Wednesday, October 06, 2010
1500th Post - It’s A Celebration, Pt. 6: Tomorrowland
When it was first constructed, Tomorrowland was to be a showplace for all things of the future; a sort of World’s Fair for Technology that could teach and inspire future generations to reach beyond the norm. Because of time and money constraints, Tomorrowland ended up being a hodge-podge of sponsors and off-the-shelf rides. As the years went by and the success of the park solidified, Walt put his last bursts of energy into making Tomorrowland what he had originally intended it to be. To begin the post, I will show photos of the initial 1950’s version, which is full of nostalgic icons and retro fun. The irony of my first image and the trashcan marked “waste” is not lost on those who have visited the Tomorrowland of today.
This second image showed park guests what the future was all about: Space Travel and Sexy Chicks!
Even more iconic than the Clock of the World was The Moonliner, which towered above all of Tomorrowland and was visible from almost every part of the park.
Once inside the attraction building, guests could be dazzled by a simulated flight to the moon!
Today, I doubt that Americans would even change the channel from Snookie & The Situation to watch an astronaut on the moon. Oh how jaded we have become.
Some of those sponsored exhibits that I mentioned earlier included the Bathroom of Tomorrow by Crane (I can hear guests now, “But honey, I need a bathroom NOW!”). Once again, it’s up to the Sexy Chick to sell the plumbing fixtures.
The American Dairy Association had all kinds of fun gadgets to play with and even a space-age looking delivery man. It’s probably difficult for people of today to fathom that milk used to be delivered to your doorstep!
The Dutch Boy Paint Gallery was a swirl of color, allowing guests to play mix and match. If the combo that you picked was a stinker, you’d hear an unpleasant musical cadence!
Kaiser Aluminum, starring The Kaiser Aluminum Pig (aka KAP):
Monsanto must have had some money to burn; they had The Hall of Chemistry...
...and the still treasured House of the Future, which fought back valiantly when the wrecking ball came in 1967:
American Motors sponsored “Circarama”:
To fill in vacant space, Disney re-used their sets from “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and made an entire exhibit out of them:
It just wasn’t quite as impressive without the water!
Two other attractions added real excitement for guests. The Autopia gave young drivers the opportunity to see what it was like to drive on futuristic highway.
Kids who got out of line were promptly “pulled over”:
The Astro Jets were an off-the-shelf type ride that were given the theme of space travel to make them seem a little more special:
As the years went by, Tomorrowland saw a few additions and upgrades. These included the Cox Flight Circle, where guests could watch demonstrations of model planes:
The mechanically-challenged Flying Saucers attraction:
The Art of Animation exhibit—not quite sure what this had to do with the future, but it was still popular for guests to thumb through old Disney cel art:
What Disney guest doesn’t know about The Submarine Voyage, with its exploration of liquid space?
Circarama gave way to “America The Beautiful,” spawning these two posters:
Although all of these things generate nostalgic and warm fuzzies, nothing seems to compare to “The New Tomorrowland” of 1967. Tomorrowland was practically scraped and burned to make way for the new vision of the future, and this time Walt was determined to do it right.
This was one of the last projects that Walt himself worked on. Footage exists of Walt walking through this section of the park, animatedly pointing out what he wanted fixed-changed-removed. Although his stature shows what physical condition he was in, Walt had lost nothing of his sharp mind nor forward-thinking ideas.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you The New Tomorrowland, circa 1967:
Check out some of these new exhibits that (even though now gone) still draw emotional reactions from those who recall them:
The Carousel of Progress:
Monsanto lost the House of the Future but came back to tout the miracles of molecules with Adventure Thru Inner Space:
Even old favorites received the “plusing” that Walt was famous for. The Astro Jets became The Rocket Jets and were elevated to a platform that towered over Tomorrowland, making them a much more thrilling ride!
Rocket to the Moon morphed into Flight to the Moon:
TOMORROWLAND TODAY: This is the only land that really makes me sad. Walt’s 1967 mega-watt upgrade has deteriorated over the years and become a mere shadow of what it was intended to be. The Imagineers are aware of this, and there has been buzz for the last few years that an overhaul is needed. Although Buzz Lightyear...
and Star Tours...
and Space Mountain...
are super fun attractions, there is very little in Tomorrowland that stirs the imagination or the hope for a better Tomorrow. There was a flurry of excitement when it was announced a few years back that a “new” House of the Future was being built, but the flurry disappeared quickly when the final result was not much different from a Home Depot Showcase display.
With the amazing renovation of California Adventure, I choose to be hopeful that in the very near future, Tomorrowland will get the TLC that it deserves.
Next up: TRANSPORTATION! View more vintage and current Tomorrowland photos on my regular website.