Friday, June 12, 2015

Beautiful Tomorrowland, August 1969

Man oh man, vintage photos of Tomorrowland - like this first one - get me all worked up! It was the best. It's not that it's bad now; Space Mountain is awesome, and the new Star Tours is fun. The "Nemo" subs are better than no subs at all (talking about damning with faint praise). 

But the "New Tomorrowland" that opened in 1967 reached some sort of joyous perfection. It looked beautiful, it was kinetic and exciting, and felt like a glimpse into a promising future. Seeing the Peoplemover track loaded with vehicles makes me realize how much of a difference it makes NOT having that attraction today. 

Photos from this angle seem to be scarce; this one gives us a great view of the "gantry" (elevator) that took guests up to the Rocket Jets platform. It was probably not the most practical way of doing things, but it was SO great!

Meanwhile, over at the entrance to Tomorrowland, here's a nice photo of one half of the gleaming silver metal "gateway". Mysterious hieroglyphs are incised into the metal, including one snowflake (can you find it?), a tribute to Monsanto's "Adventure Thru Inner Space" (or so I'm told). The fountain appeals to me because it is weird (the bowls look like intergalactic whales!), which makes me a hypocrite, because if something like this had been added today, I would probably gripe about it! Or maybe not, who can be mad at a fountain?  


Nanook said...


It would be hard to top your sentiments stated in the second paragraph. The 1967 Tomorrowland was the best-! And apparently the word was out - judging from the number of people in line for the Peoplemover and/or the Rocket Jets.

Thanks Major.


What a perfect place!! Those "metal" entry fins (nicked-named the TV "Dinner Trays" by it's fabricators) are actually vacu-formed plastic painted to look like metal! A wood master is placed on a vacu-form table, then a sheet of plastic is heated up, then thru tiny holes in the table a air vacum sucks the soften plastic around the wood master. The masters are all made of Baltic Birch Wood and are still kept in storage to replace cracked or damaged ones today.

-Mike Cozart

Chuck said...

Ahh...the New Tommorrowland entrance, when it was all fresh and Mercury-space-suit shiny. It's later, dull-finish incarnations just don't hold a candle to its original glory (which is probably a good thing, since its highly-reflective surface was known to focus heat into a deadly thermal ray that was intense enough to melt plastic out to several hundred yards. And that's the REAL reason the House of the Future was dismantled in 1967...).

The launch gantry for the Rocket Jets was pure genius. Operationally, it was probably a headache, but it was perfect for building pre-ride anticipation and was just SO COOL - just like the real Apollo astronauts. Except you didn't need to go into quarantine for several days before riding. Or train for three years to prepare for it. Or be a guy.

Wouldn't it have sucked to have been a back-up rider for a Rocket Jets mission? You still have to wait in line, it still costs you a "D" ticket, and then you don't get to ride.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

A glorious shot of Tomorrowland I’d venture to say! I remember a distinct feeling of hustle and bustle in Tomorrowland when I was a kid. Looking back makes me think it was intentional, an “always on the go” kind of an ambiance. Imagineers today should be studying photos like this.

Much gratitude as always Major!

K. Martinez said...

There was so much movement in Tomorrowland that even the blue and white Goodyear signs rotated. The shape of the Goodyear logo was also incorporated into other areas besides the rotating blue sign. There were the flowerbed "benches" beneath the PeopleMover track along the Corridor of Murals and the animated pod signs (seen here in the first image at the entrance speed ramp to the PeopleMover) Does anyone remember those? I seem to remember they had slogans like "bounce into the future with Goodyear" or "roll along with Goodyear" or something like that. I'm not 100% sure what they said, but I do recall those mechanically animated signs with cartoon style characters in them while taking the speed ramp to the PeopleMover. Even in those little pod signs there was movement going on. Tomorrowland was definitely "A World on the Move".

Any day in Tomorrowland '67 is a glorious one! Thanks, Major.

Melissa said...

Oh, wow, such crisp, clean, bright shots! That tomorrow was indeed great, big, and beautiful. It's not so much the attractions as the design that makes it superior to today's. (Except maybe the Peoplemover, which is still a guest favorite in orlando.)

And how convenient that so many people in the crowd seem to be wearing blue and white!

(I remember when we visited Kennedy Space Center when I was a kid, the gift shop was called "The Gift Gantry.")

MRaymond said...

I noticed something in the first picture. Over on Micechat, people say that the PM wasn't popular and never had a long line. Even in this picture, the PM cars are loaded but there is no one crowding around the base of the speedramp. The PM was a people eater and could load as fast as people coming up the ramp. I miss that ride. I was 7 when TL67 opened as was slack jawed when wandering around.
The queue that is in the foreground is for the Rocket Jets.

Dan Heaton said...

I think the feeling of motion is what Tomorrowland is really missing now at Disneyland. Even the Astro Orbiter is in a weird spot and not above everything. I know they have no plans to do it, but the People Mover (or something new) riding over the sky would create such an exciting energy. It just feels to static at this point, especially when you get the past the Star Tours/Buzz/Astro Orbiter entrance.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, this was August, 1969, so I assume that the huge crowds were (in part) there for the new Haunted Mansion; of course all those people were going to enjoy the other attractions too.

