Disney predicted the future of transportation in 1958 and was eerily correct about a lot of things

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YouTube/Arjan N

From electric cars to the Hyperloop, there’s a lot of innovation going on in transportation these days. But many of the engineering marvels we are just beginning to see were predicted a long time ago by none other than Walt Disney.

At the end of the 1958 Disneyland episode “Magic Highway USA,” Disney introduces a segment that he describes as “a realistic look at the road ahead and what tomorrow’s motorists can expect in the years to come.”

In the segment, the narrator describes futuristic concepts like tube travel and autonomous vehicles.

While the ideas probably sounded far-fetched at the time, a lot of Disney’s predictions came true or are on their way to becoming reality.

Here’s a look at some of the boldest predictions Disney presented – some that are here today, and some that we may see in the future.


Disney forecast that dashboard panels featuring built-in safety controls and electronic operating devices would become commonplace.


These panels would show you real-time traffic updates as well as other information, like recommended speed.


Of course, navigation systems and other similar features exist in a lot of cars today.

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Hollis Johnson

Safety mirrors would also be replaced with “television picture.”


Some automakers are already beginning to do just that by installing cameras on a car so that information streams directly to screens inside the vehicle. General Motors has some cars that even stream video directly to the rearview mirror.

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YouTube/Audi

Disney even foresaw self-driving cars.


Some tech companies and automakers — including Uber, General Motors, and Ford — are working on this technology now.

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Google’s self-driving cars are already in a few cities.
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Darren Weaver

Disney’s vision of autonomous vehicles was a lot more impressive than what companies are working on today, though. The vehicles featured in the video can split apart, allowing for each passenger to go to their destination in a separate pod.

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YouTube


Disney also envisioned a future in which cars are built to work on all kinds of terrain. Cars will be able to easily transform from operating on land to operating in water, according to Disney.


Highways would also begin to look a lot different. In the video, the narrator says future generations will witness “miles of tubular highways.”


While we haven’t seen this yet, several companies are developing Hyperloop technology.

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A rendering of a Hyperloop station as proposed by architecture students at UCLA.
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UCLA A.U.D. SupraStudio

Check out the rest of Disney’s transportation vision in the clip.