The New Tomorrowland

On May 22, 1998, Disneyland officially opened up the "new" Tomorrowland. This of course, was over Memorial Day weekend, and I was conveniently in the area to check it out. I am an annual passport holder, so I actually went on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and again on Sunday night, thus avoiding wasting an entire day standing in line.

So I was there. And on this page I am going to give you my thoughts on the new attractions, as well as the overall experience of the new Tomorrowland.

I'll be adding pictures probably some time next week (i.e. after I go to the park again).

Old vs. New: A General Overview
The New Attractions
Food and Shopping

Old vs. New: A General Overview of the New Tomorrowland

The Rocket Jets meet the Astro Orbitor

The first thing you notice about the New Tomorrowland (besides the Astro Orbitor which is now sits at the enterance to Tomorrowland) is the new color scheme. If you've been to Disneyland in the last few months, you have probably already seen it. It is quite a departure from the whites and the blues that covered most of the old Tomorrowland.

It took me several visits to the park to really get used to it but now I rather like it. I thought the copper hues were ugly at first, and not futuristic looking at all. However, when I think about it, having everything be pure white probably looked really strange to the people who visited the original Tomorrowland in the 50's and 60's. In the late 80's and early 90's, white became pretty popular. So maybe those guys back then really did predict the future. And maybe they've predicted it again now.

There are many new fascades (and many old ones painted over in the new color scheme), as well as "Agrifuture" plants in the planters, mostly edible ones (no longer is Agrifuture confined to a little sign somewhere along the train route). All of the rides and stores have new signs, and there is a lot of pink and purple neon, including a cool electricity effect above the Rocket Rods and Star Tours entrances. Also, there is a very cool lighting effect on the Monorail loading dock.

Initially, I was very skeptical about all this talk of changing Tomorrowland, but I was not disappointed. One of the things I really liked about the new Tomorrowland is the way they didn't just totally wipe out the old stuff. There are still little hints of the old Tomorrowland and its now defunct rides, and overall, I think the changes were for the better.

The New Attractions

Along with the different color scheme and decor came some new attractions (or improvements to old ones, depending on how you look at them). Here are my descriptions about some of them.

Astro Orbitor

The Astro Orbitor is essentially the same idea as the old Rocket Jets which is essentially the same ride as Dumbo in Fantasyland. The actually ride experience, however, is not quite up to the level of the Rocket Jets, as they were higher (remember, they were on top of the Peoplemover platform), and it is missing that magic elevator ride up to the "gantry".

These shortcomings notwithstanding, the ride is fun, and when you're on the ride, it seems like it goes a lot higher than it does looking from the ground.

Aesthetically, it is very pleasing. Some purists have complained that it makes Sleeping Beauty Castle look too small, as the Astro Orbitor sits right at the entrance to Tomorrowland. However, the Matterhorn also towers over the castle, and no one complained about that...

It looks really great, almost beautiful with a strange hypnotic magic about it, especially when all the pieces are in motion and the lights are shining on it at night time.

Expected Wait Time: 45 minutes
Overall Rating: Nice to look at, but don't waste time standing in line for it, unless you really want to or you are 5 years old as it's essentially the same ride as Dumbo

Honey, I Shrunk The Audience

This attraction takes the place of Captain EO, in the former Magic Eye Theater, which has been converted into the "Imagination Institute". Though Captain EO is sorely missed, Honey, I Shrunk The Audience is a great, if not superior replacement.

With an overall better show quality, H.I.S.T.A. displayed excellent effects at the beginning of the show as well as a special "surprise" at the end. The middle, however, was filled with a lot of generic 3D objects popping out at you effects.

The show features a moving floor, and a much more "interactive" feel to it with it's live-stage-show theme than the more movie-like Captain EO which made it an overall more enjoyable experience. Before you go into the theater, you are handed a pair of "safety goggles" which curiously look a lot like orange versions of the purple Captain EO 3D glasses :)

Expected Wait Time: 45-60 minutes
Overall Rating: It's a must see!

Rocket Rods

As is expected expected with all the new rides at any amusment park, the wait was very long. I'm not going to say it was worth the nearly 3 hour wait I went through, however, it is certainly worth the average 40 minute wait that the usual "big rides" get.

The whole experience can get you a bit nostalgic, starting with the queue area. Once you make it past the long and arduous outside line area (which stretches out past the Central Plaza during peak hours), you find yourself in the lobby of the old Circle Vision theater.

