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

Where Chemistry Works Wonders For You

Chemistry leads to the future. A future filled with rocket ships, submarines capable of sailing under the polar ice caps, new medicines, fast food, and plastics. No surprise, then, that the entrance to Tomorrowland includes the portal of the Hall of Chemistry.

A bridge over an architectural pool led through the beckoning doorway. Inside, the hall was dominated by a revolving display of eight test tubes—the Chemitron. Each test tube contained one of the "eight basic materials found in nature from which countless chemicals and plastics can be made."

Salt, Sulfur, Oil, Coal, Air, Phosphate rock, Limestone, and Water. You were expecting more periodic table? "Did you know that from coal it is possible to make over a quarter of a million different substances? From plastics to perfumes, from drugs to disinfectants—hundred of the things you use today...and will use tomorrow...are derived chemically—from coal. And thousands more will be found tomorrow."

The Chemitron (spel…

The Incredible Mr. Long

There is a small mailbox next to a dummy door at 110 Main Street. As a teenager, I tried to open that door and—for some reason—I reached into the mailbox. I found a single business card.

Dwight Stanley Long decided to see the world on his 21st birthday, but not like other men might. Dwight turned 21 in 1933, probably the worst year of the worldwide Depression. Like Walt Disney, Dwight had funds when many were poor. He bought a 32-foot ketch, the Idle Hour, and sailed around the world for the next six years as Walt created Snow White and built his Burbank studio.

Long was born in Seattle and studied journalism at the University of Washington. (Long was three years younger than Ken Anderson, who earned a BA in Architecture from UW '34, and the same age as Van France, who was also born in Seattle, but raised in San Diego. Welton Becket graduated UW '27.)

Color movies were brand new in 1933—Walt created the first color cartoon, Flowers and Trees, with help from Technicolor, only …

When is a castle not a castle?

A castle is a fortress meant to protect the regent. The king and queen’s living and entertaining spaces are surrounded by a walled city, which is, in turn, surrounded by battlements and defensive constructions, such as moats and walls which taper out (called a battered wall) to make scaling with ladders more difficult. Bridges across the moat can be retracted or raised, and strategic points often feature a series of obstacles--“defense in depth” as it’s known. A drawbridge typically has a strengthened gate (a portcullis, literally “sliding door”) behind it, and paths toward the central “keep” are more maze-like than linear. Defensive aspects can turn offensive--hot tar can be poured from the parapets, the moving edge of the portcullis often had sharpened spikes, and crenelations (the up and down along the parapet) were meant to shield archers.

Because many fairy tales involve royalty, castles figure in stories from Snow White to Cinderella. As a rule, the military aspects don’t matte…