Mike Cozart, I always wondered if the panels were really metal. The silver paint looks very convincing. I used to play around with a vacuum-forming machine when I was in school.

Chuck, your comment reminded me of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It has curved titanium panels; it turned out that they focused the sunlight on adjacent apartment buildings, making it unmercifully hot! I’m not sure what was done about it, though I seem to recall that they did something to make the panels less shiny.

Monkey Cage Kurt, Tomorrowland was known as a “The World on the Move”, and it really was apt.

K. Martinez, I always forget about the little animated signs; what a great detail. There was something very “World’s Fair” about them. With a big sponsor like Goodyear, they had the money to do things right. Those were the days! I have no idea what the slogans were, there must be an online record of them, don’t you think?

Melissa, I agree, the design of the ’67 Tomrrowland felt unified - because it was all made at once. Since then it has been altered, with oddball additions and fa├žades that make it feel more jumbled. It does look like there’s a lot of blue and white!

MRaymond, people on forums say all kinds of things! I believe that the Peoplemover was very popular for a long time. As you said, it was a people eater, which resulted in no long lines. Perhaps it’s popularity did fade in later years, I honestly don’t know.

Dan Heaton, I just don’t get the decision to move the Astro Orbiter to the entrance of Tomorrowland when it was SO much better (as the Rocket Jets) way up high. While it is an interesting looking thing when it spins, it has those weird rocks, and blocks the view of the rest of the land.

Anonymous said...

People on chat rooms who say the PM wasn't popular because it never had a line are idiots. That ride was always full as I recall it, partly because it's design made it a "people-eater", so there was never a line, and because it offered a 20 minute sit-down tour with beautiful views, very restful and enjoyable.

Judging from what I now know about earthquake building code changes, I believe that the Astro Orbiter was moved down from the third level due to structural concerns. The original concrete arch designs are slim and elegant and are virtually certain not to have the cross-section strength needed to resist the required forces of today's standards, which are dramatically more strict that the '60's. The operational dynamics of a heavy spinning up-and-down mechanism on top just makes it harder to calculate.

I certainly remember these little details brought up by Ken, the little dioramas were used also in ATIS and helped pass the time waiting in the queue. The PM line moved so fast that there was barely a chance to look at them. I was noticing them, seen from the back, in some of Daveland's pics recently.

Thank you, Mike Cozart for the info on the thermo-formed plastic panels. Any idea what was the wall assembly behind them? Was it just plaster as the back of the fins appears to be (via Daveland photos)? The plastic was not part of the building waterproofing, right, but just a decorative panel cladding? So cool to hear that.

I have done some similar designs for buildings, but in GFRC panels with molded designs, these are probably much heavier and require waterproofing behind, but more suitable for buildings that do not have a Disney Imagineering workshop to maintain them.

Great stuff, Major, from the glory days of Disneyland.


K. Martinez said...

From my experience, the PeopleMover always seemed popular. The only Tomorrowland attractions that seemed to become unpopular as time passed were Mission to Mars and America Sings. For those attractions, I do remember seeing half or nearly empty theaters in the height of summer. Of course I didn't go every day, so maybe they were still popular and I just didn't see it.

Chuck said...

The PeopleMover was wonderful. It was kind of like the Skyway in many ways - a nice, gentle ride with spectacular views and a modicum (or perhaps an illusion) of privacy, only longer and without all of the rocking or the annoyance of having to get back in line to go back to where you started.

My favorite memories are of riding after dark, people-watching or gazing down at the lighted submarines as they glided through liquid space, a cool breeze in my face with my best girl by my side. And if I stole a kiss or two in the back corner beyond the Autopia, well, who could blame me? Although, to be honest, I think my wife would have preferred that I not jump into the next car and plant a big ol' smacker on that sweet old unsuspecting granny from Dubuque. I think the security hosts agreed with her.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, the more time one spends on the internet, the more it becomes clear that erroneous information is a real problem. I saw an article that stated that early Main Street was “…mostly beiges and grays”, and it has been made more colorful over the years because that’s what today’s guests want. What a bunch of baloney! I personally loved the Peoplemover… it was slow, but never boring. And if you happened to have a pretty girl with you, so much the better! Your theory about earthquake construction codes makes sense; but, didn’t they have to think about earthquakes when building things in the mid-1960’s?

K. Martinez, sometimes I think that the Disney folks will say that a ride was unpopular to justify its removal. In the case of “Adventure Thru Inner Space” or “Mission to Mars”, it was probably true (unfortunately). But the Skyway and the Peoplemover? I find it hard to believe. As I think I told you, I was not a fan of “America Sings”, though I know most people remember it fondly.

Chuck, In about a month, the Peoplemover will have been gone for 20 years! The fact that you could relax and take in all of Tomorrowland (with that cool “product music” score!) for 16 - 20 minutes, was the best! Ha ha, you must have made that old lady’s day!