In the lobby, you see (besides Rocket Rods zipping through where the Peoplemover used to creep by) "blueprints" of several defunct Tomorrowland Rides, as well as life size models of them, including Peoplemover cars, the Mark III Monorail, and the original Astro-Jets, which were the predecessors to the Rocket Jets. Everything is blue, highlighted with black lights and day-glo orange tape.

From the lobby you proceed directly into the old Circle-Vision theater, where fortunately, the screeens are still there. They show several new films designed for this ride which include some clips of old Circle Vision films. I'm glad they didn't let this thing die. Plus they help you keep your mind of the long, long wait.

The line follows a spiral patter. You spiral around in a circular pattern toward the center of the room. When you get to the middle, you turn around and spiral back out to the outside. It's kinda hard to visualize, and it was difficult to explain to the people walking in toward the center. I like this design however, as you don't have to keep passing by the same ugly faces over and over again as you do when you are in a traditional zig-zag type queue.

The next room brings you into a dark room, and then down the stairs. here you pass underground from the theater, and then up through the center of the old Peoplemover platform. Finally you go back up, and when you get to the top of the stairs and you get a breath of fresh air. You're almost on the ride!

Once you are strapped in, you circle around the platform, along the same route as the old Peoplemover. Just before you head off that first straight, you stop before a drag-racing christmas tree type light arrangement. The green light comes on and you are on your way. Your Rocket Rod emits a high pitched whine and pitches back as you accellerate (quite quickly) on your way.

Then you go along the same old track, only much faster, going through Star Tours (and it's new indoor queue area, no more standing in the hot sun), Space Mountain, over Autopia, and all that jazz. There is no more Tron, however :) Oh well. It was very nostalgic, as it's been quite some time since any of us have seen those parts of the park!

Four minutes later, you're back where you started. You go back down the stairs, back underground, and then you appear inside the new Premiere Shop, which has a great display with some Rocket Jets as well as (get this) a couple of old Skyway Tram buckets!!! GOSH I MISS THOSE!! (hehehe)

Expected Wait Time: 150-180 minutes
Overall Rating: Worth riding, especially if you've got the time

Food and Shopping

Redd Rockett's Pizza Port and the Water Fountain

This place is where Mission To Mars and its predecessor, Rocket To The Moon used to be. They've put the Moonliner rocket back out front (though it's a Coca-Cola advertisement now), and everything looks cool. The food is pretty decent, including (of course) pizza, as well as various space-themed pastas and some salads for the vegans out there.

Out front is a new water fountain thing, similar to what they have at Universal City Walk, where the water comes out of the ground and people play in it, but this is much better.

The fountains are arranged in a circle, and are synchronized to make nice patterns, which are more visually appealing than the City Walk ones. There is a "safe" zone in the center where people try to run to from the outside. I probably spent at least a total of an hour and a half of my weekend just standing there watching people. Everyone just seemed to have so much fun there, day and night. Even if you aren't running through the water, it is a lot of fun watching people.

It does pose a bit of a traffic problem for those getting to Space Mountain and also Redd Rockett's, especially since the entrance to Space Mountain is now between Honey, I Shrunk The Audience and Redd Rockett's.

Premiere Shop

In the old days, Circle Vision emptied out here. Now the Rocket Rods do. There is a whole lot of brand-new Tomorrowland themed merchendise, featuring new and old attractions, including cool sky-bucket refrigerator magnets. Everything is brighter and livelier. But there is no place to rest, like in the old Premiere Shop.

There is also a new space museum attatched, with various displays, mostly related to Mars missions, as well as some future NASA projects. It's worth ducking into and looking around in.

Star Trader

Where Star Tours used to, and still does empty out. The Star Wars themed section in the back is still the same as before. The front, however, has undergone a whole lot of changes. Most notably is a section where you can go up to a computer terminal and get a custom made music CD with your own selection of music and sounds from the park, mostly from old, retired attractions, though with some interesting tidbits from current ones like the "Now, hang on to your hats and glasses, cuz this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness" spiel.

It costs $20, and you can have up to 10 different tracks on one CD. You select the songs you want, then you print out a ticket with a bar code on it which you then take up to the cashier. They scan your ticket, which tells them which CD you ordered and they burn the CD right there for you. They even print your name on the disc. I haven't yet decided if it would be worth actually buying one of these CD's, but it certainly was fun playing with the machine :)

Well that's about it for now. Sorry so long. And pictures are coming soon.

Last Modified 25 May 1998

[ home | in brief | words | today | colors | destinations ]