July 4, 2013

Disneyland Attraction Posters: The Tomorrowland Collection


Continuing on to the last post of the Disneyland Attraction Posters series, it's time to present Tomorrowland!

Back in 1955 when Disneyland opened, it was pretty evident that Walt's park would set aside space for a land devoted to the future. His ABC Television show included a segment, many actually, piquing viewer's interest, readying them for a visit to the world of the future.

In contrast to the incredible mashup of architecture and themes found in Disneyland's Tomorrowland right now, at opening it was more unified in spirit but still quite the mess.

There just wasn't enough money to truly finish this part of the park, so the Imagineers made due with corporate exhibits and decorated buildings with a variety of banners and bunting to make up for what no money couldn't buy. It worked for awhile because the idea of a theme park seemed so groundbreaking... and because Walt's enthusiasm for and skill in marketing the park made a powerful one-two punch.


Although it was quite tame by today's thrill-seeking standards, TransWorldAirlines' (TWA) Rocket to the Moon was considered one of the high tech successes of the park and the centerpiece of Tomorrowland.  The giant, iconic, rocket ship stood tall in the sky, promising and delivering an out of this world experience.



Space StationX-1 gave guests a chance to see America from a satellite view, something quite uncommon even for today. It was a simple exhibit, but the attention to detail in theme and a smart presentation created another Tomorrowland attraction worth visiting. It was one of the smaller attractions that contributed to giving the park its charm, but it was groundbreaking in thought. Decades before the premier of Google Earth!



The only original attraction still remaining in the land, and an all-time favorite of the younger set of guests, Autopia, was a breakout smash. Who could resist driving their own car on the freeways of tomorrow? Every kid and swinging dad (shown above) just had to get in on the action! 

In 2016, Honda took over sponsorship of Autopia.
Photo from Mint Crocodile at Magic Eye.

It became so popular that a mini-version (Jr. Autopia) was built and eventually one for the Fantasyland area as well. I still find it great fun when I do take the time to ride during an off season visit when the kiddos are back in school.

To fill out the opening day attraction roster, a precursor to CircleVision 360 was developed, featuring nine instead of twelve screens. Finally, the Imagineers mined the giant sea monster from the very popular Disney film, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to create a walk through exhibit. The poster (first image) bears some resemblance to the one designed for a walk through Nautilus attraction designed for Disneyland Paris almost 40 years later. (the attraction in the French park is a must-do for any fan of the film or Jules Verne! In a small lagoon right next to Space Mountain, it's a pretty special gem, though often overlooked as just a set piece.)

Later in 1955, once the park became famous and a mecca for tourists, smaller attractions came to the land of the future to help with crowds. These were not headliners, like the Flight Circle, the House of the Future, and the Tomorrowland Boats.  None of them warranted an attraction poster for more publicity.



Within the next year, Walt began to fulfill has promise that "Disneyland would never be completed", and a couple of new and instantly beloved attractions were added to Tomorrowland.  

The Skyway debuted, provided scenic views for guests going to and from Tomorrowland into Fantasyland. From opening day to 1994, this attraction pleased crowds, and the management was rewarded with long lines at both stations. As the park grew, the skyway provided everything from a safe look at the thrill ride (Matterhorn Bobsleds) to advertising for the New Fantasyland of 1983. Due to changing times, guest manners, and legal eagles, the attraction ultimately displeased the corporate lawyers always on a lookout for whatever disaster could happen. It's loss created a void never met in any other attraction.


Found this rare poster on the Gorillas Don't Blog site.
With one of the briefest fully operating attractions ever to appear at Disneyland, the Viewliner was the predecessor to the monorail. It lasted about a year. Riding alongside the Disneyland Railroad at parts, it was futuristic looking but destined for the history books very quickly.



The other high flying ride was AstroJet, an instantly popular spinner attraction, its iconic shape and style piercing the Tomorrowland sky in one variation or another ever since. In its latest incarnation, the attraction has been grounded, thereby losing much of its appeal, becoming a ride for pre-schoolers versus thrill seekers.



All these smaller attractions lended charm to a formerly barren area, but in 1959, three major attractions stole the spotlight, becoming fan favorites that lasted for decades beyond their debut.

The Submarine Voyage launched a cult following- and many variations on this attraction exist or have existed in other Disney parks. A journey through "Liquid Space" was irresistible, proving so popular, another version Walt Disney World's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, made the roster for opening day attractions at the Magic Kingdom in 1971. Naturally, it's also the centerpiece attraction of the Jules Verne themed Mysterious Island at Tokyo Disney Sea.



Also coming on line was the Disneyland-Alweg Monorail, which is still in operation to this day. At opening, the trains journeyed right to the Disneyland Hotel, but now due to the reconfiguration of the land around it, trains glides past California Adventure and into the  Downtown Disney station. The station location hasn't changed, it's just no longer part of the hotel.

As the poster above shows, the third major "E Ticket" attraction to be launched at the same time was the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Its location has fluctuated between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Park enthusiasts debate which of the two sides of the attraction provide the greatest thrill.  (To see the poster with a designation of Fantasyland, look here.)



A smaller attraction opened in 1960, and it only lasted a few years. The Art of Animation exhibit gave guests a chance to see for themselves what it took to create the beloved Disney characters. It would be a precursor to a more detailed attraction that would open at Disney-MGM Studios in 1989.  A special thanks to Gorillas Don't Blog website, where I found this poster and the one from the Viewliner.



The only Tomorrowland attraction to be revived in revised form in California Adventure first came to surface in 1961: The Flying Saucers. Operational problems derailed the long term life of the attraction, but it was beloved by a young John Lasseter. So enamored was he, that when it came to light that his Cars franchise would be the inspiration at the struggling park, John thought it a perfect fit as Luigi's Flying Tires

Tomorrowland mostly rested as is until the big redo of 1967.  And a big redo it was! Beginning a trend that still holds power today, the Imagineers redesigned the Land of the Future using much of the existing buildings and layout of space.


Fan favorite and the original Disneyland make out spot, Adventure Thru Inner Space drew crowds almost instantly- partially due to its location but mostly due to its imaginative plot and execution. This attraction holds the distinction of being the first ride to use the Omnimover system, a couple of years before its use in The Haunted Mansion. Even though it was a corporate promotional tool for Monsanto, the journey through the microscopic world of the snowflake was difficult to resist. It had it all: stunning atmosphere, incredible storyline, a mesmerizing musical soundtrack, and a great narration. All said, even its cutting edge replacement still left many fans wanting this old school attraction.




American Journeys played in the theater for as season as well!

In the new Tomorrowland, a full Circle-Vision 360 film finally debuted, America the Beautiful. Honoring the States, guests were taken to far reaching locations and sights with action happening all around them. A different variation of this film came about later, American Journeys. As with a few of the attractions, new posters made their debut with the new incarnation of future lands.



Carousel of Progress. What is there to say about this iconic attraction? Doing a bit of research, I discovered two color versions of the attraction poster. My gut tells me that neither is in the original color scheme. Anyone have one in the right colors?



It was 1967, and the first man to step on the Moon wouldn't accomplish the task until 1969, so the Imagineers felt there was life left in the original concept. The earlier Rocket to the Moon changed its name to Flight to the Moon, and eventually to Mission to Mars. New technology improved the attraction and a sleek new exterior replaced the landmark rocket, itself returning to the 1998 incarnation of the land.




Like your Peoplemover with Tron? 
It didn't last for too long but it did add a new element to the attraction.

Perhaps the attraction hard-core Disneyland fans most miss is the PeopleMover. And for good reason! What could be more enjoyable on a hot summer day than gliding above it all, watching the crowds below as well as viewing the sparkling Submarine lagoon? Not much, actually. The ill-fated replacement attraction, Rocket Rods had an element of fun, but it lasted on the roster for about 30 seconds. Pity- but glad I rode it while it was still around. 


High atop Rocket Tower Plaza lies the Rocket Jets. Oh yeah, that's in Florida's Magic Kingdom! In Disneyland, the AstroJet didn't just change names. In the '98 redo, the jets were grounded. While the design seemed to be an up to date improvement, the placement ruined something iconic and special. I've ridden once since its been misplaced, and I probably won't again until I have a small child in tow.


Michael Jackson and Disney- a natural fit?! Well, the suits thought so under the reign of Michael Eisner, and this strange film came to the park in 1986. 

EO in a slightly richer color pallet.

It was part of an era that saw other companies' properties arrive at Disneyland. In Adventureland, that meant the excellent addition of the Indiana Jones Adventure, while in 1987, Tomorrowland received the ground-breaking Star Tours. 

Above, the original poster for  1987 version of Star Tours.  It was groundbreaking then, George Lucas brought magic to the parks in a form that the current generation understood all too well! Disney was passé. Star Wars was anything but. Version two was promised but wouldn't come until too many years later.


Tomorrowland 1998 opened to mixed reviews, but this nice poster (above) communicated the fresh update- even if the Rocket Rods didn't last long.

The next era of changes brought Pixar/Disney animated characters to the parks, changing the feel and focus of Tomorrowland even more. A little orange fish arrived to make a big splash.


What would Tomorrowland be without a little controversy? When Tony Baxter led a team of Imagineers to bring Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage to the long empty lagoon, some hailed it as a necessary move to save the submarines while others cried about the advancing infestation of animated characters into a land dedicated to the worlds of the future. Both points valid from this man's perspective! It may have been a necessary move to save the lagoon, but I think the end result is lacking. I've ridden twice. Both time, the kids on board were loving it- and I enjoyed it but missed what used to be. Filmed fish just didn't do it for me. In fact, I prefer the similar attraction to Epcot Center instead.





Here are the new posters for Star Tours ("2"), the Adventure Continues. After years of suggesting new destinations because it was an easy format to update, the suits finally delivered in the 2000's! All a great lead in to the proposed Star Wars changes coming to Tomorrowland in 2015 forward.


The August 2015 D23 announcement of Star Wars Land at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World also brings the Star Wars themed HyperSpace Mountain to California. The poster premiered at the exposition.

This post wraps up the look at Disneyland attraction posters. What comes next in this series? I just don't know, but stay tuned- and thanks for your patience on this last one.

Special thanks to Daveland and Yesterland for some of the images- and to Gorillas Don't Blog site for the rare Viewliner and Art of Animation ones..

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

2 comments:

Marisa Rinkel said...

I knew you liked Disney, I just didn't know you were an encyclopedia. Now that I live near Disneyland I should learn all of this. Where, oh where, is a Colorado girl going to learn all about California when my favorite Californians are living in my beloved Colorado?

You should come for a visit. With Mark going off to college we will have plenty of room for the whole family.

Mark Taft said...

So fun to hear from you!
Growing up in California, Disneyland and the beach are my true loves from living there.
Do some searches on the blog, you might see some familiar faces! :)
I'll be sending you a private gmail message...