Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Tomorrowland Spaceman



Although it may be hard to fathom now, The Spaceman was a bright symbol of promise for 1950’s/1960’s America. Space was an unconquered frontier, and kids everywhere were excited to learn about the potential of what lay beyond our planet. At Disneyland, The Spaceman was a character who inhabited Tomorrowland until the New Tomorrowland remodel of 1967. Apparently at that time he lost his relevance and his place in Anaheim. The first shot is an undated 1950’s view; by looking at my collection of Spaceman shots, I believe these others show the same feller. From 1957:





If this is the same guy, he has lost some weight and matured a bit. Either way, at this point in Tomorrowland history, the spacesuit shows some modifications.





Tomorrowland of today receives constant criticism; is it really Disney’s fault? I was hard pressed to think of something today that would inspire the youth of today like the Space Program inspired my generation back in the 1960’s.

View more vintage and current Tomorrowland photos on my regular website.

11 comments:

trickortreat said...

Great pictures. He's different from the guy(s) with the jet-pack who used to shoot up in the air, right? That was big Tommorowland memory for me, as well as the flying saucer ride that floated a tiny bit on air and we'd make them be bumpercars.

Chiana_Chat said...

Tomorrowland ought to inspire because Tomorrows have not stopped.

Variable perceptions of space ought to have little to do with it. Even looking at that: Space is still a completely unconquered frontier. You and nobody else you know are going to the Moon, Mars or anywhere. If the mass market tends to have thought Terminator instead of the Space Program, well it's high time that changed, and Disney ought to be a part of that. We have been in the same stagnant "cultural view" for the past 30 or more years, multiple times longer than the whole "space program" generation.

We can't sit and say, "Oh I can't think of anything. I don't blame them." Nobody thought of Disneyland for Walt, just he and those he hired to work with him did. That's what Disney's responsibility is now since they're still marketing the premise, else they should restore everything to some point and call it a museum.

Disney didn't just sort of follow some trends, Disney was part of the cultural landscape - '67's Tomorrowland predated the stylistic cues of futuristics for years including Star Wars. Decade later and it's Lucas making Disney echo his Star Wars. Yes I think Disney should look to make a newly inspired Tomorrowland and Disney: do not ask Hollywood, tell it.

* steps off soap box * :)

Davelandweb said...

Chiana - Very eloquently put. To clarify though, my post is more a statement about today’s society being jaded than it was in the 1950’s. I do agree that Disney should still step up to the plate and attempt to inspire with a creative vision for the future. Amen, Chiana and thanks for the soap box rant!

CoxPilot said...

All the time I spent at Disneyland (1959 to 1966) I never thought of Tomorrowland as a true look to the future (and I think most I worked with felt the same). We just thought it was a place for "future-style" rides. That's why Tomorrowland has never really worked as well as the rest of the park (with the exception of the 1967 redo).

All the lands are based on nostalgia. Main Street, Frontierland, Fantasyland (nostalgia for the old stories), and Tomorrowland for the way we wish it might be. The really big problem with that wish is that we (as a country) have lost our way and our vision, and our vision of that wonderful future is floundering. Disney could help with that by tapping into that longing.

JG said...

@C_C, hear hear.

I had my picture taken with the Space Man, maybe 1966? but it seemed like we were in the shade of the peoplemover track. maybe he lasted longer into the new Tomorrowland?

Thanks Dave.

JG

CoxPilot said...

JC's memory is firing on all jets. The spaceman and spacegirl were part of the new tomorrowland, and the following link proves it:

http://davelandblog.blogspot.com/search/label/K7%20
Spaceman

I remember when the spaceman would stand in the shadows of the diving suit room in the 20,000 leagues exhibit. He would stand very still until some children would come by, and then move and say hello. It got a big reaction . . . sometime to big.

CoxPilot said...

JC's memory is firing on all jets. The spaceman and spacegirl were part of the new tomorrowland, and the following link proves it:

http://davelandblog.blogspot.com/search/label/K7%20
Spaceman

I remember when the spaceman would stand in the shadows of the diving suit room in the 20,000 leagues exhibit. He would stand very still until some children would come by, and then move and say hello. It got a big reaction . . . sometime to big.

Kevin Kidney said...

So, I hear that the young people of today are inspired by Miley Cyrus...

Thoughtful post today, Dave. I've always believed the popularity (and decline) of the Spaceman had a lot to do with the nation's anticipation leading up to the moon landing. Once that milestone was accomplished, the astronaut "craze" lost momentum. By 1968, the country's involvement in the Vietnam War had peaked and the future as illustrated in Tomorrowland began to dim. I agree with CoxPilot that our collective longing for the optimistic future is stronger than ever. Tomorrowland could greatly benefit by getting back on track with that vision.

JG said...

Thank you Cox Pilot, I thought I was going crazy.

@KevinKidney: "...Miley Cyrus"?

We are deeper trouble than I thought.

JG

JG said...

Hello Dave and Cox Pilot.

I found my picture with the Astronaut, Feb 1968 under the Peoplemover beam. Let me know if you want a copy.

JG

Davelandweb said...

DEFINITELY! You can email me at dvdpicasso@aol.com

Thanks!