IMG_3260If you're not a huge Back to the Future buff, surely the endless articles comparing the 2015 of the film series' second entry to the real thing have tipped you off to this 30 year milestone.  To celebrate our arrival into the future, The Egyptian theatre in Hollywood (just a few blocks from Disney's El Capitan) offered a triple feature last weekend that I attended with my friend Josh.  I hadn't seen the films properly since I was maybe 10 years old and I was surprised how great perfect the original flick was.  Both sequels were good as well (I'm partial to part two since I'm not a huge fan of Westerns) makings this one of the best film series of all time.

Unlike many patrons,  I choose not to dress as any character from the film to attend my screenings, mainly because I don't own any puffy vests. Instead I, being the theme park geek that I am, wore my Krustyland crew jacket since that attraction replaced the BTTF rides in Hollywood and Orlando.  In said ride, guests start in the distant future (2015) chasing film antagonist Biff Tannen who has taken hold of Doc Brown's flying DeLorean time machine.  From there you head into the ice age and then prehistoric times for run-ins with dinosaurs and volcanic explosions.  All the while riders are experiencing simulated flight, falls, and presumably a spray of water at some point.  In other words it was like every other Universal Studios attraction ever built.

As you can probably guess, aside from a few small coincidences, the film and ride didn't get much right about our current year.  What's interesting is that the film's starting point (and original release date) of 1985 was imagined to be far more advanced than it turned out be — at least according to Walt Disney.

From the start, Tommorland was a troublesome theme for a land given the speed of innovation (Sidenote: can you believe the first iPhone came our eight years ago?!)  Originally the Tomorrow of Tomorrowland was 1986, which just so happens to be the year I was born and one year after Back to the Future's release.  In the first few years, the land added a couple of interesting views of what technology would soon look like in the form of often joked about Bathroom of Tomorrow and The House of the Future.

Other than Imagineers correctly guessing that Monsanto would come to rule our lives in the next century, The House of the Future now seems as laughable as Back to the Future's 2015 does.  It's not that a lot of these ideas aren't doable — though, to my knowledge, the flying car is still a ways off — but perhaps it's just that no one really feels the need to have a bushel of grapes descend from their kitchen ceiling (an idea I'm pretty sure they stole from the Tiki Room).

Today Tomorrowland functions less as a land about what the actual future will look like and more on science fiction (including one property that actually takes place "a long long time ago" if its opening scroll is to be believed) and anything related to outer space. Though you'd probably be hard pressed to find a self-respecting Disney fan who doesn't think that two o'clock quadrant of the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland wasn't in need of some overhauling, I'd still say that Tomorrowland is my favorite of the lands thanks to its kinetic energy and nostalgic optimism ("There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow").


It seems to me that "Tomorrowland" is no longer a conjunction of two words but its own, unique, one-word theme; a theme that encompasses a different kind of imagination than it's neighboring Fantasyland.  Where the land of Fantasy dreams of personal achievements, Tomorrowland dreams of innovations that will better humanity... or just burp chili dog in your face.  Sure there are still questions as to just where exactly a portal to Monstropolis or "race" on an infuriatingly slow vehicle fit in to all this, but just humor me for a moment.

In Back to the Future Part II, Marty and Doc enter an alternate 1985 where Biff has become a powerful multimillionaire.  While that's a grim version, there's also the happier '85 shown at the end of the original film featuring the improved lives the McFly's enjoyed since George learned to stand up for himself.

I'd like to think that the Tomorrowlands we have are more like an alternate timeline that incorporate different versions of the past, present, and that third one.  It's impossible to guess the future correctly without looking like a fool when it doesn't come true.  But Tomorrowland can't get the future wrong if it just stops guessing.

Great Scott! You've made it to the end! Be sure to come back next Saturday for another heavy edition of The E-Ticket Life.  Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter: @kyleburbank — he's funny sometimes.