February 13, 2011

Full circle

I remember my favorite part of the "grand circle tour of Tomorrowland" that you used to be able to take as coming toward the end, as the PeopleMover—"the first system of its kind in the world"—emerged into the sunlight after passing through CircleVision and looped back toward the Rocket Jets:

As we pass above Tomorrowland's entrance, you can see the heart of Disneyland. It's the Plaza. Gateway to the themed lands in the Magic Kingdom.

Such vistas are largely absent from Disneyland today. Even if the PeopleMover were still go-go-going Goodyear along its track, you couldn't see the same panorama because of the blockage separating Tomorrowland from the Hub. There's no real way to get an overview of the Park, to take in the whole of the Magic Kingdom like you once could. The best vehicles for presenting that experience, as well as for the achieving the practical detail of moving large numbers of guests relatively large distances, were the Skyway and the PeopleMover.

It's been a long time since anyone called Disneyland “probably the best example of an urban environment where people are treated in a humane way." We had that with the PeopleMover—a transportation system that suggested possibilities that locations outside the berm seemingly couldn't imagine. It delivered more than entertainment—but it's been decades since WED innovation powered anything like a working system for moving people cleanly and efficiently through cities.

If Hyperion days are in full Silly Symphony swing across the way, why can't we look forward to one of the best parts of our yesterdays in Tomorrowland? I mean, come on. Why not take all of that Jules Verne stuff and put it where it belonged in the first place—Discovery Bay? Can you imagine how excited you'd be to see a proper new land and Tomorrowland restored to present an even brighter vision of the future?

One of the days, of course, the old track will probably vanish like the cables did. Until then, I'll still hope to hear the PeopleMover's jazzy little soundtrack bouncing along again.