Disneyland and the Future of Tomorrowland

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Published on October 19, 2012 at 5:01 am with 70 Comments


The message boards lit up this week as a load of news was broken by Al Lutz regarding huge changes coming to the Disneyland resort.  It seems that Tomorrowland as we know it will become a thing of the past in favor of movie themed attractions. But that’s just the beginning. Disneyland Fastpass will soon undergo a major change that you need to know about.  It’s not all bad news though.  A variety of projects around the resort are progressing nicely.  In fact, the Fantasy Faire Village is promising to be visually interesting if nothing else.  But let’s get right to the big story first.  We’ll have time to salivate over those Earl of Sandwich pictures at the end of the update.

Al Lutz reported in his most recent update that guests have until February to “enjoy” Innoventions. Apparently the plan is to make way for a new Iron Man themed E ticket attraction.  Now, if that were to go through, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland will be mostly filled with film-franchise based attractions. Only Autopia, The Monorail, and Space Mountain would be non-movie and neither really has much of a story behind it.

Marvel is on the way to Tomorrowland . . . does it fit?

Would you like to see Iron Man find a home here? Should a different attraction go here instead (Tron perhaps)?

Tomorrowland is filled with franchise based movie attractions like this…

And this . . .

There will then be a total of four film franchise attractions inside the boundaries of Tomorrowland; Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters  and the upcoming E-ticket.  But before you go crying foul, lighting the torches and raising the pitchforks, understand that this trend is nothing new.  There have been franchise attractions in Tomorrowland since the beginning. The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea walk-through exhibit stood for 12 years, (1955-1967). Though, until the Eisner era, Tomorrowland was primarily a showcase for futuristic ideas and technologies. Although the Circarama films were not very futuristic, the technology which brought it to you was. Even the Monorail, Autopia and Subs once seemed futuristic (and perhaps the Monorails still do after all these years).

For many of us, it is sad to see Walt’s idea of a bright, hopeful and visionary tomorrow being thrown by the wayside in favor of an easier idea.  An Iron Man attraction is certain to be astounding.  When Imagineering gets something right, they knock it out of the park.  But how will the lore of Tony Stark and Stark Industries dazzle us with a bright and positive outlook on the future?

Attractions like the Monorail, The Peoplemover, Carousel of Progress or even Adventure Through Inner Space invited guests to experience an idealized version of the future in which science fiction became reality.  Guests could experience the impossible or the fantastic by stepping into Space Station X-1 and hover 50 miles above the Earth’s surface, they could stroll through the House of the Future and see what their house might look like in 1987, or they could enter a large telephone booth and call home without the use of a telephone receiver (early speakerphone).

We aren’t saying that Tomorrowland should be one big science fair.  But it has strayed so far from Walt’s original notion that it is more like Sci-Fantasyland these days. And perhaps the time has come for Disney to just level with us and change the name and stated focus of the land once and for all.

The future, experiencing a flight through outer space? We are on the verge of Virgin Galactic taking real passengers into space. It’s still futuristic!

This one is an anomaly. It’s a film, it’s fantasy, but it can hardly be looked at as “Tomorrow”. Unless we assume that our future holds an evil space queen whom can only be subdued by magical dancing.

We’re conflicted not just on Iron Man, but on what Tomorrowland has become in general. The building of this new attraction alone won’t fix this land. We are looking forward to hearing more about the overall plans for Tomorrowland and how it will be given a cohesive theme (whatever that may be).

As a heads up, it was also appears that Fastpass return times will soon be enforced at Disneyland. Since the implementation of the Fastpass ticket system, guests were never told that they were too late for their reservation window.  You could never show up early, but as long as you showed up after your reservation time, Cast Members would allow you to ride without question  Not so now. By the end of the year, cast members will be instructed to enforce the return time window rule.   

How do you find this return time?  Well…

At the entrance to each attraction that utilizes Fast Pass you will see a Stand-by wait time
and a RETURN BETWEEN time. Here we see that they are offering a return time between 1:25pm and 2:25pm

Cast Members will help you locate the Fast Pass Distribution machines. Just scan your regular ticket by inserting it into the machine and you will be given your Fast Pass.

See? Easy! My Fastpass says I can return between 1:25pm and 2:25pm.

