Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Theme Parking: How I Would Save Tomorrowland

  • Things are moving fast for the Disneyland Resort. Between the announcement of a billion dollar investment into the resort and the recent purchase of nearby properties, speculation about expansion options is at an all time high. With the D23 Expo coming up, I need to get in on the action before Disney make some sort of announcement.

  • Tomorrowland has always been the strangest part of Disneyland. Over the last sixty years, there have been four separate versions of the land. Each revision has attempted to rejuvenate the area. But before long, the present always catches up with the future and Tomorrowland becomes relic of dreams gone by. Science fiction and futurism will always have a limited shelf life. Before long, what once seemed like exciting possibilities eventually become quaint, even misguided. That is what the Imagineers have been facing for decades with Tomorrowland. How do you design a land of the future that will stay futuristic for more than a few years. And as people perceptions of the future change, having grown more pessimistic over time, is it still possible to maintain Walt Disney's boundless optimism?

  • In some ways, the 1998 New Tomorrowland was an idea that was too early. The concept of retro-futurism is sound as evinced by the rise of steampunk culture. If Disney had gone that direction a few years ago, slapping some extraneous gears on everything in sight, I think it would not have raised as many eyebrows. But even today steampunk's currency will wane as new aesthetics come into fashion. Nonetheless, I believe that the concept of New Tomorrowland was sound, if maybe too specific.

  • If I was given control of the New (to the nth power) Tomorrowland, I would reimagine the land as a celebration of many visions of the future that mankind has expression over the years. I've already decided on a name for the concept: All Our Tomorrows. The land would be rethemed so that each attraction more closely resembles a specific era. Space Mountain should lean even more into the seventies' white-plastic-and-jumpsuits vision. The Tomorrowland Theater and Redd Rockett's Pizza Port would be dialed back to 1955, reverting to the future Walt Disney would have envisioned when he opened the park. I envision making the exterior of Buzz Lightyear more like the fictional Star Command while leaving the interior as is. Star Tours, alas, has to go. (Don't worry; I'm just relocating it.) In its place will be some sort of grunge future thrill ride, something like Alien or similar movies.

  • The biggest change would revolve around Innoventions and all points north. Ever since I noticed that Innoventions resembles Jabba's Palace, I knew it was a perfect starting point for a Star Wars themed land. From there through Autopia would be converted to Mos Eisley. Can you imagine Star Wars character dining in the Mos Eisley Cantina? I sure can. On the north end of Mos Eisley would be a hanger building that doubles as the causeway through the shield generator building into the Endor portion. The idea would be to save as many trees as possible so that the land can run right up to Fantasyland without clashing too hard. I'm not sure what rides I want in those areas, but I feel confident that there are ideas to be had.

  • My new Tomorrowland would be connected by concept of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority offering access to several points around the universe, with air - err - spaceport signage throughout to direct travelers to their destinations. And to top it all off, I would install a new Peoplemover to tie the land together and tell the story from a higher level. Maybe even install a second station near the train depot to make it a real transportation system.

  • Now that I've got that out of my system, I'd like to hear from you. What would you do to revitalize Tomorrowland?

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