Monday, November 04, 2013

Final Autopia Images from December 1998

Today I am sharing the last of the 1998 Autopia photos (given to me by "Mr. X"). They were fun while the lasted!

I am assuming that these pictures were taken from the upper level of the "America Sings" building? The Skyway and Peoplemover were both long-closed by 1998. As always, the landscaping looks lush and beautiful... the massive Autopia structure that we have today makes for efficient loading, but it really overpowers the area - and it's kind of ugly in my opinion.

The boomerang-shaped marquee is an odd callback to the 1950's (or early 1960's), don't you think? I do love the old Autopia vehicles, and am even a little bit nostalgic about the Mark III Monorail trains, though I like our new versions better.

Here's yet another peek at the short-lived Rocket Rods (also visible in the first picture), which were pretty new at the time. 


Chiana_Chat said...

Thanks 'Mr. X' and the Maj for this 1998 series, it's been neat-o. I enjoyed the trip back nostalgically, though it does show the powers that were had no taste (those Rocket Rod 'cars' are particularly tacky). Also, I'm glad to hear good words for the new monorail cars. :)

TokyoMagic! said...

Maybe the ONLY good thing about the 1998 Tomorrowland redo was that we got to go back up on the second level of the old Carousel Theater building for the first time since the Carousel of Progress closed in 1973. Too bad the views from up there in 1998 were of such a sad and ugly land. At least the Autopia hadn't been ruined yet in 1998. I have never cared for the color scheme or the enormous size of the new queue looks very much out of place. I'm still wondering if that rumor is true about the Autopia being replaced with a Star Wars ride and an Ewok Village meet and greet area. Let's hope that it isn't!

Melissa said...

Thank you so much, Mr. X, for sharing this bunch of memories with us through the Major!

Look at that beautiful fall foliage! We East Coasters are taught to believe that we're the only ones with worthwhile autumn leaves to look at, but now I can see that's just something we've been saying to make ourselves feel better about the rotten winters!

Love, love that retro Autopia sign with its sleek Space-Age car silhouette and ketchup-and-mustard color scheme. I love that it’s not cotton-candy colored, and yet [WARNING: FLAGELLATION OF DECEASED EQUINES] that’s half my problem with the 1990’s Tomorrowland redo.

It somehow manages to be over the top and half-assed at the same time. It seems like if they were really committed to it, they’d have applied it to that big major attraction marquee. I can sit here and think of a dozen ways they could have made it fit the theme without letting it blend into the background, and I’m just some carbon blob on the Internet without a degree in Fungineering. But stick a couple dozen turquoise Christmas tree balls to the posts around the sign? Sure! Why not?

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I know he did some great things for Disney parks over the years but they should have made Tony Baxter's (main street) window the same nasty colors as the 98' tomorrowland.

Thanks for the pics X and Major any shots of pre-Chevron autopia are A-OK in my book.

K. Martinez said...

It's always interesting to see rare images of the short-lived Rocket Rods. The decline of Tomorrowland already began 10 years earlier in my opinion, but 1998 really was the nail in the coffin.

Having a Tomorrow Wars Land doesn't bother me, but I do hope they leave Autopia alone. It's the only opening day attraction left in Tomorrowland.

Thanks, Mr. X. and Major. I thoroughly enjoyed this set of images showing the Tomorrowland/Fantasyland Autopias in the final years.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chiana, I've always wondered if there were other better (but rejected) designs for the Rocket Rods; that "skeletal" framework was not beautiful, but I suppose it allowed for minimal weight and easy loading.

TokyoMagic!, did they just let people walk up the ramp of the Carousel Theater for the views? Or was there another reason why people would be up there? I have heard the rumored removal of the Autopia and can hardly believe it. Of all the Star Wars things to build, why do an Ewok village?!?! EWOKS!

Melissa, trust me, the East Coast still has much more spectacular fall foliage. We do get a little color here and there, I have a love/hate thing with that Autopia sign, it's fun, and yet… clunky at the same time. It really seems as if most of the current-day designers lack a real sense of what is truly aesthetically beautiful.

Alonzo, I wonder how much Tony Baxter had to do with the coloration of Tomorrowland '98? Of course he wanted it more in line with France's "Discoveryland", but somehow our version just looked opressive.

K. Martinez, I am glad to have these photos of the Rocket Rods, for sure. They weren't there for long! I don't really mind a Star Wars themed area, but again… an Ewok village doesn't inspire.

Melissa said...

I could be talking out of my ascot here, but it seems like Discoveryland in Paris is quite a bit larger than Tomorrowland in California, isn't it? I think any look that's going to work optimally well in Anaheim is going to have to err on the side of lighter and more uncluttered, just like in a smaller house.

