My Disney Top 5 - Things to See in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowlandby Chris Barry, contributing writer
"Paging Mr. Morrow… Mr. Tom Morrow." I can write these words here. You at home can read them. Perhaps, you can listen to me say them, but still, there's nothing like actually hearing that classic throwaway line in person when you're in Walt Disney World is there? It's just one of those little Disney things that makes us realize, "Yes…we're back." That small detail and many, many others are all part of the abundance that make up the Magic Kingdom lands that we've been taking a look at in this ongoing series.
For the past two months or so, I've been counting down my Top 5s on Main Street U.S.A., in Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and last time in the most magical of lands, Fantasyland. Now it's almost time to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom. But first, we need to pay a visit to the world of tomorrow in Tomorrowland.
Walt Disney was a futurist, and he loved looking forward in the early 1950s when he was designing Disneyland. He made sure that one of the lands in his new wondrous place was geared towards the future and all of the possibilities it held. Just read his Tomorrowland dedication from 1955.
A vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying Man's achievements... A step into the future, with predictions of constructed things to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals. The Atomic Age, the challenge of Outer Space and the hope for a peaceful, unified world.
That's some pretty heady stuff he was talking about back then, but that was Walt. The Space Age definitely excited him, as did the prospects of a better future. Tomorrowland was supposed to be a representation of that spacey future that we all anticipated. As the decades went on and many of the glimpses of the future did not occur, Tomorrowland was re-themed to be the type of intergalactic spaceport that Flash Gordon may have visited. It's this version of Tomorrowland that exists today in Florida, and it's the only one that I have ever known.
I'm a big fan of Tomorrowland, and I find that we usually end up spending a lot of time in this corner of the park, especially at night, when the colors and the lights really come to life. Let's blast off to the farthest reaches of the galaxy as we count down my Top 5 things to see in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland.
5 – Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor
For the moment, let's ignore the fact that the monsters from the Disney/Pixar modern classic Monster's Inc. are neither from space nor are they particularly from the future. Conceivably, there could be a comedy club in an intergalactic spaceport and therefore why not have it run by monsters? They're in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, so they're in consideration for my list.
Since this attraction opened in 2007, my family and I have had some of our most favorite laugh-out-loud moments right here in the Laugh Floor. While I've never been "that guy," I have been featured on the screens wearing my light-up Sorcerer Mickey hat. If I recall, I was "treating everyone in the theater to churros after the show." My twin tween-age boys were also featured on the screens much to their combination of horror and delight. The unavoidable thing about the Laugh Floor is the simple fact that it's consistently, really funny and that's all because of the cast. The performers make the show. I've heard many different voices taking over the various monster comic personalities and each one brings something different to the roles; that's what keeps me coming back for more.
4 – Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
Once again, does this attraction really fit in the current outer space theme of Tomorrowland? I'd say that's a stretch, but no bother; there's always room for this classic piece of Disney attraction history. I love when my worlds collide, and this is a prime example of my two interests intersecting. In addition to Disney memorabilia, I have a substantial collection of items from the 1939 and 1964-65 New York World's Fairs, the latter of which actually hosted Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress as well as "it's a small world."
I'm too young to have seen that last great New York World's Fair in 1964, but I can get a taste of what it was like when I visit Tomorrowland on each Disney trip. It's good old wholesome Walt at his finest. I hope it never leaves, and I truly hope they update that final room sometime soon. Don't pass it up, as I'm sure many people do. It's a treasure.
3 – Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
This attraction is tailor made for the intergalactic spaceport theme, and it's been a winner in my family since our first trip together 14 years ago. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't like this attraction. It seems to appeal to everyone that we've traveled to Disney with over the years, male or female, young and old. And why shouldn't it? It's extremely well done.
It's a visually stimulating treat for the senses full of bright colors and so much to see, plus it's fun to compete and see who could rack up the most points. My wife is the winner every time hands down. Always has been and probably always will be. She's our resident Galactic Hero. She puts me to shame and I still love going on this ride. Sometimes I think I love it because she always beats me. Regardless, pardon the pun, but Buzz is a total blast and not to be missed.
2 – Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
This Tomorrowland classic has always been one of our top favorites in the Magic Kingdom and, for that matter, in all of Walt Disney World. No, it doesn't do much. It's not thrilling, and it doesn't need to be. The tour of Tomorrowland from above is well worth the ride as are the views of Cinderella Castle. There's just something about this 10-minute leisurely journey that keeps us coming back visit after visit. We've ridden it multiple times in a day.
It's a great respite from the walking and the all too frequent oppressive Orlando heat. Plus, you get to pass through Space Mountain, see and hear the coaster whiz by you, and catch a glimpse of the amazing City of Tomorrow model representing Walt's original plan for Epcot, all while riding in an ingenious and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that unfortunately didn't catch on outside of the Disney parks.
1 – Space Mountain
There was never any doubt that Space Mountain was going to be my number one spot on this list. I love coasters, and this is probably my favorite coaster anywhere. It's certainly not the tallest, fastest, or craziest coaster out there, but that hardly matters. I could go on and on about the iconic exterior; the awesome audio and visual effects that make you feel like you're going faster than you really are; and the sheer unpredictability of riding in the dark. Those things are crucial to Space Mountain's success.
There's an indescribable feeling that I get when I walk into that building and I'm instantly transformed into a little kid boarding something straight out of the Star Trek or Star Wars of my youth. Walking through that queue you really do feel like you're getting ready to blast off into outer space, and that's what makes this my favorite in Tomorrowland and beyond.
As always, there's a lot that I left off of this list, but, honestly, there's nothing else in Tomorrowland that was close to making the list. I love Lilo and Stitch as a film, but the incredible Stitch animatronic aside, Stitch's Great Escape does nothing for me. The same can be said for the Tomorrowland Speedway. If they mothballed those cars tomorrow I'd have no regrets. My kids and I rode them and found them to be moderately entertaining, but I'd love for something else grand and more befitting of the space theme to move into the generous plot of land that the Speedway occupies. While the Astro Orbiter adds some visual motion to the land, aside from the view, the ride doesn't appeal to me or my family all that much. So, this list is pretty spot on as far as Tomorrowland goes.
Of course, my Walt Disney World advice is always to slow down to let the place truly sink in, and you should definitely do that in Tomorrowland. Check out the famous 6-ton kugel ball, and marvel how even the smallest child can get it moving. Duck into Mickey's Star Traders and look up at the wonderful murals. Try and pick up your copy of the Galaxy Gazette from Robo-Newz. Grab a Mickey pretzel and watch your child cool off under the mist at Thirst Rangers. Make a call on the Metrophone. Head to Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies for a delicious shake or smoothie to cool off on a hot summer day. There's plenty for everyone to see in this futuristic land of tomorrow. Take your time and enjoy it.
Is Tomorrowland my favorite land in the Magic Kingdom? That's a tough call for sure and a topic for another Top 5 article at some other time. The fact is that I do seem to end up spending a lot of time in Tomorrowland, especially as I said above, at night. When the lights go down and Tomorrowland begins to explode with light, I find myself pretty happy in that corner of the park and I guess I can't ask for much more than that can I? I suppose I could ask for the Tron Light Cycle coaster from Shanghai Disneyland to be built over a bulldozed Speedway. I don't think that's asking too much is it?
What do you think of my Tomorrowland list? As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below and share your thoughts and I'll see you next time when we leave the Magic Kingdom and journey over to the always amazing Epcot.