Tomorrowland: “The Future That Never Was…” Is Changing Yet Again

By: Amy Kawa

Tomorrowland was one of the six original lands in the Magic Kingdom that opened with Walt Disney World in 1971.  Since that opening day, Tomorrowland has always had somewhat of an identity crisis.  Is the theme “futuristic-retro” or just plain old ’80s retro?  Tomorrowland has certainly gone though the most extensive overhauls, in terms of theming and attraction changes, when compared to the other lands in the park.  The year 1994 brought perhaps the greatest reimagining of the land, bringing in neon colors and lights, changing attractions and attractions names, and sending Tomorrowland down a new track.

Since 1994, color schemes and other little theming elements have been constantly reworked to try and get the right feel for the land.  It looks like the pieces are now in place for another major overhaul to begin taking shape.

The iCan Robot will no longer be roaming out and about in Tomorrowland, as his final day of performances will be April 7, 2018 (he now will exist only in guests’ memories – like PUSH – RIP PUSH!).  The long-standing Toy Story merchandise cart, themed after the claw from Pizza Planet, with a collection of Green Aliens on top will no longer exist come April 8, 2018.  One would think another merchandise cart will take its place, but perhaps with a different theme, as most Toy Story-themed elements of Walt Disney World (God willing with the exception of Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin) will shift to Hollywood Studios with the opening of Toy Story Land in June.

The color scheme of Tomorrowland will also one again change.  The recently-painted blue, crystallized-looking rock work that greets guests as they enter Tomorrowland from the central hub should remain, and the rest of the buildings and attraction facades will be painted a “crystal white.”  Hexagon-shaped patterns serve as accents throughout the color scheme. The infamous purple wall will remain, so Instagram users everywhere can breath a sigh of relief, but it will somehow be enhanced thanks to the new paint job.

The seemingly endless refurbishment of Magic Kingdom’s busiest counter service restaurant, Cosmic Ray’s, continues to roll on, and a new color scheme for the Carousel Progress will fit into the crystal white palate is already underway.

Dreamer Amy’s Take: Let me start by saying that Tomorrowland is my favorite land in the Magic Kingdom, and one of my top five areas in all of Walt Disney World.  It has my favorite attractions (Space Ranger Spin, Carousel of Progress, PeopleMover, Laugh Floor), favorite restaurant (Cosmic Ray’s – yes, for reals), and favorite background music anywhere.  Ok, just wanted to give you some context… proceed.

Are all of these details minute?  Sure.  Are paint schemes and merchandise carts essential to enjoying the attractions in Disney World?  Absolutely not. Here is my biggest concern though: these details are just the tip of the “crystallized” iceberg. TRON Lightcycle Power Run is scheduled to open in Tomorrowland by Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021 – just three short years from now.  In that time, who knows what else can be changed or completely removed.  It is no secret that Disney has experimented with the attractions and theming of Tomorrowland perhaps more than any other area in Disney World over its 47 years of existence.

Everyone is in agreement that Stitch’s Great Escape should go, and I believe it will within the next year with some new plan announced for that space at that time, but I worry that in three years, other, more beloved attractions will fade away.  They already tried to remove the Carousel of Progress once, so hopefully they won’t make a similar mistake at the risk of fan outrage.  Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and almost everyone you ask (besides me, of course) likes Toy Story Mania over being a Galactic Hero, so you’d have to think its future is uncertain.  Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor could lose its comedy license for something flashier and more relevant.  The Tomorrowland Speedway has already been rumored to close, but seems to  be safe because it hasn’t already closed to make room for the TRON attraction towards the back area of the land.  Astro Orbiter is the icon and centerpiece of Tomorrowland, so I would think that’s safe as well, and Space Mountain might be the closes thing to a “lifer” attraction as there is in Disney World.

My other fear is that the amazing ambience of Tomorrowland may be lost.  Call it “weird.”  Call it “thematically confused.”  I do not care.  During the day, it’s an awesome mixture of futuristic, angular architecture, but the beauty of Tomorrowland comes out after the sun goes down.  Nothing on this planet is a cooler site to see than the neon glow of the People Mover as you walk from Fantasyland into Tomorrowland, or the planets glowing green as you spin on Astro Orbiter.  The whole land takes on a personality so distinctive at night, that no matter what they do change in the next few years, I hope it never loses that Tomorrowland glow and always remains “the future that never was and is finally here.”

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