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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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EPCOT City Model [Part 1]

We bring you a behind-the-scenes preview of a unique little side project. We show you how this 16” model of Walt’s EPCOT got started.

The fan community excitedly awaits the 30th Anniversary of EPCOT Center this October. Today we go back some 46 years just before Walt Disney’s death when he shared his dream for EPCOT the city. It was to be an extremely efficient city with futuristic modes of transportation. It was to be built in the center of the Walt Disney World property.

Join me in this “making-of” video as I begin creating a scale replica of the city layout Walt presented in 1966:

The model-making process.

Purchase extra fine floral foam and a 16” round piece of wood from the local craft store.

Cut the foam to nicely fit on top of the round wood.

Draw the EPCOT roads in Adobe Illustrator or any vector-based drawing program. Send vector files to someone with a small to medium flat bed laser cutter. Cut design in 1/8” acrylic.

Gently press the delicate acrylic cutout into the surface of the foam.

Remove the acrylic cutout and paint the surface of the foam. Sprinkle fine green static grass flock onto fresh paint.

After paint dries, pour off excess grass and blow out the grooves using a drinking straw.

Prime and paint acrylic cutout.

Use scrap foam as test blocks.

Glue cutout into place. Landscape the rest of the model before adding architecure. Here we see the unfinished city center with pieces loosely placed.

A couple of Peoplemover tracks extend to the residential rings of the city. Monorail tracks will soon be placed.

You might remember the little robot standing in the background. 

The process continues with lots of little trees and bushes, walkways, and ponds. After that, parks, schools, churches, city buildings, and little tiny mid-century ranch-stlye houses!

To be continued.....


Related posts:

A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now
Buena Vista Street Model
Mars and Beyond Robot
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
EPCOT Construction from the Air

Reader Comments (30)

Wow! Very different than I would have expected. Especially the "flock". Great work.

June 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArn

Excellent work again! Thanks for the sharing the process too.

June 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt


June 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPezlort

This is amazing, I'm speechless. This is possibly the greatest Disney fan project I've ever seen. The photos you've shared demonstrate your passion for the EPCOT city project as well as your great attention to detail, an impressive feat for such a large project recreated on such a small scale. Thank you so much for the wonderfully cut making-of video, as well. Your step-by-step guide tempts me to make my own. This may be my favorite post on this blog so far. Thank you for sharing, Mitch, I'm eagerly anticipating part 2!

June 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwedway

wedway- This is possibly the greatest comment I've ever seen. Haha. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

I'm just flabbergasted. I can't wait to see the rest. Amazing, amazing and I'm about ready to pay top dollar for one. haha. (Will you take fresh baked goods & beer?)

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEstelle

Love it man. Keep up the great work love the site.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRmesure

Outstanding!!!!! Keep it up pal!
I was never any good at laying down the grass on models:( Cagel wanted to kill me.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhoot gibson

Top-shelf! Very interesting technique with the foam and road inset. I look forward to seeing the next update. Thanks for sharing Mitch!

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex G.

As a guy who just wrote a book about the idea of this community, I find this brilliant.

Sam Gennawey

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam Gennawey

Estelle and Rmesure- Thanks you much. Top dollar, huh? If only mass production was within my abilities.

Hoot, Alex, Sam- It's a huge compliment hearing from 3 geniuses such as yourselves. Hoot and I built models for a living for a time before going back to animatronic work. Alex is a master to say the least when it comes to miniature works. And Sam literally wrote the book on the Progress City idea, which I've read and love. Thanks fellas!

June 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

simply unbelievable! I'm in the middle of reading Sam's book right now, and it's fascinating. I build scratch models of various things, and most of the time I have the "Walt Disney Treasures, EPCOT dvd running in the background for inspiration.

June 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

omg...can't wait for part two! What kind of blade was that you first used to carve the circle with the floral foam?

June 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Wonderful! Makes me want to get a Big Fig of Progress City. Now if they'd only make one...

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRic Catron

Brad- The blade is called a "flush cut saw" found at your local hardware store.

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

Ah, of used for trimming the bottom of door frames to make for a new floor, etc...Thanks!

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Very cool - can't wait to see more!

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I just watched this again, for the ump-teenth time and am still amazed...and just when I'd talked myself out of buying a table-top CNC router...and why have I never thought of using a "lazy susan"?!

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

I am completely jealous of your skills. The last time I tried to build something with foam, it crackled and collapsed like pop singer plastic surgery. Can't wait to see more!

July 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShane

Wonderful! I can't wait to see how this turns out.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Kidney

I want to send myself through the Mighty Microscope so I can shrink down and go in there!

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Everyone has been so nice. Great to hear from a bunch of individuals I've looked up to for a long while. And new names as well.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

What scale would that be...1/10,000? lol

July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Fantastic! It's all in the details. Wonderful job. And perfect music selection to accompany video. Looking forward to next one.

OK, this is one of the greatest things I've ever seen. I'm REALLY impressed. and I read your blog all the time, I don't know how I've missed this entry until now. I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing the artistry coming in the next vid... BTW, that video is a wonderful homage to Charles and Ray Eames. I don't know if that was your intention, but it felt so Mid-Century on the nose. Brilliant shooting, scoring and editing!

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarin K.

A truly elegant, eloquent, and unusual project. I recognize why you were selected as an imagineer, and have gone on to surpass that title with your talent. Can't wait for Part Deux.

April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeren Piltz

I'm truly impressed. Having just returned from visiting WDW, and learning more about Progress City and the original plans for Disney World, I was mulling over ways to try and recreate this - especially after actually seeing the 'small' piece that survives at Magic Kingdom today. Now, it seems I won't have to bring my ham fisted skills to the fore as you're going to do a much better job than I would! (Or maybe it'll inspire me to dust off the old engineering skills to try to do my own!) Bring on part 2...!

October 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSid Man

This is just fantastic! What happened to Part 2, though? I was looking forward to it :(

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPecos Bill

Bravo Zulu! Excellent job. After discovering this site, I am intrigued at all of the talent and scale model ideas. Makes me want to dust off my artistic skills and start my own projects.

BTW, what was the music in the Video?

May 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKurt

Do you think you could create kits for this and maybe other models including the small world and the tiny models?

August 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterReese

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