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Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow(land) Part 2

Note: In Part 1 we looked at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland as it stood on Opening Day, July 17, 1955. Now we look at the evolution and development of the land from July 18, 1955 through the end of calendar year 1964.

When we last left Tomorrowland, the Open Day ceremonies had concluded, larger than invited park crowds were dying down for the day, and construction workers were still working to make Tomorrowland more complete than before. In just a few hours time, the next attraction to open to the public would debut.

Tomorrowland-logo

Monday, July 18, 1955 would be the first operating day for Circarama, which would later be known as Circle-Vision. Operating in a show building at the entrance of Tomorrowland, A Tour of the West took standing guests on a 12 minute scenic drive from Beverly Hills to Monument Valley. The film was shot with 11 16mm cameras mounted on top of a (presenting sponsor) American Motors car. As the name suggests, the movie was presented on a 360 degree screen, which drew in the park guests (it was also a free admission attraction, no ticket required). The interior of the theater was decorated with American Motor cars and Kelvinator refrigerators, both sponsors of the attraction. A Tour of the West would until 1960, when it was replaced by the 16 minute America the Beautiful. This version included aerial footage of the nation. At this time, Bell Telephone Systems became the sole presenting sponsor of Circarama. The name would be changed in 1964 to Circle-Vision. More name changes would come in the future, and the attraction would run until 1997.

circlevision

Next in the chronological tour of Tomorrowland comes the August 3, 1955 opening of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit. One of the last attractions to be thought of for Opening Day, the movie-inspired exhibit was not ready for opening day, and for several weeks later. Instead of looking towards the future, the foremost stage building of Tomorrowland contained the giant squid and other items from the still popular 1954 movie starting Kirk Douglas. When it opened, it offered park guests a first time view of movie props. While the intended temporary attraction lasted for 11 years, Captain Nemo’s pipe organ lives on at the Haunted Mansion.

20000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit Entrance

20000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit Entrance

Also opening in August was the World Beneath Us Exhibit sponsored by the Richfield Oil Company. Housed in the same building as Circarama, this free exhibit was a promotion for the oil company, showing park guests to see how oil was formed, using animated cavemen and dinosaurs showing the process (in faster than real time). The end of the exhibit featured a Los Angeles Basin map highlighting which area were rich in oil. The exhibit would not last, closing its doors in 1959.

Between the World Beneath Us Exhibit and the Tomorrowland Lagoon stood the counter service restaurant Yacht Club. Decorated with nautical pennants and providing an overhanging roof to shade park guests, the Yacht Club would only stand for one year, before moving 75 feet away and being renamed the Yacht Bar. The Yacht Bar itself would last until 1966.

Also for eating convenience, the Space Bar opened in the summer of 1955 near the Moonliner Rocket. Inspired by the Automats of New York, this was another counter service restaurant that also contained one wall of vending machines. A remodel in 1961 would see the vending machines taken out and more seating, along with a covered patio was added. This remodel would not help the Space Bar last, as it was closed down in 1966.

Sk

Sk

August 16, 1956 saw the maiden voyage of Phantom Boats in the Tomorrowland Lagoon. Designed with no track and no guard rails, park guests were allowed to travel through the lagoon at slow speeds. With no track, these boats would often stall in the middle of the lagoon, causing Disney to staff each of the 14 vessels with a Cast Member to help restart the boat when it happened. These fiberglass boats ended up being more troublesome than original Autopia cars, breaking down and needing maintenance done on a near nightly basis. As a result, the attraction closed in January 1956, making it the first attraction to be removed from the park. However, they would reopen in the summer to keep the lagoon from being empty. Mechanical issues surfaced again, and the Phantom Boats closed permanently that October.

As the opening summer came to a close and the autumn began, Tomorrowland continued to grow and finish its initial completion. September 4 saw opening of Hobbyland, Located near Flight to the Moon, this was a retail area, which consisted of, surprisingly, hobby items such as model kits. One reason Hobbyland did well was the nearby Flight Circle, a chain linked fenced area that was used to demonstration powered boats, cars and model planes. While the planes were loud and could be heard throughout the park, the exhibit was popular and lasted until January 1966, when but the Flight Circle and Hobbyland closed.

Flight Circle

Flight Circle

October 1 1955 saw the opening of the Art Corner next to the Satellite View of America. Inside this store was art supplies, Disneyland postcard, Disney art work (this includes many inexpensive, and now rare, animation cels). Guests could also have portraits drawn by Disney animators, which could be shipped home for the guests. The Art corner would also last until 1966.

The Hall of Aluminum Fame was the last Tomorrowland attraction of 1955 to open came in December, an exhibit sponsored by Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Company. The exhibit was located inside the same building as Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry. The entrance to the exhibit was a 40 aluminum cylinder telescope, which lead guests into a room lined with displays showing uses and history of aluminum. The centerpiece of the room was a “time sphere” showing images of man using and wearing aluminum. This display was not long for the park, as it would close in 1960.

