Located directly to the right of the central hub is Tomorrowland, this themed area is a futuristic mix of rides and experiences that relates to technological development and what life will be like in the years to come.
Before its 2000 renovation, Tomorrowlandâ€™s 40-year-old buildings more resembled 1970s motel architecture than anyoneâ€™s vision of the future. Tomorrowlandâ€™s current design is more enduring, reflecting a nostalgic vision of the future as imagined by dreamers and scientists in the 1920s and 1930s. Frozen in time, Tomorrowland conjures up visions of Buck Rogers (whom nobody under age 60 remembers), fanciful mechanical rockets, and metallic cities spread beneath towering obelisks. Disney refers to Tomorrowland as the â€œFuture That Never Was.â€ Newsweek has dubbed it â€œretro-future.â€
The baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "The future ain't what it used to be." When it comes to Tomorrowland, this has always been the problem. By the time the Imagineers design and build an immersive environment, tomorrow has become today. Thatâ€™s one reason why Walt postponed the development of this land until the very last minute. In fact, the Imagineers didnâ€™t even start working on the design for Tomorrowland until six months before the Disneyland opened in 1955. The first version of Tomorrowland was a projection into the "far off" future of 1986 when Halleyâ€™s comet would return.
It wouldn't be until 1967 when Tomorrowland really hit its stride and became "The World on the Move." Walt wanted to demonstrate his forward-looking transportation systems (the monorail and the PeopleMover) that he planned to use for EPCOT, his City of Tomorrow in Florida (not the theme park we see today). Even the theater stage at the Tomorrowland Terrace was on the move, as it would rise up from the ground when the show was about to begin. The architecture was based on a combination of roadside modernism and the US space effort; much of this remains today with a different color scheme and different minor details.
Time marches on and Tomorrowland was updated in 1998. Originally the new theme was going to be called Tomorrowland 2055. You can still see an example of what the Imagineers were trying to accomplish if you look at the underside of the Tomorrowland Terrace seating area. If you look up at the roof above the seating area, you can see a huge mural that is very colorful and unlike anything else in the land. It is a much more optimistic vision of the future, almost Buck Rogers-like, than the retro-punk color scheme used everywhere else. However, budget cuts forced changes and that concept was scrapped.
With the 1998 refurbishment, the Imagineers gave up on guessing what the future would look like and designed the area in a timeless retro-future based on Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and other science fiction writers. This theme was first applied to Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris and then in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom in Florida. A subtle detail is the selection of plant materials. Throughout Tomorrowland are corn, grape vines, lettuce, apple trees, and other edible plants. This is our agrifuture.
Over time, Tomorrowland has slowly begun to transform again. The gold and bronze paint scheme has started to give way to white, blue, and silver, which reminds visitors of the 1967 classic version. This started in 2005 when Space Mountain was returned to white. And itâ€™s still possible to see in Tomorrowland the infrastructure remnants from its glorious past. Highlights include the empty PeopleMover / Rocket Rods tracks running overhead along the main corridor, and the tower where the Astro Orbitor used to be.
Finally, there is one classic Tomorrowland oddity to look for - the train depot. It was opened in April 1958 and has not been significantly changed since. Look for it between Autopia and the Innoventions building, in the far back.