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Friday, June 5, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: What About Tomorrow?

As 1954 turned to 1955, DISNEYLAND was taking shape nicely. Many of the early problems had been resolved and mountains, castles, quaint towns and mysterious rivers were quickly taking shape. Visitors to the job site would be impressed by the pace of construction on the western side of the Magic Kingdom. But on the eastern side of the site in Tomorrowland? The project seemed stuck.

Walt Disney was always thinking about the future. Ever an optimist, he firmly believed that no problem was too big that it couldn't be solved by brainpower, research and science. It was obvious that any Magic Kingdom he oversaw would include an area dedicated to the wonders of the future. The only problem was deciding how that future should look. 

With so many other things to do, the dilemma was punted off to the future. As the park's opening date grew ever near, however, something had to be decided- and soon! As longtime readers of our site know, Mr. Disney wanted DISNEYLAND to be amazing. If he couldn't do Tomorrowland right, maybe he shouldn't do it at all- for now. They could put up a nice fence promising that Tomorrowland would be something to look forward to in the future. The idea had taken hold firmly by early 1955.

However, Walt Disney's quirky animator Ward Kimball would convince him otherwise. Mr. Kimball had been assigned the task of producing an episode of the Disneyland Television Show based on the idea of humans eventually going into Space. 

Man in Space premiered in March of 1955 and instantly turned Americans on to the idea of sending astronauts to space and eventually the moon. Futurists were consulted on the possibilities of space travel and the research that would be needed to accomplish it. The show didn't just astonish and inspire viewers- it inspired Mr. Disney too. He now knew what Tomorrowland should be- and he instantly approved construction- full speed ahead!

Tomorrowland began construction on an escalated basis to get it into shape by opening day. There would be rockets to the moon, circle-vision films and the highway to the future- Autopia.

Despite barely starting major construction in early 1955, Walt Disney's Tomorrowland would be up and running with the rest of his Magic Kingdom- in just 6 months! Amazingly a few buildings began construction literally just days before the park opened. On July 17, 1955, this Tomorrowland would be ready for business. As Walt once said- anything can happen in DISNEYLAND.