Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Introduction

by josh on May 12, 2010

One of the most popular lands and the one located just off The Hub to the right, Tomorrowland is home to several of Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions, including the venerable Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Several anytime attractions are also situated here, including the Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland PeopleMover, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.

Tomorrowland is host to no table service restaurants, but Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is one of Magic Kingdom’s most popular quick services. Offering rotisserie chicken, ribs (only after 4pm), burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and salads, you’ll find a wider selection of food here than most other quick service locations. Tomorrowland Terrace is another major quick service, located closer to Plaza Restaurant on Main Street than the rest of Tomorrowland, but it’s only open when Magic Kingdom is particularly crowded. If it is open, the salad, sandwich, and pasta fare may be worth checking out. Lunching Pad is located underneath Astro Orbiter in the center of Tomorrowland, serving a couple forgettable hot dogs, in addition to sweet cream cheese pretzels, frozen beverages, and other snacks. Also near Astro Orbiter, Cool Ship serves beverages and snacks. Rounding out the choices is Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies, serving smoothies, snacks, and ice cream treats.

Mickey’s StarTraders and Merchant of Venus near Stitch’s Great Escape are the two primary stores, though most everything sold here is available elsewhere. There are small shops at the exits to Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain as well.

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Astro Orbiter

by josh on May 12, 2010

Opened: November 28, 1974 as Star Jets and reopened as the Astro Orbiter on February 25, 1995

Location: In the middle of Tomorrowland above The Lunching Pad quick service. The entrance is opposite Space Mountain.

Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening

FastPass+: No

Type: Carousel

Similar To: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, TriceraTop Spin

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Low.  People with a severe fear of heights may want to skip because the ride has a maximum height of about 80 feet.  Riders also have to board an elevator which is cramped and usually filled to capacity, so it may not be the best ride for the severely claustrophobic either.

What to Expect: This is another “hub and spoke” carousel ride along the same lines as Dumbo, TriceraTop Spin, and others.  The difference is that you have to take an elevator up to the platform to board it and the ride vehicles are themed like space rockets.  Each vehicle holds two people and there is a joystick onboard that riders can use to move the space rocket up and down as the ride circles around the hub at approximately 11 revolutions per minute.  Believe it or not, the Astro Orbiter actually loads even slower than Dumbo.  With a maximum capacity of just 24 people, even a short line can equal a long wait.  Undoubtedly, the best part of the Astro Orbiter is flying high over Tomorrowland and the rest of the Magic Kingdom.

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Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

by josh on May 12, 2010

Opened: November 3, 1998

Location: Tomorrowland, in between Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening

FastPass+: Yes – moderate priority. Schedule it at a kiosk after using the initial allotment of three FP+.

Type: Shooting Gallery, Omnimover

Similar To: Toy Story Midway Mania

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Zero.  Although it’s possible to spin the vehicles around manually, it shouldn’t upset even the most prone to motion sickness.

What to Expect: The queue for Buzz Lightyear is both outdoors and indoors, depending on length.  The interior waiting area is brightly colored and features a lot to see, including an oversized Buzz Lightyear animatronic figurine.  Once you make it to the front of the line, you will board a vehicle similar to those found at Spaceship Earth, the Haunted Mansion, and other similar Omnimover/dark rides that move slowly on a conveyer-belt-like contraption.  Each vehicles seats two or three, but is only outfitted with two guns, so I would recommend limiting each vehicle to two people unless one person is okay with not having a gun to use.  There is also a small joystick that can be used to turn the car 360 degrees to get a better angle at the targets.  The object of the Space Ranger Spin is to use your mounted laser gun to shoot targets found throughout the 13 Toy Story themed scenes.  Unlike Toy Story Midway Mania, the scenery is “real” and not merely images projected onto a screen.  Don’t be worried about the laser beam, it’s been tested and shown to be completely safe.  Just don’t tell Buzz.  He’ll be devastated.

