“Tomorrowland” filming to begin with 1964-65 World’s Fair recreation, twisting history as Disney wraps up The Optimist game

in Disney, Entertainment, Events, Movies, Theme Parks

Disney is set to begin production on the secretive “Tomorrowland” movie in Vancouver this week, bringing back to life one of the most important events in the company’s history. Director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”) along with co-writer Damon Lindelof are crafting a “what if” science-fiction tale that interweaves historical fact with out-of-this-world fiction that’s still very much a mystery.

But what is now clear from the first set pictures from photographer Bob Glassford at Vancity Filming is that the 1964-65 World’s Fair will play a role in the film. The famous New York event where Disney debuted classic attractions like “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” and “it’s a small world” is being recreated in detail.

The famous World’s Fair Unisphere (still standing in New York today) is likely to be digitally added to the flag-lined pathway above, bringing viewers back to the original decades-old scene depicted below.

Glassford also spotted signs on set for the Unisphere and Sinclair Dinoland, another World’s Fair attraction.

(View more “Tomorrowland” set photos at VancityFilming.com.)

It seems production will begin just a day before the 2013 D23 Expo kicks off in Anaheim, California, bringing tens of thousands of fans together to celebrate all things Disney. That includes an August 10th presentation from the Walt Disney Studios that has been announced to include a first look at “Tomorrowland.”

But some already have insight as to what “Tomorrowland” may bring. Those who have been following and playing along with Disney’s The Optimist alternate reality game have visited sights around Los Angeles tied to Walt Disney’s past as well as hunted through Disneyland searching for clues to unlock the mysteries behind a secret “society” of Imagineers and historical visionaries sharing the common goal of “building a better tomorrow.”

It’s all left very vague on purpose, stringing players along for the last 5 weeks, teasing out details as to what far-out technological advances (cryogenics? new energy sources? teleportation?) may have actually been developed and shown off behind the scenes at that ’64 World’s Fair, possibly spawning off into an alternate timeline indeed creating an entirely different “tomorrow” from that moment forward. Heavy.

(All the exhaustive details about The Optimist and its storyline can be found here.)

In addition to “Tomorrowland” being featured at the upcoming D23 Expo, The Optimist game is scheduled to wrap up there as well. During a live chat tonight with one of the game’s characters, Wallace, it was confirmed that a final hunt for clues would be revealed at the Expo. Real life legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr even made a special appearance at the end of the chat, cut off by a “lost connection” just as he began to spill details about Walt’s secret society. Imagine that.

(The full live chat can be viewed on YouTube.)

With the game already leading players to exclusive areas of Disneyland including Club 33 and Walt Disney’s private apartment, Disney likely has something big planned for its finale.

Those wanting to participate should visit the D23 Expo, head to booth #539 and utter the word “progress” to receive a clue.

The story of The Optimist will conclude this week just as “Tomorrowland” begins its production, presumably picking up right where the game leaves off, with players now enjoying a personal connection to a film that isn’t even scheduled for release until December 2014.


  1. Jeff Lynch

    Why can’t they get Tomorrowland right in the parks? So many cool things they could do with it…having it be a world where we have time travel, shrinking machines, trips to other planets, levitating cars, alien zoos, and other things that we will never have for hundreds of years or more here on Earth.

    Why not base Tomorrowland on that?

    1. EricJ

      Think it was Paul Pressler who gave us the Jetsons/Aliens Tomorrowland (as the “real-Future” as moved over to Epcot), so that explains a LOT.
      It would be nice to see a third makeover, but they’ve got to take a breather from Fantasyland first.

      (And yep, I KNEW this was all a “Movie universe” promotion stunt, like that old Encom employee website before Tron Legacy…)

      1. 1967WEDway

        What you’re saying only pertains to the Magic Kingdom one. The Tomorrowland in Disneyland, however, requires some major improvement.

  2. 1967WEDway

    Why is Disney filming in Vancouver when Flushing Meadows in NYC (where the ’64 World’s Fair actually took place) and the real Unisphere still exist? It’s not the park is busy or being used for anything now.

    1. Al D

      simple economics…Vancouver is gobs cheaper to film in than NYC

  3. Nancy

    Big line at Wallace’s booth today! My question…are the prints for sale or are they going to be?

  4. Nice use of the pictures from our website. Did you get permission from Bob to use them? If not, then I’ll have to issue a DCMA takedown notice.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I used three pictures, with obvious attribution and a link, as part of reporting this story. If you would like me to remove them, I will. I assume you have contacted the many other major movie reporting web sites who also ran the small selection of photos, even before I did?

  5. Patrick

    So… for those of us who followed ‘The Optimist’ from outside of California… What was the payoff? I know, in Amelia’s story, she got her mom to go out to Disneyland and such, which is cool… And everyone got to talk w Wallace. Still cool… but… where’s the payoff? Aside from the marketing standpoint, and the journey…. I don’t feel like I understand what happened in the end of it. Thoughts?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I will be posting a final wrap-up very soon!

    2. Ricky Brigante

      The payoff is still way off. This leg seems to only have been the beginning. It’s all viral promotion for the movie “Tomorrowland.”

  6. I had the chance to experience The Optimist in full — here’s my takeaway: http://japhygrant.com/is-disneys-secret-tomorrowland-the-future-of-entertainment/

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  8. Caitlin

    I read on Chip&Co that filming will be moved to Orlando for a few weeks this fall!

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