Walt Disney Studios Tom0rrowland is in theaters and while my family really enjoyed the movie, we also loved learning how it was developed & filmed and other fun facts about the movie too.
9 Fun Facts about Tomorrowland
- When the concept of “Tomorrowland” was just percolating in writer/producer Damon Lindelof’s mind, Sean Bailey, president of production at Disney told him about a box that had been discovered accidentally in a closet at the studio. The “mystery box” contained all sorts of fascinating models and blueprints, photographs and letters seemingly related to the inception of Tomorrowland and the 1964 World’s Fair. Lindelof imagined that these findings were a guide to a secret story that nobody knew about; a place called Tomorrowland that was not just a theme park but existed somewhere in the real world. This became the jumping-off point for the story of “Tomorrowland” that Lindelof would later develop with director/producer Brad Bird and executive producer Jeff Jensen.
- In recreating the 1964 World’s Fair for “Tomorrowland,” filmmakers were lucky to find that one of the iconic pieces, the Unisphere, was actually in Flushing Meadows, New York, standing outside of the USTA National Tennis Center. The huge globe’s fountains are still in place as well as the gardens. The filmmakers dispatched a photographer to New York to take photos so that they could use the real images as a composite element in the scenes.
- The Bridgeway Plaza took six months to build and was about half the size of a football field. The set was so enormous that no sound stage existed that could house it and considerable height was also required for the intended aerial work above the set and for the cranes big enough to hold the lights required to illuminate the set. Adding to the complexity was the fact that the set had to serve different time periods over the course of the script: 1964, when young Frank first visits; 1984, the period in Casey’s pin-induced vision; and 2014, when the remainder of the story takes place. This required six-week intervals between shoots to allow the production design crew time to redress and alter the set for each time period.
- The Bridgeway Plaza set included a fully functional monorail (called the levitating elevated vehicle). Once the monorail was completely built and the lights and glass were put in, it weighed about 35,000 pounds. That meant that the crew had to figure out how to move the hefty monorail—loaded with principal cast— safely down a track that was elevated 16 feet in the air and stop it at exactly the same position time and again. They came up with hydraulic winches that could be shut down very quickly in an emergency and brakes that they could apply whenever they wanted to bring the monorail to a very specific mark to stop, open the door automatically and have the cast walk out.
- The film started principal photography on a farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta, where the filmmakers paid a farmer to grow winter wheat that had a particular shade of amber—director Brad Bird’s vision of rural perfection. Then the crew moved to a farm in Enderby, in British Columbia’s Okanagan, to shoot the Walker farm and its cornfields, also grown specifically for the production.
- In addition to sets in Spain and Canada, locations included the “It’s a small world” ride at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., a beach in the Bahamas and a second- unit shoot in Paris. In total, the film had over 90 different combinations of sets and locations, and moved ten times.
- For the filmmakers, the bizarre memorabilia emporium, Blast From the Past, was a fun—and nostalgic—set to create. Set decorator Lin MacDonald spent months curating the extensive display of collectibles, consisting of thousands of pieces, both purchased and manufactured by the production, and many originals—some from Brad Bird’s own collection. There are shelves and shelves of comic books and items such as classic sci-fi movie posters, an original Luke Skywalker action figure from the 1970s, and even items from “Space 1999.” The production design team literally built a store and set it in the middle of a sound stage.
- One aspect of working with the child actors, Thomas Robinson (Young Frank) and Raffey Cassidy (Athena), was that if you take an eleven-year-old and start them on a movie in the summer and don’t finish the movie until mid-winter, chances are they going to grow, and that includes their teeth. When Raffey arrived in Vancouver ready to start work, she was missing teeth, so she had to get fakes made before the start of principal photography. Then Thomas started losing his teeth one by one. So the kids spent a lot of time getting “flippers” made, which are temporary, removable teeth.
- Filmmakers were thrilled to see a real NASA Maven rocket launch (a probe to Mars) at the Cape Canaveral set location and several of them were able to view the launch from a position closer than the press viewing stage. For the filmmakers, it was a dream-come-true and symbolized the future that the film inspires.
Want to hear more about Tomorrowland??
Find out what prop George Clooney may or may not have taken from the set of Tomorrowland in my exclusive interview with him. Also, find out what valuable lesson his costar, Britt Robertson learned from Clooney. And find out what inspired Director/Producer Brad Bird and Screenwriter/Producer Damon Lindelof to create Tomorrowland in my exclusive interview with them.
We visited the Walt Disney Archives to learn how Tomorrowland producers used items from the archives to recreate key scenes in the movie. Then we headed over to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland- here’s 13 Fun Facts You Don’t Know about Tomorrowland. Visitors to Disneyland can get a special sneak peek at Tomorrowland and see props from the movie. And check out all the fun that Disneyland has planned for it’s 60th Anniversary, starting May 22, 2015.
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Visit the official TOMORROWLAND website: http://www.Disney.com/Tomorrowland