Moments in History

Tomorrowland’s View of 1986

When you marry a woman who has an irrational addiction to all things Disney you tend to spend a lot of time at Disney parks. We almost always visit Disneyland when we are in Southern California seeing my family. Mrs. engineerd’s sister lives in Florida, which also gives her an excuse to visit another Disney park. One of my favorite areas of Disneyland (and those cheap knockoffs) is Tomorrowland. Even today, much like in 1955 when it opened, I have hope for a future filled with personal rocket ships and missions to Mars.

Tomorrowland was one of the last areas of Disneyland to be completed. In fact, when the park opened in 1955 it had very few attractions as budget cuts and schedule forced many of the planned attractions to be delayed. The premise of Tomorrowland was to show what he future may bring. In fact, in the “official” vision of Tomorrowland, it was to show what we might have in 1986. The TWA Moonliner, the big rocket in the pencil sketch above, would take visitors on a trip to the moon. Two theaters showed mini-movies about what companies like Mansanto were working on. Autopia introduced visitors to something that actually did come to fruition — the US interstate highway system.

Tomorrowland, like much of Disneyland, has evolved over time. With each evolution, it remains relevant to new generations of visitors, and, more importantly, inspires those generations to greatness.

[Ed. Special thanks to Daisy Odell for the tip on the photo above. If you come across something that catches your eye, send it to us at tips at atomictoasters dot com.]

[Image Credit: Kevin Kidney on Flickr. Scroll through the rest of the set for many more vintage sketches of Disneyland.]

  • OA5599

    "Autopia introduced visitors to something that actually did come to fruition — the US interstate highway system."

    I'm pretty sure rockets have taken visitors to the moon, too. They might not have had TWA stewardesses offering up TWA Coffee and TWA Tea, but it still happened, and well before 1986.

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  • $kaycog

    I came across this interesting bit of information several years ago. The Tomorrowland monorail train had 1959 Cadillac fin/tail lights originally but were removed shortly after their introduction.

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  • tonyola

    The brilliant and inventive artist Bruce McCall has devoted a lot of his work to the "retro" future that never happened. He's very much worth checking out.
    <img src="; width=545>

  • On a somewhat related note, my wife did the flowers for a wedding reception at Kansas City's Airport Museum, home of the Save-a-Connie foundation. As airplane museums go, this one is modest but with some interesting tributes to TWA. This was tucked away in a corner…

    <img src=""width=500&gt;

    I didn't know that TWA had rockets. It turns out that this was at the entrance to Tomorrowland when it opened.

    • GlassOnion9

      When I saw this comment in the 'Recent Comments' feed, it cut off the Museum part of your first sentence. I was a little confused why someone would have a wedding reception at the KC Airport. I mean, it is a reasonably nice airport (I've always liked the floors there), but really…

      • This is Kansas City's "other" airport, KCI's predecessor. These days primarily used by small craft and corporate jets.

  • jimwittman

    I was there in 1955. A big display by DuPont “Better Living through Chemistry” inspired me. I tested into an honors chemistry program at my state university 15 years later. By the time I was ready to graduate, there were people carrying signs outside the Chemistry/Botany building, blaming “us” for the Love Canal pollution, Napalm, Agent Orange, and the “Silent Spring.” It was understandable, even though I personally would have marched on the captains of industry, and not the university. The final straw was the the paramilitary group called the DEA. They started kicking down the doors of laboratories, guns in hand, just to satisfy their curiosity. Depending on what chemicals you last ordered, they may be joined by the BATF carrying more guns. I switched to electrical engineering, which the government had little interest in until very recently. There are now signs that some group, possibly Homeland Security, is taking considerable interest in the electronic parts being sold on the open market. Is this the beginning of another “Dark Ages”? When I am stopped in traffic, I often think of that high speed monorail that I was promised back in 1955…