January 20, 2009

Return to tomorrow

It might have been the most popular land in the Magic Kingdom.

Space Mountain was its big draw, of course, but that was hardly the limit of Tomorrowland’s new frontier. Whether you were cruising beneath the polar ice cap, exploring the vast reaches of inner space, or time traveling through America’s musical heritage, you could count on finding something unique when you turned right as you reached the end of Main Street.

There was a special kind of feeling in yesterday’s Tomorrowland. Distinct from the “world’s fair” atmosphere exuded by the “golden ears” version and nothing at all like the misguided offering of today, the 60s-80s Tomorrowland radiated a wonderful sort of accessible modernism. Futuristic but not enough to be intimidating, it offered an optimistic silver and blue welcome that floated out of PeopleMover vehicles as upbeat jazz and moved across the Anaheim sky carried by Rocket Jets, Skyway buckets, and sleek Monorails.

Tomorrowland never failed to represent the best of Disneyland. As the only land not tied to a specific temporal identity, it was somehow more connected with guests than all the others. I think maybe that was the reason for it’s popularity. Its futurism actually presented guests with the opportunity to transform the present into something better.

As guests passed by Mary Blair’s charming murals, they entered a ”Small World” for grown-ups, one filled not only with promises of a better tomorrow, but with possibilities of a better today. If you rode the PeopleMover when it existed, thinking about that fifteen-minute trip might give you a good sense of what I mean. It forced you to slow down, to appreciate the present moment. In that way, it gave you the means to make the future better than it might otherwise have been.

Other parts of Disneyland still do that. The Mark Twain and the Disneyland Railroad, for example, offer similar grand circle tours. But so much of the old Tomorrowland did it, from CircleVision to America Sings to the Space Stage. It really felt like a land of hope and promise.

That was then and this is now, of course.

But isn’t this most historic Inauguration Day an ideal time for a return to tomorrow?


Viewliner Ltd. said...

Tommorowland was a very special place. My first visit was in 1957. Then it was a place of future possibilities and dreams of what could be.

It has since failed miserably to achieve those goals - but then times change.

Having visited DL every year since 1957, it is still my favorite place of all and always will be.

Thanks for the great articles you write, they are appreciated.

Yellows said...

My pleasure! Hope you keep the Viewliner running on and on.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up -- the future isn't here yet!