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Last week I compared the site plan for Tomorrowland to Main Street USA. This week I am going to focus on a couple of related items. First, I will talk about the level of motion that is unique to Tomorrowland. Then I will shift gears and talk about where this level of motion came from – Tomorrowland 1.0.
One of the signature hallmarks of Tomorrowland is all of the vehicles moving about. Moving vehicles dominate the land at all levels. On the ground plain, constantly queuing up are the cars of the Speedway. Up one level are the TTA trains. The TTA trains continue throughout the land and become a thread that ties many of the Tomorrowland structures together. Flying high overhead are the Astro Orbiter rockets.
When the Carrousel of Progress is open and spinning even the buildings add to the movement. And not long ago, you had the gondolas of the Skyway passing overhead. And we can’t forget Push, the talking trashcan. There is no other spot in the Magic Kingdom with such diversity of vehicles on display.
This movement is due to the original Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland 1.0 lived until 1994. In the relatively brief history of the Magic Kingdom, only Tomorrowland has received a significant makeover. Adventureland and Frontierland have been expanded as attractions have been added. Toontown Fair is a temporary idea made permanent. But only one land has had a sequel – Tomorrowland.
What you see today is the Imagineers solution to a longtime vexing problem. How do you create the world of tomorrow when tomorrow happens so fast? What happens when the design and construction process takes so long that by the time the project is done it isn’t relevant anymore?
Don’t believe me that this is a real problem? Need an example of what happens when you lose this battle? Been to DisneyQuest lately?
One of the hallmarks of Disney design is that each land feels like a “place”. And by place I will use the definition drafted by architect Charles Moore. He once stated that “Place is the projection of the image of civilization onto the environment”.
Disneyland’s first Tomorrowland (1955) was set in 1986, the return year for Haley’s Comet. It was updated in 1967 to no specific date but the place was the “world on the move”. The Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland 1.0 was the next generation of that concept. But 20 years later the “world on the move” was looking dated.
So the solution in 1994 was to rethink the entire question.
Instead of projecting a place set into the future, why not just create a fantasy place influenced by visions of the future. The Imaginers decided to borrow elements from Disneyland Paris’s Discoveryland and create “a future that never was”. This created a place that is less about anticipating the future than creating a more timeless setting. To this end, the Imaginers borrowed heavily from predictions of Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Buck Rodgers to create a “Spaceport”; a place where visitors from throughout the universe come and go. In some respects Tomorrowland is the first “postmodern” land and that idea would be amplified at Disney’s California Adventure.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Tomorrowland was a bright shiny optimistic vision of the future. It was a world of motion. Gleaming white spires greeted you and the future looked so bright that you had to wear shades (that white paint). Today, Tomorrowland has become sci-fi Fantasyland. The emphasis is on the familiar instead of the challenge of what could be. Even the most forward-looking attraction – the Carousel of Progress – is presented like it is a museum.
Tomorrowland is clearly organized, a very entertaining space to sit and take a break, and brings back a nostalgic moment for those old enough to remember when…