FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - O'Hare underground walkway - Space Mountain?
Old Nov 10, 2004, 3:46 pm
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Join Date: May 1998
Location: Texas, U.S.A.
Posts: 19,523
You've got good eyes at recognizing Disney design elements, illa bells. Because there is a connection between that tunnel and Disney.

This is from a previous post I made on the ORD tunnel:

United's O'Hare Terminal with the B to C tunnel is considered by most to be one of the greatest architectural accomplishments of our time, and it has been ranked as one of the 10 best works of American architecture completed since 1980, by the American Institute of Architects.

It was designed by Helmut Jahn, of the architectural firm of Murphy/Jahn.

And yes. They are "still around" and doing very well.

I love "The Tunnel" and I'm glad you and your child do too letiole. Most folks do although some repeat customers do often say it can become irritating after a while. Of course the intention was to add beauty and distraction to the otherwise boring and utilitarian nature of such a loooong underground passageway. In this I think it succeeds, but not as much as it might have. Why? Because I happen to know a bit about how this little project was originally intended and designed.

You'll notice those lighted panels on both sides of the tunnel? Those are "Band-Aids" of a sort. They cover-up what was never completed. You see, at the time of it's design, United was in talks with Disney about becoming the new Corporate Alliance "Official Airline of Disneyland and Walt Disney World." United put Jahn in touch with Disney's Imagineering division and they jointly planned on creating some nice 3 dimensional "vignettes" of scenes of various cities that United flew to, in all these "windows" on the sides. Similar to what some might remember from the old "Delta's Dream Flight" attraction in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Part of this collaboration was the creation and design of the neon rainbow transition sculpture running the length of the corridor, by noted neon sculpture/artist Michael Hayden of California, who had worked on a similar rainbow piece for Disney...a popular curving rainbow the "Image Works" section of the Imagination Pavilion at Disney World's Epcot, that was sponsored by Kodak (colors=Kodak=natch).

Well, the Disney marketing partnership just didn't work out, and money got a little tight with cost overruns on other parts of the project, so snip, little plastic color backlit panels now cover what might have been. But Hayden's wonderful rainbow neon artwork remained (titled "The Sky's The Limit" if anyone cares), and an "otherworldly" original composition of Rhapsody In Blue was created by composer William Kraft, and synchronized by computer with the color changes of the neon, for the final effect, which both artists share credit for.

Something I, and most folks I take through, enjoy. I sometimes think the original concept with the scenes of the world, would have been "too much" anyway. Today it accomplishes most of what it set out to do: Provide some minor distraction for that long, long 2 minute transition between terminals. If you're thinking about it, like it or's doing it's job!

The system was deliberately designed to be easily reprogrammed for different music and lighting effects. I guess if they get back into the black someday, they should consider dusting-off the control panel, commissioning some new music, and changing the lighting/synchronization on it's not quite so "stagnant" an experience for repeat visitors.

And turbocharge one of the Speedway ramps in each direction to provide a more thrilling ride for those in a hurry or are a bit more game. "Please look down. The moving walkway is about to....Whoaaa!
I just went through it this morning, and I still enjoy it (although several of the escalators leading to it are down for maintenance today).

Last edited by PremEx; Nov 10, 2004 at 3:58 pm
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