Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tomorrow Is Another Day


No doubt about it. Re-Imagineering has gotten considerably quieter these past few days. The reason is simple; so much has been going right at Imagineering that the temptation to rain on anyone's parade seems counter productive.

The fiercely offensive Mickey Wand is now history. California Adventure will be getting a billion plus makeover. The Subs are back at Disneyland. Even Disney Studios Paris is turning over a new leaf.

With aggressive competition coming from Universal soon, Imagineering is eagerly stepping up to the plate. Every year for the coming ten will bring new and interesting surprises from coast to coast and creative management, two words that haven't earnestly been used together at WDI for nearly two decades, is pressing for quality at all costs.

Of course it's not all peaches and cream. Our watch-dog days here at Re-Imagineering are far from over. There are still walls to tear down and dreams to nurture. Passionate discourse and debate from our readers, the heart and soul of this site's campaign, has been the real fuel for change at Imagineering.

It's time attention was paid.

In the coming weeks some of the most dynamic and passionate voices 'behind the blog' will come front and center to remind us of much of the work that still has yet to be done.

Disneyland's Tomorrowland is a great start.


"The Astro Orbitor in DL is an example of ego gone wild. This overdressed, ripped off from 'The Dark Crystal' carnival ride was shoehorned into the available real estate by someone who should know better. Taller than Walt's castle right next door, with half it's animation broken for years and it's cheesy "plastic painted like metal" toy store finish, it clashes wildly with the rest of the hub. Not to mention the hideously out of place rock work that surrounds it, an obviously desperate attempt to somehow blend it all together.

Tear it down and give us the WDW Astro Orbitor or even the old Rocket Jets weenie with a new paint job. Put the Rocket Jets back where it belongs, atop the Peoplemover with brand new 3rd generation [vehicles] winding below. Walt was not wrong about the placement ... as it was it was truly thrilling unlike the current grounded model."
-David Smith

"Here's another great flop. The wet marble fountain.

When they designed it they didn't think people would actually go in and get wet. So they got two problems. One, it smelled like a sewer from sweat, dirt, urine and feces from children since they didn't chlorinate it, and they had soaking wet people sitting down in plush seats in 'Honey I Shrunk the Audience' and ruining them!

Then they chlorinated the water to lose the sewer problem and wound up rotting the rubberized pavement which was never designed for chlorinated water. Did anyone think ahead at all? If you've ever seen any of the REST of Tomorowland 2055 that Bruce Gordon worked on you'd see just how much was never built. INNOVENTIONS was never part of the original plan.."
-Destino

"I think Imagineering can offer a lot more to revitalize Tomorrowland's tarnished reputation than a wholesale return to its past glories. It certainly needs the multilevel kinetic energy and atmosphere lost by the foolish removal of the People mover and the original skyline placement of the Rocket Jets. Tomorrow land would benefit hugely by the creation of an immersive attraction that does not rely simply on another animated character overlay. It needs something fresh and purely Disney in tone and execution, like Pirates or the Haunted Mansion. While I'm extremely pleased that the subs are returning, for both their crowd-relief and visual potential, I'd have preferred to see an original adventure of underseas exploration. Something to take us to a new places and immerse us in the sort of faux-scientific reality that used to make Tomorrowland the liveliest corner of the Park. That's what Mission to Mars/Moon and Inner Space provided and made them so popular in their time. A re-imagined, state of the art Inner Space Adventure would be fantastic. Put it in the center of the land...by getting rid of Innoventions! It's like a big black hole looming over the area, sucking out all energy. Same with HISTA. If we must keep Star Tours, at least put a different film in each pod so the experience is fresher and more random."
-Barry

"I've really thought that they should have fully embraced the 1967 aesthetic in their Tomorrow land revamp at Disney land. The LAX airport attraction is a perfect example of maximizing the theme. A Tomorrow land using this space-age googie aesthetic combined with the best of modern ride technology would be killer. Adventures Thru Inner Space with modern effects and ride systems? Sign me up right now. There's a way to embrace the design of the period without it being completely tongue-in-cheek and kitschy. It doesn't have to be loaded with obscure references. It just has to be cool. I would love to see every Tomorrowland allowed to retain a unique identity. There's been an alarming homogenization of Tomorrowlands in recent years that must be stopped and turned back. Finding a unique voice for DL would be a perfect start."

-Michael Crawford

"I visited Disneyland today for the first time in about a decade. While I enjoyed Space Mountain and Star Tours, Tomorrowland overall struck me as being somehow "broken". I didn't realize the Rocket Jets had been removed, and actually walked around confused for a moment looking for them. I really missed that Saturn V replica that looked so tall and scary to me as a child. Their replacement looks like a silly kiddie version that wouldn't have impressed me at 3, certainly not worth my time now.

Innovations was HORRIBLE. The opening speech made me feel like I had signed up to be in a commercial test audience. "And check out this new PEN PHONE. It even has a CAMERA. On the screen, pictures of Earth from space thanks to GOOGLE! Now go play on computers with...INTERNET GAMES!"

Ooooh! Aaaaah! I could have avoided the line and replicated the Innovations experience by pulling out my own mobile phone and surfing the web.

And how on Earth could Disney have eliminated CircleVision?!? I never once missed that when visiting in my younger years. I never got tired of the presentation. To this day it is something completely unique. The following should be brought back ASAP: Rocket Jets, CircleVision, and Carousel of Progress. If ASIMO is any good, put him in his own attraction.
-MC

• Tomorrowland Poster by Greg Maletic

44 comments:

spajadigit said...

Yeah, Tomorrowlands the world over leave something to be desired. At least in Paris, they have a unified theme, though the attractions are mostly lacking.

