Save Tomorrowland! – theLINElab

Robert McCall - "The Prologue and the Promise"

Robert McCall’s ‘The Prologue and the Promise’ captures the spirit of what Tomorrowland was intended to be.

Disneyland’s Tomorrowland  has a special place in the hearts of many. It’s conceptually unique among the lands and requires special consideration. The rapid pace of technological advancement along with the land’s unique concept have led to problems in it’s development and realization. We’ll be proposing solutions that will save what we feel is the core of what guests enjoy about Tomorrowland. Our plan for saving Tomorrowland does not involve preserving the built environment as-is, but to go deeper than that. Essential to our efforts is to understand, reinforce and expand upon the underlying themes that were part of Tomorrowland from it’s inception. We believe those themes and ideas are what guests relate to and yearn to see realized. We’ll look at all of these issues in detail and present our plan to save what is theLINElab’s favorite land!

Link to video: Save Tomorrowland walk-through tour.


ISSUES
  • Original Concept: The original concept of transportation and technology has eroded over the years.  How can an entire section of the park (at this scale) be kept ahead of the technology curve? Most guests will enter the park with more advanced technology in their pockets than can ever be realized and maintained at the scale of an entire land. How can this apparent conflict be remedied? What is the concept at the heart of this land? How can it be understood, refined and communicated? We believe that below the concept of technological advancement and transportation lie the desires for freedom and empowerment.
  • Technology Dependent: The concept for Tomorrowland from inception has been one based on technology, not one communicated by technology. It is widely understood that this requires constant updating in order to stay ahead of technological innovation. This has been one of the most challenging problems for the land. How can the concept of Tomorrowland be maintained while at the same time making it timeless? Is this possible?
  • Transportation Based Theme: The original concept relies heavily on the presentation of future transportation systems: space flight, monorail, the modern freeway system. If we dig deeper, can we find concepts that still resonate with guest while removing the reliance on the prediction of technology and transportation models? Will we find optimism and themes of empowerment and freedom?
  • Non-Unified Selection of Attractions: The individual attractions have little in common with one another. In being so, they do not lend value to each other. Think of Splash Mountain and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. While the two attractions only roughly fit together conceptually, they harmoniously fit together physically: each adding value to the other when experienced together. Now think of the Tomorrowland Speedway and Innoventions or Star Tours and Astro Orbiter: They just happen to be next to each other. They do not add value to the experience of adjacent attractions.
  • Too Big: This amplifies all other issues associated with Tomorrowland. We’ll look at attractions, circulation and amenities in a quantitative way as well as look at the implications of size as it relates to experience and spacial relationships.
  • Capacity Relative to Size: Let’s look at some of Tomorrowland’s attraction capacities. Both capacity and physical size are important. An attraction that has a high guest-per-hour capacity while using a relatively small area would generally be ideal. It can be misleading to compare just the hourly guest capacity of individual attractions directly to one another when their physical size is not taken into consideration. Take the Astro Orbitor and Autopia for example. When we think of these two it’s obvious that Autopia not only loads faster, but also has a much higher hourly guest capacity. The problem is that Autopia uses nearly 7 acres to achieve this while Astro Orbitor only has a few hundred square feet. If the entire area used by Autopia was filled with Astro Orbitors and they were all serviced by one queue line, then that attraction would have an hourly capacity nearly 10 times that of Autopia. There are many things to consider when determining the value of  an attraction. Determining how efficiently it uses it’s space is one of them. The following is a list showing each attraction’s hourly capacity per 100sf of size. Sizes were calculated including queue space and back of house areas. The higher the number the more efficient the attraction is:
    • Autopia: 1
    • Submarine Voyage: 2
    • Star Tours: 5
    • Space Mountain: 6
    • Astro Orbiter: 9.5 (note: that while efficient for it’s size, this attraction’s hourly through-put is quite low)
    • Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters: 10 (ruthlessly efficient omnimover based system)
  • Entry Sequence: Tomorrowland’s entry is radically different from others at the park, but not in a way that reinforces it’s theme or purpose. What can be done to bring it in to harmony with the rest of the park? How can the entry sequence be used to communicate the underlying concepts of the land?
  • Quality of Physical Environment: Much of the land’s concepts are communicated through the use of graphics/images not through immersive built environments. Think of the murals that line the entry path off of the hub depicting spacecraft: is this to say that in the future buildings will be painted with images of  their transportation systems? This would be same as painting the explorer canoes or the Mark Twain river boat on the side of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon instead of building and sailing them around the Rivers of America . This type of communication is inconsistent with the rest of the park. This would be acceptable if it allowed for better immersion and storytelling, but it does not. What can be built to immerse guests and to clearly communicate the concepts of Tomorrowland?