This is going to be a hard lesson for us locals to learn after being able to take advantage of the system for so long.  But, really, rules are rules.  Maybe, if used properly, the Fastpass system won’t be such a burden on the park. Only time will tell.  Oh, and send your thoughts, prayers and good vibes to the front line CM’s that are going to have to break the bad news to loads of upset passholders. Yikes, we can only imagine how difficult it’s going to be for the cast and crew of the resort for a while.

The Fantasy Faire Village is showing even more interesting peaks and rooftops as more steel framing has been installed.

The City Hall Facade and nearby restrooms are still under refurbishment as well.  City Hall is open, but if you need to powder your nose, try the restrooms near the Disney Gallery or the ones near the Carnation Cafe.

Some sudden refurbishment has begun on one of the facades for the shops near the Golden Horseshoe.

Work continues on this attraction complex in which the whimsical Casey Jr. Train intertwines with the canals of Storybook Land.  It is rumored that during this refurbishment, OSHA mandated hand rails might be installed on the bridges.  As much as we appreciate OSHA helping to keep us all safe, they have been pushing for some overly aggressive changes to some classic attractions.  Let’s hope for the best.

More upkeep is taking place in ToonTown.  That’s a good thing!  This time it is the restrooms in the center of the land.

Minnie’s house
The landscape work continues near Minnie’s house.

But the hills behind her cute cottage look really bad.

Here we are at Bennie Watch 2012.  So far, Bennie still has NOT returned.  We will keep you posted if we spot him elsewhere in the park.

And now for an ADORABLE random picture:

THAT is what Disneyland is about.

Speaking of the restrooms, work is still going on at the location near the Fantasyland Theatre (aka former Princess Fantasy Faire)

Disney California Adventure continues to persuade the remaining skeptics and is pulling in crowds that often match Disneyland itself.

Construction walls are still up to the right of the entrance where the final entry planers will be built.

Another Random picture that we shot which was too funny to leave out:

Who can come up with the best caption for this photo?

The new Disney California Adventure Christmas Tree will soon be installed in front of Elias and Company in the round planter currently occupied by ficus trees.

Perfect spot

Oh, ficus tree, oh ficus tree, you’ll soon be gone and Christmas-y

Ice Skating is ready to go in Downtown Disney.  Yes, it’s a tie-in for another mid-grade, direct to video animated film, but what a fun novelty for the season. Who remembers the annual ice skating at the Disneyland Hotel before the Neverland Pool was built?

The rink could open any day now for soft openings.  But it will have a grand opening on October 23rd to mark the release of Secret of the Wings.

According to Disney the prices will be
$15 for adults and children
$12 for toddlers
with an additional $3 for skate rentals.

We can’t leave the Downtown Disney area without giving you the latest from the Earl of Sandwich shop.  The intricate paint scheme is a little loud, but somehow it works.

Finally, the interior looks like a real restaurant.

There’s an homage to Compass Books in the wallpaper.

And finally, before the big Christmas Tree is installed, the rug in the center of the Grand Californian is being replaced.  Thankfully the beautiful pattern remains.

This is the second time (we believe) that the carpet has been replaced since the hotel opened. The first was due to a fire in the Christmas Tree a few years ago which caused soot and water damage.

Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company.  We look forward to the future with timid optimism and hope that Walt’s spirit will be retained.  We aren’t sure what to think about Marvel in Disneyland. It’s sort of a worst case scenario for the Disney purists. We’ve all hoped that Disney would reserve Marvel for the Studio parks or for a new super hero theme park. Disneyland is not a museum and we are all in favor of the disappointing Innoventions being replaced. But, if not Marvel, what would you fans like to see built in its place? (keep in mind that the entire building, back stage area, part of Autopia and Sub Lagoon are all part of the expansion area).  That’s a lot of room to build something which might tie Tomorrowland together again.

Just a final tip: If you haven’t yet, take a look at Today’s Dateline Disney World which features images of the newly opened Fantasyland Expansion at Walt Disney World.

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • mratigan

    For the caption
    Love the Benny Watch 2012
    “Why is my iPhone leading me to this Marvel park? I’ve never heard of it!”

  • RX-24

    Excellent update as always.

