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History of Automation: May 27, 1969 – Disneyworld Begins Construction, Building Framework for Automated Cities

May 27, in 1969, construction began on the Walt Disney World Park in Florida

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Today in 1969, construction began on a theme park project that is still ongoing and alive today on land purchased incrementally by Disney for the better part of a decade. Disney World included more space and attractions than Disneyland and also included parks, hotels, and picnic areas.

Today, Disney World is a sprawling theme park the size of San Francisco. Not only has the park brought countless hours of entertainment to children and adults, but the engineers of Disney World have developed a highly responsive ecosystem unto itself that may represent one of the most highly automated groups of facilities in the world.

Disney World includes automation not only in theme park rides and attractions, but even scents and sounds are automated to provide the best possible user experience. Monorails and trains transport passengers across the parks, and the lighting and sound automation that go into the production of shows can be phenomenal.

It’s no wonder that Disney World is the largest single-site employer in the United States.

Lessons We Can Take From Disney’s “Imagineers”

With a park the size of Disney World, the costs of electricity, water, HVAC, and attraction maintenance could easily outpace revenues. Automation is absolutely necessary to ensure that the costs of energy can be measured and controlled. In addition, maintenance, both regular and preventative are vital for avoiding catastrophic failures that could pose a threat to future ticket sales.

Everything from security to crowd control, to transportation and facility management must be designed in a way that allows sections of the park to communicate with each other and adjust resources as needed.

From Disney World, it’s possible to take a look past the fantasy, to a real-world working example of a smart city. By studying how Disney World handles traffic, energy management, and security, we may be able to take lessons in how to better develop city infrastructure that is designed for efficient movement and energy use.

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