In the 1960s, Tomorrowland was an objectivist utopia. When next visited (by the audience) in the modern day, it seems depopulated except for the governor (Hugh Laurie) and some guards. What happened? Where is everybody and why did the place decay?


The movie itself does not adequately describe why Tomorrowland is depopulated and left in decay. Many things are explained in the prequel novel titled Before Tomorrowland.

The novel, Before Tomorrowland described by author Jeff Jensen:

“It’s a distant prequel to the movie,” says Jensen, who co-wrote the book with artist Jonathan Case. “You will not meet any characters from the movie in this story, but you will get to know in a pretty deep way the organization that’s responsible for Tomorrowland.”

There’s a whole 120-year history of the secret organization that built this futuristic realm, and one of Jensen’s duties on the film was to construct the backstory of this group of inventors, geniuses, and dreamers. It’s the foundation upon which Tomorrowland the place and Tomorrowland the movie rests.

“The city was the grand gesture of this organization,” says Jensen, who worked on the novel with major story input from director Brad Bird and screenwriter Damon Lindelof. “It wasn’t the goal of the group from the start, but over time it became the goal: A living laboratory where things are always changing and the best ideas are either given to the world or saved for a time when the world can handle it.”

The novel describes Tomorrowland as an entire planet in itself. The planet was discovered by a group called Plus Ultra or +U right before the 20th century. Nikola Tesla, a member of +U invented a transport mechanism called The Grid which is how +U members traveled to Tomorrowland for colonization.

The novel gives more of an insight to why Tomorrowland is depopulated than the movie:

The Tomorrowland we see in present day times seems very depopulated, and in significant disrepair. My guess is that in the face of Nix’s authoritarian (and increasingly militaristic) leadership, many members of Plus Ultra were either forced out, or chose to leave.

Governor Nix (portrayed by Hugh Laurie in the movie), the leader of Tomorrowland did not want anyone from Earth to know of its existence. He believes that other humans from Earth will pollute and corrupt the planet. Nix basically wants Tomorrowland to be left alone, believing that Earth will destroy itself.

  • While this is all very interesting, it doesn't seem to answer the question of why Tomorrowland's population declined. – Anthony Grist Sep 26 '15 at 13:29
  • I am only giving details from the book. As stated in my answer, Governor Nix is the reason. He believes that other humans from earth will pollute and corrupt the planet. He did not want anyone from earth to know of it's existence. The link I provided to the book information also describes it in more detail. – steelersquirrel Sep 26 '15 at 13:37
  • IIRC the book doesn't touch any of the events past 1950? The link doesn't add to this either. – cde Sep 26 '15 at 14:04
  • I never claimed that the book touches on any events past 1950. My answer, is boldly stated that due to the novel, Governor Nix is the reason for the depopulation of the planet. I will provide another link in my answer if that will help everyone. – steelersquirrel Sep 26 '15 at 14:08
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    I am just providing the OP with an option that the movie does not provide. The new link I provided in my edited answer actually helps explain a lot that the movie does not. – steelersquirrel Sep 26 '15 at 15:22

I saw Tomorrowland yesterday and this is what I understood:

  • When Casey Newton is discussing with Frank Walker about Tomorrowland he told her that what he saw was just a presentation, something like a demo.
  • When Frank Walker arrives for the first time in Tomorrowland we don't see all the people that Casey Newton sees.
  • The robots at the store, and Athena say that people were suppose to be invited/recruted in Tomorrowland but they never were.
  • We know that Frank Walker was banished from Tomorrowland.
  • We can't actually distinguish the people from the robots (like Athena).

So I came up with two theories:

  1. All that Casey Newton saw was fake, an intelligent presentation of Tomorrowland. There were just the people that built the place and we can assume that there were not that many and they died.
  2. The people were sent back like Frank Walker.
  • Of course, they were already recruiting people as of the 64 world fair, hence Athena recruiting Frank. Frank was exiled while still a preteen as pictured. Athena was last there 25 years prior. So Frank was gone atleast 35 years? It was Frank's invention that started the push towards ending the open invite. The population would still be close to the ad, imho. – cde Sep 28 '15 at 8:07
  • You don't know exactly how many were recruited, or when did Frank built his invention. Frank is telling Casey that what she saw is not real (I am not remembering the exact words) – Alexandru Cimpanu Sep 28 '15 at 8:35
  • Hmm, wait. He arrives, 8 years old in 1964. He is exiled in 1984. The modern day is 2014. But we see in 1964 during Frank's flyby that Tomorrowland is fairly populated. And in Athena 1965 flashback, the same. – cde Sep 28 '15 at 8:47
  • @cde, we don't know from Frank's flyby that those are humans, I saw some kind of guards at the platform and when he "landed" I saw some workers. i doubt that the people that are recruited do this kind of work when they already have robots with advanced A.I. like Athena. – Alexandru Cimpanu Sep 28 '15 at 9:15
  • Then what about all the people in Athena's 1985 flashback? – cde Sep 28 '15 at 9:17

Tomorrowland is depopulated all because of the monitor that Frank invented. Once Nix saw that the world was going to end he gave up on humanity. The whole purpose of Plus Ultra is to change the world for the better. There was no point in improving the world anymore because he knew the world was going to end. Because of that he threw out all the recruiters.


The reason why all the people left Tomorrowland is because once they saw the real world was going to end they all lost hope and thought, whats the point of trying to make the real world a better place if there isn't going to be a world to make better and to share their ideas with.

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