Skip to main content

The World of Tomorrow, circa 1953

The 1953 World of Tomorrow that became Tomorrowland (© The Walt Disney Company)
This sketch illustrates the plan drawn October 8, 1953 by Marvin Davis. The atmospheric rendering, reportedly drawn by art director Dale Henessy, son of Disney artist Hugh Henessy, imagines looking down the entrance avenue, flanked by exhibit spaces, toward the circular courtyard dominated by the Rocket Ship theater. In the days before commercial jet travel, an Aviation Exhibit (on the left) would illustrate how far modern airplanes had come from the Wright brothers. Davis later developed the suspended monorail (left of center), reached by a rooftop station, that would offer a winding, curvy view of the entire land.

Art director Gabriel Scognamilo was hired to help imagine the future in 1954, but this rendering shows the pre-Scognamilo future. Artist John Hench was thinking about cigar-shaped rocket ships (four years before Sputnik) and ways to fool an audience into believing that they were still inside the rocket they thought they had entered (if that makes sense).

The open, covered arcade to the right led to the loading area for the Freeway of the Future. A feature of the loading area was a small test track. A child could get in a car and be waved onto the test track to prove their proficiency before being allowed onto the main freeway. As Disneyland neared its grand opening, publicity materials still spoke of children earning their license to drive, but the test track idea was quickly set aside.


Popular posts from this blog

Bruce Bushman, Disney Legend

Original imagineer Bruce Bushman has not been recognized by the Walt Disney Company as a "Legend," and that's an omission—he had a tremendous influence on the design of Disneyland.

Bruce was born in New Jersey on April 20, 1911, the son of film star Francis X. Bushman and his first wife, Josephine Fladune. He and his brothers and sisters were raised in Baltimore by their mother. Josephine moved to Santa Monica, California in the late 1920s and Bruce followed around 1931. He attended UCLA and the Chouinard Art Institute and made his living as an artist before joining Walt Disney Productions in the late 1930s.

Bruce was a layout artist on Pinocchio (1940), co-art directed the Nutcracker Suite sequence in Fantasia (1940), and laid out many short cartoons. His first screen credit was on the short First Aiders (1944), and he contributed to the classic short Pigs is Pigs (1954).

Bushman became a sketch artist for the live action film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in late 1953, …

Casey, Jr. Thinks He Can

"I think I can... I think I can..." The Little Engine That Could is one of the most popular children's stories of all time. The version published in 1930 as the work of Watty Piper (a pseudonym for publisher Arnold Monk) retold an older tale emphasizing the value of positive thinking. The "Story of the Engine That Thought It Could" appeared in the New York Tribune on April 8, 1906, as part of a sermon by Reverend Charles Wing.

When Disney's artists made a film version of Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl's 1939 story, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, details of the train that transported the circus from venue to venue needed inventing. Disney historian Jim Korkis wrote about the original book in 2004, and made no mention of an anthropomorphized locomotive. For the film, the undersized engine pulling cars full of elephants and other wild animals took on characteristics of the famous Little Engine That Could.

For the engine's name, Joe Grant and other artists…

Tiki Bars and Adventureland

Adventureland, squeezed into the plan for Disneyland at the last minute, so to speak, was largely the work of art director Harper Goff. Focused on his river ride, he created a little outpost of civilization at the jungle's edge without worrying which continent he was representing.

To reproduce the ambiance of the third world--bustling trading towns from to Leticia to Timbuktu--Goff led with exotic merchandise and used a lot of thatch. The river ride was inspired by the film The African Queen (1951), set in the Belgian Congo in Equatorial Africa, but that continent's rich design history was not yet in vogue. Goff's simple market street of one and two-story shops has been extensively remodeled over the years, partly to include more African art in the mix.

Because the theme was not geographically-specific, decorating Goff's mix of indigenous and colonial architecture was challenging. Luckily for him, interest the Pacific Islands was at a peak in the United States followin…