Monday, 30 November 2009

Could Milton Keynes be Disney World's long lost twin?

I live in Milton Keynes. For a while, I also lived in Walt Disney World (yeah, really). I know these places inside out, backwards and forwards and can therefore say with some authority that they are twin towns. Let me present some evidence:

Milton Keynes was officially designated a new town in January of 1967, placed in the middle of England and with lofty ideals of modernist town planning in mind. A month later, a press conference was held in Winter Park, Florida that would announce to the world the creation of an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” in central Florida. In this conference the now-famous film of Walt describing his beloved Epcot was first shown publically.

As both towns were being built – out of nothing – more similarities emerged. Both towns have their fair share of manmade lakes and parks, as well as roads and other infrastructure required. New technologies were extensively used in the construction and both are glowing examples of the New Urbanism movement sweeping the world at the time.

Because both construction projects were literally breaking new ground, new governance structures had to be put in place to run them: WDW has the Reedy Creek Improvement District and Milton Keynes had the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (now English Partnerships) who oversaw these now massive projects.

Today these two towns are vibrant communities and visited by people the world over. Maybe Milton Keynes does not have the tourist numbers that WDW has, but it does get thousands of visitors coming to enjoy the many facilities in the town. Both towns are like no other place on Earth: WDW with its magical theme parks and attention to detail, MK with its unique architecture and almost magical feeling of being in a ‘city in the forest’. Both places appeal to families and have plenty of facilities to keep everyone of all ages more than happy.

Just like WDW has some iconic structures that are known around the world, MK isn’t that far behind its twin brother: just like Spaceship Earth’s unique geodesic dome MK has the unique pyramid of Bletchley Leisure Centre, The Point and the iconic Xscape building. Both towns even have fairytale castles: WDW’s Cinderella Castle and MK’s castle at Gulliver’s Land!

But it doesn’t stop there; in both places you can find pagodas, windmills and ultra modern buildings – as well as lots and lots of parking. In terms of transport links, both places have great roads, lots of buses, boats, trains and an airport not too far away. WDW of course has a monorail and guess what? There is even room for a monorail (or a tram) in Central Milton Keynes.

What about characters, you ask? Well, MK’s concrete cows may not be as famous as Mickey Mouse around the world, but they still delight children and have become a symbol of the town.

So are you with me? Do you agree that Milton Keynes and Walt Disney World are twin towns? I am sure that there are many more facts that I haven’t included here that make these two not just twins but identical twins. If you needed any more clues, notice that MK even shares its initials with the Magic Kingdom.

I am sure that if Walt were alive today and visited Milton Keynes, he would be happy knowing that the ideals that built Epcot are very much alive in places where he never would have imagined!


Claudia said...

It's starting to make the local news...

Maite said...

Felicidades Clau!!
Estoy orgullosa de ti.


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