Walt Disney, Space and “The Right Stuff”
The new National Geographic series “The Right Stuff” premiered on Disney+ on October 9th, 2020. The scripted series is about Project Mercury and the beginnings of NASA in space exploration, but Walt Disney had more of an impact than many would believe on the space program.
Walt was in the midst of designing Disneyland in 1954 and although he had a solid handle on Fantasyland and Frontier land he was struggling with a concept for another part of the park, “The realm of Tomorrow”. “Walt was all set with animated material for Fantasyland, he had historical Frontierland stuff like Davy Crockett and Pecos Bill, and the True-Life Adventures films…the Disney film archives were filled with these things…but he had nothing for Tomorrowland,” Disney Legend Ward Kimball told E Ticket Magazine in 1996. (DisneyParksBlog)
The TV Spots
After seeing a group of Collier’s magazine articles on space, Walt knew what his concept would be. He said, “This is not science fiction, this is science fact.” He then began to take his space concept to some highly popular TV spots. The spots entitled “Man in Space”, “Man and the Moon” and “Mars and Beyond” featured Kimbrell talking specifically about the possibility of man in the outer realms. For the first time, the general public believed it could happen.
Disney and Space
The Disney theme parks have always had a connection to space. Rides like Space Mountain and Mission Space are some of the most popular rides in the parks. Mission Space opened at EPCOT in 2003.
And Space Mountain has become synonymous with a trip to Disney.
The Right Stuff
“The Right Stuff” is about the Mercury Seven, Carpenter, Cooper, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Donald “Deke” Slayton, and Betty Grissom (widow of Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom) are pictured above at Space Mountain. This group of ordinary men managed to achieve the extraordinary, and their story is incredible. Watch is now on Disney+
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