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What Fahrenheit 451 and Spaceship Earth Have in Common

For many Fahrenheit 451 has become required reading in school. The book shows a bleak future where TV is king and books are illegal. If found they are burned. Spaceship Earth on the other hand shows us the progress humans have made and how every day gets a little brighter. Its main theme is that the future will only get better. So what does Fahrenheit 451 and Spaceship Earth have in common then?

The answer: their writer.

Ray Bradbury is now an iconic author of 20th century American literature. He wrote many classic sci-fi and futuristic novels and stories. His most well known is of course Fahrenheit 451. But few know that Bradbury was also a huge fan of Disney. Especially the Disney parks.

Bradbury’s first trip to Disneyland came just a few years after it opened in the 1950s. He was skeptical going in but when the day was over he had become mesmerized with the place. He recalled how incredible it was to explore the rivers of the world, fly above London and launch off to the moon all in one place. From that first trip Bradbury was hooked.

Several years later while out shopping Bradbury spotted Walt Disney. He ran up to him and told him how much of a big fan he was and asked if Walt would like to get lunch with him sometime. Walt, recognizing the author’s name from his books, said, “Sure, how about tomorrow?” The next day they met over lunch and what was supposed to be an hour meeting turned into an all day event. The two hit it off immediately.

Their friendship grew strong. They would talk often and Walt loved to share his ideas with Bradbury. Especially his ideas for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). When he first heard of this centrally planned community Bradbury thought it was one of the best ideas he had ever heard. He couldn’t wait to see it.

Unfortunately that day would never come. Just two years after they had met Walt Disney passed away. Bradbury was quite upset. Even though they had only known each other for a short time, their bond was incredibly strong. They were kindred spirits.

Bradbury’s love of the Disney company continued to grow after Walt’s death though. He would often hang around Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, California. There Bradbury would watch Imagineers work on future projects coming to Disney parks around the world. Bradbury was an honorary guest and was welcomed whenever he wanted to stop in.

When Roy O. Disney decided to move forward with the Florida Project the Imagineers can to an impasse. How were they supposed to construct EPCOT without their fearless leader’s ambition? They knew the place had to celebrate progress and show how the future can and will be bright. But they needed help in creating that futuristic theming. Of course they turned to Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury was able to aid the Imagineers and his ideas helped contribute to the building of EPCOT. His lasting mark would be the script he wrote for Spaceship Earth. While there have been several versions since, Bradbury holds the honor of being the original script writer for one of the most iconic Disney attractions ever built.

There are so many unique and cool stories like this that are a part of Disney history. I’m thinking of starting a series of blog posts actually. Let me know if you want to see a Disney history blog series start!

Also, most of the research done for this blog was made possible through this awesome blog post over at WaltDisney.org. Read the full blog to learn more about the Disney and Bradbury relationship.


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