Sunday, November 08, 2009

Utopia Now


Tomorrowland has, from its inception, borrowed heavily from the popular imagination of the future. Through the late 1950s and into the ‘60s, culminating in the complete overhaul of Tomorrowland in 1967, WED had a great big beautiful tomorrow that was ensconced in the public’s mind to draw from. It was a future that people already understood and believed in, a future they could connect with. All WED had to do was build that tomorrow, today.

When Disneyland opened in 1955, the Interstate Highway System had not yet been built. Autopia modeled what would one day become our freeways and allowed guests the opportunity to experience this exciting new world. The Monsanto House of the Future was similar in many respects. It gave guests the ability to imagine themselves in the type of home they might have expected to be living in in the not too distant future.

As Tomorrowland continued to develop it drew heavily on the bold vision put forth as part of the space race. Tomorrowland was a place where the public could go and feel like they were a part of America’s greatest endeavor. Guests could make believe that they were the astronauts blasting into space and exploring the heavens. Space Mountain, Flight to the Moon and Mission to Mars have all responded to this formerly popular vision of the future.

Today, however, our vision for the future is not nearly so uniform, or positive. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt about our future. Today’s popular culture shows a future plagued by robot uprisings, undead armies, global warming and apocalypse. We see it in the movies and television we watch, the books we read, and even throughout our political debates there is an underlying sense of concern for the direction we’re currently heading in. This vision of the future does not mesh well with Tomorrowland’s, or Disney’s, overall outlook (with the possible exception of the forthcoming video game Epic Mickey.)

Because the popular perception of the future has shifted away from the utopian ideal that Tomorrowland was founded upon, it has felt lost, missing its unifying vision for what’s to come. The refurbished Tomorrowland that debuted a decade ago was presented without context; it failed to tell a compelling story that guests could buy into.

WDI has three options when it comes to the future of Tomorrowland: they can continue the current course without direction or destination, ensuring Tomorrowland becomes increasingly less relevant and less of a draw for guests; they can borrow from the popular culture and make Tomorrowland much darker than it is today, giving up its utopian make-believe for a gritty reality; or, WDI can present its own vision that addresses many of the problems we face today and try to return a sense of hope, excitement and optimism to the future. 


As Disneyland's founder built the park on a foundation of optimism, all of us at Re-Imagineering will remain optimistic as well. Here's hoping WDI can deliver a great big beautiful Tomorrowland 4.0.

"We want our Utopia now."

-Sinclair Lewis
Main Street

Contributed by Re-Imagineering reader Grant Henninger

Note: Those interested in contributing entries to Re-Imagineering should initially forward a comment to any existing entry that includes your e-mail address and your stated interest. The comment will not be published so your e-mail will remain anonymous.

41 comments:

PardonMyFrench said...

I just got back from a visit to Disney World and your post could not have been better timed or better aimed at the heart of the issue.

With Space Mountain being down, Tomorrowland shows its wrinkles: Monsters Inc doesn't belong here with Pixar over at Studios (you could make the same argument with Buzz, but there is the space link). Stitch is terrible even though my daughter loves Stitch. Speedway well never belonged and the older rides are worn with the exception of Carousel.

The glory of Space covered(s) the warts. TLand badly needs a reboot and a focus. Too bad the whole area just didn't start to reflect a "Space" theme since that's really our future.

theatreman said...

This is beautifully written.

The "White City" of Tomorrowland “One” was created not so long after the darkness of WWII, when we were escaping the past and seeking a bright and hopeful future.

We live today in a dangerous, pessimistic world, fractured by sectarian strife and wars fought not on glorious "battle fields," but in office buildings, neighborhoods, markets, homes, hotels, schools and roads, via bomb "devics" and drones.

Disney should challenge itself and its Imagineers to create new attractions for Tomorrowland -- not just or even necessarily buildings -- but shows/rides with themes and an esthetic derived not just from a "bright new" gadget consumerism, but from the ideas of the most practical, visionary and optimistic thinkers world-wide.

Might WDI convene a week-long congress in which brilliant planners, philosophers, architects and international representatives could interact with Disney artists and writers and develop a blueprint for the future which we hope for and deserve?

