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Disneyland Article
Long Lost Disneyland Landmark Rediscovered
Chris Nichols
The future came and went a long time ago at Disneyland. When Walt Disney was building his dream park in Anaheim, time and money were scarce and Tomorrowland was a prime place to cut corners. Autopia and Rocket to the Moon were the biggest attractions, with much of the remaining real estate occupied by corporate educational exhibits like Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry and Crane’s Bathroom of Tomorrow.

A year later, Walt paid a visit to a plastics convention in New York and saw a model that would soon come to life at his park. Tapping Monsanto for sponsorship, the House of the Future, a cantilevered miracle of space-age synthetic polymers, appeared to hover over the entrance to Tomorrowland in 1957. The home hosted some 20 million visitors who swooned over the sleek modernist furnishings by Knoll and Herman Miller, and the technology of tomorrow, including video phones and big screen TVs. It took a consortium of Disney, MIT and Monsanto to create this magnificent edifice that lasted only a decade.

The youngest baby boomers were barely toddlers when the wreckers came to take the house away. Concerned that such a significant piece of design history, and of Disney history, was fading from memory Dave Bossert set out to document its history in his new book The House of the Future: Walt Disney, MIT, and Monsanto's Vision of Tomorrow. Bossert worked on animation and special effects on classics like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid during the Disney Renaissance, highlighting a three decade career at the studio. After his friend and mentor Roy E. Disney died in 2009, Bossert wrote his biography, launching a book career that has documented studio artists, architecture, and even Destino, Walt’s complicated collaboration with Salvador Dali.

After a long love affair with the long-gone attraction, Bossert finally got to walk into a facsimile of the Monsanto House of the Future that opened last year in the Howard Johnson Hotel across the street from Disneyland. “It is really fantastic,” he says. “I was absolutely thrilled, it’s the closest you can get to the House of the Future.” Years of research have not turned up any relics from the original, but he keeps looking. “When they demolished the structure,” Bossert notes. “It ended up in a landfill in Brea.” HoJo manager Jonathan Whitehead scoured eBay for period pieces and had others custom fabricated for the new suite. New art was commissioned to match the missing originals, and a fanciful SHAG painting captures the midcentury optimism the house reflected so well.

The House of the Retro Future Suite will be open for tours on Saturday, November 25 from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. at a pop-up book signing. Signed copies are available by mail for those who cannot attend. Bossert has invited some “surprise guests” including former Imagineers, who may reveal even more secrets about the house.

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