My Disney Top 5 - Things to See in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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"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.


Monster's, Inc. Laugh Floor will make certain somebody gets singled out for a good laugh. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

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


A large crowd waits to enter Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress at The Magic Kingdom. January 10, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka

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.


Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin continues to pack them in at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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


Sunsets like this can be seen over Magic Kingdom most nights aboard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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.


A nearly full moon hangs in the sky above Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

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.

Comments

  1. By MattyN

    Great column as always, Chris. It's hard to argue with any of your choices. Though I personally can't do Space Mountain, I totally understand its appeal and appreciate the love it gets.
    One thing my family enjoys in Tomorrowland is watching and listening to Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. The food at Cosmic Ray's is "meh", but seeing Sonny is one of those singular Magic Kingdom experiences I miss whenever I'm thinking about how long it's been since I've visited Walt Disney World.

  2. By jerm

    I was going to question your lack of love for my favorite attraction, Star Tours. Then I remembered while it's in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, it's at Disney's Hollywood Studios at WDW. I've only done Carousel of Progress once, but I loved it. It made me miss its California replacement, America Sings.

  3. By DisneyGator

    My biggest beef with the WDW version of Tomorrowland is that it doesn't have Star Tours like they do at DL. To have two thrill rides in one part of the park is awesome. However, not having the PeopleMover (and knowing I can hit Star Tours over at DHS) makes me want to get back to the Orlando parks. There is nothing like getting in a pod and just coasting along a track to see the grandeur of the Magic Kingdom. It's rides like these that make me love WDW - it's "just being there" factor that a ride like this brings.

    I've only done Carousel of Progress once, and that was to get out of the pouring rain. It was a nice glimpse into Walt's imagination, but we never returned to it. And we only did Monster's Laugh Floor once before we started doing Disneyland trips. That place was really funny, though it fits more into a "FictionLand" rather than a Science Fiction Land.

    Great reading as always!

  4. By danyoung

    Chris, all of the attractions on your Top 5 would be on my Top 5, but in a different order. Mine would be -

    1. Carousel of Progress
    2. PeopleMover
    3. Space Mountain
    4. Buzz
    5. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

    Space has gotten a little too rough for me, but I'll still hit it on occasion. But I really appreciate the classic Carousel, and I hope it never leaves.

    Oh, and another vote for Sonny Eclipse - I never miss him!

  5. By wdwchuck

    1. Buzz Lightyear
    2. PeopleMover
    3. PeopleMover
    4. Buzz Lightyear
    5. Yes! Take out those smelly cars and put Tron in that space! Great idea!

  6. By davidgra

    Hard to argue with your list -- there's just not a lot in Tomorrowland that is "great" anymore. It was my favorite land when I was a kid; I LOVED Mission to Mars, the Circlevision 360 "America the Beautiful" movie, and even If You Had Wings.

    My list would probably be:
    5. Astro Orbiter - easily the most thrilling of the Dumbo-type spinning rides. I love the height and the views.
    4. Buzz Lightyear - not WDW's best dark ride, but still a lot of fun.
    3. Space Mountain - the very first roller coaster I ever rode, and still a darned good one. Riding with the lights on has actually been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
    2. Carousel of Progress - this is an attraction we do at least once on every trip to WDW. It falls into the category of one of the Disney "classics" for us (like Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, small world). The fact that it's the only attraction in Florida to have been touched by Walt himself makes it that much more special, but we just love the kitschy charm and the superb storytelling.
    1. Peoplemover - or, as we still call it, the WedWay. Often the first and the last ride of our day in the Magic Kingdom. We've ridden it FAR more than any other attraction in the MK. Every time we've set foot in the park, we've ridden it (unless it's been closed). Our absolute can't-miss attraction.

    Stitch needs to go. It's just not a good attraction. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was a bit better, but not by much. That space desperately needs a complete overhaul. The Tomorrowland Speedway seems to have outlived its usefulness as a theme park attraction; while I do have a certain nostalgia for it, the real estate could definitely be used for something more cutting-edge and immersive. Monsters Inc. (best acronym in WDW!) isn't really our thing. We've seen it maybe four or five times since it opened, usually only when we bring a Disney neophyte with us. It's cute, but the repeatability just isn't there for us. We liked the Timekeeper attraction much better.

    One thing we really miss in Tomorrowland is the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant. It used to have some great choices back in the day, and we always loved sitting in there for a midday meal. We'll still sometimes grab lunch at Casey's Corner or ice cream at the ice cream parlor and walk over there to eat.