Could WDI translate that into theme park media?

I met once with WDI about a “Religion” Pavilion for Disney’s America, and I still believe that WDI could tackle great themes subtly – World Hunger, World Peace, Ideological conflict - if not in Future World then in EPCOT - through individual stories and imaginative theatrical techniques.

Envision Animatronic children traveling into outer space and determining what the essentials of a new peaceful planet would be. Isn’t this better than children Astro_Blasting cut-out targets?

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that maybe they should rename Tomorrowland as Science Fiction land.

Evan said...

They should call it "retromorrowland", because it's been a long time since it depicted the future. A lot of it depicts someone's idea, a long time ago, of 2009.

One feature of the Tomorrowland makeover at Disneyland ten years ago that I really liked, and which seems (as of my latest visit) to have disappeared, was the edible landscaping--corn and strawberries and whatnot. It was explained to me by a cast-member friend that the idea was in the future we'd be all be living more sustainably and closer to nature, and that even in cities we'd have food growing all around us instead of on distant farms.

It's a lovely image--I don't know if it's practical, but that's hardly the point. More importantly it was also the first time in a while I'd felt like they were really saying something about the real future. The rest of their makeover was Jules Verne steampunk, which I found rather depressing; here it was 2000, and the 1950 future wasn't good enough anymore, so they retreated back to the 1900 future instead. The landscaping was the only thing really visionary in the mix--and I loved it for that.

The corn and strawberries are all gone now. I don't necessarily wish they'd come back--some other vision would be fine--but vision would be nice.

Lou Zucaro said...

I'd like to echo that this ia really well-written and compelling post.

Option 3 is, of course, the way to go. I generally don't succumb to the pessimisting, fear mongering that exists in the world today, and even though I enjoy and appreciate some of the (slightly) darker entertainment that's out there these days, I prefer the more positive, utopian, adventurous visions of what tomorrow might bring.

There's no reason WDI can't do something fantastic, positive, hopeful and adventurous with Tomorrowland.

Sure, we now know that a lot of things we imagined in the past either aren't possible or probable, but there are also many more ideas about how to venture into space, to colonize the moon and other planets.

Global warming doesn't need to be addressed directly (and I think maybe because it's become such a political hot-button issue, it shouldn't), but there are certainly ways to incorporate alternative energy and green concepts in a "home of tomorrow" setting that can be amazing.

Equal doses of reality, practicality, imagination, technology and wonder can go a long way in any of the areas or elements in the next Tomorrowland to make it really great.

Space elevators. A home with walls that change according to our whim from solid color to wallpaper to big-screen entertainment. Memory plastic / memory metal. Orbiting hotels. Moon bases. Moon buggies! High-speed maglev trains. Teleportation. Robot helpers. A near-lightspeed trip to Mars. Space planes. Mass transit tube systems. Exploring another planet. Matter transformation. Encountering other intelligent beings. Roadways with automated smart cars that drive themselves.

This is just a short list of the things that popped into my head that WDI could do well with in the next version of Tomorrowland. Any of these could made to be fun, interesting and wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Tomorrowland is going to be the next big project after the new Fantasyland is finished?

Grant Henninger said...

I'm glad to see this article is being well received. Because of the nature of time, and it's slow and inevitable progress forward, Tomorrowland will always be the land that needs the most attention and the most frequent updates at Disneyland.

Autopia is the prefect example of a ride that made a prediction about the future, which came true, but now has nothing to do with tomorrow. Autopia simply doesn't have a place in Tomorrowland anymore, it's too easy to leave the park and hop on the 5 for the same experience.

Tomorrowland hasn't had a true update since 1966. We live in a completely different world today than we did 40 years ago. I'm hopeful that with new leadership at Disneyland, we might finally see something futuristic come back to Tomorrowland.

bob d said...

1) I wish that all you re-imagineers, and that includes all you commenters, were really in charge at WDI. No really. We've heard of "common folk" rising up and overthrowing governments; would it be possible for a mob wielding pitchforks and torches to storm into a corporate office and take over a company?

