On this day in 1955, Walt Disney gave the order to go ahead with the construction of Tomorrowland for Disneyland’s opening after previously putting it on hold because there wasn’t enough time. In addition to wanting to offer more attractions to his guests on opening day, Walt was motivated by the sponsorship deal they had inked with TWA for the Rocket to the Moon attraction. One of Disneyland’s early icons was the Moonliner rocket, which stood outside the attraction and was the tallest structure in the entire park at the time, standing eight feet taller than Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
The design of the attraction’s building and theater was one of the first projects Disney Legend John Hench would work on at the park. Hench worked with famed German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun on the design of the Moonliner. In his book, Designing Disney, Hench explains:
“I wanted an elegant shape that suggested high speed even though it would be stationary. The sides of the seventy-six-foot-tall rocket were actually straight — only the top and bottom sections were tapered — and I was fascinated by how people read the rocket as a continuous curved form even though it really wasn’t.”