Over the last 60 years of Disneyland’s existence, the park has gone through many changes. Why do we love going to Disneyland? I can give you one reason…to go on the rides! We all have our favorites, but what you may not know is that some of your favorites used to be different attractions long ago. Here’s a look at some of Disneyland’s attractions that didn’t make it to 2015.
Tomorrowland Boats (1956)
The Tomorrowland Boats opened in 1956 and was designed as an attraction where young pilots could motor a boat around a lagoon-like, aquatic version of Autopia. However, the ride proved to be problematic. The fiberglass boats were poorly designed, the motors overheated very quickly, and they gave off a lot of smoke so Disney imagineers came up with two solutions to improve the ride. Engineers redesigned the back end of each boat, and park operations added an employee to pilot each boat to ensure that it didn’t overheat. The ride was later renamed the Phantom Boats, but because it didn’t gain a lot of attention, the ride closed in August 1956.
Submarine Voyage (1956-1998)
Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage was one of the first rides to require an E ticket (when the park first opened, guests bought “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, or “E” tickets depending on which attractions they wanted to visit. “A” tickets were the cheapest, while “E” tickets were the most expensive and considered the “best”). The ride was originally planned to feature glass-bottomed boats to enhance the experience and was to also feature real fish and other sea creatures. However, imagineers knew it was unfeasible. A major portion of the ride simulated the voyage under the Arctic Ocean’s popular ice cap, undertaken by the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus on August 3, 1958. The ride closed in September 1998 because Disneyland executives thought it was too costly to operate in relation to its capacity. The ride reopened years later in 2007, themed to Disney-Pixar’s Finding Nemo. The ride currently operates as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
Flying Saucers (1961-1966)
On this ride, guests rode on personal flying saucers on a cushion of air. It was similar to bumper cars. As guests shifted their weight by leaning in any direction, the saucer movement would respond by an increase of air pressure. It consisted of two sets of saucers on a semi-circular field. The ride was too expensive to operate, maintenance was intensive, and didn’t fit Disney’s “guest flow” in that a relatively small number of riders were able to participate on any given day. When New Tomorrowland opened, the Flying Saucers did not make the transition. The space the ride used to occupy became the Tomorrowland Stage, which is still currently in the park.
Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach Ride (1956-1959)
Guests boarded Stagecoaches, Conestoga Wagons, and Buckboards drawn by horses. They could ride either shotgun (on top with the rider) or inside the coach itself. The route went through Frontierland, which included Coyote Rock, Dead Man’s Spring, Natural Bridge, and Indian Territory. Unfortunately, this attraction became a safety concern, as the stagecoaches were prone to tipping over. Low guest capacity and high overhead resulted in closing the ride. However, guests who visit the park today can still catch a glimpse of this attraction near Big Thunder Ranch, where one of the stagecoaches is on display.
Rainbow Caverns Mine Train (1956-1977)
This ride was a slow, sit-down train ride that circled around desert rocks and colorful geysers. It didn’t offer much and was considered a C-ticket attraction. By 1960, the ride was given a major upgrade and became the Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland. The new mine train included all sorts of new sites and animals. The most notable was the Cascade Peak, which was a tapering mountain with roaring waterfalls. This attraction eventually closed and later became the popular Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Those tiny buildings you see just before you exit the ride…those were once a part of the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train attraction!
Adventure Thru Inner Space (1967-1985)
This attraction was the first to use Disney’s Omnimover system, a concept that allows designers to be able to place infrastructure elements of the attraction, such as lighting and projectors, behind the vehicles without concern for having the illusion of the attraction revealed to the riders. The ride was designed to simulate humans shrinking to a size smaller than an atom as they travel through space. The ride opened as part of New Tomorrowland but closed in 1985 to make way for George Lucas’s new Star Tours attraction, which opened in 1987.
The PeopleMover was a transport attraction. Guests boarded small trains that ran on elevated tracks for a “grand circle tour” above Tomorrowland. The vehicles of this ride were always moving and the trains were not powered by motors. Instead, rotating tires, located every nine feet along the track, pushed each train. Each car included its own sound system, which broadcast a continuous audio commentary and soundtrack, relative to the train’s location. The commentary pointed out Disneyland’s attractions along the way, as well as announcing promotional items. The ride eventually closed because imagineers thought it was past its time and no longer a prototype, but rather a place to rest one’s feet. In 1998, Rocket Rods, a high-speed thrill attraction meant to evoke a futuristic rapid transit system, replaced the PeopleMover. However, plagued with technical problems, Rocket Rods permanently closed in September 2000. It was later replaced with Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters in 2005, which currently operates in the park.
Rocket to the Moon (1967-1992)
Rocket to the Moon was notable for the tall futuristic-looking rocket ship guests could see from afar. Under this giant rocket ship, the audience entered and sat around a series of screens located in the center of the room. The attraction was later refurbished and called Flight to the Moon. This version included a mission control pre-show. However, the ride became obsolete as the U.S. sent actual manned flights to the moon between 1969 and 1972. In 1975, the ride was refurbished once again and called Mission to Mars, which simulated a spaceflight to Mars instead of the moon. The ride later closed and is now the current site of Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port, a space-themed restaurant located next to Space Mountain in Tomorrowland.
The Skyway was an aerial gondola lift attraction that transported guests back and forth between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The route from Tomorrowland was called Skyway to Fantasyland and the route from Fantasyland was called Skyway to Tomorrowland. The attraction was based in Bern Switzerland and built by Von Roll, Ltd. Walt Disney Imagineering bought the ride from Switzerland and it became the first Von Roll Type 101 aerial ropeway in the USA. During Fantasyland’s renovations in the early 1980s, the Skyway only made roundtrips from Tomorrowland. In November 1994, it was removed due to stress cracks in the Matterhorn roller battery supports and lack of ADA compliance. The Fantasyland Skyway station still remains in Disneyland but is off limits to guests and mostly hidden by trees. The Tomorrowland Skyway station no longer exists. Even though the Skyway is no longer in existence, you can catch a glimpse of the former attraction in Matterhorn, which recently underwent refurbishments. Several wrecked skyway buckets and Matterhorn bobsled from the park’s history appear just past the top of the lift hill.
Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” These rides were considered innovative back in the day. However, as technology has continued to grow and improve, Disney imagineers have been able to bring more Disney magic to the table and create the attractions we love today. I always ask myself, “What’s next for Disney?” Every time I think they can’t top what they’ve already done, they take it to the next level. I can only imagine what Disneyland will look like 60 years from today, but I know one thing’s for sure…once you enter those gates, you leave reality behind and step into a world of magic.