Disneyland's bizarre House of the Future, of the past

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/01/30/disneylands-bizarre-house-of-the-future-of-the-past.html



I do find it interesting how people used to imagine the future as relatively utopian (such as with this house), but now, we can often only see the future as some kind of dystopia.


With the GI bill providing low-interest, zero down payment home loans for white ex-servicemen


Truth Facts GIF by BET Hip Hop Awards



I took the tour when it was relatively new and “bizarre” was the last word I would have used.


No love for the Innoventions Dream Home? (2008-2015)

(Yeah, it was pretty bad. But they featured Zunes, which is funny in retrospect.)



I love these corporate declarations of how we’ll all be living. In this case, no room for older parents, no accommodation for accessibility… forget being obese and taking a shower. What is the R-Value in those walls and floors? How bad is the off-gassing of all that plastic, plus the burn rate?

Yes, I’ll let a large manufacturing company present their vision of MY exitance, thanks to their industrial products.

The reasons these ideas never caught on is because they reach deep into the consumer brain but not the every-day living brain. The shower is a joke, the stairs are a joke… there’s nothing practical.

Granted, houses built today are no better. the purchaser manipulation is the same - sell them on a dream… an unrealistic dream.


That was explicitly one of the reasons behind Iain Banks writing the Culture series of novels. He was tired of dystopias being all that he could find, and wanted to create a vision of a future centered on a utopia. I think he also wanted to show that there would still be interesting stories coming from such a place.

I love some of that 1950 aesthetic - it’s part of why I enjoy Fallout 4 so much. Even walking around the ruins of it is great. I should load a few more mods, and make some settlements that follow those designs, but pristine.


I really need to read those…

But yeah, other than Star Trek, we don’t have a lot of utopian visions of the future… And even Star Trek has had a shift to a bit of a darker tone on the distant future in Discovery (though the ideals of the Federation still are the driving force for many).


I guess it depends on what’s playing over the quadrophonic sound system. :thinking:


There’s plenty to enjoy in them. Banks was too skillful of an observer to miss that being in a utopia still wouldn’t free humans from short-sightedness and drama. That said, they are by and large a positive vision of the future.


I remember that this was shown at every school assembly we had when I was in grade 7, in 1967. A lot wrong, but a lot right, including home computers, instantaneous international communication, etc, but this was long before microprocessors, so there was a separate computer for each function.


in passing might also note Buckminster Fuller’s entry: The Dymaxion House. …love the iconic (cardboard-cutout) 50s family posing in admiration of their Jetson-esque domicile


Remember those “you will” commercials from AT&T? That was 30 years ago now, and some of their predictions were spot on, while others were pretty silly in retrospect. (The very existence of phone booths in today’s world, for example)


Maybe it’s just that people used to be better at ignoring the negative implications of the utopias they were envisioning. Take this futuristic house: who had to manufacture the materials and mine the rare earth elements for the electronic components and so on to support this family’s middle class lifestyle? What was the environmental cost for all the energy consumption? Do the people in this timeline still live under the omnipresent spectre of nuclear war with the Soviets? What of all the people who haven’t landed a fancy job at a benevolent mega-corporation like Monsanto?


To quote James Lileks:

Nothing says yesterday like yesterday’s vision of tomorrow


Less dystopian than the “Would You Kindly” adverts for Ryan Industries; though I did find them very compelling.

“We bring you yesterday’s tomorrow today!” - Contemporary Concepts

Edit for coherency


It was gone by the time I visited as a kid, but the Carousel of Progress was still in Anaheim and it still had the last section where you looked down on the city of the future. As a kid, I was completely mesmerized by that sort of technological triumphalism. It’s not that dystopian themes didn’t exist, but they weren’t as interesting and fun as cities on the Moon.


I don’t think so, as there was also dystopian works around the same time (especially centered around fears of nuclear weapons), but there was much more positive visions of the future, which I think does matter. If people can hold a positive view of the future in their heads, I think it helps them strive for it. Science fiction, after all, isn’t really about predictions, but is more about the present. But it absolutely influences how people imagine the future…

And I’m guessing if you dig down into the literature produced at the time, there is some discussion on those issues. But I think the point still stands - imagining a positive future helps people strive for it, however flawed the image might be.


I’m in Canada, and AT & T isn’t a carrier here, so I haven’t seen them before, but they are remarkably prophetic.