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Entries in disney (51)

Monday
Aug152011

Disney's "Project X" in 1966

It's easy to forget -- even for a Disney nerd like myself -- that before Walt Disney died of lung cancer in December of 1966, EPCOT (the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) was supposed to be a real city. The code name "Project X" was given to the undertaking that would eventually become Walt Disney World, which today includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom parks.

The illustration above is an aerial view of Project X, while the image below shows the thirty story hotel that was to be the centerpiece of the city of EPCOT. Both are from the excellent book Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance, edited by Karal Ann Marling.

 

Wednesday
Jun152011

First Vision of Tomorrowland (1953)

This concept sketch of the entrance to Disneyland's Tomorrowland is one of the earliest designs for Tomorrowland known to exist. Made in either 1953 or 1954, it's not even known what Disney artist sketched this retrofuturistic gem. The image appears in the book The Art of Disneyland by Jeff Kurtti and Bruce Gordon with over 100 other rare Disneyland concept paintings and illustrations.

As the book hints, Tomorrowland was probably the weakest of Disneyland's themed lands when it opened in 1955, simply because construction didn't even begin until six months prior to the park's opening. For a peek at what Tomorrowland looked like on opening day (the world of 1986!) be sure to check out video of the live broadcast.

Tomorrowland, entrance, early concept sketch

Artist unknown, 1953-1954, Colored pencil and gouache on diazo print. 32" x 20"

Although many attempts at and iterations of a design for Tomorrowland were made between 1953 and 1955, construction on the area did not begin until a scant six months prior to the Park opening in July 1955. This is one of the earliest knoown designs of Tomorrowland, and most variations that followed maintained the same basic footprint of a central "mall" leading to an iconic interior.

 

Saturday
Oct242009

Tomorrowland Is Trip Into Future (1955)

The July 15, 1955 Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA) ran a special section devoted to the Disneyland park, which was to be opened just three days later. A short piece devoted to Tomorrowland is featured below.

For those who'd like to read the entire 16-page special section, I've uploaded that as well. 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Sunday
Aug302009

My First Thoughts on Paleo-Futurism (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Disney)

Me and Goofy (circa 1989)I've visited Walt Disney World about 20 times.

Now, for an elderly woman living in Orlando, Florida, this might seem like an appropriate number. But for a 26-year-old man who's lived his entire life in the Midwest, that number is fairly absurd. My parents got me hooked at a young age, and while my perspective on the Disney brand and favorite activities in Disney World have both drastically changed over the years, I keep going back.

It was in EPCOT Center that I first started thinking about paleo-futurism. By the mid-1990s, EPCOT was looking stale; a future frozen in the early 1980s. The park was almost a monument to a historical future, rather than a hopeful tomorrow, and even young children could sense this. Though an extreme comparison, it was somewhat like visiting Flushing Meadows to see the decaying remnants of New York's 1964 World's Fair.

EPCOT as a theme park sparked my interest in this concept -- a concept for which I didn't yet have a name -- but one ride in particular stands out as the most reflective, yet forward-thinking. Horizons was opened in 1983 and featured both a history of the future, represented by an animatronic Jules Verne, and the future as imagined in 1983. Disney and this ride have so invaded my thoughts that any time I smell oranges I still imagine the "farm of the future," as was briefly depicted during this ride.

Though the ride closed in 1999, I can still play through every scene of Horizons in my head. The ride stands out as an experience that introduced me to thinking about histories of the future, and got me to thinking about what futures survive in our collective imagination. Like movies forever lost to history because of negligence and poor archiving, I feel a special sense of loss that most will never get to experience this ride in person.

Oh well, at least Epcot still sells booze. Pour some out on the curb for Horizons. Or don't. That alcohol ain't cheap.

The clip below is from the 1991 souvenir video, A Day at EPCOT Center.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Sunday
Oct262008

Report From the Year 2050 (1984)

My interest in futurism can probably be credited to two things: Disney's EPCOT Center and children's science books of the 1980s and 90s. One of my earliest posts here at the Paleo-Future blog covered the EPCOT Center book, The Future World of Transportation. I vividly recall checking out the three books in this series from my elementary school library, my sticky fingers pawing through the technological promises Baby Boomers never saw materialize but insisted we Millennials would soon enjoy. Just over that horizon, just a little further! The year 2000 is going to change everything! We swear! 

The number is just so big. And round! 2000! Look at all those zeros. 2000!
To the author's credit they figured out that to sound even remotely plausible and still make me wet my Underoos over the advanced technology featured in the book, one had to open with a year further out than 2000 A.D.

 

And thus the first chapter, titled, "Report From the Year 2050." Below are four renderings of technology we are certain to have by the year 2050 (if those lying, deceitful Baby Boomers are to be believed).

 

Wednesday
Jul232008

The Future Is So Yesterday

The Washington Post had an article on Sunday about the new Disney House of the Future. The piece touched on a lot of issues that involve postmodern paleo-futurism and reminds me of a February 23, 1997 New York Times article titled, "Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past." An excerpt from the Washington Post piece appears below.

Disney -- so far into our heads, hopes and dreams that it is legendarily the Mouse that built the better people trap -- is now presenting not so much the future, but the future that it thinks we want. Wander around Tomorrowland and it no longer gleams with white plastic and blue trim. No "2001." It is an antique future, a bronze future, full of things that look like astrolabes channeling Leonardo da Vinci.

 

The future of the future is in the past?

"This is an aspirational future," says Disney spokesman John J. Nicoletti.


See also:
Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past (1997)
Postmodern Paleo-Future
Tomorrowland, Disneyland Opening Day (1955)
Rebuilding Tomorrowland (1966)
EPCOT Publicity Materials (1981)
Mickey Futurism (1980s)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)

 

Friday
May302008

"Modern Inventions" Production Art (1937)


Jeff over at 2719 Hyperion has some amazing production art from the 1937 Donald Duck short film Modern Inventions, including this sketch of our one-eyed robot butler. A clip from the short appears below. The entire short can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set The Chronological Donald, Volume One.

 


See also:
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)