The entrance of Tomorrowland on Disneyland’s opening day, July 17, 1955. Notice the large crane lifting a cameraman on a platform for the ABC broadcast. He may have had the best E-Ticket thrill all day.
Jan. 15, 1955 - Walt Disney gave the order to go ahead with the construction of Tomorrowland for Disneyland’s opening after previously putting it on hold because there wasn’t enough time. In addition to wanting to offer more attractions to his guests on opening day, Walt was motivated by the sponsorship deal they had inked with TWA for the Rocket to the Moon attraction. One of Disneyland’s early icons was the Moonliner rocket, which stood outside the attraction and was the tallest structure in the entire park at the time, standing eight feet taller than Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
The design of the attraction’s building and theater was one of the first projects Disney Legend John Hench would work on at the park. Hench worked with famed German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun on the design of the Moonliner. In his book, Designing Disney, Hench explains that “I wanted an elegant shape that suggested high speed even though it would be stationary. The sides of the seventy-six-foot-tall rocket were actually straight — only the top and bottom sections were tapered — and I was fascinated by how people read the rocket as a continuous curved form even though it really wasn’t.”
1 - Rocket to the Moon and Moonliner
2 - Rocket to the Moon construction
3 - Moonliner construction
4 - Early attraction concept art by John Hench
5 - John Hench and Walt Disney
To prepare for the filming of the Tomorrowland episode for the Disneyland television series Walt met with famed rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and Disney Legend Ward Kimball. According to Kimball, as von Braun described the future of space “Walt listened wide-eyed, his mouth open in pure rapture at what he was hearing.” Walt was incredibly optimistic about how science could and would improve our future. He said “Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the space age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come.”
Jason Chandler is a character that was created for the unbuilt Disneyland concept Discovery Bay and early versions of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. In recent years, however, he has been incorporated into the Society of Explorers and Adventurers storyline in the parks and appeared as a major character in Disney Kingdoms: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Jason Chandler was a 19th century inventor who was a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. By 1851 he served as the club secretary under president of SEA Vitale Robustelli. At some point following this, Chandler would rise to the position of president of the society while continuing developing his own inventions. By the 1880s, he would begin selling this technology to the Big Thunder Mining Company for their operations in Big Thunder Mountain to assist his friend from SEA, Barnabas T. Bullion.
Jason Chandler was an inventor, who built a drill big and powerful enough to dig into the hardest of places. It attracted the attention of Barnabas T. Bullion, who bought it off of him to mine into Big Thunder Mountain. The two became close friends, going on expeditions together, exchanging letters, and visiting each other. However, Chandler was more cognizant of the troubles that would come with the mining, believing the stories about Big Thunder and urging his friend to stop before it was too late.
Chandler joined the Society of Explorers and Adventurers in the mid-1800s, as a secretary as early as 1851 and later as a chairman. He went on expeditions with other members, including one with Captain Brieux on the Hyperion ship to chart flying animals.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".
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