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Carousel of Progress

by josh on May 12, 2010

Opened: January 15, 1975

Location: In the back of Tomorrowland, in between Space Mountain on its left and Buzz Lightyear to its right.

Extra Magic Hours: Not usually. It may be open during morning Extra Magic Hour unofficially.

FastPass+: No

Type: Audio-animatronics theater show

Similar To: Hall of Presidents

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Only if you are deathly afraid of mannequins or animatronics

What to Expect: The Carousel of Progress isn’t a carousel like Prince Regal Carousel.  Instead, the “carousel” in the name refers to the theater seating sections that move from scene to scene in a circle around the stage.  This allows new visitors to enter the attraction without having to wait for the entire show to end.

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Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

by josh on May 12, 2010

Opened: April 2, 2007

Location: As you walk into Tomorrowland from The Hub, you’ll see it on your right shortly after crossing the bridge.  It’s across the way from Stitch’s Great Escape.

Extra Magic Hours: Evening – usually first hour only

FastPass+: Yes, lowest priority

Type: Interactive theater show

Similar To: Turtle Talk with Crush

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Very low.  They are Monsters, of course, but they’re animated like the movie.

What to Expect: The queue for Monsters Inc. is indoors and air-conditioned, which makes it a good stop in the afternoon.  When Magic Kingdom is extremely busy, the line may extend out the door.  There isn’t much to see until the pre-show, but guests are invited to text in their jokes to be used during the show, so you might have some fun with that while you wait.  Once the doors open, you’ll be led into a large theater that seats about 400 people.  The theater is also nicely air-conditioned and the seats are relatively comfortable.

The plot of the Laughing Floor is that Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed green monster star of Monsters Inc., is putting on a comedy show to collect laughs from the audience to power Monstropolis.  Like Turtle Talk with Crush, the monsters will actually talk and interact with visitors in real time.  Several cast members move about the audience with microphones so the monsters can ask questions and make personalized jokes.  Also, one “lucky” guest will unknowingly play the role of “that guy.” The monsters will harass and tease this person throughout the show.  If you don’t want to risk being made fun of constantly, I would suggest looking like you’re having a good time prior to the show starting.

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Space Mountain

by josh on May 12, 2010

Opened: Originally opened January 15, 1975 and reopened after a major refurbishment on November 22, 2009.

Location: In the back of Tomorrowland in between Tomorrowland Indy Speedway and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening

FastPass+: Yes, high priority. Consider making it one of your three pre-selected experiences or visit a kiosk early to secure a slot later on the same day.

Type: Roller coaster

Similar To: Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster

Requirements: Must be 44” or taller

Scary Factor: Medium.  Space Mountain has a top speed of less than 30 miles per hour, but it seems like it’s going faster because the ride takes place inside of a pitch-black dome.  The recent refurbishment made the ride even darker so it’s now more difficult to see where you’re headed most of the time.  Overall, the course itself isn’t scary or intense, but the darkness may be enough to scare youngsters.  Also, the ride vehicles are single-file with three to a car, which makes it difficult to reassure the nervous once the ride starts.

What to Expect: The queue for Space Mountain is indoors and air-conditioned and the refurbishment brought interactive games for riders to play while they wait.  While it’s nice to have the option of something fun to do while waiting, it’s not uncommon for people to play the games more than once and “hold up” the line.  While there’s really nowhere to go other than inching up a bit towards the loading bay, you’re likely to hear some complaining and annoyed people.  Once you move through the queue, you’ll be placed in the loading bay where a six-person, single-file, rocket-themed vehicle will emerge from the darkness.  The seats are now better padded and the sides of the car are sturdy enough that they can support riders’ weight getting in and out of the vehicle.  This makes Space Mountain considerably more comfortable than it was pre-refurbishment.  Still, many people (your 29-year-old and otherwise mostly healthy author included) find the ride too rough.  I always disembark in some sort of pain, so this is one that you may want to skip if back/shoulder/neck/etc. pain is even a nominal concern.  I like to joke that even if you don’t have neck trouble now, you will after you disembark your rocket.  And I’m only half kidding.

