Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971 with two attractions; the Grand Prix Raceway and the Skyway to Fantasyland. Many more attractions would open during the next few months and years with the largest and most iconic addition to Tomorrowland coming on January 15, 1975; the opening of Space Mountain. A couple of months after Space Mountain opened, Flight to the Moon was replaced with Mission to Mars; beginning a long Disney tradition of replacing, upgrading, and expanding what many perceive as static and unchangeable features of Disney World. Since opening the doors in 1971, Walt Disney World has replaced, reimagined, or expanded individual attractions over 50 times and shows no signs of slowing down that pace of growth.
In 1994 the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland received extensive changes; with new futuristic theming, upgraded attractions, and even the replacement of several long running attractions. Sonny Eclipse; the cool, wise-cracking, romantic lounge singer and astro-organ player from Yew Nork City, came on the scene in January of 1994. Sonny took up residence at the Starlight Cafe, entertaining guests with hits like “Starlight Soup and Salad,” and “My Name is Sonny Eclipse.” 1998 saw Buzz Lightyear begin recruitment of young cadets to battle against the Evil Emperor Zerg. The Skyway closed in October of 1999 leaving the Raceway; then the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, now the Tomorrowland Speedway as the only remaining Tomorrowland attraction from the opening day of Walt Disney World. Over the years the racing inspired attraction has seen many changes, including having the track shortened on 3 separate occasions; leaving the Tomorrowland Speedway 32% shorter than the original opening day length. The space used by the dated combustion engine themed attraction seems more akin to Yesterdayland than a Land focused on galactic space travel and ideas about tomorrow. The Speedway should join the Skyway; taking it’s place in Disney history to make way for the reimagined and expanded Tomorrowland.
23 years separates the opening of Tomorrowland and the Land’s first major refurbishment and 22 years separate today’s Tomorrowland from the last major upgrade. The time for change has arrived.