Disneyland Past and Present: Tomorrowland and Beyond

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“Disneyland Past and Present” is an examination of the ever changing landscape of the Disneyland Resort. Restaurants, rides, courtyards, candy shops, even entire hotels come and go as Disney continues to innovate and, arguably, upgrade. In this column we will highlight and get a little sentimental about the Disneyland that was, that is, and what it may become.

Change, no matter the scale, can cause distress among those who endure it. When change comes to The Happiest Place on Earth, the emotional effects may span generations.  Especially when it happens to a treasured pastry or beloved Disneyland attraction.

Space Mountain, WEDWay PeopleMover Tomorrowland Terrace and guests at night, Disneyland artist rendering by Disney Legend herb Ryman
Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Rendering by Herb Ryman

Renovation and outright replacements are common Disney Parks operational proceedings. Freshness is an integral aspect of Disney’s eternal allure. Star Tours, Splash Mountain, and soon Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, are within the almanac of incredible results. Still, when the scrim goes up around one of your favorite Disney destinations, it can be a little difficult to appreciate.

If changes to the Disney landscape are gradual enough, or occur within a sufficiently obscure location, they may prove only mildly unnerving. Guest may have scarcely noticed the evolution of the remote Fantasyland Theatre. While delighting to Mickey and the Magical Map, all but the the most hip and sentimental are hard pressed to even remember the once ultra-modern dance party that was Videopolis.

Disneyland Autopia at night, Tomorrowland Terrace and Star Wars Launch Bay
Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Today

Often, though, the cold hands of progress grip what we hold dear by the throat and force feeds us yet another helping of “improvements.” One day you’re choosing between an Adventure Thru Inner Space or a tour of the WEDWay PeopleMover. Mere months later, this is the busiest part of the park. Above you stands the derelict PeopleMover track and you are surrounded by passersby arguing about something called MaxPass.

Disneyland guests did eventually get Star Tours out of the exchange. Still, the absence of classic attractions for which there was rarely a wait is difficult to dismiss. Time, tide, and Disney Imagineers demonstrate something akin to impatience within Tomorrowland’s ever-alterable acreage. The entire resort is a similarly evolving canvas, as Disney’s artists move literal mountains to keep the parks fresh and full of eager visitors.

Are the results always wonderful? Perfection is rather a lofty standard, even for Disney. Still, they come closer than anyone else. Perhaps the Captain Jack Sparrow overlay in the Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean is a tad intrusive. But, there are also lands of shining examples of renovations done right. Some lament the loss of Circle-Vision 360°, Bear Country, and Big Thunder Ranch. Understandably. Finding Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Splash Mountain, and an entire Star Wars land in their place is surely a net positive for Disneyland guests, and bodes well for the future.

Do you miss the old Skyway? How about Woody’s Roundup? America Sings? Perhaps you’re still carrying a torch for Disneyland’s Carousel of Progress. Tell us about your favorite, or least favorite, ride, shop, vista, or restaurant replacement in the comments section below. With so many comings and goings we would like to discuss yours in an upcoming “Disneyland Past and Present” feature.

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About the author

Christopher Schmidt

Christopher Schmidt is a former Disneyland Resort bartender and author of The Unofficial Walt Disney World Drinking Companion, The Unofficial Disneyland Drinking Companion, and The Complete Guide to runDisney - Disneyland Edition.
If it involves amusement, attractions, athletics, adventure, and responsible enjoyment of exotic libations, you will find Christopher in the middle of it, eager to tell you all about it.

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  • My wife and I would really love to see the PeopleMover running again in Disneyland. It would be a great way to escape the crowds for a while and get to relax and enjoy the Disneyland scenery from above – seeing Disneyland in a whole new light. You could get some great photos and videos from up there, while resting your legs.

    • Yes! My family would agree to that wholeheartedly. I think it’s an OSHA rule that prevents it from being used but there must be a way to fix it. One of my favorite rides.

  • I miss Pinocchio and the original Snow White rides in Fantasyland in WDW. I miss the Carousel of Progress and America Sings in Disneyland. I really miss the People Movers in both resorts. I think the addition of Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean is fine. I really miss the redhead woman the way she was. Pirates were not politically correct and we should not be changing history. I don’t think I will be going on the Pirates ride anymore because of that change. I want to keep my memories of it.

  • I don’t suppose many would agree with me, but one of the Disney staples I miss most is the disappearance of the old ABCDE ticket books. I remember the concerted effort to determine how best to use the limited resources of the coupons as one of the highlights of a day at Disneyland. How should I use my 3 precious E-tickets? The Matterhorn for sure, and probably the Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. But I really like the Submarines and the Mine Train. What a quandary. Only the Pack Mules and the Tiki Room were easy to cut from the list. I think current park visitors are missing out on the development of valuable decision-making skills that the Disneyland ticket books provided.

  • 2 rides latter toons I’ve missed for many many years are the old house of the future & the flying saucers. Interesting enough both where in Tomorrowland.

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