  • Corridor Entry Path: The main path from the hub is essentially a dual loaded corridor. It’s inconsistent with the rest of the parks pathways. Among other problems, it requires that signage be used as main method of communication and way-finding to attractions and activity nodes. Think of the entrances to Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours. As currently located in the corridor, they have no real sense of entry that is communicated in any way other than by signage. Now think of the entrances to the Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean: these attractions have open, inviting and obvious entries that not only add value to the attractions, but also to the adjacent areas and therefore ultimately to the guest’s experience.
  • Tomorrowland Plaza Scale: The plaza is much larger than other land’s equivalent spaces. Think of the space between Peter Pan and Snow White’s Scary Adventure or the the space between Splash Mountain and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s at scale closer to that of the hub. How does this affect the guest’s experience and sense of way-finding? How can further refinement of this plaza enhance the sense of immersion and further reinforce the concepts of the land?
  • Lack of Greenspace: Tomorrowland is mostly hard pathways and buildings. The proportion of trees and shrubs to that of the rest of the park is very low. We’ll argue that Disneyland is a park first and that the concept of each land must accommodate this. Most guests would have a much better experience in Tomorrowland if just this one point was taken into consideration. While Tomorrowland has an interesting edible concept for it’s plant scheme, that concept does not add value to the overall theme.
  • Lack of Shade: Tomorrowland lacks natural and built shade. This closely tied to it’s lack of trees and it’s corridor-like entry path.
  • Lack of Meaningful Water-Features: Abundant water features and fountains have a place in all areas of Disneyland including Tomorrowland. Establishing this is critical in bringing this area of the park into harmony with the entirety. The park-like quality of Disneyland is missing from Tomorrowland. This is due not only to it’s lack of flora, but also to it’s lack of water features. How can this critical element that evokes such meaning and pleasure be brought back in a meaningful way to Tomorrowland?
  • Show Buildings in Plain Sight: Tomorrowland is the only area in Disneyland where the show-building are kept in plain sight. If the buildings somehow reinforced the theme of the land this would be acceptable, but they do not. This takes the guest out of the experience and creates a disparity between Tomorrowland and the rest of the park. Can this problem be solved without a complete re-build? If so, how can the buildings (especially the Star Tours and Buzz Lightyear show buildings) be themed or obscured to bring Tomorrowland up to the same standard as the rest of the park?
  • The Back of Buzz Lightyear: This area is one of our least favorite areas of the park. It is literally a north facing blank wall. This is not only a show building in plain sight, but it is essentially the service entrance side.
  • Access from Hub past Matterhorn is Under-Utilized: All of the pathways (or spokes) that lead directly off of the hub serve as portals to the various lands save two. One of these, the path that leads to the Matterhorn, is critically under-developed. Once guest make it from the hub to the base of the mountain, the path splits. Both of the paths that lead from here are woefully underdeveloped when compared to the rest of the park. Take the path that leads from the base of the Matterhorn east to The Submarine Voyage and Autopia; this path is literally flanked on the south side with the back of the Buzz Lightyear show building. The path from the base of the mountain to the north is not much better. It is flanked to the west with the back of the Peter Pan and Alice show buildings albeit slightly more themed than the eastern path. How can this area of the park, part of which offers access to Tomorrowland, be used in a more productive way and how can it be brought up to the same standards as the rest of the park?
  • No Timeless Dark Rides: Tomorrowland needs a dark ride that is keeping with the overall message of the land. Many attractions have come and gone, but a timeless attraction that reinforces the overall theme and tone of the land has never materialized. Such an attraction would go a long way in cementing the character and longevity of the overall theming and is critical to a stable and evergreen concept.
  • Why a Galaxy from long long ago and far far away is a bad fit for Tomorrowland: The patterns already established in Disneyland are ones of broadly themed lands with specifically themed attractions. This is in contrast to DCA’s Cars Land or Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley. Overlaying Tomorrowland with a Star Wars theme would oppose this already established pattern. It would also create transition issues at the hub and Fantasyland pathways. Most importantly it would erase the foundation upon which Tomorrowland is based. As we have argued and will continue to argue, Tomorrowland is special to guests because of it’s themes of optimism, empowerment and freedom. Star Wars does not carry these themes in the same capacity.

