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Saturday
Dec122009

How to Put Tomorrow Back into Tomorrowland  

Article submitted by -Joe Stitt 

UPDATE: Joe has started his own blog, My Park, My Rides.  Check it out.

“A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man’s achievements….a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals: The Atomic Age, the challenge of outer space, and the hope for a peaceful and unified world.”

-Walt Disney
July 17, 1955 


      That was the dedication given by Walt himself to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. When compared to what we have today in Disney World, it makes me wonder how things could go so terribly wrong. To me, Tomorrowland as we have it today is one of most inexcusable offenses committed by WDI in the Magic Kingdom; second only to the unholy mess in the Enchanted Tiki Room. But unlike their poor tropical friends, I believe the citizens of Tomorrowland can rebuild their city of tomorrow to regain its former glory.

      Step one in the rebuilding phase is a complete overhaul of its crown jewel, Space Mountain. While this little refurbishment the Suits allowed is nice, in order for it to become great again a whole new Space Mountain is needed. The improvements should include new cars with the much longed-for onboard speaker system, a brand new track to reduce the roughness of the ride, and a new lift hill, pre-show, and post-show to totally bring the ride out of the 1980s and reflect a more advanced view of space and space travel. During this construction time, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority can also receive some TLC. The story on the ride can be greatly improved by updating the scenes you pass through on the ride. A more creative view of the other TTA lines can be presented based on upcoming transportation systems.  Some cars that are more pleasing to the eye wouldn’t hurt either since the current trains are pretty bland. These improvements would be a step in the right direction, but they aren’t the only rides pleading for help in Tomorrowland.

      One of Walt’s favorite attractions, the Carrousel of Progress, has been allowed to slowly fade into oblivion. To me, this is unacceptable.  Yes there is a bit of a nostalgic factor to this beloved attraction, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have a solid story. It is quite possibly one of the greatest audio-animatronics shows ever created. I believe this show can be brought back to life with more life-like audio-animatronics and an updated last scene. Somewhere around 2050 should be a good estimate. Even though it would a big jump story-wise, I believe people could let that slide since it would provide a glimpse into their own future. Next, we head from a small suburban home to the headquarters of Star Command.

      While I don’t believe any Pixar or other name-brand characters belong in Tomorrowland, I believe Buzz Lightyear can be an exception to that rule. Even though characters should be in Fantasyland, he gives the little kids a fun adventure in our world of tomorrow. But like every other attraction, a little touch of paint and some new effects couldn’t hurt it.  Now if only Buzz can stay, that means we say goodbye to Stitch and our Monsters Inc. friends.

      Let’s start with re-modeling the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. First of all, the Tomorrowland Interplanetary Convention Center needs to be brought back. I always liked the way it fit in the Tomorrowland storyline. As far as the new attraction to go in the convention center goes, you can’t fantasize about the future without time travel, can you? I picture a galaxy-wide convention on time travel, where we as Tomorrowland citizens are allowed to be the lucky test subjects for a new time travel vehicle. Instead of traveling one minute into the future as planned, a malfunction occurs, and we are taken on a journey through some of the greatest milestones in science. Our trip would end with a scenic view of Tomorrowland in the year 3000. And since this would be a simulator type ride, it would be possible to update the movie every few years to keep the experience fresh. This takes care of one problem, but we still have that fury little troublemaker across the street.

      As if Stitch wasn’t stuffed down our throats enough by Disney, he even got his own attraction in Tomorrowland. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Stitch being in Tomorrowland as much as I just feel like the ride was a poor effort by the Imagineers; they simply shoe-horned Stitch into a pre-existing attraction that was already successful. I believe that some more thrill needs to be put into Tomorrowland. Even better, what if we were able to put some education back into the parks? The attraction I picture for this area involves the most popular innovation of our time, the Internet. I know Tomorrowland is supposed to be based on future innovations, but not only is the Internet a new frontier, it is also growing and constantly changing. The ride would be a wild mouse style spinning rollercoaster that took guests on a high-speed adventure on the information superhighway. The pre-show could slowly take guests inside a computer, through the circuits and hard drives, and eventually to their destination of the Ethernet cable. The post show would provide the newest information on the Internet. It would showcase the newest innovations and have interactive games that taught lessons on how the internet works and how to properly use it. Done well, I believe it could be a new E-Ticket for Tomorrowland.

      All of these changes are just a start. There is so much that could be done with the extra space available, the vacant Tomorrowland stages, and even the scenery in the area. However, I believe that this would be a step in the right direction on the long road to rebuilding Tomorrowland. The important thing to remember is that there is always room for change in Tomorrowland. It should be a headquarters for innovative new rides and a breeding ground for new ideas.  A beloved extinct attraction said it best, “If we can dream it, then we can do it”.

-Joe Stitt 

References (2)

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Reader Comments (13)

This is the kind of thing we love to see. I love the quote from Walt Disney... sadly something that today's Tomorrowlands don't resemble at all. There is no end to the Tomorrowland discussion. Tomorrowland is different than any other land (except maybe Future World) in that it is not limited to the events, styles, and themes of history.

December 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterAdmin

I agree. "Predictions of constructive things to come" ?? According to this, current management feels that the future consists of evening at the improv monsters, aliens burping, and toy space men shooting lasers at other toy space men (no offense Pixar, we still love you... at least your movies).

