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Could old show concepts help bring about a brand-new Tomorrowland for WDW's Magic Kingdom?

Could old show concepts help bring about a brand-new Tomorrowland for WDW's Magic Kingdom?

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This past weekend, time finally ran out for "The Timekeeper."

Photo by Jeff Lange

This Magic Kingdom attraction (Which -- admittedly -- had only been operating on a seasonal basis for the past few years) officially closed for good on Sunday night. Sometime next month, workers are expected to enter the old Circlevision 360 building and remove all of the projectors & AA figures. But as to what happens next in this Tomorrowland show building ... Well, that's kind of up in the air right now.

You see, what with John Lasseter coming on board as WDI's new Chief Creative Adviser (More importantly, given that Lasseter reportedly wants to review all of the concepts for new attractions that Walt Disney Imagineering has pitched over the past 20 years that were ultimately never built), the Imagineers are kind of unsure right now of the proper way to proceed. Should they continue their cartoonification of Tomorrowland (I.E. Bring in even more rides & shows like "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin" and "Stitch's Great Escape")? Or should the guys from WDI attempt to liven things up on this side of the park by bringing another E-Ticket on line?

For now ... Given that Lasseter is supposedly looking to dig through Imagineering's old files ... Well, that's what the Imagineers are doing as well. Looking back at some of the concepts that were originally proposed for WDW's Tomorrowland back in 1991. Back when the guys from WDI were not only looking to change this side of the theme park from a sleek 1970s-era "World of Tomorrow" to a whimsical "The Tomorrow That Never Was." But also when they were looking to dump the Tomorrowland name entirely and rename this part of the Magic Kingdom Discoveryland.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Oh, I know. That sounds like kind of a wild idea. But you have to remember that -- back when the Imagineers originally proposed this name change -- they were still in the middle of putting the finishing touches of Disneyland-Paris' Discoveryland. And given how well that Jules Verne-ified version of Tomorrowland turned out, it just kind of made sense that the guys from WDI would try and bring this concept stateside.

Of course, in the end, the Imagineers opted to stick with the Tomorrowland name. And the only aspect of Discoveryland that actually ever made it over to Disney World was the "Timekeeper" attraction ... And we all saw how well that turned out.

Though, to be honest, neither of the two big new shows that WDI had dreamed up for WDW's revamped Tomorrowland really clicked with Magic Kingdom visitors. "The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter" ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

... was the first to fail. This "Sensory Thriller from Disney & George Lucas" (While it may have had a small group of hardcore fans) really turned the majority of WDW guests off. They complained long & loud about being locked down in an incredibly uncomfortable chair ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

... while some fearsome monster supposedly wandered around inside the darkened "Mission to Mars" theater, terrifying theme park goers.

Still, there are Imagineers who continue to wonder if the mid-1990s redo of WDW's Tomorrowland would have been that much more successful, would have been much more enthusiastically embraced by Magic Kingdom visitors, if WDI had just stuck with the original plan. Which involved replacing the Tomorrowland Terrace (Now home to the seldom-open "Noodle Station" restaurant) with the Astronomers Club ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

... Which was supposed to have been this weird cross of a sit-down restaurant and Pleasure Island's "Adventurers Club." Where streetmosphere performers dressed like Galileo and Leonardo Da Vinci would have wandered among the diners and waxed poetic about the stars & the heavens.

This plan also involved (And I know that this part of the Tomorrowland rehab plan is really going to annoy all of your "Carousel of Progress" fans out there) gutting the theater-go-round building and putting in a 1990s version of that old Disneyland favorite, the Flying Saucers.

Photo by Jeff Lange

There was also some talk about tearing down the old Tomorrowland Skyway Station, and using that parcel of land for a brand-new attraction. One that would have married an enormous motion-based platform with an over-sized Omnimax screen. Which then would provided Magic Kingdom visitors with a truly unique ride experience.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Mind you, construction of that particular attraction never actually went foward. Not at any of Disney's stateside theme parks, anyway. But the Imagineers did eventually get this ride (or something similar) built. You'll find it in Tokyo DisneySea in that theme park's Port Discovery section. It's called the "Stormrider" attraction. 

Now what's kind of funny about all of this is that -- every now & then -- "Stormrider" gets discussed as a possible addition to Epcot's Future World section. So who knows? Maybe someday this attraction (which was originally proposed for Walt Disney World) will eventually make the trip from Tokyo to Orlando? You know?Sort of like what just happened with Tokyo Disneyland's "Cinderellabration" show?

Anyway ... Getting back to those 1991-era ideas that are now supposedly being considered for possible installation at WDW's Magic Kingdom ... Based on what I've been hearing lately, the Flying Saucers project appears to be making a comeback. Though the new thinking on this proposed Tomorrowland addition is that -- rather than placing a brand-new version of this old Disneyland favorite inside the old "Carousel of Progress" theater -- is that it should now be placed where "The Timekeeper" used to be located.

You see, the thinking here is that -- by placing the Flying Saucer ride in where "The Timekeeper" used to be (More importantly, by theming this old Disneyland attraction around the Little Green Men characters from "Toy Story" and "Toy Story II") -- now that whole side of Tomorrowland will celebrate Buzz Lightyear and the world that that character inhabits. Which (in theory) makes for much more cohesive story telling.

Mind you, for those of you who aren't huge fans of the cartoonification of Tomorrowland, one of the other ideas that's supposedly on the table is a rather radical redo of Space Mountain. Which involves ripping all of the seats ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

... out of those ride vehicles, then totally retooling these "rockets." So that they're then capable of having on-board audio. Which would then allow WDW visitors to experience a soundtrack that was precisely synchronized to the pitch & yaw of WDW's Space Mountain. Which is something that Disneyland visitors have been enjoying for several years now. A concept that will soon be taken to even greater heights once "Rockit Mountain" (with its after-dusk hard rock soundtrack) officially launches later this summer.

Anyway ... That's some of the ideas that are allegedly currently being kicked around by the Imagineers as they try and get a handle on what to do next with the Tomorrowland section of WDW's Magic Kingdom. And given that Mr. Lasseter is certain to have his own take as to how this part of the theme park should be fixed ... I can almost guarantee that these plans will change numerous times in the coming months.

So that's a brief overview of what's going on WDW's Tomorrowland. Which is not to be confused with this overview of Tomorrowland ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... which was supposedly taken sometime back in the 1980s.

FYI: Those images of the "Alien Encounter" wait time sign and theater chair & restraint as well as that shot of that "Space Mountain" seat that were used to illustrate today's article were provided by Brian Ramsey of Mouse Surplus.

Not so co-incidentally, these very same items are now up for bid over at Mouse Surplus' eBay store. So -- if you'd really like to own a one-of-a-kind Disney World souvenir -- I'd suggest that you go check out these particular items ASAP.

And -- speaking of gratuitious plugs -- Jim Hill says that Jeff Lange is JHM's photographer/archivist. More importantly, that Mr. Lange has just released two brand-new titles in his on-going series of Disney theme park DVDs, "Jeff Lange Remembers ... Tarzan Rocks" and "Jeff Lange's Cruise Line Classics."

For further information on these two discs as well as all of the other titles that Jeff has created, Jim Hill suggests that you follow this link.

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