  7. By danyoung

    Ahhh, the Timekeeper - my favorite attraction in all of WDW!

  8. By xezat

    For me, hitting up the Peoplemover and Carousel of Progress are always the main ones at WDW Tomorrowland simply because they don't exist at Disneyland anymore.

  9. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by MattyN View Post
    Great column as always, Chris. It's hard to argue with any of your choices. Though I personally can't do Space Mountain, I totally understand its appeal and appreciate the love it gets.
    One thing my family enjoys in Tomorrowland is watching and listening to Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. The food at Cosmic Ray's is "meh", but seeing Sonny is one of those singular Magic Kingdom experiences I miss whenever I'm thinking about how long it's been since I've visited Walt Disney World.

    Thanks Matty. I think the "meh" food is what has kept me from Sonny Eclipse. He's a very cool thing, but we rarely find ourselves eating there. Plus I seriously miss that small outdoor balcony to eat on that overlooks the rose garden. If we ever did find ourselves eating there, that was the prime spot to dine.

  10. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by jerm View Post
    I was going to question your lack of love for my favorite attraction, Star Tours. Then I remembered while it's in Tomorrowland at Disneyland, it's at Disney's Hollywood Studios at WDW. I've only done Carousel of Progress once, but I loved it. It made me miss its California replacement, America Sings.

    Hey jerm, I think Star Tours could have fit just fine in the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland.

  11. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyGator View Post
    My biggest beef with the WDW version of Tomorrowland is that it doesn't have Star Tours like they do at DL. To have two thrill rides in one part of the park is awesome. However, not having the PeopleMover (and knowing I can hit Star Tours over at DHS) makes me want to get back to the Orlando parks. There is nothing like getting in a pod and just coasting along a track to see the grandeur of the Magic Kingdom. It's rides like these that make me love WDW - it's "just being there" factor that a ride like this brings.

    I've only done Carousel of Progress once, and that was to get out of the pouring rain. It was a nice glimpse into Walt's imagination, but we never returned to it. And we only did Monster's Laugh Floor once before we started doing Disneyland trips. That place was really funny, though it fits more into a "FictionLand" rather than a Science Fiction Land.

    Great reading as always!

    Thanks Gator. That's a great descriptive term you used there for the Peoplemover - the "just being there" factor. Well said.

  12. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    Chris, all of the attractions on your Top 5 would be on my Top 5, but in a different order. Mine would be -

    1. Carousel of Progress
    2. PeopleMover
    3. Space Mountain
    4. Buzz
    5. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

    Space has gotten a little too rough for me, but I'll still hit it on occasion. But I really appreciate the classic Carousel, and I hope it never leaves.

    Oh, and another vote for Sonny Eclipse - I never miss him!

    Hey Dan. You have to appreciate a true Disney fan that puts the Carousel of Progress first on their list!!

  13. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by wdwchuck View Post
    1. Buzz Lightyear
    2. PeopleMover
    3. PeopleMover
    4. Buzz Lightyear
    5. Yes! Take out those smelly cars and put Tron in that space! Great idea!

    Hey Chuck. One can only hope for something as awesome as Tron coming to Tomorrowland.

  14. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by davidgra View Post
    Hard to argue with your list -- there's just not a lot in Tomorrowland that is "great" anymore. It was my favorite land when I was a kid; I LOVED Mission to Mars, the Circlevision 360 "America the Beautiful" movie, and even If You Had Wings.

    My list would probably be:
    5. Astro Orbiter - easily the most thrilling of the Dumbo-type spinning rides. I love the height and the views.
    4. Buzz Lightyear - not WDW's best dark ride, but still a lot of fun.
    3. Space Mountain - the very first roller coaster I ever rode, and still a darned good one. Riding with the lights on has actually been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
    2. Carousel of Progress - this is an attraction we do at least once on every trip to WDW. It falls into the category of one of the Disney "classics" for us (like Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, small world). The fact that it's the only attraction in Florida to have been touched by Walt himself makes it that much more special, but we just love the kitschy charm and the superb storytelling.
    1. Peoplemover - or, as we still call it, the WedWay. Often the first and the last ride of our day in the Magic Kingdom. We've ridden it FAR more than any other attraction in the MK. Every time we've set foot in the park, we've ridden it (unless it's been closed). Our absolute can't-miss attraction.

