Disney just released a new trailer for Tomorrowland, a movie slated to hit theaters May 22. Starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie (House), Britt Robertson and a whole bunch of CGI, this thing looks like it could be a big deal. And for me, Tomorrowland can’t come soon enough.
Tomorrowland is my second home—or it would be if I was independently wealthy. I first went to Disneyland when I was about 9, and I was totally gobsmacked by the park’s futuristic venue. I was too scared to do Space Mountain at the time, but I loved all the rest of it—from the Submarine Voyage (home of a sperm whale and giant squid eternally locked in combat) to Adventure Through Inner Space (where you “shrink” and go inside a snowflake) to Mission to Mars (fairly self-explanatory, I think).
Alas, those rides are long gone or much changed now, replaced or updated with newer techno-driven thrills. The irony of a place like Tomorrowland is it doesn’t take long for it to feel like yesterday’s news. While the Adventure Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean are, thematically, ageless (the addition of Jack Sparrow into the latter notwithstanding), to survive, Tomorrowland has to feel eternally fresh and new.
I do love me my Disney parks. I take the fam once every three or four years, and every time we stroll into Tomorrowland, it seems like it’s been completely remodeled. The sparkling white Tomorrowland I visited as a 9-year-old had very little resemblance to the Jules Verne iteration of the place my son saw when he was 7. And when my daughter and her new hubby go to Disneyland for their honeymoon this summer, it’ll surely be different again.
Which makes Tomorrowland, the theme park attraction, a bit of a metaphor for our own hopes for tomorrow. After all, what happens to us tomorrow is dependent on what we do today. Our futures are forever changing.
Tomorrowland has always represented an optimistic vision of the future. Walt Disney wasn’t the sort of guy to look dourly at our coming days and see famine and pollution and zombies—or, if he did, he sure knew it wouldn’t be an appropriate setting for a children’s theme park.
Most recent movies don’t follow in Walt’s optimistic wing tips, though. We live in an age fascinated by dystopia—filled with cataclysm and oppression and the occasional Hunger Games.
Which makes this trailer particularly interesting to me. Here, you see a little bit of both—a bright, shining future juxtaposed with a bleaker future boasting gun-toting bad ‘uns and fist-throwing robots.
But if the movie reflects a fraction of that magic I felt when I first walked into Tomorrowland—when I saw the Astro Orbiters flying above and Space Mountain beckoning beyond—it might turn out OK. Time and a movie review in May will tell.