Disneyland goes back to the future, the “House Of The Future”


Back in 1957 Disneyland and Monsanto revealed to guests a realistic vision of future home life. The all plastic mod-shaped dwelling called "The House Of The Future" sat perched between Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Matterhorn like a space-age castle of tomorrow. It lasted for ten years before time passed it by and the proverbial wrecking ball tried to have its way.

Now Disneyland is partnering with technological titans of today (Microsoft, HP, and Life|ware) to update that vision for the families of now. A 5000+ sq ft "Dream Home" is being built inside Disneyland’s Innoventions attraction. Actors will portray the fictional "Elias" family (Elias was Walt Disney’s middle name and his father’s first name) as they prepare for a trip to China. As guests follow the families actions they will learn about about home conveniences that will be available in the near future.

Innoventions exists in what was originally the Carousel Of Progress show building. When it opened in 1998 you entered on the main floor, which had a spinning outer-ring, and exited out the second floor. For the last year or so, the main floor has been closed for remodeling. It sounds like this is where the new "Dream Home" is being built.  That’s not to be confused with the "Dream Suite" where a lucky guest can win a stay in Walt Disney’s New Orleans Square Apartment.

Okay, don’t tell anyone. But the new "Dream Home" was essentially the concept for the lower half of the original Innoventions attraction at Disneyland anyway. (Plus a few of the upstairs exhibits too.) You had five ‘pods’ where you entered the life of a family in the future. There was Sports, Communications, Transportation, Health, and Entertainment. Actors would provide guests a vision of what life will be like in the near future. There’s also a "House Of Innoventions" at EPCOT in Orlando, which is very similar in concept to the "Dream Home", but much smaller in scale.

I actually went through the "House Of Innoventions" for the first time a few weekends ago. It was actually more fun and informative than I thought it would be. Not really high on repeatability, but perhaps if there was a more interesting storyline (ie, packing for a China trip) then it would bare repeating every now and then. Plus, I’m a gadget geek at heart, so I was like a kid in a candy store for most of the tour.

So for that reason, I’m looking forward to Disneyland’s Innoventions Dream Home. Right now the new attraction is scheduled to open in May of this year. Soft openings will likely begin even sooner.

See also this AP article with more details and the original press release below the cut. 

Disneyland Resort Reaches Agreement with Microsoft, HP, Life|ware and Taylor Morrison on Innoventions Dream Home
Guests to experience cutting edge technology in a simple, fun and interactive environment
ANAHEIM, Calif., (February 13, 2008) – The Disneyland Resort today announced a five-year alliance with Microsoft, HP, Life|ware and home builder Taylor Morrison to showcase integrated digital technologies for the home in the immersive, story-telling experiences for which Disney is known.  The alliance includes the design and development of the new Innoventions Dream Home attraction, a 5,000+ sq. ft. home belonging to the fictional Elias family, scheduled to open in May in Tomorrowland at the Disneyland Resort.

Keeping with Walt’s vision of bringing cutting-edge and inspiring ideas to Tomorrowland, the Innoventions Dream Home will introduce Disneyland guests to newly available technology from the participating companies that will enhance their lives today, while providing them a glimpse of the emerging digital advances they may find in their homes in the future. The attraction will provide guests with a "high-tech, high-touch" opportunity to experience technology in an entertaining, low-risk environment showing them how the power of technology can connect them to the people and things they care most about.

"We’re thrilled that Disney has chosen Microsoft to bring digital entertainment to life at Disneyland," said Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President, Entertainment and Devices eHome Division at Microsoft. "Together, we’re showcasing innovative technology that is both attainable and inspiring, offering park guests the opportunity to see, touch and feel digital home experiences in a simple, fun and interactive environment."

"This exciting alliance gives each of our partners a forum to inspire our guests’ imaginations and motivate them to incorporate and enjoy the new technologies that are available today," said Ed Grier, president of Disneyland Resort. "Consistent with the Disney heritage of growth through innovation, the Innoventions Dream Home is just another example of how we are committed to investing in and developing exciting projects that keep our guests returning again."

The technology companies will showcase a wide range of technologies and products in the exhibit, including the latest in mobile phones, PCs, digital music and gaming. The Innoventions Dream Home demonstrates how home technology can be simple, intuitive and fun while helping guests understand how to seamlessly interconnect their home, the surrounding community and the world, helping consumers stay closer to the people, places and entertainment that are most important to them. The alliances also help ensure that the Innoventions Dream Home remains on the forefront of technology with the newest devices and products as part of the exhibit.

Guests will actively engage in this experience as they help members of the fictional Elias family prepare for a trip to World Soccer Championships in China, where their son is competing. Elias family members rotate throughout the house, randomly interacting with guests in the various rooms. Upon exiting the house, guests can learn more about the companies that collaborated to create the Innoventions Dream House, exploring the technologies for themselves first-hand. 

The notion of a Dream Home has deep roots at the Disneyland Resort. Walt Disney was fascinated with the concept of a futuristic home and he introduced concepts at World’s Fairs that led to the first "House of Tomorrow" exhibit in Disneyland (1967). Those early versions featured modern conveniences for housewives, but the story line always focused on progress that led to a better way of living. In 1998, Disneyland opened Innoventions, an interactive pavilion featuring what was then considered breakthrough technology: voice-activated computers, high-definition TVs, smart-cars and satellite broadcasting.

The intent was not to predict the future, but to let people play with emerging technologies and imagine how those technologies might enhance everyday life. The precursors to the Dream Home enabled people of all ages to experiment with interactive devices, games and exhibits, demonstrating both the fun and the significance of modern innovations.

Now comes the Dream Home, a convergence of five companies and their fascination with technology. The combination of Disney’s strong storytelling heritage, cutting-edge technology expertise from Microsoft, HP and Life|ware, and Taylor Morrison’s talent for building an environment that will bring it to life, will inspire Disneyland guests’ imaginations for years to come.