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Main | FUTURE MATTERS - Circle-Vision 360° »

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.


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?


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.


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




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]



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Reader Comments (45)

It'd be cool to see the hyperloop or similar technologies represented. The re-theme of the submarine voyage is now going to be part of my wildest dreams, I think.

July 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick

IF ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWill Thomas


Yeah, that Submarine Voyage concept could be so great.

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason z

Terrific article, Stan! Yeah, who says the future has to be too difficult to keep up with?? The tech you mentioned would be feel futuristic for a long time.

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

I like the way you're thinking! The PeopleMover is the key to make the entire land work; I know that it would take an investment from Disney, but it would be worth it. As a Horizons fan, I'd love to see a connection in the subs ride. That's unlikely to happen, but there has to be a way to make Tomorrowland inspiring and daring.

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDan Heaton

Its nice to see another post on ImagineeringDisney. I just hope that we don't have to wait 9 months to get the next. I am fairly knowledgeable about Disney, so I'd be happy to write a few articles and email them to ImagineeringDisney. Just ask.

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRich

PeopleMover is the key, maybe not with Goodyear rubber tires, but perhaps with magnetics, solar powered. Too much of TL is space related, there is much more to "tomorrow" than space travel. I totally agree with the submarines. I have thought for quite a while they need to add the number one futuristic idea we have all thought about...flying cars. Turn the Carousel of Progress building into a dark ride with "flying" cars, maybe like Peter Pan overhead tracks with switchable paths using ski resort high speed detachable lift system to have random trips on various track paths. Add more science and planning/saving the future without being too instructional, saving the planet, species, etc.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDarryl

I totally agree...especially in regard to the missing optimism and passion around the "future of mankind". Part of it could be Disney's inclination to only allow attractions currently tied to an existing IP (at least most of them).

At the end of the day, I think the role Tomorrowland plays in Disneyland and Disney World should be different at this point. In Disneyland, it would be great if the "future of mankind" became more of a primary focus again. I understand the need to mix future of mankind an sci-fi themes due to space constraints, but it's what Tomorrowland was designed for. Disney World has Tomorrowland and Future World at Epcot. IMO, Tomorrowland could focus on more of the sci-fi theme's, while future of man kind would be reserved for Future World. Just my humble opinion of course. :)

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I agree totally. Your ideas are very similar to something I posted on Micechat. Tomorrowland does not have to be demolished to make it a fine land again. The infrastructure is there, now. It just needs to be utilized.

September 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark Raymond

Love this, and the PeopleMover has been something on my mind for a while as well - so I recently posted an idea on LinkedIn (hoping Disney will see it and say "We need to hire that guy!"). If you happen to be on LinkedIn, the post is here: Disneyland Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeoplePods

October 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGreg Schumsky

So, first off, I really, really love this article. Tomorrowland is my favorite land in the park, specifically because it does have that promise of the future. Yes. It is totally, and absolutely sad that Walt Disney's optimistic version of what humanity could become, through technology, has been replaced by (arguably), crass commercialism.

Since when did Disney ever do anything where it wouldn't profit them first, with ideals taking a side step (after Walt's death)?

This irks me to no end.

Personally, I would absolutely love to see Walt Disney's original E.P.C.O.T. city come to life. It's the greatest gift that could be given to humanity.

This article should be sent to Robert Iger, blown up huge, and put on the wall in his office, so that it's driven into his head.

Stan, great stuff! I am looking forward to becoming a more active participant on this awesome blog!


Daniel L Rappaport
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October 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel L Rappaport
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