As far as Star Tours- In 2007, Rex made his first flight for the twentieth year. Come on, guys, let's get that show plussed some!

I would love a return of an updated (yet not hip!) Adventure through Inner Space or something even more remarkable in the old America Sings building. Even opening up the upstairs arcade again would be really nice.

Actually anything would be really nice.

Digital Jedi said...

Indeed, my last visit to Disney World evoked something I hadn't felt on my last few trips. It felt hopeful. My wife and baby got to view the sphere as it was truly meant to be seen, and we got to see some neglected areas get the tender, loving care they deserve. Even Illuminations felt different somehow. Perhaps it was because there was a connection to the message of hope and the changes I was seeing in the parks. Or perhaps the little upgrades in quality in the parks helped to reinforce Illuminations' overall message. Maybe a little of both.

But I also have to agree, that there is still a lot of work to be done. There are still a lot of wheels in motion from previous regimes and idea management teams that were impossible to completely derail at the time all this change began taking effect. Some of the greatest ideas that currently exist in the parks are somehow out of place or not as complete as they could have been. In some cases, they're great attractions, that just aren't at home where they are. Conversely, some of the more mundane attractions could use an updated face lift.

World's Tomorrowland needs the same measures as Land's. Tomorrowland has always been the primary draw of Disneyland and World, and well it should be. It encapsulates the progressive spirit of Walt Disney so much. EPCOT Center did the same on a much larger scale. But it's very clear that message was forgotten in favor of lesser ideals and ideas. Hopefully such progressive suggestions are taken to heart.

Folks who think Disney is fine the way it is and that we're just a bunch of complainers are very likely folks who didn't know Disney as we did back in the day. It had nothing to do with being a kid, or being from another decade or becoming older and more critical of new ideas. On the contrary, it was because of the high quality experience we got from a place that sought to appease the eyes, ears, palate and even the nose of its Guests. It was because Disney set us up to expect more at each turn, and delivering almost every time. We were trained to expect the best. And even when something did flop from time to time, they would do something that the message of the parks also sought to inculcate in us. They would learn from their mistakes.

I think it was an old school Imagineer who I read as saying that Walt understood the concept of "Entertainment Balance". Every place for a thing, and everything in its place. That is something that I hope a new wave of creative Imagineering is able to bring back to the parks. Because a lot of what's still wrong with Disney is a lack of concern for where things should be. We all know Nemo is a fantastic Innovative ride (in both parks). Some would say it's not quite the best fist in Tomorrowland. There's no doubt it's an awkward fit in EPCOT Center. Test Track, Soarin' and The Grand Fiesta Tour are also concepts that in of themselves are not necessarily wrong, but either they don't quite fit where they are or they don't deliver as much as a Disney attraction should deliver. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, Stitch's Alien Encounter and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin also fall into one or both of those categories.

I hope to see, maybe not a backing off of the Pixar inspired attractions, but more careful consideration as to where this stuff should go. And, definitely, I hope we see less Pixar and cartoon overlays. Those are not necessary and just pander to kids, rather then appeal to families as a whole. I also hope to see more innovation, and by that, I mean I want to see where my dollars are going. I don't want to spend so much, only to see something that I could find at my local carny or amusement park. I want to be awed, or the very least, impressed. I think we all do. We want to see that Entertainment Balance return. Where every little detail, from the cleanliness, to the architecture, to the technology running the attractions, is given equal and proper importance, and where great care is taken to make sure that Disney is not spending millions to make a square peg fit in a round hole, just because Pixar did a successful movie about the square peg.

Good fortune to you guys with the work ahead and thank you for creating this venue and allowing us to share our voice. If we could be with you in body to help heal these old wounds, we would be on the next plane out. We hope that being there in spirit is sufficient.

Dabby Doo said...

I agree 100%. Tomorrowland is easily the biggest eyesore and land most in need of a total refresh and rethinking. It boggles my mind that Imagineering has gotten it wrong for so long. I'd love to see the People Mover come back but I fear that the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters has destroyed part of the original track. I want Tomorrowland to be about futurism and not fantasy future like Star Wars, Buzz Lightyear, Stitch, and Finding Nemo (?). Is no one excited and optimistic about our own future anymore? What happened the great big beautiful tomorrow? Today's Tomorrowland seems to tell us that the future aint so great so let's just zone out and dream a fantasy that's not remotely plausible.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

All of these comments on Tomorrowland are so true. It needs a major fix. Fix it with the Old but ad some new. How hard is that? Give me $200 million and I could get it all fixed up, so much that it would make Walt Happy. I love your site, keep up the great work!

Will Robison said...

Glad to see you haven't given up the good fight.

I grew up with Tomorrowland and it informed so much of my childhood with its belief in the ability of man to one day travel to Mars, and to explore the cosmos and farthest reaches of science. Now, I'm not exactly sure what they're selling, but I'm not buying and I can't imagine for a second that Tomorrowland inspires anyone to do more than buy cheap souvenirs. Quite frankly, I can get that sort of inspiration anywhere.

They need to put that inspiration back into Tomorrowland. They need to tell kids that its okay to imagine a brighter future filled with real adventure - not more of the same with different t-shirts. So, as much as I loved the old tomorrowland, I don't really want to see it come back, per se. The peoplemover is my favorite ride, followed by Circlevision and Inner Space, but all of these rides could be replaced by other cooler rides - if they had the right idea. How about a Circlevision movie that shows the entire earth (shot from space) but that explains how fragile our planet really is - shows what happened to the dinosaurs and then points out what environmental damage we're doing to our own planet. And how about a time travel adventure that takes us into the future, a la The Time Machine (only one not so bleak). One of the coolest attractions I've been on in the past dozen years was the Star Trek Experience in Vegas where you actually are transported onto the bridge of the Enterprise - that was straight up old school Disney! They need to do something like that!