Tomorrowland Entry and Fountain ( working conceptual drawing ) - theLINElab

Tomorrowland Entry and Fountain ( working conceptual drawing ) – theLINElab

PLAN
  • Accept that Star Wars is coming to Disneyland: At the D23 studios presentation August 2015, Disney announced that a Star Wars land would be coming to Disneyland. Rumors, news articles and some tweets from the official Disneyland account are all pointing to this new land being located in what is now the Big Thunder Ranch area and the backstage areas to the north. We will explain why we think this is unlikely as well as present a plan that we feel is most likely to be implemented.
  • Smaller is Better: Making Tomorrowland smaller is the most important element of not only our plan, but any plan that could be put forth to deal with the land’s persistent issues. We propose reducing the size of  Tomorrowland from 16.4 acres to 7.6 acres. Tomorrowland would now be a much more manageable size and would be comparable in size to the other lands. Even if the Tomorrowland  concept continues to be difficult to manage and maintain, at least it’s affecting a much smaller percentage of the park.
  • Remove Autopia: While beloved by many, this attraction has one of the lowest hourly capacity/sf ratios of any attraction in the park. This problem is not offset by other factors. The land used by this attraction does not add ambiance or other value to adjacent areas. A good example of this would be how the Rivers of America and it’s attractions add value and visual appeal to the lands immediately around them. Autopia’s vehicles are loud and produce exhaust. A high number of cast members are required to operate the attraction. It has a height requirement that precludes some guests. It has high maintenance costs and operating costs. It also has higher than average personal injury liability for guests and cast members. Removing this single attraction would free up nearly 5 acres of land. That’s the equivalent land needed to house all of the following: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey and Alice in Wonderland! This is by far the most under-utilized land in all of Disneyland. To appease rabid fans, we suggest building a smaller, multi-level version of the ride (themed to the Cars franchise) and placing it on the expansion pad adjacent to the Radiator Springs land in Disney California Adventure.
  • Re-purpose the Submarine Voyage: The Subs also have a very low hourly capacity/sf ratio, but it’s still double that of Autopia. We recommend keeping the lagoon, but replacing the ride system and disconnecting this entire area from Tomorrowland.
  • Edit the Monorail route: In our plan the winding Monorail track north of Innoventions, around Autopia and the Matterhorn would be completely removed. The Monorail would now enter only into the Tomorrowland Plaza circling around what is currently the Innoventions building. The Monorail would now act only as a transportation system: delivering guests from the station near the Disneyland Hotel to a new station within the Tomorrowland Plaza. The existing track length is approximately 2.5 miles. By removing the looping ‘attraction’ portions (nearly a mile of track) the transit time from the station outside the park to the station within the park is reduce by roughly 60%. This would greatly increase capacity, reduce operating costs, reduce maintenance costs,  make it a true transportation system, free up huge amounts of valuable real estate, remove the theme conflict at as the Monorail passes through Fantasyland and open up the possibility of adding a station at the Grand Californian, DCA or a future third gate.
  • No Overlay: We strongly believe that Tomorrowland should not receive any land-wide franchise overlay (i.e. Star Wars). Creating an entire land dedicated to one franchise does not follow the pattern established in all other parts of Disneyland. Doing so would also create scale, way-finding and conceptual issues. If Star Wars must come to California, put it in DCA (Disney California Adventure) where lands dedicated to specific franchises are already part of the established pattern. Adding such a land to DCA would have the effect of reinforcing/validating this pattern and create a more unified park. Conversely, putting a large franchise-based land in Disneyland, where it opposes the already established pattern, would have the opposite effect.
  • Tomorrowland Plaza as Center: With it’s reduction in size, Tomorrowland would be located only immediately around the Tomorrowland Plaza. If buildings are constructed on the north edge of the Tomorrowland Plaza, this land now begins to have a sense of physical connection through adjacency.
  • Surround Tomorrowland Plaza: Construct attractions and/or restaurants along the northern boundary of the Tomorrowland Plaza between what is now Innoventions and the Tomorrowland Terrace. This construction would include a pathway /gateway to the land cleared by the removal of Autopia. These additional buildings would create a sense of enclosure. The attractions and amenities housed within would also increase the capacity of the land. The goal would be to make up for the lost capacity of Autopia and the Submarines. We feel that we could actually utilize this space to exceed the lost capacity.
  • Renovate the Hub-Matterhorn West Pathway: We propose a new queue for the Matterhorn to be located in this area. This will remove the need for guests to line up single file around the base of the mountain. Firstly, we call to remove or obscure the steel picket fence that surrounds the base of the mountain. Seriously if only one thing is done…please make it this. We propose controlling access to the base of the mountain through a built environment that replicates the boulder strewn base of the mountain. The fence needed to control access to the roller-coaster would be replaced by this environment or would be obscured by it. From the fork in the path at the base of the Matterhorn, the west path takes guests past the back of Peter Pan, the bathrooms, blank walls, the exterior descent sequence of the Alice in Wonderland attraction and  up to the current Matterhorn queue. We propose that this path be bounded on the east side by large rock-work that feels like it is a natural part of the mountain. This would make the mountain feel like it is naturally sited instead of plopped down. On the west side of the path the blank facade would be transformed into a fantastical alpine village with houses and shops built within and over rock outcrops and trees. The existing bathrooms would remain accessible from this location, but would be incorporated into the theme. Small carts integrated into the village and freestanding at the edges of the pathway would sell food and merchandise. The freestanding carts could be moved out of the way to accommodate the parade. The village would feel integrated into the natural surroundings. It would be very organic in nature as compared to the Fantasyland facades. The village would feel like a remote outpost of Fantasyland, living in balance with the surrounding wilderness. The Matterhorn queue itself would start in this village and works it’s way to the north, parallel to the main path, to the existing load area. Along the way guests find hints as to what resides within the heart of the mountain. Many of the villagers have wards at their front doors and totems depicting the creature. Streams would be harnessed Swiss Family Robinson style, with the conveyor belts, mills and buckets adding kinetics to the scene. All the buildings would be partially overgrown and would incorporate rocks and living trees into their construction. This village would have one or two built pieces on the east side as well that would be part of the queue. The village would continue north all the way past the Alice in Wonderland exterior section to the entrance to the Alice queue. The Alice in Wonderland ride descent switchback section would now have a sense of enclosure and the Alice side of the new village would be themed as a back-drop for the descent sequence. Guests riding the exterior portion of The Alice in Wonderland ride would now feel that they are really in a forest of leaves, not exiting the show building adjacent to the crowded pathway.
  • Renovate the Hub-Matterhorn South Pathway: The flanks of the Matterhorn would be extended from the mountain to the south as well, all the way across the path and would obscure and encase the north face of the Buzz Lightyear show building. Pixie Hollow and it’s queue would be naturally integrated into this work. This beautiful low-lying shoulder of the mountain, devoid of snow, but teaming with plants, waterfalls and streams from the fresh snow melt would seemingly block the way. As guests approach a natural cave comes into view. What lies within? What lies beyond?
  • Tony Baxter's Discovery Bay - © Walt Disney Company