The year 1956 began the same way 1955 ended, with an exhibit hall opening to fill space in Tomorrowland. The American Dairy Association Exhibit opened on January 21, 1956 in the same show building as the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exhibit. Souvenir books from the period offered descriptions of “future techniques in production and distribution of dairy products.” Along with plastic cows watching television, park guests could visit the Dairy Bar inside the exhibit and enjoy a cold milk. The exhibit would last until September 1958.

A mere eight months after Disneyland opened brought about the first “shuffle” of locations, as the Court of Honor relocated from the back of Tomorrowland and emerged as the Avenue of the Flags, which ran 150 feet from the park Hub to the entrance of Tomorrowland. The Avenue of the Flags contained 49 flag poles (later expanded to 51), and the flag of each state was flown in chronological order of admittance to the nation. At the end of the Avenue of the Flags flew Old Glory. The addition of the flags ended up blocking the Clock of the World from view while walking down Main Street USA. However, both would remain until 1966.

The cause of this shuffle was the Astro-Jets, which opened where the Court of Honor once stood on March 26, 1956. This classic spin ride, the first new ride attraction to open in Disneyland since opening day, consisted of 12 rockets that would whirl around near center of Tomorrowland. More detailing to the white jets with red or blue trim is what made this attraction stand out from the standard carnival spin attraction. The name would be changed in 1964 to Tomorrowland Jets, however this incarnation would close and be relocated in 1967.

Astro Jets

Astro Jets

The next “moving” attraction would open just weeks later. The Bathroom of Tomorrow had its premier on April 5, 1956, following a ceremony with Walt Disney and other dignitaries turning the water on to this facility. Housed in the same building as the Hall of Chemistry and Hall of Aluminum Fame, this 20 foot wide room showed guests different bathroom fixtures in yellow (some plated in 24 karat gold). The exhibit, presented by Crane Plumbing Company, would last until 1960.

BathroomofTomorrow

The next moving attraction to open in Tomorrowland required little space at all. Carrying park guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, the Skyway opened on June 23, 1956. The Tomorrowland entrance to the quarter-mile attraction stood near the Autopia attraction, and would last for 38 years before closing in 1994.

skyway_matterhorn

After the opening of the Skyway, it would be nearly a year before the next Tomorrowland attraction would open.June 12, 1957 saw the home warming for House of the Future, a plastic structure sponsored Monsanto. The three bedroom two bath house stood on a 256 square foot platform surrounded by a garden and swimming pool, which was part of the cooling system for the house. 20 million guests visited the House of the Future before it closed in 1967.

Monsanto House of the Future

Monsanto House of the Future

A train would be Walt’s next addition to Tomorrowland, as the Viewliner train would open on June 26, 1957. Like the Skyway, there was a station is Fantasyland and a station in Tomorrowland, but the color-coded lines only stop at one of the two stations. The red cars, named after celestial bodies, stopped at the Tomorrowland station before taking a tour through the area, looping around both lands, and around two under construction attractions, Matterhorn Mountain and the Submarine Voyage. It was due to yet another coming Tomorrowland attraction that would cause the Viewliner to close just fifteen months after it opened.

Viewliner Train - photo courtesy Disney History Institute

Viewliner Train – photo courtesy Disney History Institute

What was the attraction that would replace the Viewliner? The Tomorrowland station would be replaced by the loading platform for the  Monorail, opened on June 14, 1959 as part of the first major expansion of Disneyland. which happened to focus in Tomorrowland (Matterhorn Mountain is considered Fantasyland and will be covered in a later series).Disney Legend Bob Gurr designed the Monorail cars, which design company Alweg had been running in Germany previously). 82 passengers rode on the initial incarnation of the Monorail, which ran from Tomorrowland station, around the lagoon, Autopia and Matterhorn Mountain before returning to Tomorrowland station. This eight-tenth of a mile would be expanded in 1961 to a length of 2.3 miles, taking park guests over the Disneyland parking lot to the Disneyland Hotel, where a second station had opened for hotel guests. This rail expansion also saw the introduction of the second generation of Monorail trains, called the Mach II. These trains had a fourth car, increasing capacity to 108 guests, and included a “bubble window” in the front car, allowing lucky guests a different view of the ride into and out of the park. The Monorail continues to operate to this day from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney and back.

