But size, financing, and tourism are not the most significant aspects of WDW. One of the things that makes this vast experiment so significant to the future of architecture and city building is the kind of technology that went into it, continues to go into it, and will go into it during the next few years.

For example, the Magic Kingdom – the principal tourist attraction – is a small city constructed entirely on top of a service-and-utility basement made up of tunnels traversed by electric carts, storage areas, repair shops, and a complete network of readily accessible pipes, sewers, duets, cables, and even of vacuum tubes that dispatch garbage collected above ground to an off-site compacting plant developed in Sweden and never before used in the United States.

THE MAGIC KINGDOM, plus the extensive recreational areas to the south of it, represent the first new urban complex built since World War II to be fully equipped, from the very start, with a fast, efficient, and quiet mass-transit system – a Monorail perfected from the original German Alweg patent [ehich was introduced in Disneyland in the 1950s]. In addition to the impressive Monorail, this urban complex is served by 200 watercraft – allegedly the ninth largest navy in the world, in numbers if not, perhaps, in tonnage; it is also served by a railroad, by electric carts and trains, and by aerial tramways of the sort used in ski resorts and in European cities like Zurich.

It is remarkable also in that it is the first new town in the United States [and probably in the world] to have set aside almost one-third of its total acreage tor a really spectacular conservation project – 7500 acres of cypress-and-hardwood swamp dotted with pine islands, inhabited by alligators, birds, snakes,  bears, and fish-protected from vandals by a team of dedicated professional conservationists.

While most of us who visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland primarily see and enjoy the frosting on the cake, there is much more to these "fun cities" than that. These two places – Walt Disney World in particular – are very serious, very creative experiments in urban design.