    Tony Baxter’s Discovery Bay – © Walt Disney Company

    Create a New Land: Within the cave guests pass small waterfalls coming through sun-lit and plant crowded openings in the rough cavern ceiling. Further along, cold passages blocked from passage by ice flows and massive icicles lead off to the north. After passing though the dim caves a wide vista meets the guest’s eyes. Immediately ahead is a tranquil lake and the promise of adventure as the path splits again taking guests to either side… By reducing the size of Tomorrowland we solve multiple problems. As previously shown, Autopia and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage have very low capacity to size ratios. By their nature, both attractions also limit/preclude other amenities to be in or within close proximity to them. If we see the Tomorrowland Plaza as the logical center of Tomorrowland and it’s concept, then both of these attractions are currently too far away to benefit from adjacency. With Autopia, the Submarine Voyage and the Monorail all either removed or disconnected we are left with a Tomorrowland that is less than half it’s current size.  This would free up over 8 acres and make way for at least one new land that would have it’s entrance off the main hub through what is now the vastly under-utilized Matterhorn south path. The Matterhorn would become both it’s icon and gateway/threshold. The new land would follow the patterns already established within the park.( ie no franchise lands). We will explore this further, but this land(s) should showcase Imagineering. A completely new land and series of attractions not based on existing IP’s or franchises would synergize with the rest of the park. For now we are thinking of  Discovery Bay as proposed by Tony Baxter and Mystic Point created for Hong Kong Disneyland. Both of these concepts would fit well together and would feel at home nestled between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. We are showing this area built with 3 major attractions and supporting shops and restaurants. Mystic Manor, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Disneyland has nearly reached it’s maximum size allowed by zoning ordinance. Disney should start thinking three dimensionally as a means of space saving. The expense of putting a show building underground would most likely be completely offset by the cost of purchasing land outside the berm and connecting it.  For this reason we are proposing that the Journey to the Center of the Earth show building be placed almost completely 1-2 levels below the entire Discovery Bay area. This would save valuable land and associated costs as well as allow the attraction to interact with the cave portion of the sub ride as well as our proposed Whirlpool located within the Bay. More to come soon.

