Disney. Pictures. Stuff. And so on…

Space-Age Disney Design

Source: The Hardyman Files

NPR has a story today about Space-Age design in honor of the Space Shuttle’s last mission. Point being that this really is the end of an era in America (I’ve got dope rhymes), not only are the Shuttles being retired, but America’s fascination with space exploration is waning. There was a time in the late 50’s and early 60’s when space was not only the final frontier, it was the awesome lunchbox, car, coffee shop and amusement park frontier as well.

I love lunchboxes.

The story references Walt Disney’s love of space and how he funneled that love into the design of Disneyland using southern California aerospace engineers. For people who don’t know, aerospace is HUGE in SoCal. During my time there, I met people who worked on the SR-71, the Shuttle and the Stealth Bomber. I had friends whose family were involved in the Apollo and Gemini programs and what I alway assumed were the future Mars missions. Point being, Angelenos know their space stuff. Disney took that design expertise as well as the love of the aesthetic and grew what is now Tomorrowland from California farm land.

Using far out materials like plastics, foam and aluminum, Disney crafted a vision of the future, knowing even then that corporations and commerce would be built into the system in a way that becomes part of your every day routine. It stood as a white, clean, gleaming peek into what our future could become, full of hope, promise, a sensible allocation of resources and much like Gene Roddenberry, a way for all to live peacefully together.

Source

Sadly, that vision has been replaced with an odd mix of Jules Verne, Steampunk, CGI and Las Vegas. The giant rock forms in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the entrance to Tomorrowland remind me more of a Mission to Mars, which oddly enough doesn’t exist anymore, then a stroll into a better tomorrow.

Before

After

Have a listen to today’s NPR story. There’s even a soundbite of Disney talking about a day when Shuttle missions would become a daily event, much like driving to work. I miss that American optimism. Disney was as optimistic as anyone during that age. And for that, I thank him.

Comments on: "Space-Age Disney Design" (3)

  1. I remember when they painted Space Mountain a rusty copper color (and the rest of Tomorrowland) and it just wasn’t the same. I’m glad it’s now back to being white, but Tomorrowland as a whole, doesn’t feel as cohesive as it once did. Great post, I will definitely listen to the NPR story…..

  2. I really enjoyed that! Now that you point it out … interest in space exploration does seem to be waning😦 It’s a shame😦

  3. Very nice! It’s interesting that now the’re considering putting the Peoplemover back at Disneyland… while the rest of us have always wondered why it was scrapped in the first place. They should also redo a kickass version of Mission to Mars. Funny how things come full swing. 🙂

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