My Thoughts While Watching: Disneyland—Man In Space (1955)

Screenshot from Disneyland "Man in Space"

Hello and welcome back to Thoughts While Watching, where I – say it with me – consume vintage-to-vintage-ish Disney and Disney parks media and react to it in real time. Today we’re tackling an episode of “The Wonderful World of Disney,” or possibly “The Wonderful World of Color,” or possibly just “Disneyland.” I swear this show has suffered a decades-long identity crisis. Anyway, this one’s called “Man in Space.”

The idea behind the show at the time seems to be that each episode would hail from a section of Disneyland. For example, if Davy Crockett showed up, you were to associate that episode with Frontierland. As you might imagine, “Man in Space” hails from Tomorrowland.

Now, this is not a park-heavy episode – if you were hoping for a lot of old school Tomorrowland action (and to be honest, I kind of was), you will likely come away from this fifty minutes of television disappointed.

On the other hand, it is a wonderful time capsule . Not only of the ’50s themselves and the first steps of humanity’s foray into space travel, but of Walt’s vision for his television show. There’s a reason the original Epcot had an edutainment ethos; Walt did too. In fact, this particular episode was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category. It was Liked By Ike!

Does it feature a suspicious number of post-WWII era German scientists including but not limited to Werner von Braun? Why yes! So that’s fun. Luckily there’s also some pretty sweet artwork and animation to be had here, and not a lick of modern CGI in sight.

Oh, what the heck – what’ve you got to lose? Click play and see what Imagineering had to say about space travel before Kennedy even thought to set his sights on the moon!


1. Is it just me, or does Walt look unusually young here?

2. Ward Kimball sounds thrilled to be here.

3. I LOVE THIS SNEEZING DOG. I would buy HIS merch. Let’s get this going, Disney; you’ve manufactured dumber stuff.

4. “What did women look like in the past?” “They had ENORMOUS BUTTS.” You can’t explain that away with a bustle.

5. I am SO BUMMED that Disneyland Paris’s Space Mountain is no longer themed to Jules Verne. I am legit less interested in visiting over that.

6. “Meanwhile, in Germany…” …….. Go on.

7. Okay, but which one of you inspired Professor Ludwig von Drake?

8. Well. Nobody was particularly concerned about the children viewing violent cartoon death and dismemberment in the ’50s.

9. I feel like Disney missed an easy IP tie-in by not putting Goofy through all these space-borne abuses.

10. “It’s totally cool to smoke, kids; just don’t do it in space unless you brought a fan.”

11. Hey, this is exactly how Dr. Ransom became The Piebald Man!

12. Oooh, it’s gettin’ real existential up in here. In the words of Jack Donaghy: I can’t take any more of these German sitcoms!

13. This theoretical rocket model doesn’t look much like anything Apollo produced, but it does look an awful lot like a Concorde.

14. Man, that is some beautiful concept art. I wish Disney would channel more of this sort of thing in their modern aesthetic.

15. This whole animation section is giving me strong Peoplemover vibes and I LOVE IT.


Do we feel like we all learned something? Good. It’s what Walt would’ve wanted. Speaking of things Walt wanted AND learning something, maybe we’ll visit ’80s Epcot next…?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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