Disneyland: Then and Now

An article based on past Disneyland attractions and what they were replaced with.
June 18, 2007
Disneyland. Also known as the happiest place on Earth. Also known by some as Walt's dream come true. Yes, Walt Disney has given us so many memorable moments during the time of his life, but even after his death, the Disney company has continued to evolve. In Disneyland, many attractions have come and gone. There are a lot of classic attractions that I miss, so in this article I'm going to talk about some of the past Disneyland attractions and what is in their place now.

Then: The Adventure Thru Inner Space opened in Tomorrowland in 1967. In this ride, narrated by Paul Frees, guests would board an "atomobile", shink to the size of a micro-ogranism and explore the oddities of being that small. Even if it were around today, it would still be a really cool experience for people who go to visit it.
Closure: I don't recall ever going on this ride, but my dad claims that he took me on it once when I was really little. The ride closed in September 1985. I was born in that year, so that's probably why I don't remember it.

Now: In January of 1987, the building that occupied The Adventure Thru Inner Space was replaced by an attraction called Star Tours. This motion simulator ride was inspired by George Lucas' hugely popular "Star Wars" movies. In this attraction, guests are boarding the new Starspeeder 3000 about to disembark on a trip to the moon of Endor. But Captain Rex, the pilot, has never flown before, and he ends up taking the passengers through an asteroid field, into a combat zone, and then into the heart of the Death Star. This attraction still exists in Disneyland today, but I've been hearing rumors that it might be updated to be based on the newer "Star Wars" movies. Then again, maybe not.

Then: I'm not sure when the Motorboat Cruise opened, but I do remember it being around. This Fantasyland attraction was basically like the Autopia, only you were in boats rather than cars, and you drove them in the water. This attraction was kinda boring, but it was a lot cooler in 1991 when they had cardboard cut-outs of the characters from "Gummi Bears" all over the place.
Closure: The Motorboats closed in January of 1993. I often wondered why, but now I found out. The reason it closed was because Mickey's Toontown was due to open, and due to budgeting problems, the ride had to be closed.

Now: It may have been a boring ride back then, but today, it sucks even more! All that's left of the attraction is the pier where we boarded the boats, and that little area is called Fantasia Gardens. They have a vending cart up there that used to sell nachos, hot dogs and pretzels, but now, all they sell are chips and drinks.

Then: When Disneyland first opened, Tomorrowland had an attraction called Rocket to the Moon. It was later renamed Flight to the Moon in 1967. When Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon, the Disney company decided that Flight to the Moon was out of date. It would have been wise to have Tomorrowland stay ahead of NASA, so a brand new attraction was made to replace the attraction in 1975 known as Mission to Mars. As far as I know, no human being has ever set foot on Mars as of today. I know plenty of robots were sent to Mars, but no human beings, so this was a pretty good experience.
Closure: Mission to Mars unexpectedly closed in 1992. Originally, the planned replacement for this attraction was going to be The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. The same attraction opened in the Magic Kingdom in Florida in 1995, but sadly, the imagineers were unable to make it for Disneyland. Unfortunately still, the attraction in Florida is gone now.

Now: In March of 1998, the building that housed Mission to Mars became occupied with a new restaurant known as Red Rockett's Pizza Port. This is a popular dining place in the entire park, and they still serve hundreds of guests each day.

Then: The Peoplemover was an attraction that opened in Tomorrowland in 1967. It was a nice relaxing transport ride that carried guests around Tomorrowland for a little 15 minute tour. The coolest part of the ride is when you got to go through the game grid of Tron!
Closure: The Peoplemover closed in late 1995. A new attraction would replace it in 1998 known as Rocket Rods.