    Mystic Manor + Discovery Bay - © Walt Disney Company

    Mystic Manor + Discovery Bay – © Walt Disney Company

  • Revised Tomorrowland Concept: At the heart of our plan is a shift in the concept from knowable future-technology to unknownable, mysterious technology while maintaining the underpinnings of optimism, empowerment and freedom. Space Mountain embodies these traits and would remain as the centerpiece of this new Tomorrowland. Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of futurism: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Using this idea as our foundation, we can construct a Tomorrowland that is unconstrained by current or predictable technologies. In designing this land and it’s attractions we can let our imaginations reach beyond what is conceivable to that which is magical. This type of thinking also allows Tomorrowland to come into harmony with the rest of the park. This is at the core of what Disneyland was intended to be: a place to explore the imagination. With these ideas in mind we can create a powerful place that is mysterious, magical and beautiful. With respect to Walt Disney’s interest in futurism, we can rest safe knowing that he ultimately looked to Florida and Epcot as the test ground for these ideas.
  • Pathways Elevated Above Ground: The current pathways are at ground level or even seem to be below the ground plane when adjacent to raised planters. We propose ‘elevating’ all walkways from the ground plane. This can be achieved by excavating the planted areas to create a natural rough terrain some 12″ below the walkways. The desired effect would be similar to that of walking on an elevated pathway when approaching a beach. The landscape feels wild and untouched. The elevated walkway gives freedom of movement over difficult and lush terrain. This will reinforce our concept of freedom and empowerment. The lower ground plane will be planted with ancient species of ferns, succulents and non-flowering trees. All raised planters will be removed. Large raised planters give the impression of walking below the ground plane. The large raised planters will be replaced with container plantings and vertical gardens attached to various walls throughout the land. Plantings above the ground plane will differ greatly from those below the ground plane. While the ground plantings will feel ancient and wild, the container and vertical plantings will feel cultivated. All flowering and edible plants will be located in the cultivated areas above the ground plane. There will be no trees planted in containers above the ground plane. All trees will be planted in the lowest ground plane. A tree-like feel may be replicated above the ground plane by built structures that house many separate plants. All palm trees will be removed. Some existing trees may be kept.
  • ‘Relocate’ Buzz Lightyear: Add a second track and show building at the existing pad directly behind Toy Story Midway Mania in DCA. This new attraction will carry the Buzz Lightyear name and theme, but incorporate the 3D technology and ride vehicles from Toy Story Midway Mania. This will essentially double the capacity of this very popular attraction. It will also give a second attraction that will have some shared operating and maintenance costs. As very little of the existing Buzz Lightyear attraction will be reused (we’ll reuse the Buzz AA and other queue elements only), the new attraction can be built while the old version is still in operation allowing for a down time measured in weeks. We feel that this is a much stronger move to increase capacity than simply adding a second track that is identical to the existing Toy Story attraction.
  • Remove Astro Orbiter: The much criticized relocation of this attraction to the front of Tomorrowland creates problems: the queue and attraction create pedestrian congestion at the entry walkway and the position of the attraction is so close to the hub that it creates visual competition with the castle. We recommend removing the attraction completely. While it has an outstanding capacity/sf ratio, it has a very low hourly capacity. This footprint can be used in more productive ways.
  • Renovate the Tomorrowland Entry: We see bringing the entry into visual harmony with the rest of the hub. This would mean the already mentioned removal of Astro Orbiters. It also means adding water features and lush plantings. Instead of bringing the green water system that circulates through the castle moat, Frontierland and Adventureland, we would incorporate the clear water system used by the Subs and Pixie Hollow. This would create a the park-like buffer between the hub and the actual entrance to Tomorrowland that follows the existing pattern of other entries. This area would incorporate negative edge cascading pools, leaping fountains, ferns, lush shrubs and succulents. The pathway from the hub to the Tomorrowland entrance would have several side shoots that would allow for lingering and exploration of this beautiful area. It will also allow this area to be utilized as a viewing area for the night-time spectaculars. The Tomorrowland entry itself will be formed by a gap in a series of stones set in a large circle around what is currently the Star Tours / Buzz Lightyear entrances. The majority of the built environment creating the walkway (from the Tomorrowland Entry to the Tomorrowland Plaza) and cladding the exterior of the existing show buildings will be these large, geometric natural stone monoliths. The white stone will be engraved with mysterious and intricate symbols some of which glow and seemingly transform into other symbols. The engraved symbols will appear as a fine-grained pattern when viewed from a distance. The monoliths themselves will be organised in concentric circles. Some of them will be in contact with the ground and will form edges and boundaries of the walkways and planted areas. Some will hide the show buildings. Some of the vertical stones will have lush plants growing upon them. They will not appear over-grown, but engineered and cultivated. Some will appear to be floating above the ground, adjacent to others that are in contact with the ground. Some of these seemingly floating stones will serve as shade elements. The formation will appear as an organised construct. It is intended to feel both highly constructed and also primordially ancient. We want to evoke a sense of deep time and mystery that is present in existing ancient stone circles (Stonehenge). It will also feel like a highly advanced and precisely built tool. Built for what purpose? What could lay at the center of this mysterious circle? Once guests have made their way from the hub through the Tomorrowland Entry they will travel among the stones until they reach the very center. This is the area adjacent to the current Star Tours entrance. The center will be a large circular clearing in the stones while still more monoliths shade guest from overhead. In the center of the clearing is a shallow and crystal clear pool fed from streamlets that make their way inward, under the walkways, from the perimeter of the clearing. Originating from this pool are a series of finely tuned water geysers and jets that occasionally reach heights well above the tops of even the tallest stones. Feeding the streams are waterfalls originating from the gaps between the stones all around the perimeter. The plants are particularly lush within the clearing, yet no plants cling to the surfaces of the monoliths that form the perimeter skin of the clearing. These surfaces appear slightly darkened and reflective as if scorched or worn by some tremendous force. We see people gathering in this space to enjoy the shade, lush plantings and water falls. From here guests can continue east to the pure white of Tomorrowland Plaza or they can linger awhile within this circle of primordial beauty. The themes of freedom, human empowerment and optimism are at the core of Tomorrowland as it exists today and the very heart of what we are proposing. The ancient form of the stone circle built from mysterious, unknown materials and technologies is an intentional juxtaposition. By using this imagery we endeavor to convey that what it means to be human is indelible. Ancient culture’s search for meaning, current grappling with the limits of our understanding, our own personal struggles and the future character of what we will become in the unknown eons to come have a common thread. Using imagery of our past in the representation of our future conveys this message. We are not proposing a Tomorrowland that is populated with aliens, predictions of future technology or hard facts. We want Tomorrowland to be a clear vista to a world that is full of promise and optimism. We want to show that our own nature will lead us to this better place. This entry experience is meant to reinforce these concepts and also act as the gateway and transition. We see the gateways and transitions between the various parts of the park as opportunities to relate the part of the story that Joseph Campbell calls the gatekeeper or threshold guardian. This role requires balance between opportunity and struggle. This sets the stage for not only the story we want to tell within this attraction, but also (by the nature of it’s mysterious character) creates a set-up for the contrasting beauty of the pure white and dazzling brilliance of the re-imagined Tomorrowland Plaza. We want guests traveling through this gateway to feel spacial compression and a deep sense of mystery surrounding them such that the spatial and visual release they experience upon entering Tomorrowland Plaza will be even more powerful.
  • Entry Fountain: The shallow pool at the center of the circle of stones has several jets of water that keep the surface playful and lively.  When the sun is directly east or directly west of the exact center of the fountain and low enough to create the effect, larger jets of water will rise into the air higher than the surrounding structures. The falling water will create droplets that will catch the sun to create a natural rainbow over the stones. This effect is shown in the above rendering depicting the Tomorrowland entry as seen from the hub. This type effect has been shown to work by such artists as Andy Goldsworthy and Michael McKean.

