The new movie from Disney, Tomorrowland is “For those who make the impossible…possible.” Tomorrowland is based on Walt Disney’s vision of the city of the future. To understand where the idea came from, it’s important to see where he started.
Walt had a talent for urban planning and was a futurist with a love of science. When Disneyland first opened, the Tomorrowland area gave visitors first looks at tech that was not mainstream, such as microwave ovens and TV remotes. Disney’s WED Enterprises also provided glimpses of the future of robotics with four exhibits at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, including “it’s a small world” and an animatronic Abraham Lincoln.
Towards the end of his life, Walt became preoccupied with the way modern cities were becoming. They were hectic, disorganized, and dirty compared to his clean and controlled Disneyland Park. Walt took what he had learned through the planning of Disneyland to develop a concept of a city of the future, or EPCOT – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT would be built with the city being most densely populated in the center through downtown and commercial areas, and on the outskirts would be more residential areas. Ideally, citizens of EPCOT would not need to own cars with two mass transportation systems, a monorail and the PeopleMover, which would transport people in and out of the city without stopping.
When Walt purchased land in Florida, he had plans for massive development of not only a new amusement park, but also his futuristic city, EPCOT. Unfortunately, with his death in 1966, most of his original vision never came to be. Over time, bits and pieces have been implemented in the various theme parks at Disneyland Park and Walt Disney World. EPCOT Center (now Epcot) was opened in 1982, but not as the city, it was intended to be by Walt, but more like a World’s Fair.
With the release of Tomorrowland, more of Walt’s original vision of a utopian city of the future will be seen. The movie features Casey (Britt Robertson), a teen with scientific curiosity, who teams up with Frank (George Clooney), an inventor, after learning that the alternate world she gets a glimpse of with the help of a magic medallion, and her own world are threatened with destruction.
Compounded with my love for all things Disney, Walt’s “If you can dream it, you can do it,” attitude, and that Tomorrowland has been incredibly mysterious so far, I am very excited to see the movie and what it could inspire. If you see it, I’d love to know what everyone thinks, just no spoilers please! Also, if the movie inspires you to think about the future, you can pre-order Tomorrowlandnow to own on Blu-ray and DVD.