March 17, 2016

The Disney Concept Art That Started It All

The year was 1990, and I was strolling Disneyland one afternoon with my young family. We had walked into Tomorrowland to take in the Autopia and let the kiddos try their hands behind the wheel.

Next to the Carousel Theater, once home of the Carousel of Progress and America Sings, was a billboard for a new attraction called Plectu's Intergalactic Revue. For some strange reason, I snapped this photo of the concept art... and held on to it for many years.

When I began the Insights blog, I knew Disney fans would find this piece of unbuilt history of interest. Boy, was I right! Within days of first posting it in March of 2008, my humble photograph showed on on blogs and websites all over the world. And it's still being  reposted to this day. Glad I took the photo!

The model for the new Carousel building.
Photographer unknown.

I cannot tell you who did the artwork. I will say, I have enlarged it and attempted to fix some of the elements to be as close to the imagined piece of art I saw it in my mind to be. Click on it to enlarge it.

Much like the two shows before it- expertly designed by Imagineer Marc Davis- Plectu's was to be an Audio-Animatronic comedy musical show and a core but small part of a new alien infested Tomorrowland dubbed Tomorrowland 2055

The less friendly Alien Encounter.

In fact, the Magic Kingdom in Florida's beloved (or reviled) Alien Encounter was also planned for the redesign. (And is it just me, or does the top of the building look much like the centerpiece that replaced the Rockets Jets high in the sky in the 1998 version of the Land of the Future?)

Florida's Tomorrowland changed from this... this.

Disneyland was not so fortunate with their redo in 1998,
when plans for the much more expensive 2055 version were tossed out in favor of this.

One of few pieces of artwork seen for the Plectu characters.

Around this time, Michael Eisner and company took at long, hard look at the attractions that were crowd pleasers, and sad to say, but musical talking bears, tikis, and even Disney characters in robotic form were no longer a big draw. (Expanded history here.) 

Thanks to Mike Cozart from the Tomorrowland67 Lounge for this 2055 piece.

The plans were scrapped. Plectu's became a piece of Disney lore and history, and Tomorrowland stayed as was for almost another full decade as the plans for the 2055 version were shelved.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Top photo copyright Mark Taft.)

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