Tomorrowland currently is a land with SIX abandoned locations. Four of which are former attractions, one abandoned arcade and one shop. Disneyland is stuck in a situation where to fix one problem Disneyland would essentially have to fix them all. Autopia is a massive 230,000+ square feet inside the Disneyland berm! And as you know, everything inside of the railroad track is the most precious land that the Walt Disney Corporation owns.
How big is 230,000 square feet?
Well for example, Main Street USA from the Disneyland Train Station up to both the Jolly Holiday Bakery and the Plaza Inn restaurant, inside all the shops including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln - that's the size of Autopia!
Adventureland is 260,000 sq ft - making it 30,000 square feet larger.
All of Toontown, including Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is 250,000 square feet - making it only 20,000 square feet larger.
Over at Disney's California Adventure, Avengers Campus including Guardians of the Galaxy is 160,000 sq ft.
Autopia may be big on it's land mass but it's small in it's return. Autopia has hardly any merchandise appeal and no foreseeable natural way to create live-action or animated content for Disney+ or Walt Disney Pictures.
Intellectual property motivates fans to purchase a streaming subscription, endless merchandise or a theme park or movie ticket. Each sector of the business feeds the other. And the other problem with Autopia is that it's just an okay ride, ridden by millions and beloved by younger guests. Stack up this individual attraction offering, to ALL of Adventureland or Toontown, every experience on Main Street USA or the new Avengers Campus and it's easy to see where each of these obviously sells more merchandise, more food but even more theme park tickets.
Autopia, for most, is a bonus, a fun nostalgic part of an amazing day. But chances are Autopia motivates very few people to actually buy a ticket! It's easy to see where if this plot of land were to be re-imagined, instead of spending 30-minutes, you might end up spending three hours or more making many different memories while enjoying several experiences instead of one.
Fixing Tomorrowland is not easy. A Disney Parks design lesson learned for Disneyland to better use this 230,000 square feet would be to create an entirely new land or a couple of mega attractions. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage travels underneath the Autopia attraction, and the abandoned (27 years) People Mover has a track that runs through the Autopia land but also has tracks running through nearly every building in Tomorrowland! Lastly the Monorail takes two beautiful vanity loops over the Autopia.
Over the last decade Disney Parks has entered a new era in theme park design, creating fully immersive lands. The Autopia plot of land symbolizes why every Disney Park's land created in the last decade has no overlapping attractions. Starting with Cars Land, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge and Avengers Campus. Each of these lands can have any single attraction or location removed and swapped out for something bigger and better down the line.
What will be the future of Autopia? We have to wait to see.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".