    Stitch needs to go. It's just not a good attraction. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter was a bit better, but not by much. That space desperately needs a complete overhaul. The Tomorrowland Speedway seems to have outlived its usefulness as a theme park attraction; while I do have a certain nostalgia for it, the real estate could definitely be used for something more cutting-edge and immersive. Monsters Inc. (best acronym in WDW!) isn't really our thing. We've seen it maybe four or five times since it opened, usually only when we bring a Disney neophyte with us. It's cute, but the repeatability just isn't there for us. We liked the Timekeeper attraction much better.

    One thing we really miss in Tomorrowland is the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant. It used to have some great choices back in the day, and we always loved sitting in there for a midday meal. We'll still sometimes grab lunch at Casey's Corner or ice cream at the ice cream parlor and walk over there to eat.

    David, my family feels the same way about the PeopleMover. It's simply one of our favorite things to do. When the kids were smaller and needed a rest from the heat and the walking, we would ride it multiple times a day!

  15. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    Ahhh, the Timekeeper - my favorite attraction in all of WDW!

    And I, for some inexplicable reason, skipped over the Timekeeper several trips in a row…and then it closed. So, my loss on that one.

  16. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by xezat View Post
    For me, hitting up the Peoplemover and Carousel of Progress are always the main ones at WDW Tomorrowland simply because they don't exist at Disneyland anymore.

    Its great to see that so many people still love these classic "non-thrilling" attractions.

  17. By petesimac

    Hey, Chris, always a delight to read your articles, and this one was no different. I was wondering if you missed the original version of Space Mountain, where you could see the coaster above you while waiting in line, and watch the giant oatmeal cookies flying through space (okay, they are supposed to be meteors, but they will always be cookies to me). The queue feels very claustrophobic to me now since I remember how it used to look. And don't you miss the original exit queue? It was like another part of the ride: the woman making pottery whole being taught by an on-line teacher, a woman shopping through her. TV, a big screen TV showing football highlights, a girl watching music videos in her room while talking on the phone. So many of so things if not all have come to pass. It would be great if the exit queue still pointed toward the future.

    As as much as I like Buzz Lightyear, I do still miss If You Had Wings, and I do wish more futuristic attractions were put in place of Stitch and Monsters Inc.. (Wouldnt that be better in HS anyway?)

    it was a fun virtual trip through the Magic....er, sorry, no "the" anymore...through Magic Kingdom. I'll be there in person in just over 30 days!! Thanks for getting me even more excited for my annual trip!

  18. By danyoung

    Quote Originally Posted by petesimac View Post
    And don't you miss the original exit queue?

    Didn't there used to be a kid holding up a frog at the front door while a camera captured it on a monitor inside?

  19. By OrangeB

    Great article, Chris! Looks like my MK Tomorrowland Top Five is the same as yours It's always been one of my favorite parts of the park since I was a kid. I always loved the Tomorrowland Light and Power Company (arcade) and seeing parks-only characters like Sonny and PUSH as well. Just recently visited Disneyland for the first time and enjoyed the Star Wars presence there. I thought it went well with the overall Tomorrowland theme, and I liked Hyperspace Mountain a lot! It felt like a wilder ride than MK's version, which was lots of fun with the theme, but it missed truly feeling like you are traveling through space for me. Will have to try DL's original Space Mountain sometime to fully compare the two! So far, I think MK's is still my favorite

  20. By mkelm44

    Space Mountain is by far and away the crown jewel here. Buzz Lightyear's spin is definitely #2, with a drop off afterwards. Timekeeper is definitely missed, although it did seem more of an "Epcot" type ride than a Tomorrowland ride- probably because of the 360 circlevision/lean rails.

    The one thing I do wish about Tomorrowland is if they somehow changed the decor. It has the most "sterile" feel- and I don't mean that as in I feel like I'm on some futuristic spaceship. Instead it feels very "concrete" and lacking any sort of actual character outside of the attractions. Fantasyland has castles, Adventureland has a polynesian/jungle vibe, frontierland the old west, Liberty square has a colonial feel, and Tomorrowland... feels like we wanted to put a whole bunch of concrete somewhere.

  21. By DwarfPlanet

    Until they can make WDW Space Mountain the same as the smooth fantastic DLR Space Mountain it will always remain on the bottom of our list and we don't even bother anymore. Last time we rode it my whole family said that's it, until it's fixed not on the list.

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