Anonymous said...

Tomorrowland was so inspiring to me as a child. Right now it's like a space-age carnival.

Joy said...

Before Tomorrowland can be fixed, first we'll have to figure out - what is it? What should it be?

Originally, Tomorrowland was based on how great the future will be, thanks to science and technology. There is really no trace of that left, except for a bit in Innoventions.

Then for quite a while Tomorrowland took a science-fiction angle. Star Tours, Space Mountain, even Captain EO and Honey I Shrunk the Audience are all very much based on sci-fi concepts such as spaceships and shrinking rays.

In more recent years, Tomorrowland has shifted towards being a place for cartoons that wouldn't fit well in Fantasyland. Buzz Lightyear, Nemo, Monsters (in Orlando) and the Autopia, whose current cars are quite cartoonish.

Today's Tomorrowland doesn't have a clear identity, because it has aspects of all three of these previous incarnations. Before any more projects commence, I'd really like to see a clear answer to the question "What is Tomorrowland", and then we'll need to make sure any new additions are true to the theme.

And so I expect that it'll take a while before any improvements are made. Getting a consensus on what Tomorrowland should be won't be a simple matter. Plus, the land has had a lot of construction in recent years, and has become popular and crowded again. So there's not a pressing need to make improvements.

Digital Jedi said...

Is the concept of Tomorrowland so obscure that their needs to be consensus? It's a very simple concept, that has since gotten mired down in marketing ploys and cartoon overlays. It should be what it was always intended to be, a positive look at what tomorrow will bring, and most definitely from the perspective of science and technology. Tomorrowland was a mini Future World. Any other direction would just more of the same mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this can all be layed at the feet of imagineering. I understand that the concept for Tomorrowland 2055 was very good. Unfortunately, there was no one to fight the funding battle and the ultimate work was a mere shell of the original concepts.

This was pretty common in the Presler era where everything needed to be evaluated like a retail outlet.

I would welcome a re-imagineering of Tomorrowland.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrowland is probably the only thing that is done better at WDW than DL. Although, WDW's Tomorrowland is beginning to slip away too.

/bsdb said...

Excellent comments from Destino.

It still boggles my mind that the same project management team responsible for Splash Mountain almost 20 years ago, also brought us New TL98 and Cosmic Waves.

Why oh why would anyone on Team Baxter buy into the "no one will want to get wet" rationale, given their previous experience with Splash? Have they always been completely oblivious to the desire of many riders to actually get wet?

TL used to be my favorite land. I even worked as a TL merch cast member, almost three decades ago. I cannot imagine DL without TL. Yet... there's been so little success with this land, since the World on the Move theme of 1967 was replaced with Vernian Delirium Tremens in 1998. Makes me wanna cry and hurl, all at the same time.

I honestly don't know what would be required to get accountaneering approval, to fix this mess. It won't come cheap, that's for sure. And it's not likely to be a quick fix, either. Not cheap. Not quick. And with DCA sucking down a fair share of fiscal fuel, poor little ol' TL might not have much of a chance.

Yet, I remain hopeful. Maybe because I might be an idiot. But I'd like to think that Mr. Baxter will get the support he needs. The support to get it right this time, to finally fix TL.

Model homes saddled with Microsoft technology and petroleum-based combustion engines? These don't sound very futuristic to me, and will seem even less so, three years from now.

After those three years have passed, and these last remaining vestiges of corporate licensing are wiped off the TL landscape... will anyone be left who cares anymore? Or will they all be over at DCA, cruising through Radiator Springs and singing with a bunch of merfolk under the sea?

As Fox Mulder's office poster so eloquently put it, "I want to believe."

buna said...

What about a ride based on Tron? To be digitized and put inside of a computer is a cool way to update the Adventure Through Inner Space concept. The Black Hole would would be another good Tomorrow land adventure. Even if these films didn't do so well at the box office, rides based on the ideas in these films would be more exciting than Innoventions and HISTA.

Honor Hunter said...

Changes are coming, guys. Be patient... I expect Tony has a little more clout to pull off something like TL 2055 than he did five or ten years ago. Lasster realizes this. Just don't expect it to be announced anytime soon.

Trust me.

Destino said...

The problem with Tomorrowland is pretty simple. Tomorrow arrives before you can actually build something. My favorite TL will always be the 67 World on the Move. Back then much of what was built WAS futuristic. The peoplemover itself is still a terrific idea. But for todays audience, it needs to be souped up. It needs show scenes that takes us where we've never been. I'd add some sort of time-travel through some buildings. Or some sort of spreed tunnel to really show off how this technology could really work for us. Folks should get off the people mover convinced that these things should be installed all over the place. And for pete's sake--innoventions has to go. It's pathetic. I can go to BEST BUY and get the same experience. It's a wonderful structure, with a unique concept...a turntable! Honestly, there's thousands of better uses. TL should be the land where a guest can get the MOST unique experiences. I remember thinking that very thing many years ago. "Gosh, I can ride a submarine, a monorail, drive a car, ride the skyway, the peoplemover all in one place." I'm just hoping that the budgets are there for some truly innovative stuff. We all know the imaginations are working. Just fund 'em.

Destino said...