The sad, obvious truth is that, of the three options Grant has offered us here, the one the company will pursue is option #1: continue without direction. I mean, unless there were really some radical change in philosophy over there. Because underlying the question of what the theme of this land should be, is the question of whether it should have a theme at all. The Walt Disney company of recent history has shown time and again that they have no taste for "themes". "We" on this site have already discussed the deterioration of theme in Future World at Epcot. Disney's Hollywood Studios is an entire park without a theme. And Tomorrowland is losing any concept of theme as well.

As someone already pointed out - forget about whether you like the show or not - the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor doesn't have anything to do with a futuristic theme. Stitch sort of fit in with the newest theme over here in Florida, which was supposed to be some sort of spaceport with regular alien traffic. But that brings me to my next point:

2) I was going to leave this as a comment to the March 25 post about the Peoplemover, but luckily I think it fits in here too. You see, I rode the PeopleMover this past weekend and noticed that they changed the audio again. Do I like the new spiel? Well, of course not. Why not? Well, among other things, it is completely without theme now - well, except "this is a tour bus". "Here's Stitch's Great Escape, Here's the Speedway. Here's the Carousel of Progress. Blah, blah, blah."

Now, they started this with the last audio changeover. But at least intermingled with the tour were little snippets enforcing the spaceport theme - such as it was. "Keep your forward-facing tenticles in." "Paging Tom Morrow." Now, even those sorts of comments are gone. Now, I'm not saying I miss those, but no theme at all? As I recall from waay back when, the original audio talked mostly about the transport system itself, and how it was the wave of the future. Do you see how that fit perfectly with the original Tomorrowland theme?

bob d said...

Oh! I left out the best part: they still talk about Buzz Lightyear while you are looking at the gal in the hair salon!

Anonymous said...

I so miss Horizons! It's material and idea is still one of the best representations of future life depicted optimistically. This problem isn't just Tomorrowland but also Future World.

We now are living very close to what EPCOT Center depicted in the early 80s. I tell my younger friends about how boxy cars were in the 80s until designers were inspired by World of Motion's Aero 2000. Electronic interaction was back in Atari 2600-land and Journey into Imagination's ride, movies and Imageworks were true journeys. There are other examples.

Come on Disney, where are we going next? What future will we see depicted in the next decade that our kids can hope to achieve when they are adults?

Ken B said...

There are parts of the future that ARE bright, and they need to focus on them in a Disney way. If I just brainstorming for a bit, I can think of some simple starters. We're all big on the latest gadgets and things computers can do. Surely the exponential growth of computer power is in itself a stunning topic for a feature, possibly in Innoventions.

The green movement and sustainability movements are pretty heartwarming. You just have to find away that would present these movements without anything that would seem Luddite.

Heading in another direction, we're pouring lots of money into the ISS and Ares, the shuttle replacement. Now is the time for Disney not only to look at NASA, but also strike some deals with them. Disney can raise the public's consciousness about NASA, thereby renewing interest. Disney should not just be using a topic, but they should rather be a partner in that topic.

Disney executives should all be given a crash course in modern philosophy 101. Walt Disney was a modernist, and when the world edges into postmodernism, Disney loses direction. It must maintain - and sometimes even direct and create from scratch - the optimism and dedication that made the Americans of a century ago so hopeful for the future. When a modernist says mankind will solve the problems that tomorrow brings, he is not being unreasonably optimistic. He is trusting in the wily intelligence of America and of mankind in general. Underneath it all, Disney represents competence, success, and happy endings, not by waiting for it, but by making it happen. The company merely needs to remember this as they move forward.

theatreman said...

There are some arrestingly perceptive and creative writers on this site. Grab the pitchforks, we're going in (or back in for some of you?)!

Anonymous said...

I have to applaud "Utopia Now", and concur with theatreman and Lou about being well written and focused.
I personally would love to see Innovations removed with Honey I shrunk the Audience, The Arcade, and I'll even throw in Buzz Lightyear. Remove the Rockets, and put them back where they used to be, above the PeopleMover track. Put any vehicle on the People Mover track, and tell a "Tomorrowland Relevant" story. Maybe storyline about if certain things are cut back or re-use of products, how the Earth will benefit from it in the long run.