    Creating a Manufactured Rainbow

    Creating a Manufactured Rainbow

  • A timeless attraction for Tomorrowland: A dark ride developed around the film ‘WALL-E’ would be placed in the vacated Buzz Lightyear show building. The underlying themes would be transformation and optimism. This attraction would not take guests through the story presented in the film, but would rather pick-up where the movie left off and take them on the journey as presented in the end title sequence. Guests would bear witness as mankind and their technology transform the Earth from a state of utter desolation back to a state of beauty and harmony. WALL-E and Eve act as the hosts, separately appearing at various points and ultimately coming together in the final scene where we see a re-built and beautiful planet. It is critical that the Earth is shown to be restored, but even in being so that something is different and that some of what was lost can never be regained.  In this new world there is a place for WALL-E, Eve and their kind. We see them in the final scene at a distance enjoying this new world and their place in it. More to come soon.

    WALL-E stills from movie & end credit sequence - © Walt Disney Company

    WALL-E stills from movie & end credit sequence – © Walt Disney Company

  • The Land:  A new boat ride attraction and monorail station for Tomorrowland. The Innoventions building and the land directly to the north would be leveled and developed into multi-use greenhouse facility housing the new monorail station and a Living with the Land style attraction. The greenhouses themselves would be built from PTFE domes housing several different biomes similar in form to the Eden Project  but similar in function to Biosphere 2. The new attraction would be approximately the same size as the warm biome at Eden Project. A cast member narrated boat ride would take guests through the five distinct greenhouse and biomes. Guests would gain an appreciation for the inter-connectivity of the various biomes as they follow the journey of rain drops from the high mountain rainforest biome all the way down to the coastal desert biome. This attraction would be the heart of the newly established Tomorrowland and would synergize with themes established in the WALL-E attraction and the overall intent of the land. See this video of one of the original models for Epcot’s The Land Pavilion which we hope to see realized in this modern form.