The problem with Tomorrowland is pretty simple. Tomorrow arrives before you can actually build something. My favorite TL will always be the 67 World on the Move. Back then much of what was built WAS futuristic. The peoplemover itself is still a terrific idea. But for todays audience, it needs to be souped up. It needs show scenes that takes us where we've never been. I'd add some sort of time-travel through some buildings. Or some sort of spreed tunnel to really show off how this technology could really work for us. Folks should get off the people mover convinced that these things should be installed all over the place. And for pete's sake--innoventions has to go. It's pathetic. I can go to BEST BUY and get the same experience. It's a wonderful structure, with a unique concept...a turntable! Honestly, there's thousands of better uses. TL should be the land where a guest can get the MOST unique experiences. I remember thinking that very thing many years ago. "Gosh, I can ride a submarine, a monorail, drive a car, ride the skyway, the peoplemover all in one place." I'm just hoping that the budgets are there for some truly innovative stuff. We all know the imaginations are working. Just fund 'em.

StrangeVoices said...

I have, unfortunately, never had the chance to experience Tomorrowland in California. And I have to admit that I have a certain, well, nostalgic view of that Tomorrowland – the tomorrow of the past.

But I don’t think you are going to be able to create that again today. It isn’t what is futuristic that has changed – it is what tomorrow [i]means[/i] that has changed. At the mid century mark, tomorrow was associated with optimism and hope. Technology was exciting, and science would save the world. But that does not represent tomorrow today. This generation’s tomorrow is a world of struggle and change. It is a world where new often equates to challenges and strife. Technology isn’t just passé, it is annoying. We don’t want a future of innovation – we want a future of stability and comfort.

This is where it gets hard. Yesterday’s Tomorrowlands used technology as a background but capitalized on that sense of hope and optimism. Just creating the future isn’t going to bring that back. I think that the two current Tomorrowlands recognized that, and tried instead to bring back a sense of optimism through nostalgia.

Alas, this failed as they had conflicting messages of both nostalgia for a simpler past, and yet all the in your face merchandising and branding of today’s world. It’s conflicted message the guest gets – you aren’t really so much in a fantasy future as much as being in a shopping mall. I still greatly enjoy Florida’s Tomorrowland – mostly due to one ride, the TTA. For that one ride perhaps is the single ride that most reflects on what Disney [i]should [/i] be – ann escape into another world I am less interested in whether Tomorrowland is done in a computerized Tron theme, a retro Buck Rogers style, or something straight out of a Manga comic. What is important is that it is a place, not a store window for the latest movie.

mikek said...

I like the idea of a Tron inspired attraction. Maybe we should see an E-ticket with Tron-cycles as vehicles traveling high-speed through the computerized world of Tron.

It could use the Test Track ride system where Innoventions is now. It's futuristic; the movie is widely recognized; it has gained cult status; it spawned a few hit video games; and a
sequel/remake was just recently greenlighted by Walt Disney Pictures.


Also, the Autopia should go "green" using some type of futuristic alternative fuel/electric/hybrid vehicles.

We definitely need to see the People Mover return in some form or another. There needs to be more "transportation" attractions throughout the area.

Lastly, the next Tomorrowland needs to be about tomorrow, not Star Wars or cartoons. Though Tron sort of falls into this category, it just seems to fit in, in my view.

Anonymous said...

You all are still stuck in the past when it comes to Tomorrowland. You keep wanting rides long since gone and looked back on nostalgically. Rides and attractions no one went on anymore.
Also, don't deify Bruce Gordon so much. God rest his soul. Bruce was a key member of the team that foisted the new Tomorrowland we all love to hate including those cursed fountains and the stupid rocket jets in the front of Tomorrowland. Of course he tried to revise the history of what he did and didn't do. Bruce you did a lot of good things but those of us at WDI during your days also know a lot of the bad. Many of the current problems and the subsequent reaction of Disney management to out of control costs can be laid at his ability to obfuscate the reality of what something would really look like, its impact on the park's guest flow, the difficulty to maintain, and hiding the costs from management's eyes.
I agree that there should be more openness inside WDI, but I am not sure arm chair second guessing is the right way to make things look good.
Please remember one thing, a good attraction is good whether it costs over $100 million, or only $10 million.

Destino said...

I would LOVE to see something new that just knocks my socks off. The trouble is, most of the new I have seen in Tomorrowlands(Rocket Rods, the Fountain, HISTA, Astro Orbitors, Stitch,Laugh Floor and Innoventions) doesn't do it, or wears out it's welcome awfully fast. I Love Buzz, and Star Tours. But they don't really say TOMORROW to me. I fear TL will always be a problem. So what it really needs is something so original, no one will ever forget it. Disney really needs to reclaim the WOW.

Disneyana World said...

Walking through Disney World's Tomorrowland feels odd.

When you make the transition from MLF and SGE to CoP and SM, it doesn't feel right. Tomorrowland is best summed up as "what the hell is this?"

I may not know everything about Disney or what is currently happening inside the company, but I feel a change. The future looks promising, but I'm afraid it could slip at any moment.

Anonymous said...

"What is Tommorrowland" really is the key question.

Any attempt to make it exactly what it was - the future of science and technology, overlaid with optimism/hope for that future - gets trapped by obsolescence . Things evolve so fast today, whatever is "futuristic" is not in only 5 - 10 years.

However flawed in execution and muddled since with changes and commercialism, the TL renovation meant to address this by "fixing" tomorrow in what was thought to be a classic Jules Verne "future".

One idea - go with classic '67 era type rides/attractions that are "soft-coded" as to content. So the building and ride concept might be Adventures in Inner Space, but the content can be changed every few years without huge expense.

Joy said...

Just to comment on Strangevoice's post, "At the mid century mark, tomorrow was associated with optimism and hope."

