Bits and Bites: The Monsanto House at Disneyland

by
Joan Feder

Feature Article
This article appeared in the May 25, 2021 (#1138) edition of ALL EARS®

Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.

Disneyland’s Tomorrowland

TC: A photo of the house can be found at: https://allears.net/2014/05/26/tomorrowland-part-one/

Join us on our monthly journey into the past as we explore the history of Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company. This time we look back to June 12, 1957 when the Monsanto House of the Future opened at Disneyland.

Back in the 50s, plastic was relatively new. It was only found in homes occasionally, for things like vinyl flooring.

Monsanto Chemical Company wanted to expand its construction business. To do so, they decided to build a futuristic dwelling that showcased the versatility of plastics.

The Hall of Chemistry was already sponsored by Monsanto at Disneyland. So building this innovative house in Tomorrowland was an easy choice. Construction of the 1,280-square-foot home got underway on January 7, 1957.

The Monsanto House of the Future opened 6 months later on June 12, 1957. It showed what home life and technology might look like in the dim and distant future: 1986.

The house was made up of four wings that hung off a central core in the shape of a cross. It was 48 feet long and sat on a pedestal, giving it the illusion of floating over the ground. Waterfalls and lush landscaping sat underneath.

The construction was modular, and each section was molded out of polyester reinforced with fibrous glass. All of the furniture and surfaces were made of plastic as well, with more than 14 types used overall.

The kitchen was in the central core. It featured hidden shelving and retractable refrigeration areas. The dishwasher used sonic waves to clean the plastic plates, and food was cooked in something called a microwave oven.

The four symmetric wings each contained one room: the dining room, living room, a children’s bedroom, and a master suite.

Telephones were pushbutton and used speakers instead of a handset. A closed-circuit camera let the occupants see who was at the front door.

The living room had hi-fidelity stereo equipment and a large flat screen television.

The sink in the kids’ bathroom was height adjustable. The master bath featured built-in electric toothbrushes and a sound system in the shower.

The House of the Future was an extremely popular attraction. Five to 10,000 people visited per day; more than 400,000 toured the attraction in the first two months alone.

But, after almost 10 years, the house felt less and less like part of the future. It closed in December 1967.

Disney wanted to clear the space to make room for something new. Unfortunately, the House of the Future had other ideas. Wrecking balls bounced off. Torches, chainsaws, and jackhammers were also ineffective. The building was so strong that the steel bolts that mounted it to its foundation failed before the building did!

It took two weeks of intensive labor to take the House apart. Even then it wasn’t removed entirely. Part of the concrete foundation still stands in Disneyland today. It has been painted green and is now a planter in Pixie Hollow.