Charles Phoenix Does Disney

Exhibit and talk reveal that ol' Walt Disney just couldn't stop thinking about tomorrow
Charles Phoenix loves Disney
S.F.'s Disney Family Museum delves into the history of Walt Disney's future through a lively exhibit and an even livelier appearance by that grand raconteur of mid-century retro, Charles Phoenix (pictured here).
Charles Phoenix loves Disney
Blast off to Tomorrowland!

Mickey Mouse may have put Walt Disney on the map, but it was Walt's interest in the future—specifically the future of high hopes and unbridled optimism, of cool gizmos and wow-wee Space-Age toys for all ages—that kept the man going.

This summer, San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum is delving into the history of Walt Disney's future through a lively exhibit and an even livelier appearance by that grand raconteur of mid-century retro, Charles Phoenix.

Charles Phoenix's 'Big Retro Disneyland Slide Show' takes place three times on Saturday, August 22, at the museum, situated in a historic building on the parade grand at the Presidio, within shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The evening show is for members only—but the museum makes it easy to become a member.

The exhibit, 'Tomorrowland: Walt's Vision for Today,' opened this month and continues through December 7. "Tomorrow," Walt once said, "is a heck of a thing to keep up with."

"Through animated sequences, musical compositions, sound bites, graphics, audio visuals, vintage posters, and more, 'Tomorrowland: Walt's Vision for Today' immerses visitors in the story of Walt's hopes and vision for the future, as reflected in his creation of the 1967 version of Tomorrowland at Disneyland," the museum promises. Curator is filmmaker Brad Bird, the man behind 'The Incredibles,' among other films.

One feature of Tomorrowland that still resonates with fans of mid-century modern architecture is the Monsanto House of the Future, which a New York Times reporter called a possible "forerunner of the dwelling the typical American family of four may be living in ten years from now."

That was 1957—and the house was composed of plastic wings that floated above the landscape. Its designers were from the school of architecture at MIT, whose boss, Pietro Belluschi, designed the famous 'Life House' in San Mateo Highlands for Joe Eichler.

Disney died before he could appreciate the new Tomorrowland, on December 15, 1966.

Phoenix, whose perennially popular shows on the detritus of mid-century America are built around rare photos and memorabilia, says, "Prepare for your imagination to be inspired and your Disneyland-lovin' spirit to soar like never before!"

Phoenix's talk will roam widely through Disney geography, visiting Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland, and reminding us of such futuristic but now-in-the-past attractions as the Phantom Boats, Flying Saucers, and the Carousel of Progress.

Phoenix will also include "flea-market found Kodachrome images of the Magic Kingdom taken by park guests in the 50s and 60s."

"This performance of my Retro Disneyland Slide Show," Phoenix says, "celebrates the 60th birthday of the greatest theme park on the planet."

For more on Charles Phoenix's Disney talk, click here. For more on the exhibit, click here.