Disney CEO Bob Iger announced plans for a Disneyland expansion coming down the pike. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Iger was quoted as saying, “We have plans at Disneyland for an expansion that we have not announced but those plans at the present do not include a third gate.” Coupled with the announcement that Innoventions is closing at the end of March, speculation on the inclusion of Marvel and/or Star Wars elements coming soon to Disneyland has begun. It’s been widely known that Universal Studios Florida holds exclusive rights for the use of Marvel characters in theme parks “East of the Mississippi,” but no such restriction binds Disney from using the characters at Disneyland Resort or any of its overseas theme parks. In fact, Hong Kong Disneyland is already set to open the Iron Man Experience in 2016.
Tomorrowland at Disneyland has been a land searching for an identity for a long time. So many of its attractions never really quite fit in or become outdated by modern technology too quickly. America Sings – while a wonderful celebration of American music and one of my favorite attractions at the park EVER, to be honest never really fit in. The building itself stayed stagnant for a very long time until Innoventions opened with mixed reviews at best. Disney’s attempts to modernize it with Marvel heroes has been different, but again not quite in theme with the idea of a land of tomorrow – especially when superheroes supposedly are around today. Autopia is another outdated theme. During the Walk in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps Tour, one of the cast members told me that when Autopia was built, it was ahead of its time. The idea of a national highway system was new and different, but of course now it’s part of the everyday landscape. The cast member had mentioned that Autopia was a ride set for closure some time in the near future, possibly to be replaced by a speeder bike ride through the forests of Endor. More speculation, but coming from a cast member it certainly gives me hope.
Today, Tomorrowland is in a mixed state of functionality. Star Tours and Space Mountain remain the most well-themed attractions in the area while the Magic Eye Theater sits idle having most recently been used as a preview theater for Big Hero 6 (again, not a good use of thematic space). Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters is one of my favs, but honestly, it too doesn’t theme well as Toy Story is not about a future world but about toys that talk. Then you have the Peoplemover / Rocket Rods track that lays dormant and unappealing. The Astro Orbitor was kind of shoved out to the front which only served to block the entrance to Tomorrowland (and if you don’t believe me, go there on a busy day and see how congested that area is). And the Observatron seemed to be a total waste.
Tomorrowland is in need of a major overhaul and turning it thematically into something else seems to be a good idea. But what? Could it be a new Marvel-land? Would it make sense to instead add more Star Wars elements? Or perhaps with the new Tomorrowland movie coming out, that will serve as inspiration for something amazing! Personally, I think it would make a LOT of sense to “Marvel-ize” Hollywood Land in Disney California Adventure, turn Innoventions and/or the Peoplemover track into something to do with the Tomorrowland movie, and I would love to see that speeder bike ride through the forests of Endor and maybe turn Submarine Voyage into a trip to Naboo. Could be fun? What do you think?