As my family and I entered Tomorrowland at Disney World, the sign at the entrance caught my attention: "Tomorrowland, The Future That Never Was Is Finally Here."
In 1955, when Walt Disney launched his first theme park, Tomorrowland was intended to be a temple to Walt's optimism. He said, "Tomorrowland is a vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man's achievements…a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come…and the hope for a peaceful and united world."
Walt's vision was not unusual for his day. A New York Times editorial on January 1, 1901 said, "The 20th century will meet and overcome all perils and prove to be the best this steadily improving planet has ever seen." This utopian optimism fueled American imagination and culture through the mid-20th century. But today optimism is dead. People no longer believe in the promises of technology, and the term "future progress" has gone from 20th-century mantra to 21st-century oxymoron.
Fifty years ...1