Now: Today, all that's there is nothing but an empty track. Rocket Rods was basically a thrill ride that ran on the Peoplemover track and went four times faster than the original attraction. It opened in May of 1998, but less than two months later, it was closed for refurbishment and didn't reopen until October of the same year. This attraction experienced a lot of technical difficulties. Not all the effects on the ride were working properly, and the ride kept breaking down a lot, plus the line for this attraction was always extremely long! The attraction closed for refurbishment again in late 2000, and was supposed to reopen in spring of 2001, but imagineers were unable to fix the ride's problems, so they decided to just close it permanently. I'm sure something will happen to that track in the future, but for now, it's the track to nothing.

Then: In 1984, Kodak was experimenting something new in technology that dealt with 3D with a show that replaced the Tomorrowland stage known as Magic Journeys. In September 1986, it was quickly replaced with a new show. Captain EO showed the wizardry of George Lucas and the magic of Michael Jackson (back when he used to do good music). This show really defined what the 80's were like.
Closure: When Disney announced it's new Tomorrowland project in 1996, they announced that a new show would replace Captain EO. The show was pretty out of date, but I still miss it. Captain EO quietly closed in April of 1997 while the theater was being updated for the new upcoming attraction.

Now: A little more than a year after Captain EO closed, a new 3D show opened known as Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. This attraction is based off Rick Morranis' trilogy of movies with the shrinking machine, and is similar to an attraction that opened in Epcot in Florida a few years earlier. This show takes 3D to a whole new level, as guests can now feel whats happening along with seeing everything come right out of the screen.

Then: America Sings was a show created by Marc Davis. This attraction took place in Tomorrowland's Carrousel Theatre in 1974 to celebrate the upcoming bicentenial of America, and it was one of Disney's most complicated shows to feature audio-animatronics. In this show, Sam the Eagle and Ollie the Owl take guests on a journey through the history of American music from "Yankee Doodle" to rock 'n' roll. From my experience, this was a really awesome show.
Closure: Sadly, America Sings closed in the spring of 1988. I'm not sure why, though. Looking back, I saw various reasons. For one thing, it was out of date; the most recent song on the show was Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World", which came out in the early 70's. Also, there were some songs in the show about praising the Lord, which I think would be considered politically incorrect. But I think the most likely reason is because the 1989 attraction, Splash Mountain was lacking animatronics, and the characters in this show looked like they belonged in the attraction's theme. After it's closure, the theatre sat empty for a long, LONG time! Michael Eisner was originally planning to replace it with Plectu's Fantastic Intergalactic Revue in 1991, but that project was scrapped due to budgeting problems.

Now: The building finally reopened in July 1998 as Innoventions. When I first walked up on this attraction, I got goosebumps. I was so psyched to actually walk up there again for the first time in 10 years! Innoventions is a little different than the former attractions. This is basically an interactive playzone for people to experience a lot of recent gadgets and gizmos in technology. Over the years, more stuff has been added to Innoventions, so I don't think this attraction will be going anywhere for a while. I have a friend who is obsessed with Disneyland, and he hates this attraction and thinks it's the most boring attraction in the park. I can't say I blame him. They should have gone with the Plectu show instead of making this thing!

Then: Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse opened in Adventureland in 1962. This walkthrough attraction was a fun experience for kids to explore and have fun on. My brother loved this attraction at one time.
Closure: This attraction closed in June of 1999, but it didn't stay closed for long.

Now: The treehouse reopened about a month later as Tarzan's Treehouse. The treehouse was remodled with new walkways and new scenes based on Disney's Tarzan movie, which was just released at the time. They even added a new tree with a bridge going across to the big tree.