    Caption: “DUDE! My hands are huge!”

  • Ravjay12

    How do you design the future? As soon as the Imagineers get it completely designed and built (which takes about 4-6 years), it will be outdated! Technology and trends change so much and so fast that another redo would be necessary in 10 years. I love what they did at Paris. They used what people in the 1800′s thought what the future was going to look like to create a retro-fantasy future that feels timeless. Marvel characters have been around forever, and I’m excited to see how they are going to fit it in a new Tomorrowland. Disneyland has always been about escaping what is real, entering another world, being part of a movie experience. Almost all their attractions are based on or inspired by movies. We have technology fairs and expos outside of Disney parks to see the future, and it is no longer necessary to see them at Disneyland. Walt Disney always welcomed change and improving on things, and I think Tomorrowland’s time is done.

    • Disneylandfan85

      I’m not entirely happy with Marvel characters in Disneyland, but maybe it won’t be all bad. It’s not like Marvel is taking over the entire land, only one attraction and a weak one at that.

      Back when Star Tours and other non-Disney-based properties first appeared at the parks, a lot of Disney purists were up in arms over it being there. According to David Koenig in his book “Mouse Under Glass”, they did not like the idea of attractions themed to non-Disney properties there. They accused the Imagineers of becoming lazy and unimaginative. Walt, they cried, wouldn’t have rented (or bought), say, the Muppets, he would have created his own characters.

  • Bigben51602

    Caption: So you’re telling me there’s going to be a man made of iron that shoots light out of these

  • tkkyj

    At least with Iron Man, there is a chance of getting that song that Richard Sherman owned for IM2.

    I’m sure WDI will latch onto all of the similarities to Walt at the Worlds Fair, much like most of us did when we saw it…

    • tkkyj

      Owned = penned

    • Disneylandfan85

      Maybe so. At least that might be a consolation prize for the fans.

  • RosevilleDisfan

    My initial reaction to Ironman in Tommorrowland was, COMPLETE HERESY. However, after reading many of the posts sighting all the other non-Disney attractions that are currently in T-land I am startng to relax over this plan. Maybe Norman is right and perhaps a retheming of T-land is a better option than being against more non-Disney elements in the park. What names or themes could you give the new T-land to make it more cohesive as a whole? What other ideas could be added to create better continuity?

    • lightofdarkness

      Let’s do an attraction by attracion listing at Disneyland and see which lands are the most “franchise” centric, shall we?

      Main Street – Moments with Lincoln, 1 attraction total – non franchise
      Score: 0% franchise

      Adventureland – Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones, Tarzan/Swiss Family Treehouse, 4 attractions total – non franchise, in production film, 4 non Disney films, non disney franchise made into disney film and cartoon series/ disney film
      Score: 50-75% franchise

      New Orleans – Pirates, Haunted Mansion/ Hauted Holiday, 2 attractions total – 4 film franchise based from original ride now converted, bad eddie murphy film based on ride with a redo in production from del torro based on original ride/ franchise holiday take over
      Score: 100% franchise

      Critter Country – Splash Mountain, Winnied the Pooh, 2 attractions total – based off segments from a buried racially charged Song of the South, long held Disney icon based off non-disney books
      Score: 100% franchise (possibly 66% franchise depending on the inclusion of Canoes as

      Critter Country or Tom Sawyer/Frontierland)
      Frontierland/Tom Sawyer – Big Thunder, Columbia, Mark Twain, Canoes, Tom Sawyer/Pirate’s Lair – non franchise, non franchise, non franchise, non franchise, island themed off book franchise with disney films afterwards/pirates franchise takeover of segments
      Score: 20% franchise (25% franchise if you put the Canoes with Critter Country)

      Fantasyland – Cinderella Castle, Snow White’s Adventure, Pinochio, Dumbo, Casey Jr, Storybook Canal, Arthur’s Carousel, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Teacups, Matterhorn, Small World, 12 attractions total – fairytale claimed by disney (many incarnations before and after by others) franchise, fairytale claimed by disney (many incarnations before and after by others) franchise, fairytale claimed by disney (many incarnations before and after by others) franchise, disney original franchise (who else would think up a flying elephant and talking crows?), same disney franchise (my family loves the monkey cage), a miniature tour of many disney franchises, confusing mix of cinderella and sword in the stone none the less a franchise attraction, fairytale claimed by disney (many incarnations before and after by others) franchise, fairytale claimed by disney (many incarnations before and after by others) franchise, based off single segment of the same franchise, non franchise, non franchise
      Score: 83% franchise (81% if you don’t consider the castle an attraction)

