The Big Problem with Disney’s Tomorrowland

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising that Disney’s Tomorrowland would pose the biggest problem for the Imagineers.

Entrance to Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland

The trouble with Tomorrowland is simple: tomorrow always comes. So how do you create a land that feels like the future, when the future will inevitably catch up with you?

Opening Blunders

 

When Tomorrowland first opened at Disneyland in 1955, it was hardly a land at all. Lack of funds and technological restrictions limited Walt and his team from creating the Tomorrowland they envisioned.  In design, the land created would showcase the far-off future of 1986 (LOL), full of innovation, promise, and technological wonder.  In reality, it fell short. Walt himself even said, “The only problem with anything of tomorrow is that at the pace we’re going right now, tomorrow would catch up with us before we got it built.”

In 1971, when the Magic Kingdom opened its gates, one of the brand new attractions featured in Tomorrowland was called “Flight to the Moon.” It was a thrilling, innovative attraction but there was one problem — man had already landed on the moon. In 1969. You may as well have called it Yesterdayland. Shocking to no one, Flight to the Moon was short-lived, and closed in 1975.

Space Mountain

Tomorrowland went through continuous renovations–  in Disneyland in 1959 and 1967, and throughout the 1980s. Disney World’s Tomorrowland saw its largest renovation to date in 1975, with the additions of the Carousel of Progress, Space Mountain, Astro Orbiter (then called Star Jets), and the PeopleMover.

So, what’s the solution?

 

Tomorrowland in silhouette

Tomorrowland went through its most recent, major re-imagining in 1994, when Disney decided to combine the future and nostalgia to create “The Future That Never Was and Always Will Be.”

This dystopian view of the future is very Jules Verne-ian — it’s kind of the future that everyone imagines when they talk about what the world will look like in 50+ years. It’s fun to imagine flying cars and interplanetary travel, even if that won’t ever happen.

Tomorrowland at Disney World is now an intergalactic space port, where you can pop into Merchant of Venus to purchase “necessary” items for your space travels and swing by Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies for a post-flight fuel up.

Imagineers can now create innovative attractions such as the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor or the upcoming TRON Lightcycle Power Run, without the pressure to actually predict the future. They can quickly add in favorite characters like Buzz Lightyear who completely fit into the space theme, because they are aiming to create a fun, enjoyable attraction — not always create the newest technology.

What’s next?

 

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo ©Disney Parks

Even though they’ve figured out the best way to theme Tomorrowland, it’s still been 25 years since it has gone through a major refurbishment.

We don’t predict any major changes soon — especially with the cost of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, opening on both coasts. This huge new expansion seems like it will take care of an “updated space-themed area” in Disneyland Park. Large changes are also coming to Epcot at Walt Disney World, whose Future World deals with the same problems.

So, what about Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World? At this point, no big updates (aside from TRON) or renovations have been announced. But to be fair, the theme still works and some of the most popular rides in both parks call Tomorrowland home.

While Tomorrowland is due for an update, “The Future That Never Was and Always Will Be” still holds up. And until the inevitable re-imagining, you can find me on the TTA.

What do you think of Tomorrowland? Does it still hold up? Let us know in the comments!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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10 Replies to “The Big Problem with Disney’s Tomorrowland”

  1. There’s no such thing as a vision of the future anymore because just about anything you can imagine these days is already invented. Have you noticed that most sci-fi shows and movies now are set in the past because there would be nothing but plot holes because at every turn the audience would say, “why didn’t they just use their cell phone to….”. I like the idea of going back to the 50’s vision of the future and leaving it cheesy. I also think the Carousel of Progress needs a major overhaul. Leave the show as it is with an updated ending but please please replace the seats and carpet. I think doing that alone would up attendance because sitting in there now (which I still do) gives you the creepy XXX movie theater vibe that I’m sure WDW isn’t going for…but there you have it. People are pretty germaphobic these days and no one wants to sit in there, let alone smell that dank smell it has except for us dieharders. We do what we must lol.

  2. wen’t on the carousel of progress this year water stains on the ceiling dirty carpet and so outdated.i
    i understand getting as much as you can out of a ride but there were only 6 people in our revolving section.

    1. Even a lot of the newer rides are dirty and unkept. Just typical 21st century Disney. There is no need to keep things clean. People will come regardless.

    2. I don’t want to see Caurosel of Progress disappear, but it needs updating, especially the final show scene. That scene should be changed in a manner in which it can be quickly updated say at least once every six months or so.

      It also needs a good cleaning and updating the interior.

      But we have already lost too many of the animatronic shows on both coasts to loose any more of them and this one is a classicm

  3. They need to switch Tomorrowland Speedway to all electric trackless racers…gas? Really? And those are not fun…almost feel pointless – you have so little control.

    1. They don’t need to be trackless, that would be dangerous as proven when they first opened at Disneyland. But they do need to be all electric and all electric versions can show how much fun driving an electric vehicle really is. They could also put sensors in to prevent people from bumping (or striking, depending on which coast you are on) the car in front of them, this would make it to where they could allow the vehicles to go faster and have that true instant acceleration that electrical vehicles get that is so hard to describe to anyone that has never truly driven one.

  4. The best way to fix it is to get rid of everything other than Space Mountain and the new Tron. Buzz Lightyear should be updated to be similar to Toy Story Mania. Everything else is worthless and just takes up space.

    1. I would disagree, first Toy Story doesn’t belong in Tomorrowland and I would definitely get rid of the Disney World version of Buzz, it is pointless.

      They will have a fight on their hands from a lot of people, including me if they ever try to get rid of the people mover at Disney World.

      Space Mountain at Disney World is nothing more than Disneyland’s Matterhorn in the dark, seriously, same track layouts, except the sides are reversed and they have no on board sound systems on the rockets, nothing that truly makes it unique.

      Yes, as I said previously, Caurosel of Progress needs an update, but again there would be a fight if they tried to get rid of it.

      I like Monsters Inc laugh floor, but it doesn’t belong in Tomorrowland, it should get moved to Hollywood Studios.

      I would be ok with the Speedway going away, but if it is going to stay, it needs to be updated with electric vehicles.

      Also, while I would love to see an updated menu there with better quality food, I don’t want to see Cosmic Ray’s or Sunny go anywhere either.

      And white I don’t personally ride them, the Rocket Jets or whatever they are called at Disney World can stay since the People Mover stays and they are simply on top of their loading platform. The people mover loading and unloading does need an update to out in an elevator to make it accessible to more people though.