What’s Old Is New Again!   1 comment

Nineteen Seventy-Five. Bright New Year, Bright New Tomorrowland

And not just because the white everywhere was bright.

Remember how Tomorrowland looked back in 1975? Space Mountain had just opened. With it came the CoP and Peoplemover. Flights to the moon were departing every few minutes. Rockets were jetting around a massive Saturn V. Young drivers could drive in cars, without a license! You could even find out what life would be like if you had wings! This was the future. NASA-inspired with blue and white ‘Googie-esque’ structures everywhere. Sadly, this isn’t what the future has wound up looking like (yet…).

But, instead of keeping the Realistic-NASA future, WDI overhauled Tomorrowland in 1994, making it “resemble a galactic spaceport as it would have been envisioned by the science-fiction comic strips of the early 20th century, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers“(-Wikipedia). This may have to do with it’s outdated attractions, and the newly opened EPCOT Center. EPCOT Center contained Future World, a land where guests could learn about future technologies as they came out. Tomorrowland was also built on this same idea: to showcase future tech. New Tomorrowland opened with a bold new look, 2 new attractions, and updates to old favorites.

But as time has gone on, Tomorrowland has lost it’s futuristic city theme. Nowadays, it’s more sci-fi than future. Such a shame. Is it because land-specific attractions don’t work anymore? Or because of the need for characters? Timekeeper’s downfall was in part caused by the lack of movie characters everyone knew. Now it’s the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, which doesn’t even fit.

Future of the Past Takes Tokyo!

Identical to Tomorrowland 71

Meanwhile, Tokyo Disneyland has remained constant. An almost exact clone of WDW’s original Tomorrowland, Tokyo has a beautiful and different Tomorrowland. The main difference between the two is the lack of a Peoplemover track, and the ‘circuitry’ look on the monoliths. As well, you won’t find Mission to Mars or Flight to the Moon. And you definitely won’t find a CircleVision show showcasing America. Rather, you’ll find HISTA (or EO, right now) or Buzz Lightyear. (Ironically enough, Tokyo almost had a Tomorrowland face lift, transforming it into ‘Sci-Fi City‘. Plans for this ambitious project looked very similar to those of New Tomorrowland)

Inside the land, you’ll find a myriad of NASA-looking things. From rockets that look like something from the bottom of the Apollo spacecraft, to bubbly-curved looking architecture. Whites and blues dominate. Star Tours looks like a real spaceport. It fits into the land beautifully. They have aliens and robots sporadically, yet thematically, placed all over the land.

So now I get to my point:

Is the Future in the Past?

Let’s look at Tomorrowland as it is now: Steel everywhere, some of it is rusted. Dead-looking trees. Fading paint near the Speedway. The Speedway. Renaming the TTA to the Peoplemover, thereby getting rid of part of the story a city. The remaining references to the city AND TTA theme on the TTA. Space Mountain appearing to take place on a different planet/in space. A CoP that’s sadly becoming stale and outdated.

The ‘future metropolis’ story the Imagineers worked to hard on has, more or less, been removed. The addition of the Rocket Tower Plaza Stage screen has allowed them to make ‘commercials’ for the land, some of which still make it look like a city (some great references in there, I suggest you take the time to watch). But it’s lost that feeling. There is no convention center or expo center anymore. Hasn’t either been for years. Space Mountain now seems to take place in on another planet or space, so it isn’t really “Tomorrowland’s Gateway to the Galaxy” anymore. Renaming the TTA the “Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover”, and emphasizing the Peoplemover part, has really killed the idea that this is a transportation system for the city. Remnants of the city theme are scattered about, from phone boxes to the TTA switch line near the EPCOT model. They don’t really stick out, but they don’t feel right either.

I began thinking one day “How amazing did it look in 1975?” “How would that work in today?” “Could we ever have that again?”. As I began to wonder and think, a mini-bluesky in a way, it all seemed to fit. Tokyo was my proof. Yup, I envisioned a what i dubbed ‘Tomorrowland 2075’! A Tomorrowland designed to look like it did in 1975, and have some of the same feel as it did in 1975. While it’s very unlikely this would ever happen, its fun to think about.

The NASA theme could work very well in Tomorrowland. It doesn’t restrict any attractions and it’s tricky to have clashing themes, as seen in TDL. It can’t get dated if they were to say it’s a fun look at realism. It doesn’t look cluttered, because it’s such a sterile theme. They could even put a more whimsical spin on it, such as using cranes and maybe realistic lunar colony looking contraptions to hold up the Peoplemover track.

As well, the NASA future is futuristic. A NASA-driven world hasn’t come into being, and probably won’t either. So it isn’t outdated, nor realistic (in a way). It’s a fun look at the future from a bygone area, just as the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers theme is. Take Space Mountain for example: NASA isn’t launching public transport ships into space every few minutes. The NASA theme is futuristic.

[On a side note, if they were to ever re-do Tomorrowland, I’d love to see it look like Hong Kong’s. The lands they did build were certainly done right, that’s for sure.]

***Well, hope you enjoyed! Please rate, comment, and share! Have a great big beautiful tomorrow!

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter, and check out the D-History Podcast!***

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One response to “What’s Old Is New Again!

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  1. Some great ideas there. When the 1998 redo of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland was being done one of the ideas considered was to turn it into an intergalactic spaceport. Of course what was eventually done was the retro-future theme, which is cool and all, but I would like more realistic future themes for Tomorrowland.

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