Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Drive Down The Road Ahead

One of the most popular posts here at 2719 Hyperion has proven to be about something that is not altogether immediately recognizable as a Disney entity. My article on The Road Ahead, a fifteen minute segment from the 1958 Disneyland episode "Magic Highway U.S.A." was widely linked outside of the Disney online community and recognized by a number of retro-futurism bloggers.

I thought it would be fun to take another ride down The Road Ahead and visit again the transportation dynamics of late 2oth century America, as they were imagined by 1950's visionaries. So let's all jump into our highly specialized pleasure vehicles and take a trip along the magic highways of a future that never quite came to be.

"Speed, safety and comfort will be the keynotes of tomorrow's highways. A multi-colored highway system may enable the motorist to reach his destination by following the correct color strip. The increased speed of tomorrow's automobile will demand that highway signs be larger and more simple to read."

"Dashboard panels featuring built-in safety controls and electronic operating devices are predictions for tomorrow. A teletype panel shows up-to-the-minute traffic bulletins. The recommended safe driving speed is automatically indicated. Our rear view mirror is actually a television picture."

"Airborne emergency units would combine police, fire and ambulance services. Quick removal of disabled vehicles will reduce traffic tie-ups."

"Combining new formulas of concrete with quick-setting ceramic materials, a mobile kiln is supported by the bridge it builds."

"For tunneling through mountains, this atomic reactor applying incredible heat literally melts the hard rock as it makes molehills out of mountains."

On entering the city, the family separates, father to his office, mother and son to the shopping center. These new forms of vehicles will bring about special purpose roadways."

"Office buildings will combine unique parking and elevator services. From his private parking space, father will probably have to walk to his desk."

"These non-stop farm-to-market transports will bring remote agricultural areas to within minutes of metropolitan markets."

"Advances in technology will give us more time for leisure in tomorrow's living. The family vacation will always be decided by a family vote, but getting there will be simplified by a punched card system and the car is automatically operated and guided to preset destinations. Highly specialized pleasure vehicles will have every convenience of home."

Images © Walt Disney Company


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if this show is on any of the disney Treasures set? This was one of my favorite shows!

John Dedeke said...

Jeff, thanks SO much for sharing this post! This has always been to me one of the most compelling, intriguing Disney shorts, and an enduring favorite. I just wish I had a copy! Thanks for the great optimistic start to the week ahead!

Anonymous said...

I want a car with a family room, run by punch cards! Sweeeeet!

Anonymous said...

This is a great example of where Disney could make these treasures available online via iTunes or some other method. Hoepfully Bob Iger will get to this someday and maybe collaborate with Mr. Jobs to provide a way for us Disney Geeks to indulge in the treasure trove of Disney material not yet released.

Disney adopted some technology before others such as magenetic propulsion which is used on the TTA.

Paul B.

Matt Novak said...

Couldn't agree with you more about the iTunes potential for old Disneyland TV episodes (especially this one). Also, this isn't on any Walt Disney Treasures set.

I really wish Disney would recognize the potential money they leave on the table by never releasing products from their vaults. All it takes is one illegal copy to spread and then anyone with an internet connection can access it. Why not make it available and encourage the purchase of more Disney products?

Great post, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog as always. Still have the Orange Bird on my desktop.
Where can I find the full Magic Highway USA clip? Thanks.

Lainey Schallock said...

Jeff - This is great stuff here! Reading the film dialogue reminds me so much of another Disney short film entitled "Man on Wheels" which is narrated by Paul Frees but features Goofy as three different species of drivers. I'm fortunate enough to own this on VHS - it's on one of the Wonderful World of Disney VHS's as the second segment on "Pacifically Peeking (and Man on Wheels)." That's another feature worth checking out. Thanks so much for the great post Jeff and thanks for adding my page to your links! - Lainey

Anonymous said...

Here it is!