    The Eden Project - Cornwall + Early Concept Art for the Land Pavilion at Epcot

    The Eden Project – Cornwall + Early Concept Art for the Land Pavilion at Epcot – © Walt Disney Company

  • Tomorrowland Plaza as an extension of Space Mountain: Tomorrowland Plaza would be built to feel like an extension of Space Mountain. The spires and circular forms would dominate this area of Tomorrowland to bring a sense of cohesion that is currently lacking.
  • The Magic Eye Theater – why it should stay and why it’s good for Space Mountain: The Magic Eye theater is the theater that housed Captain Eo. It would remain as a theater and would exclusively show previews of upcoming Disney films. This is a perfect match for Tomorrowland and would help keep the area fresh and active. The roof of the theater, which is now the outdoor portion of the queue for Space Mountain, would be converted to an outdoor seating area for the counter service restaurant and would also function as an outdoor theater. This area would be transformed into a lush garden space complete with trees that would be in keeping with the rest of our proposed changes. This outdoor stage would be an homage to the original outdoor theater that existed in this area. This theater is also critical as a spacer between Tomorrowland Plaza and Space Mountain. We feel that the mountain should always feel detached and distant from guest within the plaza.
  • Dining options and locations: We’re imagining two new restaurants for Tomorrowland. The first would be counter-service and would be located in what is now the Pizza Port building. This building also serves as the load/unload station for The Land attraction as well as houses the dark-ride sections of that attraction. The seating for this counter-service restaurant would be adjacent to the river and final stretch of The Land attraction. Much like Blue Bayou, guests would be seated along the river bank as boats drift by on the current. A portions of this building is a tall atrium. A spiral ramp within this space, amongst additional seating, would take guests up to the top of the Magic Eye Theater. This outdoor space is currently the outdoor queue for Space Mountain. Under this plan this outdoor space would be converted to an elevated garden with additional restaurant seating as well as a stage for performances. The stage would be on the northern edge such that guest in Tomorrowland Plaza  as well as guests in the elevated garden area would be able to experience the show. The second restaurant would be located where the Tomorrowland Terrace currently is. This would be a completely new structure and would straddle and offer views of both Tomorrowland Plaza and Discovery Bay. The building itself would be a greenhouse made of sharp crystalline forms that contrast to the rounded opaque greenhouse structures of The Land attraction. Within this greenhouse would be a table service restaurant. Guest seating would be throughout the greenhouse amongst living trees, gardens and water features. Fantastical animatronic creatures of all kinds would live amongst the trees, rocks and streams.  Wondrous machines would float overhead providing soft, shifting light at night.

