By Brady MacDonald
11:30 AM EDT, May 8, 2013
The eternal problem with Tomorrowland is that the commonplace reality of today inevitably catches up to and ultimately surpasses the ultramodern imagined future of yesterday.
Disneyland's forward-looking land of tomorrow has seen many evolutions since opening day in 1955. Through the years, there have been major expansions in 1959 (Monorail), 1977 (Space Mountain) and 1986 (Star Tours) as well as complete makeovers in 1967 (New Tomorrowland) and 1998 (New New Tomorrowland).
The current iteration has a retro-futuristic science fiction fantasy theme that was designed to be a bit more timeless but nonetheless is showing its age.
With the release of "Iron Man 3" and plans for "Star Wars" and "Tron" sequels in the works, I thought it would be a good time to do a bit of "blue sky" dreaming about what Walt Disney Imagineering might have in mind for the New New New Tomorrowland.
What follows is some speculation mixed with a healthy dose of conjecture blended with a heaping helping of armchair imagineering. Take it for what it's worth.
During the Bob Iger era, Disney has become a company of brands - from Pixar to Marvel to Star Wars. And the Mouse has a ton of underused intellectual properties - such as Iron Man, Tron and Wall-E- that would fit perfectly in any Tomorrowland reboot.
Using that logic, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Star Tours are a lock for the foreseeable future while conceivably everything else in and around Tomorrowland is potentially in play. That means Innoventions, Astro Orbiter, Captain EO, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Autopia and even the venerable Space Mountain could be scrapped or modified to make way for a reimagined land. And then there's the queue area next to Star Tours, the abandoned Rocket Rods track and even some backstage acreage. All in all, that's quite a bit of real estate to work with.
So let's take each of the brands one at a time and see how they might fit into a renovated Tomorrowland.
Disneyland has been surveying annual passholders about their interest in a Star Wars-themed land, according to SlashFilm.
The logical location for such a land would be behind Star Tours in a backstage area between Space Mountain and Main Street USA, a spot that has been mentioned as a possible home for other mini-lands in the past.
A Star Wars mini-land is reportedly in the design phase for Disneyland Paris and the topic of rampant speculation at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Redd Rockett's Pizza Port in Disneyland would be perfect place for a Mos Eisley Cantina complete with an audio-animatronic alien jazz band.
I have to admit I did a double take when I first saw a tweet announcing plans for the Iron Man Tech: Presented by Stark Industries exhibit at Disneyland's Innoventions building. For a brief, fleeting moment I thought Disney had finally announced the long-rumored Iron Man ride. Instead what we got was a walk-through of movie sets and props that feels like the future queue of the long-rumored E-Ticket attraction.
We had been wondering for a while where Disney would first introduce Marvel characters into the parks, but this feels like a baby step.
Hong Kong Disneyland will reportedly get the first Marvel-themed land, according to the China edition of the Wall Street Journal.
Fans have been dreaming of a Tron LightCycle ride since the original film came out in 1982. The 2010 release of "Tron: Legacy" only reignited the wishful thinking.
It seems like a fairly foregone conclusion at this point that a LightCycle ride will be part of Shanghai Disneyland on opening day - although Disney has been decidedly tight-lipped about plans for the new Chinese park.
That has naturally led to speculation about a Tron-themed Vekoma Motorbike coaster on the old PeopleMover/Rocket Rods track at Disneyland. I would have to imagine the same problems that plagued Rocket Rods would have to be addressed before a LightCycle coaster was ever added to the elevated track.
The heartfelt Pixar film about a trash-compacting robot in the distant future of 2805 seems like a natural fit for Tomorrowland without the worry of a troublesome expiration date.
Not too long ago the rumor mill churned out a gem of an idea for a Wall-E dark ride at the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland in Florida. A carbon copy would fit nicely in any number of spaces at Disneyland.
For now, all these ideas remain pipe dreams and pure speculation until Disneyland makes an official announcement about the fate of Tomorrowland and sticks a shovel in the ground. A project as massive as a reimagined land could take years to execute and might happen all at once, in phases or not at all. Until then, we can only wait and wonder what the future holds for the New New New Tomorrowland.
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