Star Tours 2.0 is long overdue, but it is a step in the right direction. Now, with about half of Tommorowland gutted, time to reinvent the future. Electric Cars for Autopia, Solar and LED lighting throughout Tommorowland, and renewable plants and eco systems for landscaping. Show that if everyone planted a tree, that certain damage can be reversed such as air quality for one. Show that by being socially responsible, will only ensure mankinds survival.

Show the steps that other Countries are already taking to do their part, and if they are not, encourage them through education to do so. That is as optimistic as one can be during these troubling times. Just make Tomorrowland about Tomorrow, and not just another "-Land gimmick" for Disney to push more factory made plush and toys in a Land already gone mad. Disney used to encourage dreams of tomorrow when Walt was around, but now that shareholders control the Park, all they do is hide the future behind games...Lots of uneducational meaningless games...

5tephanie said...

Great post, excellent points made, the only thing missing are the specifics of what you'd like to see! I am eager to read any ideas you have on this! Might I add that I agree, wholeheartedly, about Autopia not belonging (gasp! And not from the mere mention of tossing an orginal, but gasp from the fumes those horrid little cars emit!).

Or is it too late for this land, the speed of light way we live today almost means tomorrow was yesterday....I simply mean, is it possible that reconsidering this as a "land" is really what needs to happen here? It begs the question...

ps. they are still growing vegetables in TL!

Anonymous said...

I love what you are saying in this entry. You are spot on in saying that our future has been looking very bleak. As the economy continues to suffer, technology comes to increasingly impede on our lives, and the dangers of our world become increasingly beyond our control, everyday just yields more and more uncertainty.

I think Disneyland could do some real good by presenting the world with a newfound hope for the future not just in Tomorrowland, but in its entire park. Going back to the idealistic utopia of the original Disneyland, untouched by corporate corruption, would be a great beacon of hope in itself.

Grant Henninger said...

5tephanie, obviously I left out specific proposals purposefully. There are a lot of good ideas out there on how WDI could present the future, or what that vision for the future holds. I wanted to make sure the core of my idea stayed intact without getting bogged down in specifics that would inevitably lead to disagreements on what the future holds and how to make that future into Disneyland rides.

With that said, I definitely do have my own ideas of what needs to be done to Tomorrowland. By trade, I’m a real estate developer. Much of what I look to change in Tomorrowland involves basic land use planning issues, especially traffic circulation. My profession also leads to me a vision of tomorrow that looks very much like Celebration, Florida. However, that doesn’t make a good attraction.

Currently, there are some quality attractions that need to be preserved in Tomorrowland. Space Mountain, Star Tours, the Monorail, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and Honey, I Shrunk the Audience should all stay. Astro Orbitors is a classic ride that still has value, but it needs to move.

At the same time, there are some classic rides with a lot of history that don’t have a place in Tomorrowland anymore. As many have mentioned, Autopia doesn’t represent the future anymore, it’s far too easy to leave the park and hop on the 5 freeway to get the same experience. The Carousel Theater hasn’t had much purpose, and hasn’t really fit in Tomorrowland since the Carousel of Progress closed down. Also, the People Mover track needs to be removed completely. As sad as this fact is, the People Movers will never come back and it would be better to open up that space for something new.

With the removal of these couple rides, a huge area would be freed up for something new. The amount of open area around Autopia is a huge asset and should be preserved somehow. One idea I’ve had for this area is a large park with some type of Augmented Reality overlay that would provide games and other ways to interact with the space. Another attraction that would be appropriate, and this would even fit within Innovations, is some type of desktop fabrication where people can take home something they design and create.

No matter what vision WDI creates for Tomorrowland, if they ever do, a couple things need to be fixed. As I mentioned, Astro Orbitors needs to move. Its current location blocks the view from the hub into Tomorrowland and it impedes traffic flow. All of the steampunk inspired additions that came about in 1998 need to be removed, especially the rocks at the entrance into the land (for the same reason Astro Orbitors needs to move). Finally, the People Mover track needs to be removed or repurposed, as it stands now, it shows a vision of a future full of abandoned and derelict infrastructure. And that’s probably the last thing Disney wants to represent.

