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Five Things to Know About Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom

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One of the six lands comprising the Magic Kingdom, Tomorrowland was originally designed to give guests a peek into the future. Since its debut, it’s been redefined to share examples of the “future that never was.”

1. “Tomorrow is a heck of a thing to keep up with.” —Walt Disney

Walt was spot on when he summed it up that way. Tomorrowland was supposed to be just what the name implies: a glimpse into what could be in a future with all of its limitless possibilities. But it quickly became apparent that progress has a way of catching up to any vision of the future. It also has a nasty habit of looking wildly different than what was imagined!

Trees of the future

As it exists today, Tomorrowland embodies Imagineers’ solution to that sticky problem. In 1994, the purpose of Tomorrowland was completely redefined. Instead of being a place set in the future, the Imagineers decided to create more of a fantasy place influenced by past visions of what might be. This allowed Tomorrowland to become much more timeless – and in that sense, relevant once again. The Imaginers borrowed heavily from past predictions of the future by such notables as Jules Verne and HG Wells, and even Buck Rodgers. Does the Tomorrowland of today live up to this redefined purpose? We think so.

2. Tomorrowland’s attractions offer a world of motion in different tempos.

As you walk under the redesigned archway to enter Tomorrowland, you see the top spire of Astro Orbiter serving as this land’s weenie, the architectural visual feature designed to pull you forward into the land. It will soon become clear that this is a land where movement is the name of the game. Things seem to be constantly in motion!

There’s the Tomorrowland Speedway where top speeds reach a breathtaking 7 mph. At the other end of the speed spectrum is TRON Lightcycle / Run with its 60- mph velocity. Astro Orbiter may look like just a futuristic version of Dumbo from the ground, but it’s much higher up and has a significantly faster spin speed. The Carousel of Progress spins and stops around stages depicting how daily life has changed since the early 1900s. Space Mountain is the destination for many rope-droppers, and while its 28 mph may not seem fast in comparison to TRON, in the dark it’s pretty awesome.

Tomorrowland’s newest ride, TRON’s canopy ‘flows’ in motion even when you can’t see the coaster’s trains.


The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, is my favorite, offering views of the land you just don’t get anywhere else. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is a slow-moving dark ride that lets you test your mettle against aliens. And if you need a break from all that whirling, spinning and movement, you can take a break and sit in air-conditioned comfort to enjoy the show at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.

You can view this futuristic hair salon on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

3. The food and shopping of tomorrow look a lot like today’s.

Tomorrowland’s food scene can’t be called adventurous. It has two of the most popular rides in the park, but the Quick Service menus are uninspired.

This “tomorrow-ish” food is from Disney’s now-closed Galactic Starcruiser. The food that you get in Tomorrowland won’t look much different than you’d find at Six Flags.

The most popular place to have a quick service meal in Tomorrowland is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. As an attraction-with-your-food, Sonny Eclipse is an audio-animatronic alien lounge singer who entertains guests as they eat. Once heralded for its offerings, more recently it’s scored poorly in our reader’s survey. Still, you can get a burger and chicken strips here and sit for a while in the large, if noisy, cafeteria of tomorrow with its Audio-Animatronic entertainment.

Seasonally, the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant is open, with a covered outdoor eating area affording great views of Cinderella Castle. And there’s the Lunching Pad, where you can grab a breakfast bowl if you’re in the park early, or hot dogs, pretzels and more later in the day. For snacking, food stands dot the landscape of Tomorrowland, ranging from Joffrey’s Coffee to Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies.

As for shopportunities, there are two worth a quick mention. Star Traders is around the corner from Cosmic Ray’s, and offers general Disney merch. Tomorrowland Launch Depot at Space Mountain has TRON-inspired clothing and merch, and also offers the chance to create a personalized action figure through the TRON Identity Program.

4. Yesterday, it took a while to become Tomorrowland.

When the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, Tomorrowland was pretty barren. It opened unfinished and technically wasn’t completed until 1975. There was the Skyway overhead (a great gondola ride over the area that many wish still existed). And there was the Tomorrowland Speedway (then known as the Grand Prix Speedway), the only original opening day attraction still in operation.

The Skyway crosses Tomorrowland, Courtesy of Retro WDW

Two attractions opened later in 1971: America the Beautiful and Flight of the Moon. The Star Jets, which was later replaced by the Astro Orbiter, opened in 1974. The Carousel of Progress moved to Disneyland after its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair, then switched coasts to arrive in Disney World’s Tomorrowland in 1975. Space Mountain and the Peoplemover also opened that year. Since then, the land has continued to see attractions come and go – more than 15 of them over the years – most recently adding TRON Lightcycle / Run.

5. Tomorrowland Trivia.

⭐ When Space Mountain opened, it was Florida’s first indoor roller coaster and one of the Magic Kingdom’s first thrill rides.

⭐ At the Cool Ship food stand, the Thirst Rangers spaceship is made from refurbished and repurposed spaceships that appeared in the Disney movie, “Flight of the Navigator.” And the Cool Scanner will spritz you with a water vapor mist, a great way to cool off during your day.

⭐ One of the indoor scenes you’ll see on the PeopleMover is a model of Progress City (or EPCOT) that was originally built for the Carousel of Progress at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

⭐ When The Carousel of Progress moved to Florida from Disneyland, it debuted with a different theme song: “The Best Time of Your Life.” The current theme is “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” Both were written by the Disney Legends Sherman Brothers (also responsible for composing “It’s a Small World After All.”)

The Bottom Line.

Personally, I like the idea that Tomorrowland is a place that showcases visions of the “future that never was.” But objectively, we’ve observed that the theme makes the least sense of any area in any Disney park. The attractions include gas-powered race cars, rocket travel (two rides), a look back at 20th-century technology, two rides with aliens, and a comedy show with monsters. It’s hard to come up with a theme to tie all that together, but that lack of unity doesn’t discourage us from making a trip through the land of tomorrow every time we visit the Magic Kingdom.

What do you like most about Tomorrowland? Let us know in the comments.

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Bob Jacobs

Bob Jacobs lives in Wisconsin where he retired as Editorial Director for a well-known catalog company. He and his wife Cristie have four children, seven grandchildren and a cocker spaniel named Penny the Dog. They’ve visited Walt Disney World regularly since 1992.

2 thoughts on “Five Things to Know About Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom

  • I know there aren’t typically a lot of comments here (or for many of the TP blog posts, honestly), but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy this blog series. Love the combination of bits of history, important ride facts, as well as some trivia we may not have known. Keep em coming! Thank you Bob!

    • Thanks much for the kind words. You made my day!


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