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Disneyland Article
Fans Complain That Tomorrowland Is Stuck In The Past

Space Mountain
Orange County Register
Marla Jo Fisher
September 1, 2019
September 3, 2019
Disneyland fans who were hoping to hear about an upcoming renovation of Tomorrowland left last weekend’s D23 Expo disappointed, when no new improvements to the land were announced.

Rumors had been flying for months that Bob Chapek, Disney’s Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products, might announce a Tomorrowland revamp at the expo, which is the largest gathering of Disney fans in the world held and is held alternating years in Anaheim and Florida. This year, however, most of the biggest announcements involved overhauls at Florida’s Walt Disney World, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In Anaheim, Tomorrowland has some of the park’s favorite classic rides, such as Space Mountain and Autopia. However, it hasn’t had a major overhaul in more than 20 years, and still bears ghostly remnants of old, abandoned rides such as the overhead tracks of the PeopleMover, which closed in 1995. The tracks were briefly used for the ill-fated Rocket Rods attraction in the late ’90s.

Disney officials responded to criticism by pointing out that they just invested a huge-but-undisclosed amount of money into building Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — one of the largest expansions ever at the resort — and that they’re also constructing a new land called Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure next door. They also noted that they’ll be building Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Toontown, slated to open in 2022, and that they recently remodeled the former Paradise Pier section of Disney California Adventure into the new Pixar Pier.

But those improvements that didn’t stop the most ardent Disney fans from speculating about which attractions in Tomorrowland should stay or go. A “secret project” that was announced at the last minute for D23 sparked more rumors that it would be the announcement many fans were waiting for, though it subsequently turned out to be about a new documentary series and book about the Disney company.

The fire was only fueled recently when Disneyland began removing the so-called “french fry rocks” at the Tomorrowland entrance, which some people hoped would herald a revamp of the entire space. Bloggers immediately began posting rumors again about an upcoming fix.

“It’s the biggest hole in Disneyland, except for Toontown, but at least they’re working on that,” said unofficial Disney author and historian David Koenig. “Tomorrowland is the obvious next move.”

An Aug. 29 blog post on Nerdist entitled “Why a New Tomorrowland Is Long Overdue at Disneyland” summed up many fans’ feelings.

“With this most recent D23 Expo, rumors were swirling that we would finally get news of a new Tomorrowland coming to the U.S. theme parks, specifically to Disneyland,” the post by Eric Diaz reads. “But just as we were in 2015 and 2017, fans were left very disappointed as nothing was revealed. Those hoping for the announcement that even just the TRON Lightcycle Power Run coaster would be coming to Anaheim were left with zilch, yet again.”

Tomorrowland opened with the original Disneyland park in 1955–though just barely–and was updated in 1959, 1967 and 1998. Perhaps amusing today in 2019 is the fact that “the future” that the original Tomorrowland was pegged on was the year 1986.

In the Disney book “The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland: An Imagineer’s-Eye Tour,” designers acknowledge the challenge of trying to build a future world in which “change is the only constant.:”

Todd Regan, who runs a fan blog under the pen name of Dusty Sage, said he understood fans’ disappointment.

“The last update of Tomorrowland in 1998 was a restrained-budget dud from the get-go,” Regan said. “Most of the attractions have already slid into Yesterland — Honey I Shrunk The Audience, Innoventions, the NASA exhibit. And the big E-Ticket Rocket Rods didn’t even last the first year. In their place are a hodgepodge of themes, styles and color schemes. There is no single place in the Disneyland Resort more in need of intensive care.”

Disney fan Heather Madla, who runs the Disneyland Resort Fan Society Facebook page under the name Heather Anne, believes the task of renovation is even harder today, because in previous generations, people admired and welcomed new technology whereas today, it’s often viewed with skepticism or even feared.

She’s among those interested in seeing a self-consciously retro, vintage Tomorrowland, that looks backward at a more innocent and fun age of gee-whiz.

“Tomorrowland dates back to day one at Disneyland, but by its nature, it’s constantly out of date,” Koenig said. “That’s its biggest challenge. It’s themed to the future, but it’s built with today’s technology.” Koenig said he likes the idea of a vintage Tomorrowland, but doesn’t think it would happen. Among the ghosts of things past, none rile fans more than the PeopleMover tracks.

“It’s like Disneyland is taunting us with those tracks,” said Koenig., “It’s like they’re saying, ‘All you old people with memories of the PeopleMover, just look at the bones.’”

Regan said that fans “are justified in their disappointment,” but told them to hold on.

“Disney is aware of the issues and has been working on a new Tomorrowland for years,” Regan said. “It’s quite likely that budgets and schedules are still in flux and weren’t ready to be announced in time for Disney’s big fan expo.”
Attractions Referenced

American Space Experience


Honey, I Shrunk The Audience (Magic Eye Theater)


Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway


Rocket Rods

Space Mountain

Lands Referenced

Star Wars Galaxys Edge


Toon Town

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