Sunday, August 17, 2008

Disneyland - Tomorrowland - 1979 vs. 2008

Set the Wayback Machine to 1979 and hang on.

In the distance we see the main entrance to Tomorrowland. It appears to be around the Christmas season, as the poinsettias are adorning the lamp posts on Main Street.

Our eye catches primary colors of black, crisp white and red. The yellow and blue hues of the Peoplemover cars mix with the green benches and the red and yellow flowers in the main planter of the Hub (foreground).

There is no Partners statue blocking our view across the Hub.

There is no Astro Orbiter rudely intruding between us and the curved split of the Peoplemover track.

The flagpole at the entrance to Tomorrowland lines up perfectly with the Rocket Jets in the background.

Our eye (and our interest) is drawn forward into the heart of Tomorrowland, like the camera lens is drawn through the cels in a multiplane camera.
As we flash forward to 2008, we notice some changes to this area of the Park. For one thing, you can't really see Tomorrowland anymore amidst the confusion of shapes, colors and foliage. Like a neighbor's overgrown backyard fence, the visual cues tell us: "keep out."

We see that the colorful flower beds have been replaced with green shrubs with jagged rocks goring through and out of them, like the creature in Alien making its big entrance.

What color are those rocky juttings? Purple, gold, rust, magenta, burnt sienna? It's like all the crayons you never wanted to use have melted together.

And where's Walt's wienie?

I never thought I'd ask that question, but you true believers know what I mean.

This isn't it, is it?
Can anyone give me a hint as to what this thing is supposed to be?

Did Tomorrowland sign up for DirecTV?

Has Captain Nemo misplaced his harpoon?

Did JPL clear out its attic?

Did Radio Shack have a 70% clearance sale on rusty satcom dishes?

And why am I even bothering to look at it?

Frankly, I look there because my eyes want to fill in that space above the Peoplemover station. Even if you had never in your life seen the Rocket Jets located in their proper position in Tomorrowland, something inside you would nonetheless instinctively telegraph your brain that something is wrong with the picture you are seeing. The hunk of junk in the middle is not big enough, for one thing. You eye sees it as too squat for the base on which the junk is mounted. Its central location in the geography of Tomorrowland sends signals to your aesthetic sense (come on, most of us have one) that a taller shape belongs here.

Folks, Disneyland was designed and laid out by artists first. Then engineers tried their best to make things fit the vision. Artists and filmmakers know about perspective.

Somehow, in the redesign of Tomorrowland, Disney forgot its basic principles of design (and color).

Take a gander at another shot of the main entrance area from 1979. There is a mixture of art and science (mostly art) which combines for a beautiful, eye-pleasing result.

Elements like the curve of the Peoplemover track and its arching supports, the shiny wall, the geometric planters, the contrast between light and dark, the curving bands of yellow and purple flowers surrounding proud birds of paradise, and the bright yellow cars of the Peoplemover all work together, like a painting or a sculpture, to create a satisfied response in the human viewer.

Today, the track remains, but everything else has been dumped out with the bathwater.

Is the shining silver wall there? Not like it used to be. Ack.

What the heck is the color of the track of the Peoplemover (excuse me, Rocket Rods; oh pardon me, the attraction formerly known as the Rocket Rods) today?

Is your eye pleased by it?

Where are the flowers?

In case you've forgotten---or worse yet, never had the opportunity to see them in the first place---here is a shot of one of the large main entrance flower beds.

I can see why they got rid of them.

Why waste time and space with flower beds when you can have jagged rocks blocking your view and clogging traffic?

Ah. The simple beauty of this new approach clearly trumps yesterday's stale old flora.