I don't really agree with this. During the middle of the last century, we were in a cold war, building bomb shelters, and "tomorrow" was associated with WWIII and nuclear annihilation.

Naturally people didn't enjoy thinking about the fact that science had created weapons of almost unimaginable power. And so they loved the message that science could bring us all kinds of good things to make our lives better.

And entertainment was happy to provide that message - that the future would be a wonderful place. (Assuming that we would survive to see it.)

Would something similar work today? I'm not sure.

C33 said...

Innoventions, the Astro Orbitor and the lack of a Peoplemover on it's track are all issues that need to be addressed, but one other one I feel is just important doesn't seem to come up as much.

I don't usually wait in the "Standby" line for Space Mountain; due to the Fastpass system the wait is usually 45-70 minutes long, and so ironically I use the Fastpass system to avoid it (so Fastpass is both the solution and the problem, but that's an issue for another discussion). However on my last trip I elected to use the Standby line since I already had a Fastpass for Haunted Mansion Holiday. As I waited in line to experience the rich (non movie-based) theming and excitement of Space Mountain, I couldn't help but notice the second floor of the Starcade.

No longer used, it still has up and down escalators that are operational but inactive (roughly blocked off with trash cans) and two entrances on the Space Mountain deck level.

Disneyland, as the first Disney park, is pretty small and space is always at a premium as the Imagineers attempt to shoehorn new rides in. And here sits all of this real estate in Tomorrowland, unused with the door simply shut? It reminds one of when they shut down the SeaCabs at the Living Seas at Epcot by simply shutting the door and diverting the line around them. Couldn't something go in this space? A table service restaurant, perhaps even with a lovely panoramic view of Tomorrowland? Or maybe even a ride?

And what about the entire deck which is used only for the Space Mountain switchbacks? Most of it is completely unused, as the line circles around it? Why not do something up here? Put the large staircase back up there, put something back in the second level of the Starcade, and turn this stagnant area of Tomorrowland back into the hive of energy it was in the 80s.

Digital Jedi said...

Looking back is not the problem. Tomorrow showing up before you know it is not the problem, either.

The problem is we're looking to shortsightedly into the future. We need to look farther then we've been looking. That's not to say there aren't some great gadgets coming down the pike and that they should be ignored. What it means is following a very simple thematic the old Tomorrowland followed. It envisioned, not so much demonstrated, a grand tomorrow. Concepts were more the thing, then actual technologies. Concepts that were still very much the product of Science Fiction

Of course, this doesn't mean that technology shouldn't be the palette for it all. But look at how they did it back in the day. They utilized some stuff that was basic technology back then and put a spin on it. They utilized them in ways we hadn't seen in real life before. Automated transportation, elevated transportation, missions to far off worlds, journeys through ideas and concepts to come. These were ideas that were far flung into the future, not static demonstrations of things that were already being developed by Sony.

They did it all with flare, not just with demonstrations or shows. One of the things that bugged me about the House of Innoventions is that I didn't have time to actually look at anything. It would have been more fun to either spend some actual time in the house, or have a ride vehicle take me through various visualizations of that house.

I guess what I'm attempting to say is, giving the area meaning again has nothing to do with one technology or one ride. It's not about the paint brush or the palette or the canvas. It's about the painting. Put that promising new future together with concepts we hadn't thought of yet. Demonstrate it in ways that we haven't been demonstrated yet. Stick your neck out and think one step ahead of Sony or Microsoft or even Siemens. Risk some of those elements that today are merely Sci Fi. Stick to theme of a bright promising future, and the other things will fall into place.

StrangeVoices said...

But Sci-Fi elements no longer really seem far off. The future isn't bright and beautiful anymore. reality has unfortunately intruded. Perhaps it's a variation of PCness, but it is nonetheless here to stay. Sci-fi stuff, at least the technical, no longer amazes us. Look at Star Trek. We used to be so thrilled with all that new science magic. Today they put out a new prop, and we automatically think how to make it and how can we make money off of it. We have become jaded to the future.

Leave the technology to Epcot. Technology can still be amazing - science and learning still are exciting. They just aren't good story. Keep Tomorrowland with the story. Branch out into the fantasy elements as much as the technical elements. Science Fiction is one of the best selling categories. Take a lesson from many of those - stories which take place in fantastic worlds. Stories that stretch our imagination to new places. That's where Tomorrowland belongs.

Anonymous said...

“vintage disneyland tickets said...
All of these comments on Tomorrowland are so true. It needs a major fix. Fix it with the Old but ad some new. How hard is that? Give me $200 million and I could get it all fixed up, so much that it would make Walt Happy. I love your site, keep up the great work!”


If they had provided a $200 million budget to start with, there probably wouldn’t be the issue with Tomorrowland now.

Anonymous said...

“honor hunter said...
Changes are coming, guys. Be patient... I expect Tony has a little more clout to pull off something like TL 2055 than he did five or ten years ago. Lasster realizes this. Just don't expect it to be announced anytime soon.”


While Baxter appears to have regained some of his creative support since Lasseter was brought in, I don’t see any real significant changes within Imagineering that will allow that talent to be taken advantage of. While Lasseter has the utmost respect for creativity, he is apparently deficient in his ability to understand the complexities of what’s actually best for the parks.

Tongaroa said...

“Please remember one thing, a good attraction is good whether it costs over $100 million, or only $10 million.”

This sounds very familiar. This was the kind of justification that was used over and over during the Pressler era. And then they insisted that Golden Dreams was a “good attraction.” And if you disagreed, you got laid off. Ahh, the good ol days.

Jeanmi said...

Paris Tomorrowland (or Discoveryland) theme is also being destroyed.

