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Thursday
Jul062017

FUTURE MATTERS - Transportation in Tomorrowland

When you visit Disneyland in California, how do you feel when you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. and turn right to enter Tomorrowland? I mostly feel a combination sadness and  frustration when I walk through Tomorrowland–primarily due to the misplaced and pathway– clogging Astro Orbiter and the vacant, rotting PeopleMover track. And while fantasy space travel is well represented in Tomorrowland (Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Star Tours, and Space  Mountain), any semblance of tangible ways of pondering, dreaming about, and honoring humankind's achievements and the wonders of the future are long gone. It's as if Disneyland, like seemingly so much of the world, gave up on an optimistic view of the future, too.

Wouldn't it be great if a positive, enjoyable, and aspirational look towards tomorrow returned to Tomorrowland? I believe one of the key elements to this turnaround would be the re-design and re-invention of Tomorrowland's past and present transportation rides, namely Autopia, PeopleMover, Submarine Voyage, Motor Boat Cruise, and Monorail. Here are some thoughts on  how a significant update to these transportation attractions could make Tomorrowland an  inspiring land once more.


Autopia

The automobile industry is undergoing a huge revolution right now with electrified vehicles, autonomous and driverless vehicles, ride sharing services, and bicycle sharing changing the way the world thinks about mobility. Wouldn't it be fun if Disneyland's Autopia attraction reflected  some of these changes? What about using electric cars (maybe the ones from the now-defunct  Autopia at Hong Kong Disneyland)? What if all of the cars had a touchscreen controller and you could decide whether to drive the car yourself or go into an autonomous driving mode? And what if you actually drove/rode through a model of the city of the future (an updated version of Progress City, if you will) with highly detailed, 3D props?


PeopleMover

Mass transportation is always a relevant topic for city and urban dwellers. What if the former PeopleMover/Rocket Rods elevated track was completely removed and a new track was built in its place–a track that includes both surface level segments (perhaps though the revamped Autopia attraction) and elevated segments? The track could also go through glass tube tunnels  and through Tomorrowland attraction buildings as before. The ride vehicles would be a new design that shows off the latest thinking in mass transportation while providing a fun and unique experience for park guests.

 

Submarine Voyage

What if the Submarine Voyage narrative had a compete re-write and the attraction had a total thematic overhaul? One where instead of "Finding Nemo," we take a journey through "liquid  space" to Sea Castle Resort of EPCOT Center's Horizons fame? The attraction would take  guests on an adventure that explores the possibilities and realities of living and working underwater. Elements of the original Horizons would be augmented with the latest technologies and thinking about the habitation and lifestyle of underwater cities. The submarine ride vehicles themselves would also receive an extensive update to reflect the Sea Castle Resort design aesthetic.


Motor Boat Cruise

Wouldn't it be fun if a small waterway flowed through areas of Tomorrowland that allowed for a modern re-interpretation of the Motor Boat Cruise attraction? The boats would use the latest ride technology, could hold 4-6 passengers, and could be both self-driving and autonomous. The "Tomorrowland River" could weave through the revamped Autopia and PeopleMover tracks and could also go into some interesting show buildings of its own showing off the city of the future.


Monorail

Disneyland's original "highway in the sky" could receive a new station and track layout inside Tomorrowland that could bring it more front and center–showing off not only its continued transportation potential, but also its iconic status as a classic Disneyland attraction. What if there was a central transportation hub in the middle of Tomorrowland where both the PeopleMover and Monorail had stations? What if the Monorail went through its own share of tunnels and buildings, too? Or what if there was also an inverted-style Monorail, where the ride vehicles were smaller and suspended from the top?



What kinds of futuristic transportation attractions would you like to see in Disneyland's

Tomorrowland?

 

 

Related posts:

FUTURE MATTERS - Circle-Vision 360°
Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
A Look at the Progress City Model- Then and Now
Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model
THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]

 

 

Thursday
Oct062016

FUTURE MATTERS - Circle-Vision 360°

This new column will discuss attractions that were located in Tomorrowland in Disneyland park in California and Magic Kingdom park in Florida. It will also cover attractions that are or were located in the Future World section of Epcot park in Florida. It is written with the belief that the futuristic and optimistic ideals established for Tomorrowland and the original EPCOT Center are as relevant today as they were in past and are needed now more than ever.


Did you ever get to experience the Circle-Vision 360° theater in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in California or the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida? The circular, standing-room only theater had nine screens and nine film projectors. The patented process provided a one-of-a-kind film going experience and was a staple for years at most Magic Kingdom-style parks (you can still experience Circle-Vision 360° at the China and Canada pavilions at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida).

