There have been a lot of posts about what a reimagineered Tomorrowland might be like. While many of the ideas presented offer exciting options, I believe more is needed to make Tomorrowland what it should be. To start, let’s go back to basics. First and foremost, a theme park and the “lands” within it should transport visitors to another place and time. All the lands in Disneyland accomplish this with the exception of Tomorrowland. When you are in Adventureland, you’re in the jungle; Frontierland, in the old west, etc. But, Tomorrowland has always had more the feel of a World’s Fair – rides and exhibits housed in sorta-modern structures. You don’t really feel like you’re in the future or in any particular place for that matter. You don’t have a sense of place or time. So, that’s what needs to be fixed first.
My vision of Tomorrowland takes visitors to a deep-space, space station, orbiting a distant planet “in a galaxy far, far away” at a time in the future when space travel is common. Most of Tomorrowland will be enclosed. This enclosed part will serve as the interior of our deep-space, space station. Think of this section of Tomorrowland like Tom Sawyer Island. Like the rafts that take visitors to Tom Sawyer Island, people will have to be transported to our space station. We’ll accomplish this with the use of “Interstellar Gateways.” To get to the enclosed part of Tomorrowland – our space station – you’ll have to enter through one of two Interstellar Gateways, one located at the Main Street hub (where the to-be-removed Astro Orbiter is now) and the other on the back side of the land. You’ll travel back from the space station in the same fashion. (See modified Tomorrowland satellite photo below: The light blue area represents the area that will be enclosed – the space station. The lime green buildings house our Interstellar Gateways. The Peoplemover (yes, it’s back!) will also pass through its own set of Interstellar Gateways as the vehicles pass from the interior of the space station back to earth and vise-versa.)
The buildings that house the Interstellar Gateways (see crude picture below) will be like spaceports, with gates for departing and arriving visitors. The gateway itself will be a tunnel of sorts with mist screens separating one side from the other. In addition, the tunnel could have light patterns projected on the walls and perhaps a very wide moving sidewalk that actually takes you to the other side. The gateways would operate continually so as to not restrict traffic into and out of the station (i.e. land).
So, now we have a place and time. Inside our space station, let’s call it Galaxy 12 Space Port, we have our three existing space rides – Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, and Space Mountain. But, Space Mountain is going to have to be renamed to Star Speeders, or a similar name to fit the story. All these rides offer visitors a space experience that already begins in space, right? So, the story of launching off a space station fits. Buzz Lightyear is a little bit of a stretch in that it’s based on an animated character, but we can make it fly in order to keep costs down for this Tomorrowland makeover. Captain EO leaves the scene, replaced by some small dark ride or other suitable attraction that fits the space station theme. The Peoplemover returns, despite the high costs to bring it up to code and regulations. The entrance and exit to the ride will be within the space station and the ride vehicles will be visible to guests inside the station (at least for the inside part of the ride), adding kinetic energy to feel of the inside of the station. Inoventions will also depart, giving way to a new attraction, perhaps returning to a carousel theater type ride where guests can preview other worlds they can travel to using the Interstellar Gateways – a type of travel show depicting scenes from these worlds and featuring audioanimatronic beings and creatures.
The big make over for the land will involve creating the “look” within the confines of our station. The exterior of the attractions, shops, and restaurants on the station’s promenade will need to look uniform, futuristic, and convey the feeling of being on a deep-space, space station. There should be huge view screens on the ceiling that show the stars, with space ships cruising by from time to time. Perhaps even a view screen set in the ground that people walk on, which shows below the planet that we orbit. Station announcements (departing Star Tours flights, Interstellar Gateway announcements, etc.) will be broadcast periodically on speakers. Eating establishments like Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and the Tomorrowland Terrace (to be renamed) should have “window seats,” with views, again, of space and the planet below. Think about the best eating places in Disneyland. They all share wonderful ambiance and great views. Hungry Bear Restaurant looks out over the Rivers of America. Blue Bayou gives you a table on the bayou at night (even during the day!). And, Flo’s V8 Café has a view of the Cadillac Range. But, the current restaurants in Tomorrowland offer only the feel of a fast-food court in the mall. Views of space, departing and arriving spacecraft, and a planet below as you dine would surely make for a unique eating experience in these restaurants.
In my scenario, the rest of Tomorrowland – the “outdoor part” – will remain, for now, as it is, though we will replace the gas-powered Autopia cars with electric ones immediately! The subs will stay, with the beautiful lagoon as important, in my mind, as the ride itself. So, that’s the plan. What do you think?