K. Martinez: yes! Those Goodyear animated pod signs were developed by Disney animator T. Hee (he also did similar ones for the exit of Monsanto's Inner Space) The pods featured popular GoodYear ad slogans of the period -ones you would have found in magazines and TV ads of the day like "ALL GOOD THINGS MOVE ON GOODYEAR" ,"HAPPY SOULS BOUNCE ON NEOLITE SOLES", "HIGH-FLYERS GO GOODYEAR", "GOODYEAR GIANT CONVEYOR BELTS MOVE EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE", "SWINGER'S GO GO GOODYEAR", "SITTING PRETTY ON FOAM BY GOODYEAR","GRAN PRIX RACERS GO GO GOODYEAR" how I loved those signs --I have a memory of seeing the Race Car Pod scene in a Sears AutoMotive center in the early 70's --while I don't recall it moving, I always wondered if maybe Goodyear used the Disney artwork in other locations --or did I just associate seeing Goodyear Tires in a store with the Disneyland signage.....??

Anonymous: There is an aluminium grid frame with rubber gasket strips that hold the panels up against the real structure --then metal strips are clipped to the exterior panel edges holding them in place.

-Mike Cozart

-Mike Cozart


Imagineering actually had all intentions of creating a NEW PeopleMover for Tomorrowland -even after Eisner canceled TOMORROWLAND 2055 -the new car bodies looked like a softer shaped version of WDW's WEDWAY, but had a roof built into it's design --they were kinda boxy looking -whenever I see the ELEMENT mini van car I think of the unbuilt new PeopleMovers. In fact during the months before the Disneyland PEOPLEMOVER was cloded (because of a small accident) Disneyland had replaced the loading turntable (does anyone remember how bad and LOUD the loading platform would creak and groan because it was warped in the 1993-1994 period??)The brand new turntable was supplied by Dunlap and not Goodyear...but it reopened just months before it closed for good.

Former Imagineer Eddie Sotto (Knott;s Wacky Soapbox racers and DL Paris Main Street USA fame) insited on replacing the PeopleMover for the upcoming Tomorrowland with some kind of high speed vehicle -which became the Rocket Rods

Anonymous said...

@Mike Cozart, thanks for the update on the plastic cladding. That sounds like how I would propose to do it today. The market now has all sorts of special metal rails and subgirts to support the new styles of exterior cladding panels, but designs of this type were very rare in the US in the 1960's.

I figured it was expensive and difficult since it was limited to those two parts of the buildings, and these were arranged behind moats (fountains) so people couldn't touch the panels and wreck them.

@Major, yes, the 1960's building codes did address earthquakes, but the Northridge and Loma Prieta quakes have prompted sweeping revisions to the old standards. Most structures of 30 years or more of age (pre 1980) are subject to strengthening and reconstruction when even minor changes are proposed. I suspect that rules like this are the reason that the Rocket Jets were closed and moved downstairs. That assembly, piling Ossa on top of Pelion (little classical reference there) is pretty precarious, and then make it spin! Woo Hoo! Possibly may account for the slowing down of the Matterhorn too.

I do recall with some poignancy the rollers under the circular turntable, or maybe they were on the speedramp. I recall feeling them underneath as you rode along, a foot massage of the future.


K. Martinez said...

Major, more than any other attraction, the Skyway seems to have the most reasons or excuses as to why it closed down. I still haven't figured out which one to buy into.

Mike Cozart, you have a wealth of knowledge about DL and WDW that I find fascinating. Thanks for sharing it. And those Goodyear slogans definitely ring bell with me.

JG, I remember those foot massages on all the speed ramps. Especially if you widened your stand and placed your feet near the edges of the ramp.

Sunday Night said...

The Peoplemover was one of the best attractions at Disneyland. A nice way to relax but get some outstanding views of the park. Day or night. As I remember some of the track crossed above the Monorail track. Remember when they tried to make it exciting with Super Speed Tunnel and Tron?

I know all about vacu-formed plastic since I owned a Mattel Vac-U-Form as a kid. My most favorite toy of all time.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm late to comment today. I do remember those animated scenes inside the pods. I would love to see close-up shots of them. Photos have to exist somewhere out there.

Mike Cozart, I have always wondered about those panels at the entrance to Tomorrowland. I assumed they were plastic, but wondered if they would have been replaced with newer ones at some point over the years. I wish they would just go back to the iridescent silver color, but I guess the gray ones are better than when they painted them brown. It would be nice if they survived the next overhaul of Tomorrowland. If there ever is "next" overhaul of that land. And thanks for letting us know who to blame for the Rocket Rods and the closure of the PeopleMover. He will never be forgiven. And neither will Disney. There is no excuse for letting that track sit there abandoned like that for all these years. Oh wait....I guess for them, money is a good excuse, huh?

Dean Finder said...

There's something about that mural's design that makes me think of the images pressed on the "golden record" installed on the Voyager probe: