With just over a month to go before the Brad Bird film hits theaters, Walt Disney Pictures is beginning to pull back the curtain of mystery surrounding their upcoming family adventure Tomorrowland. Yesterday, ComingSoon.net had the privilege of joining a small group of journalists for a sneak preview of a brand new exhibit and footage presentation that opens today at both Disneyland and Epcot. Read on for a description of the attraction’s ten-minute scene and, in the gallery viewer at the bottom of this page, you can check out an extensive photo gallery of all the art and artifacts the exhibit has to offer!
Set up in the interactive theater that formerly housed Captain EO, the Tomorrowland sneak peek begins with the voice of one of the characters, Raffey Cassidy’s Athena, telling the audience that, while we may not know her, she knows us. She then proceeds to warn against both cell phone use in the theater and against localized trans-dimensional travel.
We begin at the 1964 World’s Fair which, as Disney aficionados are likely to know, marked the debut of the “It’s a Small World” ride. We’re following a young boy with a massive bag — even larger than he is — hung over his shoulder. As Richard and Robert Sherman’s “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” plays, we watch as he gets off a bus and makes his way through the fair with determination.
The boy soon reveals himself John Francis Walker (who, later in the film, will be played by George Clooney) as he tosses his bag onto a table in front of Hugh Laurie’s character, claiming that he has an invention that will win a competition they’re having. Inside the bag is revealed to be a jetpack, designed and built by the kid. Unfortunately, as we learn in a quick flashback that makes solid use of the theater’s motion seats, the thing doesn’t quite fly yet.
John has attracted the attention of a young girl, Athena, who seems to have a connection to Laurie (his daughter, perhaps, although there’s sort of the sense that she might be more than human). Laurie is genuinely confused, though, asking John why he built this thing.
“I guess I got tired of waiting around someone else to do it for me,” John says.
Laurie is not amused. He gently scolds the boy, asking how his invention — even if it did work — makes the world a better place.
John thinks for a moment and then explains that, if he saw someone flying with a jetpack, he’d start to think that anything was possible and that creating that thought is what makes the world better.
We cut to the outside of the fair where, dejected, John sits with his jetback bag. Athena approaches and gives him the same pin that we’ve seen a few times in the trailers. She motions to the “Small World” ride where Laurie is just getting in a boat with a number of men in suits. John races to follow and manages to sneak into an empty boat just behind Laurie and his group. As he passes through the ride, however, a laser scans the pin and a trap door opens, diverting John’s boat to a secret path.
John emerges in what seems to be an impossibly infinite stretch of water surrounding a metal booth midway between an elevator and a subway car. He enters and a voice tells him to put on a helmet. Steel shutters drop around the booth and it begins to move.
The booth arrives in a new location and John emerges. All around is mist, but we can sort of make out a stylistic pier and see that, ahead, Laurie and the other men have climbed into some sort of hover car. John races to the end of the pier, but there are structures suddenly being built on either side. We see that there are massive robots that are somehow fabricating new materials. One of them sees John’s backpack and begins to fumble with it.
“Wait,” says John as the robot hands it back to him, “You fixed it?”
Just in the nick of time, too. Some guards have appeared and have spotted John. He tries to run, but falls right off the edge, hurtling down at incredible speed as he races to put on the jetpack (including a very Dr. Alan Grant approach to a fixing a faulty seatbelt), activating it just in time to stop him from hitting the ground.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” says Clooney’s voice as we enter a brief series of rapid clips.
What does it all mean? We’re going to have to wait until May 22 to be sure, although there are some intriguing clue in the below photos! If you’ve got any theories, too, be sure to share them in the comments.
Also starring Britt Robertson, Judy Greer, Tim McGraw, Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn, Thomas Robinson and Keegan Michael-Key, Tomorrowland is directed by Brad Bird and scripted by Bird and Damon Lindelof.