      Toontown – Roger Rabbit, Gadget’s Coaster, 2 attractions total – disney original franchise, disney orignal cartoon series franchise
      Score: 100% franchise

      Tomorrowland – Buzz, Star Tours, EO / Honey I Shrunk, Space Mountain, Innoventions / Iron Man, Autopia, Nemo / 20,000 Leagues, 7 attractions total – disney purchased franchise, non disney film and series franchise, non franchise / disney original franchise, non franchise, non franchise / disney purchased franchise, non franchise, disney purchased franchise / disney franchise
      No Iron Man Score: 42% franchise
      Iron Man / No EO Score: 71% franchise

      So… by no means is Tomorrowland any more franchise based than any other land. So stop it, everyone, especially Norman.

      • Disneylandfan85

        I couldn’t have said that better myself. All this whining is really getting tiresome.

      • Internitty

        Pirates and Hanted Mansion are NOT franchise attractions they were attractions long before the films so the franchise has built around them, Chistmas overlay is franchise so at best on a technicallity New Orleans Square is 25% franchise. There is a film coming encompassing the park as a whole and there are Disneyland video games and the original Disneyland television show so by the original logic …Disneyland 100% franchise.

      • Internitty

        Forgot they added Johnny Depp and Davy Jones / Blackbeard to Pirates add 10% more :)

      • OriginalMousekteer

        Don’t dismiss Song of the South as “racially charged” without significant discussion. There is a very vibrant, deep discussion on the history of the Uncle Remus stories which were documented and published by a white author in “dialect” form. I will not and cannot presume to speak for African-Americans on this subject, but I can observe that there are major voices that object to a white man “co-opting” black stories while there are others that recognize that at that time these stories would likely have been lost in their (close to) original form.

        Much of the controversy over the Disney movie was erroneously based on allegations of a black actor who was rejected for the role of Uncle Remus. Furthermore, there was a false allegation that the movie depicted slavery, even though it took place in the post-Civil War era and was none-too-kind to white trash bullies.

        Dismissing SotS as “racially charged” does it a disservice and does nothing to advance intelligent, literate discussion of the subject. To say that its depictions of African-Americans was a product of its time is not an excuse–it’s merely an explanation. If we are to glean any value from it, it must be from discussing it honestly and in its proper context.

        What I would say to other people of European (white) heritage like myself is that we MUST continue to learn–to listen to voices of people of color on these issues and also continue to question our own assumptions.

        But we must also recognize that SotS was a product of its time and has both merits and flaws.

      • quizkid8279

        I love this comment so much.

  • KENfromOC

    Agree with both Ravjay12 & Disneylandfan85 in many ways. This isn’t the 1960′s when technology and science moved at a snails pace and we were smitten by our big corporations and how they could make our lives better. Monsanto? Now the force behind GMO’s and defeating Prop 37 (by example only – not trying to get politcal). Few of us, certainly not those under 30, look towards a “tomorrowland” as some far off future becuase it better happn in a few months. Very few things wow us anymore. Perhaps it is time to end “Tomorrowland” in name and in spirit and go with a theme that is timeless such as the often brought up “Discoveryland” or whatever. Yes, many older folks will cry foul and say how can you eliminate an original land. What I really think it is what Walt would have done as he was always moving forward.

    • Internitty

      I like Ravjay12′s retro futuristic idea I would soooo back that idea!

  • jcruise86

    Caption: “NO, EVIL HAND, whatever it is, Goofy deserves to LIVE!”

    What would I like the Iron Man attraction to be?
    Thanks for asking me!

    I’d like a pre-show with three alternating versions where Tony Stark
    and Dr. David/Bruce Banner demonstrate many advanced scientific concepts in entertaining ways and, yes, things go wrong to their amusement. To “entertain and hope they learn something” (rather than teaching and hope they’re entertained) would keep with the spirit of Innerspace and Walt’s original Tomorrowland. Enlist Cal-Tech interns at Imagineering to help with this.

