Robert Niles asked readers of Theme Park Insider to think of a new, timeless attraction for Tomorrowland at the Disney Parks around the world. I decided I’d try and do this myself and ended up spending a while trying to tackle this difficult task.
The biggest problem with designing an attraction for Tomorrowland is that what we see as the future today quickly becomes the present or the past. Looking at Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland the two attractions I’d say are truly timeless are the Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain. The CoP I’d only consider timeless because it’s just fun for the whole family and gives you some laughs along the way. Space Mountain is the only attraction I’d say still captures the essence of what Tomorrowland is about, looking into the future and beyond the stars.
That’s not to say that Space Mountain isn’t without its drawbacks. The ride system is years old, what was considered hugely innovative when the attraction opened is now seen as outdated in the roller coaster world. Space Mountain has been kept alive by it’s minor thrill-factor and constant updates to the special effects which have always had the power to wow guests due to the effect they create when riding the attraction. The queue line has recently looked like something out of a cheesy Sci-Fi B Movie you’d normally only see at the Sci-Fi Dine-In over at the Studios, however that is due to change with an updated queue line coming with the refurb.
This means many attractions have either left the land or have been updated regularly/ re-themed. Another common change in the Tomorrowland’s across the world is the inclusion of Pixar characters, some which have worked and some which haven’t. For example at the various Buzz Lightyear shoot-em up attractions at the various parks have worked very well, fitting the Tomorrowland theme and entertaining guests of all ages. On the other side of the coin is Stitch Encounter at Magic Kingdom, which replaced Alien Encounter as it was seen as too scary. In the middle lies attractions like Monster Inc. Laugh Floor, which is a fun attraction but for me just doesn’t fit the theme of the land.
So taking all this into account designing a Tomorrowland attraction is a difficult task. For me using characters is far too hit and miss and putting too much attention on innovative design and futuristic attractions ultimately leads to attractions becoming outdated quickly. So, here’s my idea:
The Race to Space: The Ultimate Mission
The basic plot of the attraction is that you are a new pilot for the Tomorrowland Space Association (Merchandise anyone?) in your assigned team you must set a route, a speed and various other factors that will affect your trip out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into Space. After making your choices, as a team you go into your ‘shuttle’ which is in line next to another of other shuttles with opposing teams. You’re all launched at the same time, and you race to space, as the name of the attraction would suggest. The area your launched into would be very similar to the inside of Space Mountain, although it would be smaller but still have the same level of special effects.
The reason I thought this would be a good idea is first the re-ride factor. You can easily change your options on another ride if you’re not successful the first time, on top of that various factors, including weather, will change which means different options will work better at different times, again adding to the re-rideability. There’s also room for merchandise, what kid wouldn’t want a Tomorrowland Space Association T-Shirt with their favourite character on the front? (about as close as any character will get to the attraction) Another great thing about this is that space exploration has captured the imagination of children from as far back as the first shuttle launch in the 1960’s and it’s still of interest to people of all ages now, it’s a timeless theme that won’t need to be updated as regularly as other attractions.
What are your ideas? Get in touch.