December 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterFritz

"Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure, and ideals..."

Ideals??? Where do we see ideals in today's Tomorrowland?

I like what Joe says about The Carousel of Progress- one of my favorites. If Act 4 didn't suck, I'd say leave it alone even if it's outdated. But it stinks. Lame humor even for Disney. Acts 1-3 are great... probably cause Walt himself was there to guide the process.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I like the idea of an internet ride. My thought is that something with an Onimover ride system much like Adventures Thru Inner Space would be cool- that ride had a great style.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Nice article. It would be hard to make an internet ride that is not outdated quickly HOWEVER exploring the basic concept of the internet and the power of information and connectivity could be done in a way that would not be outdated too quickly. I like.

December 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTL98H8R

Yeah, we need to return this section of the park back to it's "What people in the 50's thought the 80's would look like." With such "TOMORROW" rides like "If You Had Wings", the "Grand Prix Raceway" and the "America the Beautiful" movie. All shows and rides that just SCREAMED FUTURE!

Oh wait. They didn't.

January 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBobo

Maybe Tomowworland would be one step better if they knocked out Stitch and sent him to some alien experiment menagerie somewhere. No offence, I like Stitch... but I highly think that 6 years of 'performing' in the show is definitely far from 'humane' for an alien experiment this size.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRabidLeroy

My family went to Disney World in 1972 when it was brand new. I was about five, but I remember it very clearly. The first place we went was Tomorrowland, and I remember how amazed I was at how cool everything looked. One of my happiest memories is tooling around Tomorrowland on my dad's shoulders. I'd been there many times since, of course, but drifted away in my twenties. More important things to do.

When I had my first kid, I was very very very much looking forward to having the same experience with him that I did with my own dad when I was little. It was my first trip to Disney in like a decade. We turned a corner into tomorrowland and....

I was heartbroken. The clean lines were ruined, the uniform color scheme was gone, there was all this hokey, coy 'retro future steampunk' crap strewn all over the place, and it wasn't even *good* steampunk (Like 20,000 leagues under the sea was), it was just crap grafted on here and there by designers who clearly didn't know squat about science fiction or futurism, they just defaced everything. The fact that the company *wanted* them to do it, and signed off on their outrages is no excuse, they trashed the place.

Look, I know that Tomorrowland was a pretty dated vision of the future, but it needed to be maintained because (A) the whole complex was a work of art (B) it represented a specific vision of what the future could be, and preserving record of our aspirations is important. And (C) My own nostalgic attraction. (Bring back "Magic Carpet Ride Round The World" while we're at it! That was the first attraction my dad and I went to!) I mean, you don't deface the Mona Lisa because she doesn't have a current hairstyle, right?

The solution is simple: Disney has ridiculous ammounts of unused land: Just expand the park and stick in a new section or three, and leave the iconic stuff alone.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRepublibot 3.0

I actually like the new tomorrowland. It reminds me of s sci-fi version of a a metropolitan city.

February 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Crawford

Your feelings are sick and wron, Nick. <G>

February 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRepublibot 3.0

I say they throw away Stitch and bring back the ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter. That was the ride that showed me just how fun a creative experience could be without moving. Then they need to put the retro-scifi narration back on the TTA. God the new voice is horrible.

February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJCHout

I think bumping up the ambient light levels in Space Mountain by apx 30%, the lighting effects levels by 50%, providing some visual cues to where the coaster is headed and then capitalizing on that with something new, visually, and adding the in car speaker system would be ideal. Did they refurb the track at all? Rode it mid-May 11' and it seemed so much smoother than I remember it. The 'window' effects in the ride que need serious attention, and the exit tunnel needs to be wider if thats possible, so people like me can gawk at the miniature pods in thier fantasic enviornments without holding everyone else up. The obnoxious plastic clutter all over Tomorrowland needs to be taken away, and the impressive shapes underneath restored to thier former glory. As it is, it almost looks like 'Tomorrows Atheist Christmasland' than anything futuristic. Monsters Inc is an example of a good attraction in a wrong location, and I actually like Stitch's Great Escape, except that place is FILTHY if you look close. They keep it dark so no one will notice. I don't actually blame Disney 100% for the sad shape of Tomorrowland though. I think it's a matter of society's utter contempt for innovation as a threat to the status quo of business modeling and investment projections. The future is a mess, and Tomorrowland reflects that. That doesn't mean it has to stay like that either. The new TTA voice-over is horrid. I agree, they should bring back the previous version. My 200 cents. Thanks for the article, quite thought provoking.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTroyObliX

Having worked in Magic Kingdom in Florida for 7 years now, I agree completely. I design rides and attractions for the park; one of my favorite rides being the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. I have an idea though, that would change Disney World history: add the Scariest ride in the world, where it involves seeing the park in the future, on a simulator as Joe stated, and then the ride car moving out of the Simulator, and entering the SCARIEST FUTURE WITH MICKEY BEING CONTROLLED BY COMPUTERS AND RIDES BEING HACKED BY TERRORISTS, with litter EVERYWHERE.


HAHA LOL U ACTUALY THOUGHT I WAS AN IMAGINEER. FAIL. good times in 2012 . APRIL FOOLS. BUT SERIOUSLY JOE I AGREE, AMAZING ARTICLE.

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