A lot of my preferences at Walt Disney World are rooted in nostalgia rather than logic. For instance, Tomorrowland is my favorite land in the Magic Kingdom. My love for the land is based upon how it existed when it emerged from it’s 1994 “New Tomorrowland” overhaul. I can’t logically defend why I still love it. Although I love Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and Space Mountain (I’ve rambled about this in the caption of another recent photo), when trying to look at the land objectively, it has a lot of faults. Anyone who has been visiting Walt Disney World for years or decades but says their opinions aren’t at least somewhat biased by nostalgia is feeding you a line of crap.
There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia and liking certain things because of it. Now, it’s a different story when you advocate change (or lack thereof) because of nostalgia. For example, hoping that Captain EO stays in the Imagination pavilion. No one in their right mind can objectively think that this is an appropriate attraction for Epcot’s Future World (or anywhere, for that matter). That location deserves a new attraction that fits our imaginative ambitions for the future. From a personal perspective, I preferred Kitchen Kabaret over Soarin’, but I would never contend that Kitchen Kabaret should still be around because, objectively, Soarin’ does more for Epcot than Kitchen Kabaret.
On our trip in 1995, we saw the “new” Tomorrowland for the first time, and I was blown away. (I’ve written about this trip and other childhood trip in my “childhood trip report.”) I was 10 at the time, which was probably my sweet spot for visiting Walt Disney World as a kid. Not too cool for anything, but “brave” and tall enough to do everything. I loved the new look of Tomorrowland, which seemed distinctly futuristic to my 10 year old eyes.
The highlight of that trip was the all new ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter (check out that page for an extensive look at Alien Encounter). The attraction was closed on and off while we were there, so it felt like something special when we finally did get to experience it. And what an experience it was. I was at an age where I could grasp some of the dark humor in the pre-show, but not so old that the attraction didn’t scare me a little. It had everything that made an attraction awesome to me: an interesting story, an entertaining wait in line, and most important–-an awesome character in Skippy! After exiting the attraction, I flew into its gift-shop and snatched up the largest Skippy plush I could find.
I had been saving up money I had earned for the past year (in my lucrative career cleaning up dog poop for my grandpa) just for such an investment! I still have that Skippy to this day, complete with his original “MousekeToy” tag attached. To date, Alien Encounter is still my second favorite attraction in the history of Walt Disney World behind the original Journey into Imagination. Sarah and I even bravely go where no man should go and experience Stitch’s Great Escape every once in a while just to see the pre-show and my old friend, Skippy.
While I love the look of the current Tomorrowland, neon and all, I know that a big part of the appeal is due to the memories I formed in this incarnation of Tomorrowland as a kid. It also still deeply disappoints me that Alien Encounter, an attraction I still consider incredibly brilliant, has been replaced by an abomination of an attraction. Objectively, I realize that the aesthetics of Tomorrowland aren’t the best, and that Alien Encounter might have been a bit too “adult” for Tomorrowland…but I still love that Tomorrowland of 1995.
Regular readers of the blog may know that I’m Disney theme park history geek. While my knowledge pales in comparison to some other Disney fans, I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World regularly since 1986, and I have a lot of nostalgia for extinct attractions. (You might recall my EPCOT30 series on vintage EPCOT Center attractions.)
Anyway, I’d love to do a post on Alien Encounter, Timekeeper, and bygone Tomorrowland, but I don’t have the photos necessary for such a post. Since I’m a photographer myself, I’m not comfortable just “borrowing” anonymous photos online, either. So, if you visited Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland before 2003, and would be willing to allow me to use your photos in a blog post, I’d love it if you could email me your photos. You can send them to email@example.com. I’ll be sure to credit the photographers at the bottom of any posts in which I use the photos. I’m hoping to have this post finished by April 4, 2014, so if you see this message after that date, disregard it. Thanks in advance for the help!
What Disney attraction or land tickles your nostalgia bone? Were you raised on Walt Disney World’s 1994 “New Tomorrowland”? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!