Scott said...

The article mentions (correctly) that most SF today in either film or book form seems to be dystopian. But some of the golden age stuff still has vision that is far enough in the future to make it relevant, not-impossible, and perhaps even utopian enough for a Disney land. I'd suggest that imagineers look to the fiction of someone like Asimov, who was quite optimistic about the future, and think about a Tomorrowland that sort of resembles his imagined worlds. I would suggest another, but I don't know of anyone else who imagined the future so comprehensively and broadly, yet kept it clearly IN the future.

Also I read an interview with ex-Imagineer Eddie Sotto (I wish I could remember where) in which he sort of re-imagines Tomorrowland. One comment he made was about "green" technology - he wanted the land to "be" green, but not be crowing about it. Like, in the future, it's just the way things are. Don't make a "show" of the green-ness of the land; have it be part of the background radiation, so to speak...

Brian said...

There are parts of the future that ARE bright, and they need to focus on them in a Disney way. If I just brainstorming for a bit, I can think of some simple starters. We're all big on the latest gadgets and things computers can do. Surely the exponential growth of computer power is in itself a stunning topic for a feature, possibly in Innoventions.

Or how about a new Adventure through Inner space - shrunk down to the size smaller than a computer chip to explore what really happens there? Could be visually exciting!

Joe in L.A. said...

I know this has been mentioned on many Disney fan websites and podcasts, but if you haven't yet seen Brian Fies' new book "Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow" you should definitely check it out. It sheds a lot of light on this very discussion and is a fun read. Shall we all chip in and buy a copy for Jay Rasulo?

Anonymous said...

"Also I read an interview with ex-Imagineer Eddie Sotto (I wish I could remember where) in which he sort of re-imagines Tomorrowland."

Here it is. An interesting read. Fairly idealistic.
http://imagineeringdisney.blogspot.com/2009/05/wwed-armchair-imagineering-with-eddie.html

Brian said...

Heading in another direction, we're pouring lots of money into the ISS and Ares, the shuttle replacement. Now is the time for Disney not only to look at NASA, but also strike some deals with them. Disney can raise the public's consciousness about NASA, thereby renewing interest. Disney should not just be using a topic, but they should rather be a partner in that topic.

Another great idea - the original flight to the moon teased the imagination with ideas of space travel...it could be done again and in a more enlightening way than through a silly centerfuge...

2.0 and beyond said...

5tephanie said...

“Great post, excellent points made, the only thing missing are the specifics of what you'd like to see! I am eager to read any ideas you have on this! Might I add that I agree, wholeheartedly, about Autopia not belonging (gasp! And not from the mere mention of tossing an orginal, but gasp from the fumes those horrid little cars emit!).”



I believe that the reason that there aren’t already electric cars in Autopia is because that Disneyland didn’t want to foot the bill to pay for them and they didn’t want to relinquish any of the Chevron (who was willing to let them be converted) sponsorship money either.

That’s probably the whole problem with Tomorrowland, and Disney overall. ANYTHING CAN BE DONE! But it costs money. And Disney is just not willing to spend it.

The kinds of outstanding TOMORROW related designs that are being done in the world is not out of the capabilities of Imagineering, just the funding to carry it out.

Anonymous said...

It's my opinion that a utopian tomorrrow would be best done outside of Disney and elsewhere by others. Is it Dubai? Disney cannot do it and so it's dumb to expect the current administration to step up. It takes a visionary and someone to take ownership of the future as mindshare and really execute on that. As pointed out, it is usually expensive. Corporations usually don't do go there "short term" growth is the shareholders mantra.

Anyone know Richard Branson?

Imagineerforever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spokker said...

All of these ideas and the best they'll come up with is the Incredibles Pods presented by Disney*Pixar. Hell, the rumor is that Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is coming, which is like kicking a land while it's down.

Also Captain EO because, hey, he's dead now.

/bsdb said...

