Disneyland and the Future of Tomorrowland

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

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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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  • eicarr

    What would Disney have said about Honey I Shrunk the Audience or Innovations?

    Iron Man has that cool 50′s Tomorrowland vibe from the Stark Expo. The Marvel movies are becoming more and more alien based and that’s what tomorrowland needs. Alien fantasy will take longer to become dated that concepts of future tech.

    What made me sick was the infusion of pocohantus into frontierland stores and winnie the pooh into critter country. I like real world elements in the park and its great and refreshing to have real world elements. Putting a bad ass character from Marvel to draw all ages (including parents) should be applauded. I’m just so thankful we aren’t only getting a high priced beauty and the beast restaurant and other areas aimed to place me into the realm of a princess.

  • mksgrist

    Caption: “Made in China? Must be Disney product….”

  • mbyrd

    “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.”

    Don’t forget that Astro Orbitor isn’t based on a franchise either. It’s a pointless ride (Dumbo with rockets really) and it should go, but just as a factual statement it’s one of the rides in Tomorrowland that doesn’t have a movie behind it.

    I also really think that Nemo should just be classified as Fantasyland. I mean subs aren’t futuristic and Nemo doesn’t even really claim to be. It is right there on the border of the two lands, so I think they should just lump it into Fantasyland where it belongs.

  • sonnyk155

    Caption: This hand. This hand. This magic hand that starts all the rides, takes all the fast passes, and runs the train……is magic. This MAGNIFICENT hand of a Disney Cast Member.

  • brianpinsky

    It is time for a major over haul of TL, TT, and MS. Tomorrowland is and ever since 2001 been an empty story that they try to fix in small parts but just does not do a thing but contiue guests. Toon Town is just becoming a great big mantince problem. The problem started over at Chip’s and Dales and has moved across the land with the safty problems. Main Street is in definate need of expandtion with this side street, I think the putting it on the west side where they already on busy nights open this way up to get Fantasmic guests out faster and moving the docks for Jungle Cruise is small burden than to change the staging area for the parade. Also the demostration for Next Gen Fastpass this week at MK gives me hope about the main enterence at DLR but not about the usage in the park. The idea of not handing your pass/ticket to a CM to get in but having people do it on thier own sounds awsome. My only question how will it work for children? An adult figuring out how to insert it into the turn style is one thing but asking a 5 year old to do it as well or having them enter the park before the adult and not running off when they see one of the charaters is just asking for trouble. I don’t think the CM are going to be able to handel Fastpass when the bar comes down. And many rookie CM are still going allow the guests with expire pass through because there is no punishment and the rules will be laxed again. This is going to a very had lesson for TDA that what they do is not what is pratical in practice. The CM on the front lines are going to go pratical everytime and not the orders from TDA. When was the last time TDACM has been a frontline CM in the park.

  • Internitty

    The captioning picture I’ve noticed no one has a caption based on the fact the guy has 6 fingers

    • Bronco21

      No he doesn’t. His shirt may look like an extra finger, but he only has 5.

  • apatten22

    Caption: This is my best John Cena impression … You can’t see me!

  • LoveStallion

    I think we can almost guarantee that Iron Man will be in the same vein as Harry Potter or Transformers. Disney knows it is suffering without a similar attraction under its belt, and Iron Man lends itself pretty well to that.

    Plus, they won’t build a coaster right next to another coaster, and they won’t put in a pure simulator when Star Tours is right up the road.

    And good riddance to Innoventions. Long overdue.

  • troyer

    Interesting that the near virtual certainty of the subs removal wasn’t mentioned. Why the removal of such a popular attraction? Simply, it is a(greedy)cost cutting move, given the high maintenance cost of the attraction. And as we’ve seen since the ’80′s, the profit motive reigns supreme(unfortunately)at Disney. All other considerations far and away rank second. Sickening to see Walt’s genius so denigrated by Disney corporate executives/accountants with so little appreciation of the Disney genius/magic. I urge everyone to make your complaints heard at Guest Relations and to cast members such as at the(now virtually non-existent)Penny Arcade. If no one complains, expect more greedy cost cutting changes throughout the park.

  • Aotphks

    Caption: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”

    In regards to fastpass times being enforced, I am glad they will be. Expecting to ride and enter the fastpass queue (and being given permission by employees to do so) was simply abusive and a disservice to those who stood in the stand by lines. I understand that many will argue that getting a fastpass was a service available to all visitors, but once fastpass distribution ends, those who didn’t have the chance to get one were at a disadvantage, period.
    My family and I never abused this priviledge when we visit the Disney parks. We return at the time posted on our tickets. Trust me when I say.. it’s not that difficult to do.
    I say…Play by the rules, or eliminate the fastpass system entirely.

  • DisneylandManFan

    Caption: “Yes, Supreme Leader Iger. Resistance is futile.” ;-)

  • quizkid8279

    Does no one else see the irony in this caption?

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

  • Fortune Red

    Yes, Tomorrowland would benefit from a complete overhaul to give it a cohesive story and commanding presence. Heck, I remember thinking Tomorrowland was outdated when I was a kid in the 80′s. But what are the chances Disney is going to drop that kind of coin? I’ll just be happy to get a new, expensive, well themed E-ticket, as Disney has had tight purse strings regarding those type of attractions in recent decades on the Anaheim property (Indy 1995 through Radiator Springs Racers in 2012 ?, or arguably Tower of Terror in 2004?). The land is a hodge-podge of styles and themes, and Iron Man definitely seems more futuristic than most aspects of the area in it’s current state. Plus, most pre-teens and teens these days just see Tomorrowland as the ‘cool’ area with the ‘big kid’ rides. The Ironman attraction will just add to that reputation. While it won’t fix the area, there’s no risk in making it worse.
    Although, truth be told, they could replace Innoventions with a museum on the history of urinal cakes and it would be a HUGE improvement!

  • Skimbob

    I personally would destroy Innoventions, Nemo and Autotopia and replace that area with something more like a Star Wars land. It is still futuristic. It makes me think of Avatar land at Animal Kingdom. If you could create the forest and the Ewoks from Star Wars it would be really cool. I just don’t think Marvel really fits with the overall park. We definately need a change in that part of the park so any change will be an improvement.

  • dizneydomenic

    Not sold on Marvel in the Park at ALL. I’m all for pulling innoventions out of the building. It was a waste of the space from day one. I just can’t believe they haven’t come up with a better show idea to utilize the carousel theater! It’s a unique building (1 of 2) in Disney theme Parks. Come on Guys, Walt new he had a great idea…wheres the imagination?? They want to update Tomorrowland …im all for it.. The starcade too is a waste of space now upper and lower level.. The people mover tracks and ridiculous waste of space above it that spins every once in awhile to music…. what gives?? There IS a lot of fixes needed… Tomorrowland lost its kinetic energy when the carousel of progress/america sings and both skyway and people mover were pulled… I miss that world on the move… Tomorrowland was always the happening place in the 1960′s to 1990′s… then more attractions got pulled than replaced.