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:

The PeopleMover:

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.


quizshowbob said...

I really love the fonts that are used on the promotional posters. I love the artwork from that era.

stu29573 said...

I think, sadly, that part of the problem is that we don't have as much hope for the furture as we did back then. Then it was easy to imagine Star Trek style space exploration and flying cars, but now no one seems to think that will happen. It's easier for us to look back on the promise we saw then with nostalgia, then to actually dream new dreams and believe in them. Or maybe I just need coffee...

SuzyA said...

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk thru exhibit...SCREAM! This is the squid (I thought was an octopus) that gave me nightmares for weeks after we visited in 1958 :-). All of today's Tomorrowland photos and posters just great! Dave, I love all the history and behind the scenes info you add. :-)

Michael Rivers said...

What a great walk down memory lane! Fantastic pics!

Thufer said...

One of my fondest memories of my first visit to the park as a child was 20,000 Leagues; what a nifty walk thru it was.
There are many gems here..grays, people movers, elevators up to the rockets, on and on.
Also, I remember the mood set in this land more than most by the color pallet and flowers which always seem to add to tomorrow, a world truly on the move. There was the yellow, the burnt orange and other versions of tomorrowland for the eye.
I am over joyed by the new talk of the peoplemover maybe coming back and just maybe, is it time for an updated rebooted 'trip to oh Jupiter or maybe Saturn? I miss you Tom Morrow, we need you again.

Heidi Ann said...

Your posts are so fabulous.
I still mourn the loss of the People Mover.

Major Pepperidge said...

The Tomorrowland of yesterday (?!), my favorite land!

Connie Moreno said...

Holy cow, another incredible post!!!

JG said...

Wow, that post really makes me want to straighten my helmet and polish my silver suit.

Thank you Dave very much indeed.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your blog. And yes, T-land is a shell of what it once was. And the comment above is right on target. Have we lost hope for tomorrow as a country??