This past week, Disney released a pair of animated videos explaining the origins of the mysterious "Plus Ultra" organization featured in the upcoming movie Tomorrowland. Originally slated to appear in the film itself - presumably in a scene set in the 1964-65 New York World's Fair - it was cut from final edit for time and posted online. The following are a few Easter Eggs we noticed while watching.
First of all, of course, is the style of the cartoon. It is very much in line with the "Tomorrowland" episodes of the Walt Disney's Disneyland television series: Man in Space, Man and the Moon, Mars and Beyond, Magic Highway USA, and Our Friend the Atom. The following scene is even a direct homage to a scene from Our Friend the Atom...
|Scene from The Origins of Plus Ultra|
|Comparable scene from Our Friend the Atom.|
|"Since the dawn of recorded history, |
mankind has boldly pursued its destiny...
TO TRY AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD!"
In our next scene we catch a glimpse of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, France. The Eiffel Tower was originally constructed for this Exposition as a temporary monument. But floating around the Eiffel Tower is a rather obscure Disney reference: the Hyperion airship from Island at the Top of the World. In the 1974 film, it was built by a French aeronaut and employed by a British industrial magnate to search for his lost son in the far Canadian Arctic where a colony of Vikings have survived to the Edwardian Era. It is more frequently seen today in the entryway to the Café Hyperion at Disneyland Paris. It is also an Easter Egg in The Great Mouse Detective, acting as Ratigan's dirigible.
|The Hyperion in The Origins of Plus Ultra.|
|The Hyperion in Island at the Top of the World.|
|Model of the Hyperion at Disneyland Paris.|
|Ratigan's "Hyperion" pursues Basil.|
According to the video, the Eiffel Tower hosted an illustrious gathering of learned Victorian men who founded Plus Ultra: Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, and Nikola Tesla. I'm not convinced that four Victorian men would come up with a name for their organization that sounds like a brand of laundry detergent, but I'll let that rest.
A little less forgivable is how Tesla and Edison carried on one of the great scientific rivalries of all time. The main contention between them was electricity, the so-called "War of the Currents." Edison (top) backed Direct Current while Tesla (bottom) back Alternating Current. Of course, the mythology of their conflict has built up over time, and this Forbes article does a good job of dispelling some of them. This page from the U.S. Department of Energy gives a good overview of their considerable accomplishments.
Gustave Eiffel is best known for the tower that bears his name. He was already an architect and engineer of renown before constructing the Eiffel Tower, including the design of the Statue of Liberty three years before the Exposition. France's gift of the Statue of Liberty to the United States is commemorated at Disneyland Paris in the Liberty Arcade that runs behind Main Street USA. His long list of credits count numerous bridges, viaducts, gasworks, cathedrals, theatres, hotels, and train stations. Whether or not Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla were there, Eiffel did host Thomas Edison in his offices at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Mannequins replicate this scene in those same offices.
|Edison meets Eiffel.|
In the offices of Plus Ultra, the film shows an army of draughtsmen (and women) hard at work making plans for Progress City... er, Tomorrowland. Dan Jeup, animator of this sequence, acknowledges that two of the engineers are references to Imagineers Mary Blair and Marc Davis. Blair's attraction It's a Small World will feature prominently in Tomorrowland.
|Silhouettes of Mary Blair (left) and Marc Davis (right corner).|
And one last reference for the Disneyphiles... Did you catch Space Mountain in the model of Tomorrowland? That is a nice reference but actually isn't new, since it had also been spotted in the official movie trailers.