Space Mountain’s track and overall feel is similar to a “Wild Mouse” type coaster, but the darkness coupled with the space theme make the ride more fun and exciting than it would be if it was outside at your local fair or carnival.  The ride doesn’t feature any major drops, but there are sharp turns and surprising dips throughout.

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Stitch’s Great Escape

by josh on May 12, 2010

Stitch’s Great Escape

Opened: November 16, 2004

Location: Across from Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor

Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening

FastPass+: No

Type: Animatronic theater show

Similar To: Uniquely uncomfortable

Requirements: Must be 40” or taller

Scary Factor: High.  Stitch’s Great Escape may be frightening, with dark scenes, loud noises, and harness restraints that make visitors feel like they’re trapped in their seats.  I do not recommend this attraction for kids under the age of ten or those with claustrophobia.  This is one of the rare attractions at Disney World that has a height requirement and isn’t a roller coaster or thrill ride.  There’s no risk of bodily harm like there is with a rider who is too small for Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster or a similar ride.  Instead, Disney is purposefully trying to keep young riders out by posting the 40” height requirement, so take that into consideration when deciding to visit this attraction.

What to Expect: Stitch’s Great Escape replaced the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter that was housed in the same space.  Many people complained that the Alien Encounter was too scary for kids, so Disney finally shuttered the attraction and reopened with Stitch at the helm.  The new version is mostly the same, with similar special effects and a supporting cast that is exactly the same.  Visitors begin the attraction in the preshow area by watching a short video providing the background story.  After that, you’ll be seated in a large circular theater with harness-style restraints. The show begins and an audio-animatronic Stitch appears in the middle of the theater. He goes about his business, cutting the power to the building, spitting water on visitors sitting in the first two rows, and burping the stench of chili dogs.  The theater will intermittently go dark and it will seem as though Stitch is moving around the theater, touching people and creepily whispering in their ears. It’s a bizarre and unpleasant experience for many visitors from start to finish.

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Tomorrowland Indy Speedway

by josh on May 12, 2010

Location: Tomorrowland

Extra Magic Hours: Morning, Evening

FastPass+: Yes – moderate priority. Use a kiosk to select it after using your pre-selected three experiences.

Type: Simulated car race

Similar To: Unique

Requirements: Must be 32” or taller to ride and 54” or taller to drive alone

Scary Factor: Zero

What to Expect: The Tomorrowland Speedway is themed like a race track and features more than 200 gas powered cars.  Unlike a NASCAR race, the cars have a maximum speed of about seven miles per hour and there are guide rails that keep cars traveling in a straight line.  The massive amount of exhaust leaving the cars makes the queue reek of gasoline and it is not shaded.  The “race track” is about 2,000 feet long (4/10 of a mile) and takes about five minutes to complete.

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Opened: July 1, 1975

Name Change: Disney added “PeopleMover” to the name of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority on August 6th, 2010

Location: The entrance is located near Astro Orbiter (underneath the ride itself) and directly across from Carousel of Progress

Extra Magic Hours: Morning. Not usually listed, but it may be open for evening also.

FastPass+: No

Type: Peoplemover

Similar To: Unique

Requirements: None

Scary Factor: Zero

What to Expect: Riders board slow moving, four-person cars that run via linear synchronous motors embedded in the track above Tomorrowland.  In other words, the cars emit no pollution because they’re pulled by magnets.  The highlight of the tour is the rare glimpse of the Space Mountain track as riders pass through the dome where the ride is housed.  The Transit Authority provides a recorded introduction to the other Tomorrowland attractions as well.  During the ride, you will also get a chance to view several dioramas of how Walt Disney envisioned the original EPCOT theme park to look.

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