April 28th 2015- “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, at least that’s what we hope for the Innoventions building located in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park. Disney closed the Innoventions attraction on March 31st 2015 and it is slated to reopen on September 30 2016. The building was housing the Marvel superhero meet and greets and displayed video games and other new emerging technology. It isn’t much of a surprise that Disney would decide to do renovations considering the entire ground floor of the building was no longer in use since it was housing the dormant Dream House. This left only the upstairs to deal with a high influx of people. What was most surprising though to Disney fans, was that the company has not made any announcements and refuses to comment on plans for the Innoventions attraction.
It is not news that Disneyland has a crowd control problem. This has been caused by many different factors that have arisen over the years and yet, there seems to be little being done about the issue. Tomorrowland is one section of the park that is especially groan-worthy to walk through. Between the massive amounts of stroller parking, too narrow of pathways, food carts, and the giant posts that hold up the forgotten PeopleMover/Rocket Rods track, there is hardly enough space to get through to the attractions located towards to back. Tomorrowland has housed attractions such as Innoventions that once had the capacity to get people off of the streets and out of the walkways but as times change it is apparent that many of the attractions must be replaced to keep guests interests.
The Carousel Theater: A Brief History
The Innoventions building is one that has a lot of potential. It was originally constructed in 1967 and housed the Carousel of Progress. The Carousel of Progress was an audioanimatronic show that allowed guests to travel back in time to see what life was like back in the 1800s, the 1920s, and so on up until the present.
The purpose of the show was to celebrate innovation and inventions that had been made throughout history. This attraction was originally debuted at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair by Walt Disney himself. As with many of his other ideas and displays, The Carousel of Progress was a hit. Walt Disney died in 1965 before the attraction would arrive in his beloved park but in 1967 The Carousel of Progress and its catchy tune “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” premiered in the Carousel Theater. Not only was this show popular with park goers, it also was a very efficient crowd mover. The theater was divided into 6 sections and each section held 40 people. A new show started every 4 minutes which means that 3600 people could be cycled through the ride each hour! The ride held 240 people when completely full and that is not including the line that would be outside waiting to get on the ride. The upper level of the building hosted a model of Progress City, where the PeopleMover attraction would pass through. Sadly, this attraction only lasted 6 years (closing in 1973) in Disneyland before it was transported over to Disney World to take up residence at the Magic Kingdom in 1976.
America Sings was the next attraction to fill the space. The upper level of the building was used for a portion of the PeopleMover called the SuperSpeed tunnel. In June 1974 America Sings opened on the bottom level in the rotating theater. While the Carousel of Progress had celebrated the Innovations of humankind, America Sings celebrated American history.
In the six theater sections there were now animal audioanimatronics that replaced the Carousel of Progress’s family. The animals sang some of the most famous songs in American history and used many lighting tricks to raise new characters onto the stage while other acts were performing. This attraction was a success for many years, but lacked the efficiency of the Carousel of Progress. Since the attraction was a longer show less people could be cycled through than before.
Although, the attraction did maintain its popularity for over twice as long as the Carousel of Progress did, after 14 years of singing good old American tunes, the Audioanimatronics were shut off and the Carousel Theater was closed once more in April of 1988. These characters in the picture above should look familiar though, the majority of the America Sings animal audioinimatronics were moved to the ever popular log flume ride, Splash Mountain, located in Critter Country.
The Carousel Theater did now show any signs of activity for almost 10 years following the closure of America Sings. Much like the situation seen today in terms of the Innoventions attraction, Disney did not make any announcements as to what was going to be placed in the theater. The upper level still served as a tunnel for the PeopleMover until the attraction closed in 1996. The lower level theater was left as an office and storage space until 1996 when construction began on Innoventions, an attraction that had already become popular in Walt Disney World’s Epcot.
In 1998 Innoventions, sponsored by Honda, HP and more, opened in the Carousel Theater and finally both levels were being used once again. Guests still had to wait for a door to open every few minutes in order to gain access to the attraction. Innoventions was a two level exhibit of Tomorrow that guests could walk through. The bottom level retained its rotating abilities but it didn’t rotate for any reason other than to let guests enter at different points of the exhibit. The lower level gave guests the opportunity to tour the “Dream House”; this exhibit displayed a layout of a house that contained new technologies and science that could possibly be found in homes in the near future.
The upstairs level of Innoventions provided guests with the opportunity to view new automotive innovations made by Honda and new video game and virtual reality setups that could be used to maintain health and happiness in the future. Overtime many things have changed in the attraction. Character meet ups with Marvel superheroes moved into the upper level within the last two years along with Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. The lower level of the theater was closed once again and left guests only entering and exiting the first level. While the Marvel characters were popular, the crowd problem got significantly worse with the lower half of the building being shut down. Innoventions closed on March 31st 2015 and left Disney fans wondering, “What’s next?” With the Marvel characters being such a hit, it was a shock that they would not be present in their settings considering Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron was set to premiere on May 1st, 2015. The characters have been moved to other parts of the park now but the question still remains, “Why?”
Since the Marvel characters took up residence in Innoventions they have been a huge success. With more movies scheduled for release and even more Marvel integration planned for the parks rumors are flying that Disney will finally make the move to center the Carousel Theater on an entirely Marvel themed attraction. This attraction could be called “Stark Industries” and would be the epicenter of the Avengers. Others say that the building could be turned into a S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters where Marvel superheroes and S.H.I.E.L.D agents alike could be found. The advanced technology, action, and ideas of other realms of Marvel would fit naturally in Tomorrowland and would bring in even more of the Marvel crowd than before.
After Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October of 2012 the company has not hid their excitement to include and develop a bigger Star Wars presence in the park.
This excitement along with the closure of Innoventions has led many Disney lovers to speculate that a Star Wars attraction will be gracing the Carousel Theater in 2016. This goes hand in hand with the rumor that Disney has given up on the idea of “Tomorrowland” and could rename and retheme that entire area of Disneyland to “Star Wars land”. With Star Tours just down the street and Space Mountain nearby this would be a pretty easy transition. Yet, I personally hope that this is not true. The fan base of Star Wars is huge but I don’t think that retheming an entire land is the way to go about it, especially since Tomorrowland was one of Walt’s favorites (what can I say? I’m a sucker for the classics and anything that had Walt’s special touch and imagination tied to it).
What Tomorrowland really needs is an overhaul, but I don’t think that entire portion of the park has to be completely rethemed. Innoventions needs to be replaced with another show, something that uses that Carousel Theater to its full potential once again. I personally would love to see the return of an updated version of The Carousel of Progress. The 60th Anniversary celebration starts in May so this would be the epitome of additions that could be made to the park. Not only was The Carousel of Progress one of Walt’s last personal touches, the theme song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was written by Disney legends, The Sherman Brothers.
All speculation aside, it is apparent that Tomorrowland has a lot of room for improvement, both with crowd control and overall guest experience. Innoventions is the perfect place to start reimagining and improving. The building has the capacity to be a people guzzler which is exactly what that area of Disneyland needs. I look forward to seeing what Disney Imagineers have in store for the building, after all, “Tomorrow is Just a Dream Away”. What are your opinions? Share in a comment below and make sure to share this blog with your friends!
Have A Magical Day!