Buzz replaced the Visionarium, the Lion King show is in the Hyperion building (!!!!) and even the beautiful Space Mountain has been damaged with a ridiculous "Nova" story...

Before, you had a fantastic and beautifully themed land based on Jules Verne vision of the future (Star Tours and Captain Eo were hidden behind Space). Why didn't they deliver new rides within the Jules Verne and H-G Wells realm (like they did in Tokyo)?

It is sad, sad, sad because with a past vision of the the future, they resolved the problem of Tomorrowland (which will always appear dated because technology moves so fast).

It is a sad tribute to the lack of imagination and/or lack of money from a company which use to be at the forefront of everything.

/bsdb said...

While Baxter appears to have regained some of his creative support since Lasseter was brought in, I don’t see any real significant changes within Imagineering that will allow that talent to be taken advantage of.

Agreed. Why bother rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Once the iceberg has been struck, doesn't really matter what song the band is playing, or who's in charge on the bridge.

Very little of Glendale's upper management has changed. While Fitzgerald has lost some of his power, he still retains the Exec VP/Senior Creative Exec titles, and all of the compensatory advantages that go along with them.

Bruce Vaughn now heads up Creative instead of Sklar, but so what? The previous regime's flying monkeys remain strong, at least strong enough to influence final design decisions.

As much as I respect John's creativity and experience, I'm fed up with the fanboys like Honor who equate the Pixar acquisition with Arthur pulling the sword out of the Imagineering stone.

John and Dr Ed are definitely reshaping Disney's animation landscape, which was the primary motivation for the acquisition. But to believe that John has the same level of power and influence within Imagineering is wishful thinking at best.

Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer for animation, but not for Imagineering. John is the Principle Creative Advisor at WDI. He's not an Imagineering Officer. He has no ability to hire or fire WDI personnel. He's simply dispensing creative wisdom regarding future attractions and refurbishments.


While Lasseter has the utmost respect for creativity, he is apparently deficient in his ability to understand the complexities of what’s actually best for the parks.

Why would anyone expect otherwise? John's field is animation. He's spent the past 28 years doing nothing but animation. His experience with the parks has been minimal since Pixar worked with TPP on "Tough to be a Bug" for DAK. He's a huge fanboy of DL, but why should that automatically translate to business sensibilities?

I'm glad that someone had the foresight to roll the Principle Creative Advisor position into the acquisition and John's contract. But at the end of the day, what does that really mean, for leadership changes needed within Glendale? Basically, nothing.

Rasulo is still in charge of P&R. Rasulo makes the leadership decisions, not John. If John truly possessed the power to make those changes, they would have been made by now. It doesn't take a decade to issue pink slips and redraw the org chart.

As long as the parks and resorts continue to generate attendance growth and profitability, no massive overhauls in WDI's leadership will be implemented. Animation was the troubled long-suffering business unit, in terms of bottom line. Not P&R. And in Iger's CorporateDisneyWorld, that's all that matters.

Digital Jedi said...

/bsdb said:
>>>Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer for animation, but not for Imagineering. John is the Principle Creative Advisor at WDI. He's not an Imagineering Officer. He has no ability to hire or fire WDI personnel. He's simply dispensing creative wisdom regarding future attractions and refurbishments.<<<

Baby steps. No sickness gets cured with the first dose of medicine. A long while back I believe I stated that if we couldn't get a new visionary leader, that I would settle for "key" visionaries in key places.

Looking at Disney the way it is now and the political funhouse it has become, then an influence of creativity is far more plausible for creative change then the alternative, which is mass layoffs of every manager who doesn't "get it".

Real magic doesn't happen overnight. We have to be patient and hope that smart decision making and creative talent can seep in and take over slowly, much the same way that MBA and Accountaneer thinking seeped in before it. To expect it to happen any other way, even to a foaming fool like me, seems far-fetched, or at least, impractical.

>>>Why would anyone expect otherwise? John's field is animation. He's spent the past 28 years doing nothing but animation. His experience with the parks has been minimal since Pixar worked with TPP on "Tough to be a Bug" for DAK. He's a huge fanboy of DL, but why should that automatically translate to business sensibilities?<<<

I believe Walt Disney had even fewer credentials when he invented the Theme Park. Besides, who wants good business sense anyway? We want creative business sense, which Lasseter has proven he has. Things have been a bit Pixar heavy, but I can live with that if, again, the influence is one of creativity on those around him. In time we may find there is a method behind the Pixar Madness, which would reveal itself in time.

Things do seem to be changing for the better. Slowly and subtly, but changing nonetheless. But in any large business entity where the majority's thoughts and ideas reign supreme, you need key people in key places to effect change of those thoughts. At this point, what we need is not a new leader, but creative people leading the way. From all reports, Lasseter seems to be one of those people. But because of his venue, the effects will take time.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the comment of Bruce Gordon's Tomorrowland 2055...did you actually SEE that model? Bruce took that project over and it became a stomach-turning ode to bad taste. Eisner walked it, left before seeing all of it, and shut it down without a backward glance. Too many designers with too many ideas, and not a single one with a thought towards a plausible storyline.

Tongaroa said...

I have to say the Bruce bashing here is in very bad taste. The man has only recently passed away, and his family and friends are still mourning him. If anyone reading this would like to know a little about Bruce, please check out the wonderful tribute by Walter Miller (Walt’s Grandson).

http://disney.go.com/disneyatoz/familymuseum/exhibits/familyfriends/brucegordon/index.html

...and if anyone thinks that the lack of a “plausible storyline” is an excuse to shut down an idea, please read the post “The Myth of Story.”

http://imagineerebirth.blogspot.com/2006/11/myth-of-story.html

...and since when is Michael Eisner the paragon of good taste?

