Escape From Tomorrow
How Randy Moore and his film crew secretly made a movie on Walt Disney World property
Published: January 30, 2013
I live in Los Angeles and have a top-level annual pass to the Disneyland parks; I'm a Disneyland fanatic, so I go to the park a dozen times each year. I've been on every ride, watched every show, and I've probably seen everything there is to see in the public areas of the parks. My family vacationed at Walt Disney World a couple times growing up, and I visited Orlando on an anniversary trip a year ago.
That's a long way of saying that I know the experience of visiting the parks better than most. The film is partly a story of one family's adventure through the parks, and I'm not sure how to experience it through new eyes. But maybe that's the point – almost everyone has visited a Disney theme park and the experiences are universal. So when things begin to go haywire in Escape From Tomorrow, it feels all the more surreal.
Near the end of the shoot, the filmmakers were almost caught by Disney while filming the family entering the Disneyland gates. The Disney cast members thought that the camera crew was a bunch of paparazzi trying to get a shot of a famous family. (Remember, they were shooting with a DSLR camera, which is a little more conspicuous than your average point-and-shoot.) The film cast and crew were taken aside and the family insisted they were not famous. A Disney employee kept asking: "Why did you enter the park two times in seven minutes?" Luckily, the young girl in the cast began screaming that she needed to go to the bathroom. The cast and crew escaped after a crowded parade began on Main Street, their wireless sound mics shoved into their socks in case they were stopped. But they weren't.
When I first heard about this film I thought that it was a total no-budget guerrilla production, but that's far from the case. The actors are professional. Golden Globe-nominated composer Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man) recorded music for the film on the Eastwood stage of the Warner Bros lot. Visual effects were completed by the same company in South Korea that worked on The Host. Green-screen and set production took place at the same movie stages used by Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith.
Escape From Tomorrow is not a great film. The story has some good ideas, but the execution is uneven. And yet, it is unlike anything you've seen before and will probably be unlike anything you see again. The film shines in its more trippy moments, when it becomes about something more than a family vacationing at Disney World.
For that reason alone, I would recommend you see this film if you have the chance.
"If you have the chance" are key words here, as I don't expect you ever will get a chance to see this movie. Disney is very protective of its image, and there are scenes in Escape From Tomorrow that the organization would not want to be connected with. For instance, in one scene, a bunch of Disney princesses are revealed to be undercover hookers for Asian businessmen. The film also features some sex and nudity, though those scenes were not shot inside the park.
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