Anyone else concerned about Staggs replacing Rasulo?

Granted, both execs are alums of Disney Strategic Planning, with backgrounds in finance and economics. But my perception of Staggs is that he's even further removed from the creative process than Rasulo. So why is he being moved down from CFO to Chairman of P&R, instead of being moved up?

Given the recent terminations of senior Imagineering execs, I don't quite see Staggs new position as a springboard to executive operational experience, as was suggested in the L.A. Times yesterday. Instead, I see Staggs as the "outsider" being brought into Glendale to "clean house" and transform WDI into a contract shop, similar to what Universal Creative became.

Staggs running P&R makes about as much sense as Lasseter running ABC. Sure, John is a good manager, but television is not his primary strength. The only reasons I can see for Staggs replacing Rasulo are mainly nefarious and anathema to the Re-Imagineering principles celebrated on this blog.

I do not see a bright future for WDI after this executive wife swap.

Anonymous said...

"they laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike...you could lose your miiiiiiind..

when cou-sins are two of a kind"

DregerClock.org said...

Great post! Disneyland really does need to think about how tomorrowland could be a hopeful encouragement toward a better future rather than be theme-less or become a dark foreboding dreaded future.

I always loved the mission to the moon and mission to mars ride. Seems to me that they could really do something with an idea like this and inspire kids in future exploration and the "new frontier". But instead we get "Ghost Galexy" in space mountain. Sigh.

Smilee306 said...

2.0 and beyond said...
But it costs money. And Disney is just not willing to spend it.

This is what's so frustrating to me about the announcements surrounding the new cruise ship. Why are they so willing to pour money into boats and not the parks?

Penny said...

What I'd like to see: As a child I loved Dream Flight, the history of air flight moving into "tomorrow." I'd like to see something similar about space flight, maybe done by NASA instead of Delta - we could have scenes of colonized planets, or say, one of Jupiter's moons.

I think Tomorrowland (I'm thinking of WDW here, I've never been to Disneyland) needs a massive visual overhaul, in terms of architecture. When I think of it, it all seems so rectangular and squat. I'm envisioning something like white spikes and spires, tall and narrow - maybe the idea being that we use even more vertical space in the future to preserve areas of grass and green. I should think imagineers would be able to use forced perspective to come up with something that looks even more striking than it is.

T-Bone said...

I'm coming late to this thread, but I'm completely in agreement and have been working on my own idea for a Tomorrowland attraction that would give hope and inspiration for the future and feature a rotating program of the best ideas in urban planning, alternative energy, etc. Here's the beginning:

LUDWIG VON DRAKE’S NEW CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS

NOTES
This attraction is, in many ways, a tribute the great educational films and shorts produced for Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Sometimes sections of the original animation is quoted outright- new animation should fit the style. Through the use of filmed segments, the possibility is left open to update the attraction without a huge expense.

ACT 1: PROGRESS

The audience takes their seats in the rotating Carousel of Progress Theater, facing a wall painted with a mural of Ludwig Von Drake’s laboratory/office/library. As the show begins and the music swells, the first stage appears, with a LUDWIG VON DRAKE ANIMATRONIC in front of a chalkboard. While attention is on Ludwig and after the theater lights dim, the wall behind the audience lowers to reveal DONALD DUCK operating a video camera.

VON DRAKE: Okay, now everybody take their seat, it’s time to get started. Madam, if you could take off the hat with the crazy ears so the person behind you can see. Ahem! Welcome to the New Carousel of Progress! I’m Professor Ludwig Von Drake, but of course you knew that already because I am so famous. Now you zee, it’s called a carousel because it goes around and around like a merry-go-round-whatzis, and it’s the Carousel of Progress because- “progress”- well, progress is a word that means different things to different ducks. For zum people, it is the sound of a motor (BACK RIGHT OF AUDIENCE, LOUD MOTOR SOUND) and for some it is the roar of a rocket (ANIMATED ROCKET ZIPS OVERHEAD LOUDLY) and for others it is the zound of a symphony-

DONALD DUCK: (HUMMING BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH, FROM THE BACK OF THE ROOM) dum-dum-dum-DUM, dum-dum-dum-DUM.