Tongaroa said...

It should be noted that unlike other blogs, Re-Imagineers rarely blames individual Imagineers for the mistakes the company makes. In fact, I can’t remember a single instance where any of the contributors to the blog has singled-out a specific Imagineer by name except when offering a compliment. Anyone who has worked on a collaborative creative effort knows that the overall company culture has much more influence over the outcome of a project than any single contributor. Of course, I have personally blamed Michael Eisner, Paul Pressler and Michael Mendenhall for poor decisions. But I believe individuals at that level should be held accountable as they shape the company culture.

Tangaroa said...

Good to see you guys back at it -

Yes, Tomorrowlands the world over are in dire shape, none worse than Disneyland's. The creeping toonification of tomorrow - especially when the theme doesn't even fit, like Monster's Inc. - is the main threat.

Disneyland's TL needs a complete overhaul, starting with returning the Starjets to their original position and revitalizing the WedWay. Even WDW's TL has a greater thematic unity than Disneyland, although there's still a great deal of wasted space and toon-creep.

Lots to do... it's good to see you guys back at it.

cheers
michael crawford

Anonymous said...

sorry if I offended your sensiblities regarding comments made about Bruce Gordon's T-Land 2055 project. There was no intent to "bash" him now that he has passed...I personally bashed him to his face when he was alive and vice versa. As far as tributes go, I'm sure that there will eventually be many tributes garnished upon our current President...The bashing intent was directed at the project, and watching his team take over a good project start, and then take the whole project down a sad rabbit hole to nowhere. plausible storyline can be an aide towards developing the intent, and can give guests a grounding in why things are as they become more immersed. The project was shut down because there was no focus, there were conflicting themes, it was visually garish, and on, and on...Eisner occassionally got things right, and this was one of those occassions. The blaming of specific individuals on this blog is probably due more to the fact that this particular blog was created by Imagineers both past and present, and we are not a particularly shy lot. I will say no more...

Cory The Raven said...

This is probably just my own particular sensibilities talking, but I actually thought the idea of Tomorrowland '98 was fundamentally sound. It was just the execution that was hampered by too many pinched pennies, resulting in botched ride after botched ride. If Rocket Rods worked, if the submarines were included in the make-over, if Innoventions were better, maybe it would have been a different story.

All the talk goes around about the future, but Tomorrowland never was about the future... It was always about the present day, whether 1955, 1967 or 1998. Our ideas about the future always reflect the hopes and anxieties of the present. There's so far you can take the technology, but ultimately it's not up to the technology. It's up to the society.

That's why I'd pretty much scrap the whole idea of making Tomorrowland a testament to futurism, since futurism is just a testament to ourselves. Make it Sci-Fi land, mix up Science Fact and Science Fiction in the same sort of entertaining way that other lands mix up Nature Fact and Fiction or Historical Fact and Fiction.

If I had my druthers, what I would do I put the Astro-Orbiter (which I quite like) back on the People-Mover station and replace it with a new kinetic sculpture version of the World Clock. Bring the People-Mover back, and whenever it goes inside, have it descend into Tron 2.0 graphics and story. Either freshen up Star Tours or replace it with a new sim-ride like Treasure Planet, Meet the Robinsons or Rocket to the Moon. Gut HISTA and the lower level of the plaza there and install a time travel dinosaur ride that incorporates Primeval World. Freshen up a new Starcade for the second floor. Make a new Carousel of Progress show that walks through past Sci-Fi visions (1800's, 1930's, 1960's, 1980's, today) and shows how they have come true today. Replace the Autopia cars with a variety of alternative fuel cars and put that Rocket Rods video reel around there. Take out the Finding Nemo overlay and replace it with a 19th c. overlay with alternating Nautilus and Ulysses subs, with suitable respective narration. And while I can't stand Pixar, I suppose I'm not entirely opposed to keeping Buzz Lightyear. However, I wouldn't mind exchanging it for a new Adventures Through Inner Space. Bring back the NASA exhibit. Aesthetically make it a zoned but still flowing amalgam of Googie, Victorian and Cyber influences... Reference the aesthetics of everything from 20,000 Leagues to Sky Captain to Blade Runner to Meet the Robinsons.

Accept Tomorrowland as the Sci-Fi equivalent of Fantasyland or Adventureland, and built a really strong suite of rides, shows and exhibits to go in it.

Anonymous said...

The original Tomorrowland 2055 project team began concepts back in 1989, of which only a few concepts ever saw light of day. This was back when we were still going to work with George Lucas for a follow-up attraction adjacent to the new at the time Star Tours. That partnership disappeared rather quickly. The original team had the intent to design an area that would be as updateable as possible, without the "dated" look that always occurred. Quite difficult in execution. This was way before Pressler and Rocket Rods, etc. It was at this time that the project took the unfortunate turn discussed previously that resulted in stagnation for several years and the eventual resulting sad look we have today. I believe that from '89 until about '98, there were no fewer than 6 lead producers with their fingers in the TLand pie. A scattered approach usually leads to scattered results. I guess we will see what the future holds...

Anonymous said...

