No land in Disneyland has changed as much over the years as Tomorrowland (for better or worse). All those changes have shaped it into the area it is today and left behind traces of history. Next time you're in Tomorrowland, take some time to notice these things and feel like the smartest person around since you'll know where they came from!
If some of the display cases and checkout stand look familiar inside, it's because they're old ride vehicles from the old Rocket Jets (older version of the Astro Orbitor) and PeopleMover - or at least they're made to look that way. They've been repainted, but they're nods to attractions of Tomorrowland past.
FINDING NEMO SUBMARINE VOYAGE
While waiting in line, you may notice some of the pipes overhead are labelled "TL59". This is a reference to the fact that the original Submarine Voyage opened in Tomorrowland in 1959.
Near the end of the ride you can hear the captain mention seeing a "mermaid" or sea monster. Guests aboard the original Submarine Voyage would encounter mermaids and a sea monster so this is a not-so-subtle reference to the ride's forerunner. (By the way, the subs themselves are the originals built in 1959.)
The awning at the Galactic Grill is known for its elaborate decoration. This was actually the Imagineers' proof-of-concept for the 1998 remodel of Tomorrowland. The team was low on funds and wanted to try to refresh the area mainly with paint so they started with the Galactic Grill (then Tomorrowland Terrae) roof to see if it would work. They felt it was successful and so moved forward with the project. Today, this is the only true remnant of that rennovation.
Most of the gardens and flower beds in Tomorrowland were redesigned in 1998 to showcase "ideas" for the future. Each plant is edible - lettuce, rosemary, thyme, etc. Some have been replaced since, but the original idea was that gardens of the future would serve both aesthetic and practical purposes.
PEOPLEMOVER/ROCKET RODS TRACK
The most conspicuous thing at the entrance of Tomorrowland is the abandoned PeopleMover/Rocket Rods track. Originally built for the 1967 Tomorrowland, the track was intended for the slow-moving PeopleMover but was to be replaced by the Rocket Rods, a fast paced attraction, in 1998. The Rocket Rods, for a variety of reasons, could not perform well on the unmodified track and so closed in 2001. The track has been vacant ever since and, likely, will never be used again.
The central point of Tomorrowland, once known as Rockettower Plaza, is the former loading platform for the Rocket Rods and PeopleMover. Above it is a former kinetic structure called the Observatron which is actually the remnants of the Rocket Jets, similar to the Astro Orbitor, which had always been up there since 1967. When they replaced it in 1998 they decided to keep parts of it as a sculpture that would come to life every 15 minutes to entertain guests. The Observatron hasn't been operational in well over 10 years.
Star Wars Launch Bay? Oh, that's just the most recent inhabitant of the Carousel Theater. As the name suggests, it was originally intended to rotate a theater full of guests, but that feature has been deactivated. Other attractions here included:
When Tomorrowland first opened in 1955, the main "weenie" or feature of the area was a large TWA Moonliner next to the entrance of the Rocket to the Moon attraction. That was removed in the 60s, but Imagineers built a smaller version of the Moonliner in 1998 and placed it in essentially the same location. It has a different paint job now to match Alien Pizza Planet, but the shape is pretty correct!
Next to the Galactic Grill, the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage rises from a planter to reveal a full stage for dance parties or live bands. This was originally built in 1967 but was revived in the early 2000s due to its prime real estate and popular place in history.
As its name suggests, this used to be an actual space-themed arcade. It slowly emptied over the 2000s until now it's empty and only used occasionally for special events.
MAGIC EYE THEATER/TOMORROWLAND THEATER
Just underneath the Space Mountain queue is the Tomorrowland Theater (formerly Magic Eye Theater since it was the park's first 3D theater). The area was originally intended as an outdoor performance space but was closed up in the early 80s to accommodate the new show Captain EO. That's why guests don't stand on the middle section in front of Space Mountain in line - that's the roof of the theater. The theater was only used occasionally in the 2010s but lately it's been largely empty.
Ever wonder why the Monorail wraps around the Matterhorn? There are a lot reasons, but one of them is because both of these attractions opened in 1959 as part of Tomorrowland. That's right - the Matterhorn Bobsleds were originally Tomorrowland attractions! The mountain was officially "moved" to Fantasyland on the maps in 1972.