Let's get ready to rumble!
Today, we're launching a brand new mini-series, Theme Park Tourist's "Battle of the Lands"! In each entry, we'll zoom into one of Disney's "Castle Park" classics and look at every version of it across the world. Picture it like this: if you were going to build a perfect "Castle Park" by pulling one version of each land, which park's Tomorrowland would you choose? Is it Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, or Shanghai's version that's the truest and best take on the concept?
Tomorrowland is a wild Battle to start with, because not only does each of Disney's six "Castle Parks" have one, but they all have vastly different histories that have created very unique visions of what the future holds... or even what we mean by "future"!
Our look at which Tomorrowland is the Tomorrowland will be helped by four awards we'll hand out – for the best Attractions, Architecture & Aesthetics, Atmosphere, and Ambition. So let's get started.
1. Attractions Award
Across the world, Tomorrowlands each offer significantly different attraction lineups. Our Ride Count Countdown feature will give you the specifics, but in general, nearly-but-not-all Tomorrowlands have a Buzz Lightyear laser-blasting dark ride; nearly-but-not-all Tomorrowlands have a Space Mountain; nearly-but-not-all have a Dumbo-esque spinning rocket ride. Sprinkle in some non sequitor Pixar attractions and occasionally a theater (film or otherwise) and you've got the basics.
Any comparison of attractions, then, needs to focus on the quality of attractions, and particularly unique ones. So sure, Magic Kingdom has the one-of-a-kind Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, but it's probably not enough to win it the "Attractions Award" among Tomorrowlands. Tokyo's Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek is certainly a bigger draw. In Hong Kong, the one-of-a-kinds would be the two Marvel rides – Iron Man Experience and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle. So which of the Tomorrowlands has the most impressive ride collection?
This is a tough one to judge and your results may vary, but in terms of the quality of attractions, we have to go with the original Disneyland here. Tiny Tomorrowland contains four headlining attractions (the best Space Mountain, STAR TOURS, Submarine Voyage, and half of the Matterhorn) plus Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the Astro Orbitor, the Monorail, and the Disneyland Railroad.
2. Architecture & Aesthetics Award
There's no denying that Tomorrowlands are often among the most stylized and elaborate lands in the "Castle Parks" they inhabit, since "future" lends itself to architecture ranging from futuristic to fantastical. That said, most Tomorrowlands are as scrambled in aesthetics as they are in attractions.
In Florida, a '90s New Tomorrowland grafted sci-fi alien architecture onto the front half of the land, leaving the rear still decked out in stoic '70s simplicity (to be made all the stranger by TRON's distinctly 21st-century style). Similarly, California wedges original mid-century architecture with the infamous remains of the Declassified Disaster: New Tomorrowland '98. Tokyo Disneyland's Tomorrowland is even stranger, with corners echoing the '70s, '80s, '90s, and Monsters Inc., literally set down right next to Star Tours.
WINNER: Disneyland Paris
Our winner for the best Architecture & Aesthetics of the Tomorrowlands isn't really a Tomorrowland at all. Disneyland Paris' Discoveryland was Imagineering's first exercise in creating a future-proof version of the land, completely separated from what the real future might look like. Following in the French park's literary, deeply detailed style, Discoveryland is a future as envisioned from the past; a science-fantasy version of the land cast in gold, copper, and bronze, with volcanic rocks, green hillsides, humming neon, and allusions to the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Granted, the substance of Discoveryland has long since faded... The Lost Legend: The Timekeeper (which was initially designed for and debuted in Paris) has become the requisite Buzz Lightyear blaster ride while the Lost Legend: Space Mountain – De la Terre á la Lune has a semi-permanent Star Wars overlay. But aesthetically, it's a bold, brash, brass vision of Tomorrowland, and one stylistically unified in a really stunning way.