Who could resist an invitation to visit “tomorrow” with Walt Disney? Walt was always looking ahead, excited about the possibilities of the future. Despite the fact that decades have passed since it was conceived, Tomorrowland is still a place about new worlds. Here you can visit alien planets, be sent rocketing through the darkness of space seated in your own personal rocket, and take a tour on an emissions-free transit system.
Tomorrowland has its own bridge from the Hub (which is a good spot to watch the fireworks from – Tinker Bell sails directly over the bridge after lighting up the sky.) There’s also a side door into Tomorrowland, often chosen by rope droppers who’ve wisely arrived in time for park opening. To enter this way, take a right turn off Main Street USA at the Plaza Restaurant and zip through the Tomorrowland Terrace.
Most guests head straight for Space Mountain, the most popular Tomorrowland attraction. The concept of combining the mystery of a dark ride, the white knuckles of a roller coaster, and the thrill of a launch into “outer space” was Disney genius. When Walt Disney first dreamed up Space Mountain, the technology hadn’t yet been invented that would allow him to simulate such a trip into the cosmos. It wasn’t until years after his death that Walt’s vision could be brought to life – with the help of NASA Gemini 5 astronaut Gordon Cooper who ensured that the attraction felt authentic. Space Mountain became such a hit that it’s one of the few to have been built at every Disney park in the world.
A futuristic queue with evocative tinkling galactic music is part of the fun – so don’t feel bad if the line is long. You’ll pass through the control tower and observe astronauts in training. More than 80 guests at a time can enjoy Interactive Training Stations positioned in the space corridor (the queue!). The videogame-like missions (such as Blasting Asteroids and Cargo Transfer) are designed to improve your flight skills!
You’ll blast off after passing through the blinking blue lights of the energy chamber tunnel and suddenly find yourself really in the “darkest” reaches of space. You never know whether your rocket is about to bank left, or right, or plunge down a sudden drop. You’ll catch glimpses of alien planets and streaking comets. (Rumor has it that one of the meteors is the image of a chocolate chip cookie – can you spot it??) At the end of the ride, a wormhole pulls you back to the safety of the boarding area.
Mouseketip: If you don’t want to ride the coaster, you can still enjoy the queue and the neon magic of the boarding area by asking a cast member for the “chicken exit” when you get to the end of the queue.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin makes you feel as though you’ve been transported right into a neon-lit alien shooting-gallery midway game. Don’t let the word “spin” put you off, these little XP-37 star cruisers are not tilt-a-whirls. You, as the pilot, control the turning – and they really turn rather than spin (unless you have a trouble maker at the wheel!).
The object here is to help Buzz Lightyear take back the Gamma Quadrant and defeat Evil Emperor Zurg and his robots by firing onboard lasers at his circular “Z” insignias to rack up points (which are individually tallied on the console of your star cruiser). Generally, the harder it is to hit a target, the more points you’ll earn. Turning your star cruiser 180 degrees will allow you to catch some of the highest-value targets (such as the big red claw in the first shooting scene).
As your star cruiser arrives back at Star Command, you can compare your score to the Star Command ranking board at the exit. If you’ve scored 999,999, you’ve reached the highest ranking possible and will find that you are a Galactic Hero!
Mouseketip: In the first room, you’ll see some astronauts at work, but there are no Zurg targets. Take this opportunity to get a feel for your space cannon by firing at the wall and noting where your red laser point strikes. Just hold the trigger down the whole ride – it will shoot continuously!
The Astro Orbiter rockets zoom high up above Tomorrowland. The queue and elevator to the loading platform are behind the Lunching Pad area. At the center of the ride is a little solar system of beautiful planets that your spacecraft will orbit. You’ll get a great overhead view of the whole area as well as the castle. The height of each two-person rocket is controlled by a lever in the front seat. This attraction has no FP+ and is a “slow loader” (compared to a ride like Buzz Lightyear which loads continuously), so it’s a good idea to ride early in the morning.
Having a real driver’s license doesn’t seem to make adults any less eager to drive a gas-powered Tomorrowland Speedway car than the kids are. Everyone loves this miniature motorway, patterned after the famed Indiana Motor Speedway, with racers that can reach a top speed of seven miles per hour!
Little racers who are at least 32 inches tall are permitted to drive as long as they are accompanied by an older person. Once they are 54 inches tall, they can drive on their own. (Guide rails along the raceway ensure everyone’s safety – and the necessity for front and rear bumpers becomes obvious as drivers return to the Victory Circle at the end of the course!)
Mouseketip: Look for iconic racing backdrops such as the Yard of Bricks, the Scoring Pylon, and Gasoline Alley.
At Rocket Tower Plaza, you can board the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) which provides an overview of all of Tomorrowland, including the inside of Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain. The vehicles glide on their overhead track with an emissions-free magnet power system. One of the highlights of a ride on the TTA is the opportunity to see the model for Walt’s vision of Epcot. You also get an up-close peek at murals of Stitch’s home world when you pass through Mickey’s Star Traders.
It’s been a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” since 1964 in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. This attraction is a classic – created for the New York World’s Fair by Walt Disney featuring the (then) new technology of Audio-Animatronics. The rotating scenes (the seating area does the moving!) take you on a journey through the 20th century to see how improving technology has been a constant in family life.
Mouseketip: There is rarely a wait for this show, and it’s a great place to treat yourself to a seat, air conditioning, and a slice of Disney nostalgia as a twenty-minute rest from the heat and hurry of the Magic Kingdom.
You can think of Stitch’s Great Escape! as a prequel of the Disney film LILO & STITCH, before Experiment 626 travels to Hawaii. In this story, you’re training with Audio-Animatronics “Sergeant” to be a guard with the Galactic Federation Prisoner Teleport Center, and things go very wrong when a Level 3 Emergency is declared and Experiment 626 escapes from the floor-to-ceiling transport tube in the middle of the room where you’re seated. The lights go out and Stitch does his thing – depending on age or personality – either delighting or frightening you and the other “guards.” It’s dark, loud, and even somewhat smelly (chili corn dog). It will probably be too intense for young persons or for anyone uncomfortable with shoulder restraints.
The Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is a live comedy show starring Mike Wazowski and Roz from MONSTERS, INC. (and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY) with the help of some very funny (and monstrous) improv artists. The power of laughter is the theme of the show, as the comics attempt to power the city of Monstropolis with your responses to their jokes in this 400-seat laugh factory. Some of the Monsters of Comedy include two-headed Sam and Ella, Buddy Boil (a mind-reading act), and Mike’s nephew
Marty Wazowski (he’ll have his eye on you). Audience members are drawn into the act, so stay sharp!
Mouseketip: Keep your eye out in the queue for instructions on how to text in your favorite joke – your kids will be thrilled if it’s used in the show (so have a good one ready!).
What is your favorite part of Tomorrowland?