Walt Disney turns on the Toliet
1956: The Crane Company Bathroom of Tomorrow opens in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, promising visitors the lavish lavatory of the future, which was actually “Available Today!” from — you guessed it — the Crane Company.
In a ceremony of the future, Walt Disney, along with designer Henry Dreyfuss and Crane Co. president Frank F. Elliott, forwent the traditional ribbon cutting, which isn’t very futuristic, instead opting to turn valves. This flow of water was a common theme here. An entire section of the Bathroom of Tomorrow was dedicated to the history of man’s harnessing of the precious fluid, and there was “A dramatic story of valves in industry — the ‘Tear Drop’ exhibit,” apparently a cruel taunting of the poor critters begging their parents to remove the family from the exhibit lest they all be bored to tears.
But the future, it seemed, was very bright. All fixtures came in nothing but citrus yellow. The bathtub was gold-plated, as was the bidet.
For the health-conscious set, dumbbells were attached to the wall. And to keep you from overheating mid-workout, the cutting-edge bathroom came equipped with air conditioning. Should you opt out of the dumbbells and find yourself getting a bit chilly, there was a “hot water boiler of advanced design” providing the heat to “make you forget the weather.”
Sponsored and installed by Crane Plumbing Company, their handout brochure boasted, “This fabulous bathroom, actually designed for the future, is available for your home today!”
Located in the same building as the Hall of Chemistry and Hall of Aluminum, the Bathroom of Tomorrow (built only to be seen, not used) featured a wide array of modern conveniences. The fixtures, styled by celebrity industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, were a vibrant citrus yellow (the ones that weren’t plated in 24-karat gold, that is). Because this was an unusual exhibit, it called for an unusual dedication. Instead of a formal ribbon cutting, Walt was joined by Dreyfuss and Crane Co. President Frank F. Elliot for a fun valve-turning ceremony.
In addition to the fixtures, the display also featured ceramic figurines, a pair of sunglasses, a telephone, and even dumbbells—for folks who enjoyed exercising while soaking in the tub. The bathroom also featured state-of-the-art heating and air conditioning. “Tomorrow’s bathroom incorporates the type of heating and cooling which will make you forget the weather,” the handout brochure promised. The exhibit was also home to a Laundry of the Future, which according to Crane, “only hints at possible attractive settings for the home laundry with Crane material.” In addition to all of this, guests could enjoy “a dramatic story of valves” in a tear drop-shaped display, and kids could play with guest-activated faucets located at the exhibit’s entrance. The 20-foot showcase—along with its accompanying displays—actually gave visitors quite a few things to look at.Walt knew this “attraction” wouldn’t be around forever, though. In August of 1960, the Bathroom of Tomorrow became the Bathroom of Yesterday as the exhibit was replaced by a Fun Foto location. It was a fun exhibit while it lasted, but in the end, Crane’s hopes of having a long-term presence in Tomorrowland went down the drain.