Clock of the World

BACKSTORY: (July 17, 1955–September 1966): As you entered Tomorrowland, you were originally greeted by the Clock of the World. The hours turned, and you could line it up with your part of the world. The little ball had the minutes on it and rotated. Apparently the reliability of this clock was not something to set your watch on. Jim Korkis, one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to Disneyland history, kindly submitted this background information:

As you know, Tomorrowland was the last land developed (construction started less than six months before Disneyland's opening) and Walt was always disappointed in it because of the rushed nature to put things in the area and more importantly, the lack of budget that had been more than used up in the other lands.

Walt had a pretty spectacular entry way planned but time and money left just a barren 150 foot concrete walkway. It was also Walt's vision that besides having a distinctive "portal" for an entrance like the castle or the fort, each individual land would have its own version of a main street themed area. So, Frontierland began with the street of a Frontier town and Fantasyland with a castle courtyard that would have been the main street (shopping, civic functions, etc.) of its day.

So what is a prominent icon on a main street? A large clock that can be seen by the residents and visitors. In fact, early guidebooks and publicity material featured a picture of the clock as representing Tomorrowland just as the castle represented Fantasyland and the fort represented Frontierland. It was only much, much later that the Moonliner became the official icon. In fact, two of the earliest Disneyland postcards feature a photo of the clock.

The Clock of the World was roughly fifteen feet high. Its design mimicked the look of an hourglass to reinforce that the out-of-the-ordinary looking structure was indeed a clock. Also, remember that the early publicity stated that Tomorrowland was the world of 1986 when Halley's Comet would return and the Clock of the World was supposed to suggest the countdown to that event. Early park guests were indeed fascinated that with a little effort it was fairly easy to tell the exact time for any location on Earth.

When Tomorrowland opened there was a big planter shaped like an eight pointed star with flags from all 48 states. In 1956 the flags and their poles were moved to the entrance of the land and became the Avenue of the Flags leading up to the Clock; three years later two more flags were indeed added. The American flag was placed directly in front of the Clock.

Both the Avenue of Flags and the Clock of the World disappeared in September 1966.

One of the frustrating things for Disney historians is that official nomenclature for the early days of Disneyland was pretty flexible. Sometimes the clock was identified as the "World Clock".


Cox Pilot was a former employee of the Flight Circle in Tomorrowland at Disneyland during the 1960s. His vivid memories can be seen throughout the Daveland website, for which I am extremely grateful! That's his employee ID pictured at left. Here are a few of his recollections of the Clock of the World, found at the entrance of Tomorrowland:

Some of the things I remember about Tomorrowland involve sounds and smells. In fact, they were the strongest memories. The ropes on the flag poles down by the world clock would always be clanging, and it had an effect like a giant wind chime. You probably remember the sound from school days. Just multiply that by 49.