    For the show (and I know this won’t happen), I’d like Disney to admit that despite RSR, Universal is now at least their equal at attraction building and hire the pros who created Spiderman, Transformers and HP to make the new Ironman attraction. Make it thrilling, but still enjoyable for almost the whole family.

    Have another Peoplemover type attraction where Stark Industries Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) takes us on a tour of Tomorrowland.

    Unblock the Tomorrowland entrance by moving the Astro orbiter and removing the rock work.

    • jcruise86

      I want Hulk to make an appearance during and at the climax of the Iron Man ride.
      Hulk =s fun – appropriate theming,
      and is > theming considerations as 360 America the Beautiful, & America Sings were. Even with Hulk, Tomorrowland could be well over 90% futuristic/innovative.

    • Internitty

      How good would that be to get the people responsible for the latest most innovative attractions at Universal to design the Iron Man attraction, As good looking as Cars Land is it’s not very innovative just rehashes of originally failed Disneyland attractions and Test Track with a Cars Land overlay, time for something truely worthy of Disney, just a pity Universal would have to create it.

      • Rebekkap

        Obviously you haven’t ridden on RSR. It’s not remotely just test track with an overlay – there’s a whole, beautifully done, dark section of the ride, two different options you go through to prepare for the race, and the race itself, which is much better than test track.

  • mratigan

    i think the only way to fix the land is to make it themed to a industry park

  • bearytrek


    “Which finger did I lose?”

  • aquaboi77

    I’m not the biggest Iron Man fan, but the movies were fine in my opinion. I will say, that I believe Iron Man is the perfect fit for Tomorrow Land. Just think about all the futuristic technology and cool gadgets that can be used by tying it to Stark Industries. And then Iron Man can swoop in for the entertainment factor. I know the kids will love it, and if they put the same attention to detail as in Carsland, the adults will love it too. Edu-tainment, that’s what Walt was all about.

    • aquaboi77

      I agree with me. I made a really good point.

      • aquaboi77

        That is so kind of you to say.

  • yoyoflamingo

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Fastpass changes affect the Gumball Rally this year. (Yes, I’m already thinking about it!)

    Wonderful report and photos, as always Norm! And you’re right: the picture of the girl with Dale is exactly what Disneyland is supposed to be about

  • Tanthus

    TomorrowLand can’t be done today. Every two years I get a new cel phone and it is 10x better than the last cel phone. Every 4 years new video game systems come out. LEDs/Flat screens technology can all change tomorrow. And you the consumer can get all of this unlike the past where even microwave ovens were too expensive for 10 to 20 years after the invention.

    You can’t use technology to look futuristic anymore. If technology is available it becomes so cheap so quickly everyone can have it.

    So here is your options: Up date it every 2 years like your cell phone, Get rid of tomorrowland, Go with fantasy and future stuff that will likely never happen. Movies are a great way of dealing with that. Peoples perception of what the “rules” are are already established, you can make a reality from the perception. Like “Star Wars’, that reality is already around in peoples mind, but doesn’t really exist. But you can’t start from scratch with that, people will not understand the reality that you are trying to present.

    • aquaboi77

      I agree with Tanthus!

    • OriginalMousekteer

      Three choices: Tokyo Disneyland’s Tomorrowland (late retro WDW Tomorrowland taken from 1971), Disneyland Paris’s Discoveryland (Back to the Future/beyond retro) or Hong Kong Disneyland;s Tomorrowland (alien spaceport).

  • splash114

    We visited WDW this summer and were instructed that the fastpass return times would be enforced. We had no problem with this and planned accordingly. It worked well. My thought then was that DLR would start enforcing the return times soon, and they are. I think this will make the fast pass system more successful. I understand that some will be upset with this practice, but they will adapt.

    • Disneylandfan85

      I am a little disappointed that the Fastpass rules will be more enforced, but I’ll get over it quickly.

  • RSZero1

    Caption – My Lifeclock is blinking! It can’t be time for Carrousel, they told us you wont age in here!

    • Internitty

      LOL best one yet, love a good Logan’s Run reference!