Welcome back to Disneys Extinct Attractions! My name is Cole Geryak, and I’ll be your tour guide as we zip around Tomorrowland!
I hope the week treated you well and I’m glad you could find your way back here! I just want to quickly let all of you wonderful people know that I love hearing your feedback, so be sure to comment on this post or if you saw this on Facebook, on that post, because I really want to ensure that I shape the blog around what you want to hear about! You could also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, and a big thank you to everyone who has already given me feedback!!
Before we buckle our seat belts and take a ride on our newest extinct attraction, let’s take a quick look at some news in the parks, as we usually do! (Well, this time there actually is news to share!)
Disney Parks fans will finally be able to ride through the story of Beauty and the Beast, although exclusively at Tokyo Disneyland. As part of a major expansion at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort, a 1500-seat Fantasyland theater, a Big Hero 6 themed attraction, and a new version of Soarin’ will also be joining the complex by 2020, so if you are like me, it’s time to start saving!
With all that excitement in your mind, get ready to speed up on a thrilling tour of the land of the future!
In a couple of past articles, I have discussed how Tomorrowland in Disneyland got a facelift in the mid-1960s to try and meet the standard of tomorrow that one would expect. Well, the same issue occurred in the early 1990s, when Tomorrowland again began to feel outdated. Obviously, it is understandable that Tomorrowland is the most consistently updated area of the park, as it is extremely difficult to predict what the world’s future holds and how quickly the world will evolve.The New Tomorrowland project was headed by Imagineer Tony Baxter and was originally intended to be replaced with more space-themed attractions (ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter for one), but that idea was scrapped when Disneyland Paris failed financially.
However, Tomorrowland’s redesign ended up resembling Disneyland Paris’s version of Tomorrowland, Discoveryland, an area inspired by Jules Verne’s ideas for the future. Restructuring Tomorrowland in this way allowed the land to stay roughly the same over time because Verne’s ideas were not likely to change any time soon! Still, it’s very intriguing that Disneyland changed their land to look like the park that forced them to change their original plan.
Finally, New Tomorrowland 2.0 (as I enjoy calling it!) opened in 1998, and guests got their first look at the land and especially at the major attraction that replaced the beloved PeopleMover.
The Rocket Rods opened on May 25, 1998 as the headlining attraction of Tomorrowland 1998, heralded as a new way to tour Tomorrowland, albeit a very quick tour because the Rods reached speeds of over 30 miles per hour! The attraction opened as an E-Ticket attraction because it truly created a unique experience, where guests could experience a new form of mass transit in an open air setting while traveling at breakneck speeds.
The queue of the attraction truly set up the Rocket Rods’ theme of transportation, helping to create more of a connection between the attraction and its predecessor, the PeopleMover. Whereas the PeopleMover was a leisurely ride that could be used to move large amounts of people, the Rocket Rods served people who needed to get somewhere without delay. The different types of transit that each attraction used represent the changing nature of humanity because, in general, humans are continually trying to get places faster, with less and less regard for the journey and the sights one could see along the way. The fact that the Disney parks are able to show this clear of a change over time really sets the parks apart from any other theme parks, in my opinion.
Ok, back to the queue! The Rocket Rods furthered their tribute to the PeopleMover through the inclusion of a couple of the former vehicles inside of the queue. Included in the first room of the line were also some of the Rocket Jets vehicles, a Space Mountain car, and the front of a Monorail! The beginning of the queue really excited guests because it furthered the theme of transportation, as all of the attractions that these vehicles came from dealt with transportation (even very loosely like the Rocket Jets, but still space ships!).
After successfully whetting guests appetites, the queue went one step further by actually using a former attraction as part of the line.
Within the second part of the queue, waiting guests got to experience an abbreviated Circle-Vision 360 theater experience that highlighted how important transportation was to the world, and especially to Walt Disney (who is featured briefly at the beginning of the show). I think it was a really clever idea by the Imagineers to take a less popular experience and incorporate it into a new attraction that they expected to be extremely successful. Plus, it would help keep guests entertained in a line that they expected to be extremely long.
The queue also did a great job of setting up the idea of the Rocket Rods as a future type of transportation. As you can see in the following picture, the attraction would have “future” destinations all around the surrounding Anaheim area, adding to the credibility of Rocket Rods actually being used to transport people one day!
With the queue almost an attraction itself, guests naturally flocked to the Rocket Rods! The ride had so many things going for it: a great theme, an immersive queue, and high demand from guests. How could this ride still not be around now, you might ask??
It didn’t work! When an attraction breaks down at least once daily, generally it needs a LOT of fixing, and that was certainly the case for the Rocket Rods. Having to create the track for the attraction around the PeopleMover’s previous track created problems from the onset. The structure simply could not support the strain that the high speeds of the Rocket Rods put on it. The attraction also could not retain its speed when making turns or its wheels would actually come off the track! Eventually on September 25, 2000, the Rocket Rods closed to undergo a major refurbishment to try and cure some of those problems.
Unfortunately, the Rods never got a chance to rocket again and the official closure of the attraction was announced on April 28, 2001, a sad end to a attraction that started out so fast.
Overall, I think the queue for the attraction was extremely interesting, really helping to tell the story of the Rocket Rods, as well as creating a great tribute to what came before it. However, the actual ride experience was extremely jerky from what I could tell from the video seen here, so I’m not exactly sure where all of the long lines came from! One cool thing about the video is that it actually includes the queue in it (but you can’t hear anything out of your right headphone, so don’t worry, your headphone isn’t broken!).
Alas, we now come to the time where I have to bid you adieu and ride off into the sunset on my Rocket Rod. But not without some clues as to next week’s attractions!
1. These attractions shared a name, but presented their stories in different ways.
2. These attractions were not ever open at the same time.
3. One of these attractions was at a U.S. Disney park, while the other was at an
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Thank you for reading, and have a magical day!