Disneyland
In Disneyland, the attraction was originally called "Circarama." It was one of Disneyland's original attractions when the park first opened its gates in 1955. The original Circarama theater had 11 screens and projectors. The first Circarama film shown in the park was "A Tour of the West." An 11-camera version of "America the Beautiful" debuted in 1960. With the opening of the newly remodeled Tomorrowland in 1967, the format changed from 11 cameras/projectors/screens to nine cameras/projectors/screens and the attraction was renamed "Circle-Vision 360°." A new nine-camera version of "America the Beautiful" made its debut in 1967 and played in theater for many years (it's the one I first remember seeing at the park). (Another historical note of interest is that also in 1967, Walt Disney Productions produced a nine-camera Circle-Vision film called "Canada '67" that played at the Expo 67 world's fair held that year in Montreal, Canada--a precursor to the Circle-Vision film that opened in the Canada Pavilion in EPCOT Center in 1982.)

The attraction was renamed in the 1980s to "World Premiere Circle-Vision." Other films that have played in the theater included a remake of "America the Beautiful" called "American Journeys" (I remember that one, too), along with the "Wonders of China" film which still plays at Epcot's China pavilion today. The theater closed in 1997 to make way for the queue for the ill-fated Rocket Rods attraction, part of the 1998 Tomorrowland remodel. The space is now occupied by the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters laser gun omnimover attraction.

Magic Kingdom
At the Magic Kingdom, Circle-Vision 360° was also an opening day attraction in 1971 with the nine-camera version of "America the Beautiful" as its first film. "Magic Carpet 'Round the World" and "American Journeys" also played in the theater. When Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland received its current science fiction update in 1994, an English-language version of the Euro Disneyland/Disneyland Paris "Timekeeper" attraction showed up for a few years before being replaced with the current Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor attraction now occupying the theater space.

Why It Was Great
Circle-Vision was a wonderful part of the Tomorrowland experience for many reasons. First, cinema-in-the-round just felt futuristic in and of itself. I was in awe every time I walked into the dark, air-conditioned theater and saw the nine screens floating above me. It was as if the future was so big, it needed nine movie screens instead of just one. Then, when the movie started, it made you feel like you were right in the middle of all of the action. It was almost as if it were a precursor to today's virtual reality, yet even more so given the large screen size. The beautifully created and edited films transported you to a different place in an almost miraculous way. You really felt like you were driving in a car down Lombard Street in San Francisco. It seemed like you really were on a horse-drawn carriage driving through New England in the fall. And you felt optimistic about life and about the future after the experience was over. It truly was another classic Disneyland experience where parents and children could have fun together. I know that I have lots of happy memories watching Circle-Vision 360° with my mom and dad.

If I Were In Charge
Well, if it were up to me, I would bring the attraction back of course. For the theater at Disneyland, I'd evict/relocate Buzz Lightyear (as fun as his attraction is) and re-build the theater in its original location. In the Magic Kingdom, I'd also relocate the Monsters Inc. friends to Disney's Hollywood Studios (as clever and fun as that attraction is, too) and restore the theater to its rightful place.

The newly restored Circle-Vision theaters would have state-of-the-art digital projection and sound and would be flexible to allow for different films to play throughout the day. As far as films go, there is so much potential there. Here are some ones I've love to see:


Futuristic films.
How fun would it be to have updated, 360° versions of Ward Kimball's brilliant animated shorts "Magic Highways U.S.A." or "Mars and Beyond" that were originally made for the "Disneyland" TV show? Or what about digital, 360° re-creations of the selectable finale films of EPCOT Center's Horizons attraction with visits to Brava Centauri, Mesa Verde, and Sea Castle?

Travel films. The travel themes from the original films could continue, including an updated version of "America the Beautiful"/"American Journeys." Digital versions of the China and Canada films from Epcot could also make appearances. Many other destinations from around the U.S.A. and the world could be added as well; the possibilities are limitless.

Animated films. You know what a big animation fan I am. Wouldn't it be fun to see specially crafted 360° animated films created by Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar Animation Studios? Or what about a 360° remake/update of "Mickey's Philharmagic"? (Not that I want to add more cartoons to Tomorrowland, but I still think it would be fun to watch an expertly animated film in 360°.)

Classic films. Of course, the previously made films would be digitally restored and shown on a regular basis in the theater, too.

What are your favorite memories about Circle-Vision 360° and your thoughts about a potential future for the format? Let us know.

 

BONUS FEATURE:

Here's a little behind-the-scenes look at the upper level (3rd level) of Magic Kingdom's Circle-Vision 360° theater. These photos were taken sometime during The Timekeeper's final operating months in late 2005 or early 2006 at a Cast Member merchandise event. 

 

Related Posts:

Tomorrowland '67 [Part 1]
"As Long as There Is Imagination Left in the World": Putting the Phrase to Better Use
Expo 67
THEN AND NOWDisneyland [Part 1]
THEN AND NOW: Epcot World Showcase [Part 2]
Seven Dwarfs, Hold Up!

 

Tuesday
Jun212016

Grizzly River Run Tribute Model

Another INCREDIBLE scale model by Matt Camisa! We first saw Matt's artistry when he shared his working Splash Mountain model with us. Check out this tribute model of a piece Disney California Adventure's Grizzly River Run.

 

Outstanding work, Matt!

Follow this and other stunning projects on Matt's Twitter account here

 

Related posts:

Working Splash Mountain Model
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
"it's a small small world" [ PART 1 ]
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Tiny Jungle Cruise Model
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 3 ]