Monday, December 29, 2014

Comment from Dave Moon about Tomorrowland

I was delignted that Dave Moon, formerly of the MIT AI Lab and Symbolics, commented on my Disneyland / Tomorrowland post.

He wrote: 

    Dave Moon December 26, 2014 at 11:37 AM
    I am shocked, shocked, to learn that Disneyland has been commercialized!

    You will perhaps be pleased to know that in Disneyland's clone sister in Florida, as of a year and a half ago, 
    the People Mover had been refurbished and was back in operation.

    The Carousel of Progress is still in operation there and pretty well corresponds to my memory of it from the New 
    York Worlds Fair in 1964. Presumably it has been refurbished too, but its essence is unchanged. If you haven't 
    read Cory Doctorow's novella The Great Big Beautiful Tomrrow, you should.

    The train people are cool in Florida, too.

    --Dave Moon


Its great to hear from you. Its been a long time. You may not remember this but I used to lurk on one of the ITS systems at MIT and used to see you logged on and apparently active at all hours of the day and night. This would have been about 1974 and I was at the time “mike@ucsb-mod75

I am delighted to hear that the Carousel of Progress is still in Disneyworld. I was under the mistaken impression that it was not there but that GE Horizons in EPCOT had replaced it. Well apparently the Carousel is still there but its “sequel”, Horizons, is gone. Also good to know about the Peoplemover.

But even if those were recreated at Tomorrowland it would still not solve the “vision” problem that I am talking about. Both of those two attractions are from the 1967 or so vision which benefited in no small part from the triumph of the 1964 World's Fair. I believe that the 1964 World's Fair was the apogee of American civilization, when we had hope for the future, economic strength and a great sense of design. We might go so far as to say that the 64 World's Fair was the REAL Tomorrowland for our nation, and the others were pleasant but pale reflections.

The problem today is not merely to clean up the decayed infrastructure, or to create some new cool attractions, both of which I am sure Imagineering can do just fine. The problem is to create a vision of the future, a vision that we can believe in. That feeling, that vision, that gestalt is not there now and not even the Carousel of Progress or a roomful of robotic presidents can bring it back.

Do we really believe that there is a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day? I don't think so.

Hope all is well, tell me how you are.



  1. Hey my kids are great and I don't have cancer. Couldn't be better.

    Disney's vision of the future that they believe in is expressed in the gift shops, I think. For a vision of the future that regular people can believe in you might have to go to Da'ish over the Levant. Was there ever a progressive vision of the future that everyone believed in? I think the 1964 World's Fair vision left a lot of people out.

    You really should read the Cory Doctorow novella. Although probably intended as satire it might turn out to be more accurate than we would like. It's available online.

  2. I will check out Doctorow, these things just have to go on a list. I think that there was a vision of the future, at least for most white, middle-class Americans, which certainly leaves a lot of people out, as you say. Technology will make the world better. The future is bright. Democracy will save the world. We will all work and be able to send our kids to college. Today, people do not believe that so far as I know.