One of the big issues for me is that Walt Disney the man was into bringing a better future to the world. Walt was building Tomorrowland 1967 as a demo for real cities to be fueled by the public outcry.He wanted to sell Wedway systems to Airports, see monorails in cities. There was a sincere effort to prototype the future to get the public behind Walt's agenda. Tomorrowland inspired us kids because it was real enough for us to buy into. We looked at these thngs and said "Hey, why don't we have this in my town?" 1967 had REAL solutions you could sample and hope for because they made sense, not financial, but common sense for the future. ATIS explained where product development was headed, even predicts nano technology to a degree. We now look to engineer the micro world. We do that today with computer chips and bio engineering. The Disney Company has no passion for the future beyond altruistic environmentality or healthy snacks on a kids menu. The last mission of Walt Disney from "Man in Space" to the EPCOT that is a model of future living, was serious and wanted to leave a lasting, positive legacy. Uncle Walt was going to make it all better. This to me is why Tomorrowland will never be as good as the 1967 version. It has to come from a CEO level of commitment to really present and live the future by example. 1967 T'land was sincere and even in it's faults was driven by passion and intelligence, not just popular mechanics and churros. I say, with Steve Jobs on the board the time has never been better to redo Tomorrowland in a way that projects a sense of hope, not hype.

fourcrows said...

Oh how I wish it were you all making decisions these days. It's exciting and terrifying all at once.

Seeing your ideas come to fruition would make my little heart sing.

ThirstyMoose said...

"No doubt about it. Re-Imagineering has gotten considerably quieter these past few days. The reason is simple; so much has been going right at Imagineering that the temptation to rain on anyone's parade seems counter productive."

You're allowed to be positive as well. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yes..It's the "Blog of a million Dreams"

ickymouse said...

Wow. I love...all of you. It's so nice to hear from other people who feel the same about the sadly declining park as I have - and foolishly thought I was alone in this - for years. All of your ideas are great. Maybe Disney should hire us (wouldn't we make it bad-ass?) to design their park-areas...

Since everyone had such great ideas on here, I'd like to throw in my two cents/pipe dreams:

1. Yes - let's turn Tomorrowland back into the blinding, white, futuristic Utopia it once was. I'm all for having it harken back, albeit in a self-referencing, ironic, if not kitschy style (much like the person who compared to the Encounters Theme-Restaurant at LAX). Yank off the hideous panelling and polish up the old Mary Blair mosaic (if it's stil under there, that is).

2. Bring back the Rocket Jets - just as they were - Waaay up high, on top of the People Mover platform, making it exciting and thrilling (you know - up high, like you're flying through the sky - not a mere twenty feet off the ground). And let's see that big, white rocket reaching up to the heavens - get rid of that piece of crap...whatever the f*ck the thing is, that just looks like rusty junk and never works.

3. Bring back the People Mover - Is there anything really wrong with a ride that goes slow, is relaxing, and has a nice view of (the newly-remodelled) Tomorrowland, the Sub Lagoon, the Matterhorn and isn't - just imagine it, if you can - a blindingly-fast, thrill-ride...Can the large percentage that might actually enjoy something like that...get to enjoy something like that?

4. SKYYYY-WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!! - Disney Company employees - most importantly, IMAGINEERS...if you're reading this...please, please, PLEASE - bring back the wonderful Skyway. For those of you too young to remember one of the best and most poignant attractions at Disneyland, the Skyway was such an amazing attraction, as it took you up and above the whole park, giving you an incredible vista of the entire park. Ever since I was a small child, I looked forward to the exciting trips up and over Fantasyland - through the Matterhorn Mountain - and over the Sub Lagoon and Tomorrowland - a thrilling and beautiful way to see the park from the air. Sadly, it was closed down permanently in the late 90's, due to "security issues". PLEASE, Disney - bring it back - I'm sure with all of the advances in modern Technology, there can be a way to keep people from trying to get out, swinging and jumping out of the Gondolas. Let future generations enjoy this great ride and create many memories for years to come.

5. In keeping with the original, optimistic vision of Walt Disney's fascination with Science and Space Exploration, how about another far-reaching, technologically-advanced attraction, much like "Adventure Through Inner Space" or "Mission to Mars" took guests on an exciting journey through...space...the atomic world...or maybe the human body (We never had Epcot our here - how 'bout "Body Wars"?)? I'd even be into another, more modern version of ATIS.

6. How about bringing back "America, the Beautiful", except in High-definition, 3-D circa-rama? New footage of the world so realistic, you'll have Jet-lag when you leave! Or maybe an Environmentally-oriented film that shows al the place in the world that are beautiful, yet are endangered...Just an idea...

7. And finally, yes - let's give Star Tours a little TLC. It's been the exact same film since 1985. How about a different tour, every time you ride it? (wouldn't it be cool to soar in between the legs of an AT-AT?). Make a new, CG-enhanced, HD film and give it some more cabin-interactive effects. Just please...NO characters from the prequels - ! Don't really want to ride into Hoth airspace with Jar-Jar...

8. How about...a Disneyland Museum? Where? Inside the Innoventions building. That huge waste of space would make a great place to see all of the Disneyland attractions of days past...and future. It could be a showcase of Disneyland...of Tomorrow.

What made Disney's Tomorrowland (namely, the 1960's - 1970's, gleaming vision)and it's projection of the future so compelling was it's naive yet optimistic planning of a possible time in which mankind could reach the Stars, explore oceans and live in a world so perfect and safe and convenient - That - at this point - is a complete and total fantasy - let's make it back into the fantasy it was for us then - forever. I say, Kitsch all the way. Bring back the pointy spires, the Brightly-colored, Fiberglass cars, the spotless, white, angled surfaces.

"Remain seated, please. Permanecer Sentados, Por favor".

t rex said...

Tomorrowland has always been difficult. Even in the stark white 70's, it seemed outdated.
the only one that gets it right is Paris Dland, who didn't do it as a future land, but took it as something from a Jules Vern novel. I think this is the only way to make it "future" and it not be out of date in 5 years...