Did you know that Tomorrowland inside Disneyland is now in its third generation? From the beginning, Walt Disney and his team wanted to keep Tomorrowland from becoming outdated. It was always supposed to remain “a living blueprint of our future.” Hence the constant updates!
While Walt was very passionate about innovation and new technology, Tomorrowland was initially more of a corporate showcase rather than a land for ideas and inventions. The construction of Disneyland was rushed, and way over budget, so to compensate Walt brought a lot of corporate sponsors in to fund different lands and attractions– many of which ended up in Tomorrowland. Monsanto and American Motors were a couple of the companies that sponsored Tomorrowland in the 50’s and early 60’s. Even with the corporate tone, early Tomorrowland focused on what dominated pop culture at the time: space exploration, cars, and new tech that could make housework more bearable.
It wasn’t until 1959 (almost 5 years after the park opened) that Tomorrowland saw its first big, E-Ticket, attractions. They were the Monorail (how thrilling!), Submarine Voyage (now Nemo’s Submarine Voyage), and Matterhorn (which later became part of Fantasyland).
In the 60’s, spurred by Walt’s death in ’66 and the World’s Fair in ’65, Tomorrowland became a place truer to the Disney team’s original vision. They opened the famous Carousel of Progress, Adventure Thru Inner Space, and the PeopleMover. These attractions all reinforced themes of advancement and innovation, whether it be on planet Earth or in outer space. These themes still hold true in today’s Tomorrowland with attractions like Star Tours, Innoventions, and Autopia, but the 80’s and 90’s brought another futuristic aspect to Tomorrowland – aliens. Captain EO in California and Mission to Mars in Florida both brought a specific science fiction angle to Tomorrowland that still lasts to this day.
In 2015, there remain attractions as old as the park itself, along with experiences that promote all of the varying themes that were introduced into Tomorrowland throughout the decades. Today, Disney has seen the opportunity to promote their sci-fi properties, Marvel and Star Wars inside Tomorrowland, but the vision has remained the same:
A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying Man’s achievements… A step into the future, with predictions of constructed 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, unified world.
—Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955
The upcoming film Tomorrowland relies heavily on the vision that Walt had for Tomorrowland during Disneyland’s construction. It was to be a place where minds could come together and think up the impossible – new technology that could change the world for the better! As a Disney Parks fan, I am intrigued by the historical angle this movie is taking, where they reimagine the World’s Fair as a gateway where inventors could find passage into a new, fantastic dimension. You can currently check out an extended sneak preview of Tomorrowland inside Disneyland’s Tomorrowland theater, so be sure to pay it a visit and, in the meantime, watch the newly released trailer below!