While never said outright by him, it’s a popular belief that Tomorrowland was one of Walt Disney’s favorite lands insomuch that he was forever the futurist with his views on what we, as a society, could achieve if we really put our minds to it. In a rather sad twist of irony however, Tomorrowland has since become something of a struggle to maintain that visionary view of a not-so-far-off future. In Disneyland, it had been renovated no less than three times whilst the one located in the Magic Kingdom is now in its second generation with a possible third not too far away.
Heck, there was even a tongue-in-cheek nod towards the “age” of Tomorrowland in the film Meet the Robinsons where we see a brief view of a theme park aptly named “Todayland.”
Attraction-wise, Tomorrowland is… something of a mixed bag. There is excitement to be found for all ages and places to just sit back and chill as well. Some of these attractions though are admittedly quite dated in either their presentation or their actual age such as one of my personal favorites, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.
As its name implies, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a stage performance wherein the audience is rotated around four distinct acts which take place in four major parts of history featuring the, somewhat stereotypical, American family.
Act One takes place at the turn of the 20th century, specifically 1904, where the most advanced piece of technology is a pump for water in the kitchen and a telephone. Act Two takes in the 1920’s place when electricity became widespread and Charles Lindbergh would attempt his record flight. Act Three is in the 1940’s where dishwashers have since become a thing alongside household television sets which, let me tell you, were ridiculously big for how small the screen was. The final act takes place in the far future and is, admittedly, quite dated as of…
Gosh, I’d say half a decade now? While no date is said outright the technologies displayed by the family include, voice activated electronics such as the Christmas lights on a tree and an oven, virtual reality video game that uses hand and body motions to play instead of a joystick or buttons, and a self flushing toilet.
… Yeah, okay, that last one is probably a lot old than a decade but still, it’s kind of hilarious to see that the “far future” is pretty much today.
Next up, as far as age is concerned, is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, or simply PeopleMover, for short. It is, quite literally, a small tour around Tomorrowland from a second story point of view and shows off some unique perspectives into the attraction Space Mountain and a few stores as well. The real breadwinner though is the original conception model of the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, which would eventually become the theme park EPCOT.
The Astro Orbiter is another carousel ride that takes place in the air but contrary to its brethren in Adventureland and Fantasyland, this one takes place sixty feet off the ground and while it’s no more dangerous than its fellows, I sincerely don’t recommend this ride for those who have a slight fear of heights.
Speaking of old school rides to probably avoid, there’s the Tomorrowland Speedway, which does no live up to its name at all let me tell you. This ride is one wherein anyone of all ages can drive their own motorized vehicle but with several quid pro quo attached to it. First, there’s a track that the car must follow along and while you can turn anyway you want, you’ll still hit the bloody thing and it’ll jar ya something fierce. Second, the cars don’t go that fast and if you think regular rush hour traffic is bad wait until you’re stuck behind a kid too short to really reach the gas pedal. I’d go on but really, I’d rather not.
Space Mountain, ah yes, a full enclosed roller coaster that takes place within near total darkness and has, officially, no actual story behind it. There is a graphic novel adaptation of this ride but as far as I have heard, that’s all that there is to it. The ride itself doesn’t necessitate a story really, it’s a roller coaster based on rockets shooting through the stars, what more do you need? I do warn however that if you happen to be wearing a hat, I’d recommend keeping it in hand or giving it to those in your party that aren’t going on the ride. Believe me, you will lose it.
From the so-called relics of the past, we go to those of the future attractions. Ah, that is to say, those that are not more than a decade or so old. First up is a ride that is both incredibly entertaining and unbelievably aggravating, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
This ride is a shooting ride wherein two riders are aboard a “Star Cruzer” and are tasked by Buzz Lightyear to combat and stop the forces of the Evil Emperor Zurg from stealing more batteries, ah, ahem, that is to say crystallic fusion cells. Each rider is given a laser gun, attached to the headboard of the vehicle, and must take aim at the specifically marked weaknesses of Zurg’s forces, which are shaped in a “Z.” The Cruzer takes tally of the points of the players and by the rides end they can see where they rank among their fellow cadets.
Sounds rather fun doesn’t it? Ah, but I haven’t touched upon the aggravating part now have I? The ride is called Space Ranger Spin for a reason and that reason is the shared joystick that causes the cruisers to spin around left or right and must be shared between the two riders. Let me tell you, there is no faster way to start a competition between friends and family than putting them in such a position as this.
Next up we have the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, a actual live stage performance featuring a wide cast of monsters. Well, wide in so much that three types of monsters show up though their names tend to differ. Each monster focuses on a specific type of humor and interacts with the audience to varying degrees. Trust me when I say that no two shows are ever the same and it’s extremely rare to leave it without having laughed yourself silly.
Last, but certainly not least, is Stitch’s Great Escape! wherein we the audience get to see a… slightly different take on how Stitch managed to escape Galactic Prison for the first time prior to his recapture in the original film. The ride itself consists of guests being seat, and strapped down, in a teleportation chamber wherein Stitch is teleported and quickly reeks merry havoc about the place with guests reacting to his motions and movements. A… small word of warning though, there’s a part wherein Stitch finds and devours someone’s chili dog and burps against the back of your neck. When that part comes up lean forward or that smell will stay with your for hours afterward.
Sadly, it would seem that Stitch’s time in Tomorrowland is drawing to a close as the ride has since become a seasonal operation ride in that it will be open depending on rate of attendance so likely the busiest times of the year. There are rumors circulating that the characters from Wreck-It Ralph may make a home in Tomorrowland but as of this post, there is no official confirmation from Disney Execs.
Shopping wise, Tomorrowland doesn’t offer much in the way of stores with only four in all. Merchant of Venus, Mickey’s StarTraders, Tomorrowland Power & Light, and Buzz’s Star Command. Admittedly, most of these shops are geared towards technology in that a lot of gear for smartphones and the like can be found here alongside products pertaining to the more “futuristic” Disney characters and franchises, most notably Star Wars.
As to food, there’s a few places of note with one shining star amidst them. There’s the Cool Ship and Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies which consists mostly of treats with the Cool Ship in particular serving one of the best fruit smoothies I’ve ever had. There’s the Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe which serves full meals but, like Stitch’s Great Escape!, is only opened seasonally. There’s the aptly named Lunching Pad at Rockettower Plaza, located just beneath the PeopleMover and Astro Orbiter, which serves the aforementioned hotdogs and the like.
The true shining star however is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café which serves a wide range of food and features a live stage performance from a visiting alien named Sunny Eclipse who primarily sings altered renditions of popular Earth songs and offers a few comedic tales of his escapades through the cosmos.
As to the cast of characters that can be found in Tomorrowland, I warn that, much like Fantasyland and Frontierland, there is no set guarantee as to when, or whom, you might run into but as of today the sightings include Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Lilo & Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible (Elasti-Girl), Frozone from The Incredibles.
Not much I admit but hey, that’s in the present. Who knows who’ll arrive in the future?