If one is determined to base a whole land on a single property, I guess Star Wars has stood the test of time and the vagaries of public taste. But I still see it as a self-limiting, and imagination-limiting, proposition.

Nancy said...

Love the retro Autopia sign :-)

K. Martinez said...

@Melissa -

In my opinion, Discoveryland worked because they carried the architectural style and theme throughout the area and spent the money to do it right.

Tomorrowland 1998 was a dud because there was no strong central theme and the execution was done on the cheap. Rocket Rods was touted as the headliner attraction? That about sums the whole thing up!

I get the feeling that in the end they just threw a lot of it together quickly and cheaply because of budget cuts and time constraints. Just look at the detailed Space Mountain in Discoveryland compared to the cheap brown-rust paint job they did on Space Mountain in Anaheim. That was the difference.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, in answer to your question, once Innoventions opened, guests once again exited the Carousel Theater building by coming out on the second level and going down the ramp. For some reason, they recently switched the exit and the entrance and now guests enter the building by walking up the ramp to the second level. And when you want to exit the building, you have to walk around the bottom floor searching for the set of doors that are open, since they only let you exit through doors that are facing Tomorrowland at that moment (remember, the building still rotates). I get why they wouldn't want you exiting doors that are facing backstage, but the whole thing is so confusing. I really don't understand why they made the switch. But then, I also don't understand how Innoventions has been allowed to exist for 15 years either.

Chiana_Chat said...

@ Maj - no doubt! I have plenty of belief in the designers of all eras to today. Management on the other hand...

Further on what TokyoMagic! said, people of the '50s through '70s enjoyed a "land of Tomorrow" which was, if never as fully developed as one might wish, at least stylitically coherant and still culturally inspiring. It's a shame recent generations are paying far more to get what is more like a tacky, uninspired, quasi-re-developed remnant rented by disinterested landlords.

Star Wars was an exciting series of fictional stories and may rebound to produce more, but it was and is not a valid part of a land of tomorrow.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I have no idea about the size of Paris' Discoveryland, but a friend who went there said that the whole park is small - smaller than Disneyland Anaheim, I believe. I need to look at an aerial picture!

Nancy, it is a striking sign!

K. Martinez, they definitely cheaped out on our '98 Tomorrowland. Not that it was cheap, but they didn't spend the money that it would take to make it truly amazing. It's hard to believe that the Rocket Rods were ever considered a headliner attraction - they were "just OK".

TokyoMagic!, I only went in Innoventions once back when it was new, and haven't been back. Your description of the way people are routed is kind of amazing - why would they do it that way? Seems so dumb!

Chiana, I like Star Wars too, but if the Imagineers just throw in the towel and make Tomorrowland "Star Wars Land", I am going to be very disappointed. No matter who owns the rights, Star Wars isn't Disney. The park is turning into Universal Studios, which is not a terrible thing, but they are losing an element that I think is very important.

JG said...

My kids instantly coined the term "RipOff Rods" on exiting the ride. What a terrible disappointment.

The upper decks of the Space Mountain and the Carousel theater may be the only places in Disneyland where peons (non-members of Club 33) can get a second story vantage point of the Park. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no place in Main Street, F'land, A'land or Fantasyland where we can climb up above the ground line and hang out.

There are views from the treehouses, but you can't really stay there long, 5 minutes is pushing it.

I am afraid that Tomorrowland may be headed to becoming "Star Wars Land". My reasoning: Cars Land, a huge complicated development based on a single movie property devoted to selling merch as much as ride experiences, now has an Autopia look-alike. I expect Autopia to disappear and some kind of Tatooine Pod-Race to take it's place, hopefully with Wookies or Gungans, so they don't cut down all the trees.

Don't forget, they make as much or more money on the merch than the rides, and the hats and key rings don't break down or have to be painted, so having a giant single-vision world aimed at selling selling selling the same story(ies) year after year makes sense. It's basically what Fantasyland was from the beginning.

The open-ended, old-school "lands" are far more work to update after creation, you have to keep thinking up new stuff that fits with that theme. We can see how hard that was to do for the Tomorrow theme by how poor it has been for the last 30 years. It's too open-ended, and yet also constrained by trying to fit with real life.

They need this land to be locked into a fixed fantasy narrative that they can then decorate periodically around the edges. All the other lands are becoming more or less fixed in a specific historical or fantasy time and space, which ironically gives more freedom to modernize within that framework.

So, StarWarsLand, long ago, in a Disneyland far, far, away. See you there.