When Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland opened in 1971, it was – much like Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1955 – an unfinished land with a barren, almost barren appearance. On opening day, October 2, 1971, Tomorrowland offered only two attractions: the Grand Prix Raceway and the Skyway to Fantasyland. America the Beautiful opened in November 1971 and Flight to the Moon opened on Christmas Eve 1971.
Several other attractions opened between 1972 and 1974, but Tomorrowland really took off in 1975, opening three key attractions, which are still in operation today! What are these remarkable attractions? Let’s take a look at all three.
The original version of this iconic Disney attraction has since been replicated at every other Disney theme park in the world except one. Space Mountain has the distinction of being the first fully indoor roller coaster. It is also the oldest active roller coaster in the state of Florida.
Space Mountain was inspired by the success of Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland. It was originally intended to be built at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, but technological limitations, in addition to the size constraints with Disneyland’s footprint, delayed the project, until it eventually found a home in Magic Kingdom. .
The top speed of this coaster peaks at 27 miles per hour. But the speed tunnel effect indoors, along with most of the ride going in the dark, makes this coaster a lot more exciting than the modest top speed suggests.
Space Mountain continues to be one of Magic Kingdom’s main drawing attractions. It’s also one of the most photographed spots in the park, providing a smooth, crisp background for plenty of family photos.
This classic Disney attraction may have opened in Magic Kingdom in 1975, but it represented the THIRD iteration of the attraction. Carousel of Progress was originally designed and built as part of Walt Disney’s participation in the 1964 New York World’s Fair (with It’s a Small World, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, and Ford’s Magic Road).
After two successful seasons at the Fair, the Carousel was packed, shipped to California, and opened at Disneyland in 1967. The early 1970s saw show attendance decline. Since Disneyland is historically considered to be somewhat of a “local park,” the show seemed to have run its course there. At the request of the sponsor General Electric, the Carousel was once again packed. This time he moved to Florida, where he opened (and still resides) in his current location.
The attraction was changed a bit en route from California to Florida. The theater rotation has reversed and the loading and unloading process has been updated. But the attraction’s most notable update came with the change to its theme song. The Sherman Brothers fan favorite “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” has been replaced by another Sherman Brothers masterpiece “The Best Time of Your Life”. The theme song was eventually changed to “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” in 1996.
Fun Facts: Carousel of Progress holds the record for the most performances of a single stage show in US history. It is one of the oldest attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. It is also the oldest attraction in Walt Disney World to have been personally touched by Walt Disney.
Despite all the well-deserved attention Space Mountain receives as a ‘marquee attraction’ of Tomorrowland, the WEDway PeopleMover (or Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover as it’s currently known) has been simmering as a fan favorite for almost as long.
Boarding takes place in the center of Rocket Tower Plaza, where guests ascend via an inclined conveyor belt. Once on board, guests enjoy a tour around Tomorrowland, including views of the courtyards, Cinderella’s Castle, the Tomorrowland Stage, and the tunnels through Space Mountain and around the Carousel of Progress. Disney history buffs will appreciate their glimpse of the Progress City / Epcot model, which originally resided in the upper tier of the Carousel of Progress at the 1966-1967 New York World’s Fair.
On this Instagram and social media day, a trip to the PeopleMover isn’t just relaxing, it’s also a chance to take family and park photos from a unique perspective. This attraction is worth the wait. Now if only we could ride it a few more times …
What’s next for Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland? I think it has something to do with a 1980s cyber thriller. TRON, we’re ready to roll!
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Pirates and princesses (PNP) is an independent, fan-driven news blog that covers Disney and Universal theme parks, themed entertainment and related pop culture from a consumer perspective. The opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its publishers, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial source of information and has no connection with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other business we can cover.