Monorail & Submarine Voyage

Monorail & Submarine Voyage

Also making their official debut at Disneylandon June 14, 1959 was the Submarine Voyage, promoted as “The world’s largest peacetime fleet.” They had soft opened about a week open, but were dedicated along with the Monorail and Matterhorn Mountain on June 14. Truthfully, the subs weren’t subs, never submerged under the Tomorrowland Lagoon, and unlike the Phantom Boats that ran in the lagoon previously, these vessels were on a track. On the nine minute voyage around the lagoon guest would see mechanical fish, the ruins of Atlantis as well as artificial mermaids. Dual sets were built so guests on each side of the sub would see the exact same thing at the same moment. The subs would run until 1998, but would eventually reemerge years later. To help celebrate the dedication of the Submarine Voyage, eight “real” mermaids waved to park guests from the rocks in Tomorrowland Lagoon. After their one day appearance, they would swim away until 1965, when they would return for the summer season.

As we enter into the 1960s, Tomorrowland continued to evolve. February 17, 1960 saw the closing of opening day attraction Space Station X-1. The Art of Animation would take its place next to Circarama on May 28 of the same year. While seemingly out of place in Tomorrowland, the Art of Animation gave guests a chance to learn about the animation process, using the 1959 Sleeping Beauty as an example. Of course, it was also a means to promote the movie. Guests could look at the exhibits, or sit back in the plastic chairs and rest for a few minutes. The exhibit would last until 1966.

Also in 1960, Bell Telephone Systems became the presenting sponsor of Circarama, and a remodel of the pre- and post-show areas was done. This remodel included the introduction of Bell Telephone Systems Phone Exhibits, which offered park guests a look into the future of phone technology. Different displays showed off the emerging long distance calling technology, with a stopwatch showing guests how long it would take a Bell Telephone representative to place a long distance call. Phone technology proved to be popular in Tomorrowland, and the exhibits would remain until Bell Telephone Systems ended their sponsorship of Circarama in 1982.

The Hall of Aluminum Hall of Fame and the Bathroom of Tomorrow both left Disneyland in 1960, in their place in the show building came Fun Fotos. A simple premise to show off a new technology, guests would stand in front of painted Disneyland images and have their picture taken. After watching the photo develop in front of their eyes, guests could then purchase the souvenir. This popular exhibit would last until 1965, when the space was needed for a remodel.

The next expansion of Tomorrowland would see land behind the Fun Fotos building being used, as the Flying Saucers landed on August 1, 1961 next to Rocket to the Moon. Guests would climb into one of the 16 saucers and over a motorized board that shot up jets of air (when they worked). While a fun and popular attraction, the mechanics of the ride failed to cooperate, and the ride was down as often as it was running. The Flying Saucers left the park in 1966; they were reincarnated into Disney’s California Adventure in 2012 as Luigi’s Flying Tires, where it again lasted for a short period of time, having closed down earlier this year.

Flying Saucers

Flying Saucers

Following the addition of the Flying Saucers construction slowed around Disneyland. Walt and the Imagineers shifted their focus to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. In order to gauge interest in the attractions Disney was working on, and to give a preview of attractions that would be coming to the park once the fair ended, the New York World’s Fair Exhibit opened in 1963 inside the show building that previously held the Dairy Bar. While the full attractions were not shown, guests were able to catch glimpses and previews were presented. The Ford Motor company partnered with Disney to create Wonder Rotunda’s Magic Skyway; its ride vehicles would later become the PeopleMover, and the dinosaurs in the attractions would appear in the Primeval World Diorama. General Electric demonstrated Progressland, later known as the Carousel of Progress. Pepsi-Cola previewed It’s a Small World, while the state of Illinois showed off Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which would later appear on Main Street USA in the Opera House. Due to needing to be in New York for the fair, the exhibit ended in 1964.

The last Tomorrowland addition to enter during this decade long tour is the Premiere Shop. While not the largest merchandise shop in Tomorrowland, it was initially unique for its selection of California and sports themed merchandise. Located in the same building as the Art Corner, it would remain open until 2005, when it would be remodeled and renamed to match an attraction landing next door to it.

Coming soon, we will look at the next decade of Tomorrowland growth, 1965-1974. I thank you for taking the time to read this today. I ask you would please leave comments.  You may contact me directly on Twitter @Quest4VaultDisn, and you may also subscribe to be alerted by email when new postings are published. Quest for Vault Disney is now on Facebook. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/questforvaultdisney. Have a great rest of your day. See ya real soon…

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6 Comments

  1. […] In Part 1 we looked at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland as it stood on Opening Day, July 17, 1955. Part 2 looked at the evolution and development of the land from July 18, 1955 through the end of […]

  2. […] In Part 1 we looked at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland as it stood on Opening Day, July 17, 1955. Part 2 looked at the evolution and development of the land from July 18, 1955 through the end of […]

  3. Mark P Cohen says:

    Although I have come late to this column, I am enjoying it very much. I am just a few years older than the Park and grew up visiting it often and even working there for a time in the late 60s and early 70s. Still a big fan I push my budget to remain an annual passport holder. Thank you for your writings.

  4. […] 2004-2015. For glimpses of the area in past decades and opening day, be sure to look at Parts 1,2, 3, 4, 5, and […]

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