LUDWIG: Isn’t zat nice? With the timpani and the piccolo, and- wait a minute! Zat’s not a symphony! Zat’s a Donald!

DONALD: Heh-heh-heh.

(more in the next post)

T-Bone said...

I've been working on my own idea of a new Tomorrowland attraction to bring hope and inspiration for the future. Let me know what you think...

LUDWIG VON DRAKE’S NEW CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS

This attraction is, in many ways, a tribute the great educational films and shorts produced for Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Sometimes sections of the original animation is quoted outright- new animation should fit the style. Through the use of filmed interview segments, the possibility is left open to update the attraction without a huge expense.

ACT 1: PROGRESS

The audience takes their seats in the rotating Carousel of Progress Theater, facing a wall painted with a mural of Ludwig Von Drake’s laboratory/office/library. The theater walls continue the theme. As the show begins and the music swells, the first stage appears, with a LUDWIG VON DRAKE ANIMATRONIC in front of a chalkboard. While attention is on Ludwig and after the theater lights dim, the wall behind the audience lowers to reveal HUEY, DEWEY and LOUIE seated in the last row and DONALD DUCK on a video camera.

VON DRAKE: Okay, now everybody take their seat, it’s time to get started. Madam, if you could take off the hat with the crazy ears so the person behind you can see. Ahem! Welcome to the New Carousel of Progress! I’m Professor Ludwig Von Drake, but of course you knew that already because I am so famous. Now you zee, it’s called a carousel because it goes around and around like a merry-go-round-whatzis, and it’s the Carousel of Progress because- “progress”- well, progress is a word that means different things to different ducks. For zum people, it is the sound of a motor (BACK RIGHT OF AUDIENCE, LOUD MOTOR SOUND) and for some it is the roar of a rocket (ANIMATED ROCKET ZIPS OVERHEAD LOUDLY) and for others it is the zound of a symphony-

DONALD DUCK: (HUMMING BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH, FROM THE BACK OF THE ROOM) dum-dum-dum-DUM, dum-dum-dum-DUM.

LUDWIG: Isn’t zat nice? With the timpani and the piccolo, and- wait a minute! Zat’s not a symphony! Zat’s a Donald!

DONALD: Heh-heh-heh.

Mr Banks said...

T-Bone: Publish Part Two again. I'll delete everything in between.

T-Bone said...

LUDWIG VON DRAKE'S CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS continued...

LUDWIG: Now where was I? Oh yes, progress. You zee, back in the 20th century, people got a lot of ideas into their heads about what ze vorld of tomorrow was going to look like. We were all going to live in plastic bubble houses, on different planets...

(WHILE HE TALKS, HE SKETCHES ON THE CHALKBOARD, AND HIS DRAWINGS COME TO LIFE. FOOTAGE FROM OLD “WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR” SEGMENTS COME OUT OF THE CHALK SKETCHES, AND SHOW A FIFTIES VERSION OF THE FUTURE- ROBOTS, CRAZY SPACESHIPS, ETC. AN ANIMATED DONALD APPEARS IN A SMALL FUTURISTIC ROOM WITH SLIDING DOORS IN A SILVER FUTURISTIC JUMPSUIT)

Und we would all clearly be wearing silver jumpsuits. What was it with the silver jumpsuits? Why, they don’t even seem comfortable, with the seam here, and a seam there, and you’re always pulling them down around your waist and everything. I mean, how did you go to the bathroom in that getup?

ANIMATED DONALD: heh-heh.
(ANIMATED DONALD BLUSHES AND STRETCHES HIS JUMPSUIT, WHILE SLINKING OFFSTAGE, ANIMATION POPS OFF)

Now here in the 21st century, a group of forward thinkers called the New Urbanists have this futuristic idea of the kind of places we should live that looks like this: (STARTS SKETCHING ON CHALKBOARD, MAKES A DRAWING, MUTTERS) The building comes to the street, and the windows go here, and the door over here, and you put some ornament on, and there you go!