    How to bring Star Wars to Disneyland

    Star Wars Concept Art - © Walt Disney Company

    Star Wars Concept Art – © Walt Disney Company

  • Why Star Wars should not be located in Big Thunder Ranch area: If this area is used as an expansion pad for Star Wars (or any other guest area), there will be several challenges. The ranch area itself is not big enough to support the proposed 14 acre expansion. The ranch would need to be leveled, the expansion would need to push under the train track and most of it would be in what is now backstage areas and support buildings. The backstage areas and buildings that would most likely be affected are: the Pope house, the Circle D ranch, the environmental plant (trash), various maintenance buildings, a large parade storage building and annex, the massive merchandise storage building and various smaller offices and buildings. The plan that we have heard put forth would move these backstage buildings to the newly acquired property nearly a mile away. The major problem with this is that many of these buildings are vitally important to the functioning of the park and cannot be located remotely. If the ranch were remotely located, the horses that work on Main Street would have to be transported back and forth between the remote facility and the park several times daily. Remotely locating the merchandise warehouse, maintenance building, environmental plant and parade storage buildings causes similar problems and is highly unlikely to occur. None of these buildings can efficiently be built as multi-leveled structures and still be efficient utilized. This would mean that other offices and parking structures north and east of this area would have to leveled and moved to the remote location to make room for the structures that need to stay adjacent to the park. The cost and timeline of doing this just doesn’t make sense. You have to build the new offices and parking at the remote site, then and only then could you demo the ones adjacent to the park, then you could build the duplicates of the ranch, merchandise warehouse, etc in the land that was just cleared up. Once those structures are built, the operations could be moved there then and only then could the area under discussion be leveled and construction start on the expansion. This would be extremely costly and add years to the timeline. There is also very little return for the money spent in this plan. Another issue is the current location of Star Tours. If Star Wars land is built on the north end of Disneyland, do you keep Star Tours in Tomorrowland? Do you move it into the new expansion. If you moved, the only value add is the location change which really wouldn’t justify the expense. Another issue is the theming conflict in putting Star Wars land adjacent to Fantasyland and Frontierland. Even putting aside our concerns of franchise lands not fitting into the story and pattern of the park, a large amount of land and money would need to go into negotiating these transitions. For these reasons and others we propose the following plan.
  • Where to locate Star Wars land: Locate Star Wars land on the 14.2 acres recently acquired by Disney (see Conceptual Plan below) This would mean that all of the existing vital backstage areas and buildings can remain in place. This would result in tens of millions of dollars in savings. This would also avoid the timeline issues stated above. This new land would be a ring of show-buildings, shops, restaurants and warehouses that has the interior clad in rock-work and buildings. The effect would be dramatic and guests would feel immersed and truly transported.
  • STARPORT: a new concept for the southern half of Tomorrowland. The area that is now the Arcade and Star Traders would be transformed into STARPORT. This would be a central hub for transportation and shopping. Much like a futuristic airport, guests could enter STARPORT and receive pagers (similar to the technology used at the newly renovated Dumbo attraction at the Magic Kingdom) for one of three attractions. From here guests could take flight to Space Mountain, Star Tours or a transport shuttle to Star Wars land. All three attraction’s queues would be re-routed and accessible through the STARPORT. While waiting for their flight-time, guests could peruse STARPORT, shop or enjoy the newly renovated Tomorrowland Plaza. This would keep Tomorrowland in the theming we hope for and have outlined above. It would also would allow Star Tours to remain in place.
  • Renovate  Star Tours Queue: Star Tours can now safely be left in place and still fit within the overall theme of Tomorrowland. Only the queue would need to be re-aligned to enter from the newly built STARPORT center. Guests would not queue up outside the Star Tours show building as they do now, but would rather enter STARPORT and then enter the queue from there. This would have the effect of detaching the attraction from it’s perceived show building, allow it to come into harmony with the theming of Tomorrowland and connect it directly to the story being told within Star Wars land even though it is not located within Star Wars land proper. This alone is reason enough to justify building a STARPORT type concept and creating the linkage between Tomorrowland and Star Wars land.
  • Create a Transportation Attraction to Star Wars land: Guests could enter STARPORT and choose to take flight to a galaxy far, far away. This area is perfectly aligned with the newly purchased hotel property (the Carousel Inn) and would allow for a themed ‘off-the-shelf’ light-rail type transportation system that would have an extremely high capacity. The point to point distance is approximately 1800 feet which is about 40% less than the distance traveled by the Hogwarts Express. There is already precedent at Disneyland Resort for building over the public street and right-of-way as seen in the Downtown Disney shopping district. This elevated route could also separately be used to transport guests via automated shuttles or people-movers from the remotely Disney owned parking lot to Disneyland instead of using the existing bus system. A note on hourly capacity: The proposed system would be comprised of 16 ‘shuttle’ trams each about the size of a large car. Seating would be 4 across and 12 front to back. 12 doors, one at each row, would open on the left upon arrival at either of the stations to let guests off single file. Those doors would close and then the doors on the right would open to let guests in for the return trip. There would be a total of 16 spurs (or pull outs) one for each shuttle at each station to allow the unload/load process to be completely independent of the transit path. This way if any particular shuttle took more time to unload/load it wouldn’t have any effect on the transit time of any of the other shuttles. The shuttles would be powered by electric motors and would reach a maximum speed of just 15 mph averaging 11 mph for the over the entire transit. This would allow approximately 4 shuttles in each station unloading and loading and 4 shuttles travelling each way at any given time. This would mean an arrival of 1 shuttle approximately every 30 seconds and a total transit time of approximately 2 minutes. This would have a capacity of approximately 6,700 guests per hour each way. This could be pushed to achieve higher capacities in several ways. The easiest would be to add 2 shuttles and push the arrival down to every 20 seconds. This would push capacity to close to 10,000 guests per hour each way. The critical piece here is that the unload/load of each shuttle is uncoupled from the transit path. This would mean short waits at peak hours but this type of system should be able to handle 30,000-40,000 guests per day with minimal wait times. In addition to the shuttle system, an enclosed walkway on each side of the enclosed shuttle tracks would allow for emergency egress and could also serve as a walkway to and from the land in the event of system failure or high-capacity. For comparison, the walk itself (if required) would only be 1/3 of the total length of the Indiana Jones ride queue. During the transit guests would experience a show that depicts preparation and the jump to lightspeed and could also feature several memorable ships and events from the movies projected and viewed through the port-holes and main window. Each shuttle could have it’s own individual droid pilot each having it’s own unique look and personality such as to keep the experience fresh and memorable for guests. The projected show could be made up of several elements such that they could be randomized to provide hundreds if not thousands of unique experiences, not unlike the current Star Tours attraction.
    Star Wars Concept Art - © Walt Disney Company

    Star Wars Concept Art – © Walt Disney Company


     

  • Background Music + ambient sounds:
  • Podcast appearances where I’ve discussed Save Tomorrowland and other theme park stuff:
  • Site Plan:

    Disneyland + Star Wars Land Conceptual Site Plan

    Conceptual Site Plan – theLINElab (click image for high resolution 7MB) – Disneyland showing build-out of Tomorrowland, Discovery Bay and Star Wars Land.

  • If you’ve gotten this far you may also enjoy the following sites as well:  
  • How Disney could acquire the right land for a 3rd gate:disneyland resort site plan coded

Tomorrowland Entry – early conceptual drawing – theLINElab