Then: There is quite a history behind this attraction. In the 1960's, Walt Disney came up with an idea for a wilderness lodge to build up in the mountain area of California. The lodge would include a show that featured animatronic bears singing country music. The owners of the area agreed to have it built, but after Walt died, the project was turned down. Instead, the Country Bear Jamboree opened as an attraction in Fronteirland in the Magic Kingdom in Florida when it first opened. It later opened in Disneyland a year later. A new area called Bear Country was made replacing the Indian dance area. Strangely, in 1986, a brand new show was made known as the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. I loved that show so much as a kid.
Closure: In 1995, Winnie the Pooh started to invade Critter Country. They started selling Winnie the Pooh merchandise, and the Crocodile Mercandile was renamed Pooh Corner. Shortly after that, a character greeting area opened where guests could visit characters from the Winnie the Pooh cannon. As time went by, fewer people were going to see the Country Bears, and the line to see Pooh kept getting longer and longer. Eventually, in 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attack, the Country Bear Playhouse closed.

Now: In April of 2003, just as I expected (strangely) a new attraction opened in place of the Country Bear Playhouse. It was...well, what do you know...a Winnie the Pooh ride! Now, some people may like this ride, and I gotta admit, it's not one of the worst rides in Disneyland, but the Country Bears didn't deserve to get replaced with something like this! This ride is basically the same as the dark rides in Fantasyland...which is where this ride should have been in the first place! I don't know how they managed to sneak Pooh into Critter Country. I wouldn't call him a "critter".

Then: In 1960, the Circle-Vision Theatre opened in Tomorrowland showing "America the Beautiful". For the uninitiated, in the Circle-Vision Theatre, guests are standing in a large room where they are surrounded by nine large screens, and a film would be played showing a 360 degree panoramic view of what is being observed. What an experience! It's like you're really there! Almost like Virtual Reality! In the early 1980's, "America the Beautiful" was replaced with a show called "American Journeys". They also claimed that a show called "Wonders of China" was playing there too, but I've never seen "Wonders of China" and never knew when it showed.
Closure: In 1996, "America the Beautiful" returned, but the theatre closed a year later. In 1998, the theatre became part of the queue for Rocket Rods, and since that attraction's closure, it discontinued.

Now: As of March of 2005, the building that housed that attraction is occupied by Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. In this ride, guests can interact by shooting at targets throughout the ride by using the laser guns they are equipped with on the ride. It's really hard to believe that was once the Circle-Vision Theatre!

Then: Let's end with this classic: Submarine Voyage. Of all the extinct Disneyland attractions, this one had one of the longest lifespans. It opened in the summer of 1959. In this attraction, based off of Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", guests board these submarines and travel to the depths of the ocean floor and get to experience things such as coral reefs, sunken ships, mermaids, polar ice caps, sea serpents, and a giant squid. Originally, the submarines were painted gray to look like Navy battleships, and in the 1980's, they were repainted a sea-friendly yellow to look like marine research vehicles.
Closure: When the 1998 new Tomorrowland opened, this was intended to be one of the five attractions to remain in Tomorrowland, but it didn't stay for very long. The attraction closed in September of 1998. The lagoon sat empty for several years after that. The original plan for a replacement of the attraction was going to be a thrill ride based off of the 2001 movie, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". It was supposed to open in 2003, but it was scrapped due to budgeting problems and the fact that the movie flopped.

Now: Just recently, the ride reopened (well, sort of). The 2003 Disney/Pixar movie, "Finding Nemo", turned out to be a huge hit, and this opened a door for a new attraction idea. In 2004, imagineering began for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. The ride made it's grand opening in June 2007. This is an attraction that you may not want to miss!
So, there you go. A little "Then and Now" look at some of the stuff that's at Disneyland. I just wanted to share with you some of my favorite attractions in the park that no longer exist and show what's in their place today. Now, I know that I didn't say every extinct attraction. You should know that I was born in 1985, so I'm limitted to the stuff I can review. I am aware that I left out classic attractions like Carrousel of Progress and the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland, but those attractions were before my time. You see, if I wasn't around to experience the rides, I can't review them. Also, try to be aware that this is what's at Disneyland as of June of 2007. In other words, this is a time-based article, so some of these may change in time.

In conclusion, Disneyland is a place that will always be great no matter how much or how little stuff is there; people of all ages will love this park.
More Articles From dalmatianlover
An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss