Since its inception, Tomorrowland has always been a thorn in the side of the Walt Disney corporation.
How do you design a whole land with the theme of “tomorrow” and not have it become instantly dated? The answer, they have found out, is that you don’t.
Walt Disney’s vision of the future was an optimistic look at how science and human ingenuity would propel us into a greater tomorrow. Not only was this a land about to become outdated, it was a whole way of thinking.
In many ways, this is a direct result of the times. The 1950’s were a ‘gee whiz, America can solve any problem that comes its way’-type of era where we had just won a war and everyone was rich. This was also the peak time for usage of the word “gosh.”
So everyone knows what comes after the 50’s, the anti-establishment 60’s, where Disney and his whole way of thinking were considered ‘square.’
But I am getting ahead of myself here. On a more basic level, it’s embarrassing to have a ‘futuristic’ ride about going to the moon when we’ve already been to the moon. But it’s also embarrassing to jump the gun and predict we’ll be colonizing Mars by 1986. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Imagine if they had to update the other lands every ten to fifteen years. Is Fantasyland going to be progress from the middle ages to the Renaissance at some point or can we look forward to Cast Members in mom jeans and turquoise jewelry greeting us in Frontierland?
So that’s the simple problem Disney finds itself in, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because along with changes in science and technology, the company found themselves dealing with even bigger shift in the overall spirit of America.
Take the Monsanto house of the Future, a giant house made out of plastic. Back then, this was cool and interesting. Today, this would be like having a log ride through Jim Crow-era South. I mean, nobody back then could have known that this would become one of the most-hated corporations of the early 21st century or that the whole idea of a ‘plastic house’ would seem so offensive and short-sighted. Back then, plastic was a ‘miracle material’ and everybody loved it. And really, who gives a fuck about turtles anyway?
Not to mention that most of these ‘attractions’ were probably boring as hell. “Hey, who wants to go to Disneyland to tour the big plastic house?” Hey, I’ve got a better idea, Dad: why don’t you go drink a malted made out of ground glass and shoot yourself in the balls with a Red Rider BB Gun and then get polio?
Tomorrowland was basically a corporate-sponsored museum at its launch. No Space Mountain, no Star Tours, not even the People Mover or subs. But on the plus side, they had Kaiser’s Aluminum Hall of Fame!
Did kids in the 1950’s find this fun? Probably not, but what the hell did they have to do They were allowed to beat you at school, there was like three TV channels. The only music was doo-wop and naked ladies hadn’t been invented yet.
“OK, OK, I give up, Tomorrowland sucks! If you’re so smart why don’t you go and fix it?”
I’m glad you asked, Ghost of Walt Disney who is constantly talking to me in my head, I will.
Now this is going to sound a little weird, because I just spent a bunch of time making fun of the fact that Tomorrowland is stuck in the past and cant change, but my advice is stick Tomorrowland in the past and don’t change it.
“What?? You’re just messing with me, right? This is that new fad, “sarcasm,” you’re always talking about.”
Shut up, Ghost Disney, I’m not being sarcastic. Stick it in the past, but not that past.
Because like the Amish, I have pin-pointed the exact moment that things hit their peak level of awesomeness. But don’t worry, it’s not 1828, it’s 1986.
Tomorrowland should appear exactly as it did in 1986. More than that, it should reflect our hopes and dreams about the future in the 1986 mindset.
How fun would that be? A Tomorrowland of 1980’s nostalgia! We were still optimistic, but not stupidly so. We had robots and computers, but no 9/11! Remember when Marty Mcfly goes to the ‘future’ in Back to the Future 2? It would be like that, but a whole land!
Embrace the corniness! Play up the hokiness! Don’t be ashamed of what you are or what you were. This goes for Epcot too, of course. I can’t be the only ones who would love to see those two kids video chatting to each other during Spaceship Earth, right?
Problem solved, ghosts in my head! And now I can finally get some sleep!
“Not so fast, not until you help me get my company back from those damn Je–“