(VIDEO FADES IN UNDER THE HOUSE LUDWIG HAS SKETCHED, UNTIL WE SEE A SCENE FROM DISNEYLAND’S MAIN ST.)

Looks kind of familiar, doesn’t it?



...So Ludwig will then take visitors through acts on energy issues and the latest developments (with video interviews with the top thinkers- perhaps projected onto animatronics, perhaps with innovative use of video screens), a 3rd act about transportation and maybe nanotechnology, and a final act that pulls all the issues together and includes some animated collaborations between Imagineering and the latest thinkers about what living in the future could be like.

I'd love to hear comments.

Spokker said...

Turns out Tomorrowland isn't so optimistic anymore. Here's my script.

Act 1

LUDWIG: How did we get to where we are today? You zee, folks. Urban areas experienced a phenomenon known as white flight. White families fled to zee suburbs. Once there they lobbied local governments to enact strict zoning laws that limited density and in some cases outright banned the construction of apartment buildings, thus artificially raising the cost of housing so that poor minorities could not afford to move there.

Once in the suburbs, white heads of households still needed a way to get downtown in order to work. The federal government stepped in and rammed federally funded highways through poor neighborhoods of color, often using eminent domain to force families out of their homes. Those who remained had to deal with loud, smoggy freeways and the blight they would cause.

Since streetcars were dismantled the poor had to rely on infrequent, cramped buses to get to work. This unequal transportation network disproportionally benefit suburban commuters at the expense of urban residents.

As the era of cheap oil comes to a close, the suburbs will become the new ghettos, its residents scavaging abandoned Wal*Marts for munitions for the impending water wars.

T-Bone said...

Sounds like someone else is also a planner. ;) Yes, of course, all of that is true. Which is why a forum with the power to persuade like Disney could be useful. I picture a rotating slate of forward-thinking planners, architects, alternative energy developers, etc., being interviewed by Ludwig and showing how we could make a great big beautiful tomorrow (and change the mess we've made in the recent past).

Christophe Bruchansky said...

You didn't mention a fourth option for Disney Imagineers, the one they took at DisneyLand Paris and DisneySea Tokyo: not trying to build a theme around a present vision of the future, but reproduce dreams of the future from the past, for example from Jules Vernes. The audience can much more easily get into that mood and the subject is much less controversial. I did a philosophical lecture about Disney World here http://curatedmatter.org/the-heterotopia-of-walt-disney-world-post-modernism-and-consumerism/. Disney wants to be positive about the future because it is its interest and the interest of its sponsors (HP, Nestle, GM...), so they will choose the safest way to convince the visitors that future technologies will be good for them.

Anonymous said...

I think the Slogan of The original Horizons ride at Epcot says it all... "If we can Dream it, We can Do it" Its a simple premise that is very hard to execute. But that should be the direction Tland takes us. Whatever we do, we will do together through innovation and drive for a better tomorrow. Even if it turns out to be a fairytale that is what should be presented... In fairytales you end with "Happily ever after" you don't ask what did they did the next morning after... Did Cinderella and the prince ever get into a fight?? Don't know, don't care.. That is NOT the focus. And neither should that be the focus of T-land. Not what is emminent but what is possible.

Steven.F said...

Why is it so important that disney doesnt have a plaan or destination? Do all the other parts of disney have to have a destination? Dsiney already did a great job in taking you into a whole other world. Its not about where tomorrow land will lead us its only important thing is how we feel when we are there. Why waste time on be upset instead of enjoying. It doesnt matter where you end up its how you get there that really matters

Kat Mal said...

This is wonderful. I am a graduate student at Columbia University getting my masters in Historic Preservation and I am really attracted to Disney and its connection to "Tomorrow", and more importantly, how the parks are changing and which elements of yesterday's tomorrow are being erased. I was wondering if anyone had any idea how to get into Disney archives regarding the Parks (especially Epcot). Any publications on the subject would also be great

Anonymous said...

Bois deBoul is a huge forest with multiple parks, lakes with white swans, waterfalls, and the longchamp racetrack. I decided to travel around Paris this year with my friend’s Jason and Kim. I wish we had discovered this park earlier as it turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in Paris.