Walt Disney was known for his futurist views and, through his television programs, showed the American public how the world was moving into the future. Tomorrowland was the realized culmination of his views. Walt once stated: "Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future." Continue after the page break for a look back at the most exciting celebration since Disneyland’s opening day July 17, 1955...Walt Disney's New Tomorrowland 67'....
|New Tomorrowland Concept Art|
As the present began to catch up to the future, Tomorrowland became mired in the past. It was time for Walt to get his beloved Tomorrowland back up to par. It began to be referred to as the “New Tomorrowland” and was a long time in the making. The original Tomorrowland offerings of 1955 were extremely sparse and outdated. The Autopia became everyone’s favorite attraction in Tomorrowland and for years Walt Disney felt the under-funded land was not quite complete. Walt and his creative people had in mind a much more elaborate and futuristic land.
Several new attractions opened in 1955. Among them were Tomorrowland Boats, The World Beneath Us, which showed the Earth's geology, and the Aluminum Hall of Fame, sponsored by Kaiser Aluminum. The final Tomorrowland attraction to open in 1955 was The Flight Circle which demonstrated gasoline powered vehicles.
In 1956, Tomorrowland Boats were renamed Phantom Boats, and were closed later in the year. Dutch Boy Color Gallery opened in 1956, and sponsored Dutch Boy Paint. Two major attractions opened in 1956: the Astro Jets, where guests were able to fly their own rockets, and Skyway to Fantasyland, where guests rode "Buckets" over to Fantasyland.
|Tomorrowland 56' feat. Skyway and Astro Jets|
In 1957, the Monsanto House of the Future, a plastic house with four wings cantilevered from a central plinth, was built. This was similar to precursors at previous World's Fairs, though those were simply homes furnished with modern conveniences and aimed at housewives. Disneyland's attraction displayed conveniences such as picture phones and television remote controls, and it introduced many people to their first microwave oven. The Viewliner also opened where guests could ride in "the fastest miniature train in the world." It closed the next year making it the shortest lived Disney attraction ever.
|Monsanto House of the Future|
The Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Disneyland Monorail System, and Submarine Voyage Thru Liquid Space were all added to the land in 1959 and was the greatest expansion Disneyland had seen up until that point. There was only one problem, the bulk of Tomorrowland remained the same. By the mid-60s Walt was ready to move on to more long lasting, exciting things. His fascination with transportation and a need for more rides led to the clean and uniform new design of a Tomorrowland that explored science and the universe of the future. It was given a theme nicknamed called “World on the Move”.
Transportation in America during the 1960's was an important issue. Cities were growing more populated and more people were moving to the suburbs. Freeways were being introduced throughout the country and air travel was becoming more common. The first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747, was soon to take flight and the first manned trip to the moon was just around the corner. Walt Disney had commuted from his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills to both Disneyland in Anaheim and to The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. He was working with the Ford Motor Company to build a pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. He had flown all over the world for both business and for leisure. Keep in kind he was also secretly flying to and from Florida in preparation for the Florida Project so transportation was on his mind as it was a big part of his daily life.
Walt Disney’s biggest ambition at the time was to build his prototype community called E.P.C.O.T. (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) on his newly-acquired property in Florida. Transportation was a major focus of E.P.C.O.T. and it was only logical to test new transportation systems at Disneyland prior to building them in the city. Smaller-scale systems began to double as theme park attractions at the park...what better place is there?
|Walt test riding a early version of the PeopleMover|
The mid-60s were by far the most exciting times for Walt Disney and his entertainment projects. This had to be an amazing time for Walt. I could only imagine the euphoric feeling he must have experienced each day upon waking up knowing all the wonderful projects that needed his attention. Although several of his dreams had, Walt wouldn't simply let his imagination rest. There were so many amazing things in the works and I like to think of this time as being Walt's and his company's Golden Years. Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion attractions were in development, the still-secret Florida plans were becoming ever more complex, the four World’s Fair attractions required tremendous time and resources. Plans for the New Tomorrowland required an almost unattainable amount of advanced technology, mainly the computer technology needed for Space Port later named Space Mountain.
Then came late 1966, the saddest day in the companies history, at the helm of all these enormous endeavors, Walt dies at age 65. Walt had lived to experience the World’s Fair attractions he created, but Pirates, Mansion, and the New Tomorrowland had all opened after his death. His marvelous and ambitious E.P.C.O.T. sadly never came to be, however, despite Walt’s passing, construction on the New Tomorrowland continued to move forward.
|New Tomorowland Construction|
|New Tomorrowland Complete|
Visible from Disneyland’s central hub were Tomorrowland’s two shiny silver spires which drew your eye from the horizon up to outer space and back down to earth again. A similar effect happened with the main Flight to the Moon sign further west. Below your feet the sidewalks were a beautiful blue. Above you, PeopleMover vehicles traveled smoothly and quietly along a long slender track held up by modern-looking support beams. The PeopleMovers weaved in and out of every Tomorrowland building. A 90-foot rocket atop the PeopleMover station with 12 tiny rockets revolving around it grabbed your attention and drew you further into the land (Walt’s idea). Two deep black cube-like structures turned 45° with raised silver lettering invited you into the new Adventure Thru Inner Space and the CircleVision attractions. Mary Blair’s masterpiece murals added a warm color palette and a charming human touch to both sides of the the main walkways into the land. Soon you would come upon on the many organized and futuristic “levels” made up of the PeopleMover track, Rocket Jets, Skyway buckets, and the 1959 attractions, Matterhorn, Monorail, Submarines. Two entertainment stages offered a variety of musical performances. One of the covered stages slowly and dramatically rose up from out of the ground. The entire first floor of the new round Carousel of Progress building rotated. And at night the charm was even greater. Wonderful lighting set a mood like no other part of Disneyland.
Tomorrowland became the most popular land at Disneyland and a decade later its popularity exploded once again with the opening of Space Mountain and the elaborate complex that surrounded it. A wide variety of themes were presented such as inner space, outer space, liquid space, progression of electricity, transportation, etc. yet everything was presented in a non-conflicting way. The “story” of each attraction was presented little-by-little as you approached each non-tacky, non-cluttered entrance. Upon entering, the “theme” was added upon in subtle yet effective ways. Once further inside, you were entirely immersed n the experience. The same experience happened in reverse as you made your way out the exit. Walt got his Tomorrowland and in time got his space-travel version of his beloved Matterhorn.
Tomorrowland 1967 Broadcast: