Friday, March 30, 2012

Tomorrowland & Inner Space, April 1968

I typically try to post something a little bit special on fridays; today's photos definitely quality as special!

If only I had the ability to step into a photograph, I'd step into this one. It's the New Tomorrowland in all its glory, still shiny and fresh in 1968. You've got the Mary Blair murals, the Peoplemover track (though, oddly, no Peoplemover vehicles are visible in spite of the guests up on the load area), the wonderful Rocket Jets, and you even get a bit of fun people-watching. How about that daisy dress! And then there's Monsanto's "Adventure Thru Inner Space", an attraction that I loved so much when I was a kid; it just captured my imagination like no other ride.

There's the wonderful "Mighty Microscope"! Brave guests were shrunk to the size of an atom; you can see some who have already begun the process in that transparent tube! I recall this queue area as being considerably darker, but of course the camera's exposure could explain that. Many Disneyland attractions start to "set the mood" before you've even boarded your vehicle... in the case of ATIS, you'd wait in the darkened room, listen to the trippy music and hear the voices of technicians: "All phases stand by to verify resolving power.... phase blue, phase blue... light wavelength approximately .5000 millimeters... atomobile definition excellent." It was like entering a realistic dream, to an impressionable child at least!


fuzzhead said...

I'm so glad I can remember that ride too! It was like being in a cool 60's sci-fi movie.

bloefeld said...

Thanks so much for posting these! God, how I miss that giant eyeball! This has to be the ride I miss most. AND STILL I CONTINUE TO SHRINK!

TokyoMagic! said...

Another attraction that should have been left alone....or just updated instead of being removed!

I think those people are actually exiting the Carousel of Progress. Maybe the PeopleMover was closed that day? It even looks like ATIS wasn't open yet when that first pic was taken....the glass doors are pulled across the entrance. Or maybe both attractions had broken down. Are those late afternoon shadows on the ground?

Anonymous said...

I can still hear the late great Paul Frees voice (with super heavy echo) saying MAGNIFICATION!!! Good times. Let't all hold hands, stand in a circle and sing Miracles from Molecules.

HBG2 said...

Forget about Snow White, forget about the Haunted Mansion; when you were a real little kid, the scariest ride in the park was ATIS. "I don't want to be shrunk!" You believed those models were real.

Brian Fies said...

Those little cars were MODELS?!

Yes, I loved that attraction. To me, it perfectly captured the Disney balance of science and fun. I wish there were more of that in the Park these days. I've also spent happy time reminiscing at

That said, I remember visiting Tomorrowland in the mid-70s when ATIS drew hardly any visitors at all, and the styrofoam snowflakes were looking pretty ratty. Nostalgia is powerful; I think it's fair to be honest and admit that if the ride had stayed popular, it would have stayed (ditto the Mine Train).

But I still love and miss it. It's the one I'd bring back first.

Tom said...

I'm glad I got a chance to go on it once in 1983. That and the Peoplemover. I remember being disappointed that the Carousel of Progress was gone though...

Melissa said...

"It was like entering a realistic dream..."

That's what all the best Disney rides are like. I remember spending endless hours between my first and second park visits, wondering how much of my memories were real and how much was just stuff I dreamed.

JG said...

ATIS, one of my favorites for all the reasons cited above.

When I was about 10, my parents bought me a "popular science" book at the Main Street bookstore as my souvenir present. (I still have it)

It had a chapter on theoretical physics aimed at grammar school age kids, with descriptions of atoms and particles. It was a perfect tie-in with this ride them, yet there was no Disney cross-merchanidising, it was a Little Golden Book, just on a science topic.

For several years, as a result of the reading and ATIS, I wanted to be a research scientist. The first career I considered besides the childhood dream of following your parent. Of course, my post high school test results were the final proof that I would never be smart enough to do that, sigh. More debris along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. My silver suit in my profile pic is as close as I got...

But cheers for 60's Disney for their part in making me aware that such things were even possible careers (for the mathematically adept, at least), and not using the space to sell coffee cups, CD's and plush toys like 10's Disney.


Nanook said...

In 1980, I took an unofficial tour of the underground inner-workings of many of Tomorrowland attractions. Back then, the audio cues for the Peoplemover, ATIS, Mission to Mars and some others were generated from audio cart machines, arranged one atop the other in rows of equipment racks. Each machine was labelled with an appropriate word or phrase to identify its purpose. I can still picture the machine with the white-on-black engraved plastic label: MAGNIFICATION, in what was/is often referred to as "Contemporary" font, that Disney was so fond of using.

Whatever happened to all those labels-??

Hannahx2 said...

Oooooh perfect post for today! Odd how something that I've never personally experienced can capture my interest so completely. What I wouldn't give to be able to ride ATIS just like all you lucky people got to! *sigh*

Thanks for gettin me as close as I'll ever get to the real thing :)

K. Martinez said...

Tomorrowland '67 was my favorite land growing up. I spent more time there than any other area of the park. No other land fired up my imagination more than New Tomorrowland did. I used to love watching the themed centerpiece with the Rocket Jets whirling high above and PeopleMover vehicles in constant motion entering and exiting from the moving circular platform. The “Rocket Jets” sign on the gantry with the red arrow pointing skyward forming part of the “k” and “t” in the ride’s name was one of my favorite sign graphics ever done for a Disneyland attraction. For all the time I spent in New Tomorrowland nearly every year of its existence, I never saw Carousel or Progress there. I would experience it later at Walt Disney World with the version “Now is the Time” in 1978. While at WDW that same time I also rode ATIS’ sister attraction “If You Had Wings”. There are definitely similarities between the two attractions. With the state of the current Tomorrowland, it is now my least favorite area of the park.

David said...

For a moment there, I thought I was in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" expo. Then the stylin' 60's garb sent me back to Earth.

I love the top pic. It's a rarity for me to recognize something from your pics of that era and reconcile it with today.


Major Pepperidge said...

fuzz head - a very TRIPPY sic-fi movie!

bloefeld, I only wish I had more ATIS to share, believe me.

TokyoMagic!, maybe you are right, the perspective had me fooled. It does look like it is late afternoon.

Anon, yes, Paul Frees was a HUGE part of what made ATIS so great.

HNG2, the shrinking illusion was so clever and amazing; I'm not sure I was ever scared, but maybe I've just blocked it out.

Brian Fies, I can only assume that when Monsanto ended its sponsorship, the maintenance on the ride really dropped off. Like you, I remember the big foam snowflakes full of holes, punched by idiots.

Tom, you juuuuuust made it!

Melissa, I agree! And I'm sure I've read comments from John Hench pretty much saying the same thing.

JG, I remember our school regularly showing the True Life Adventures, along with "Our Friend the Atom", and probably other wonderful Disney educational (but entertaining) films. It was a wonderful combination, and they managed to do that in the parks for a while too.

Nanook, I am jealous of your tour!! I'm sure those labels went into the nearest dumpster.

Hannahx2, you should go on YouTube and search for the CG ride through recreation…. it's pretty good!

K. Martinez, if you have been reading my blog for very long, then you know that I am all about Tomorrowland. And the "new" Tomorrowland was the one I grew up with and loved more than anything!

David, Adventure Thru Inner Space was a million times better than Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!

Omnispace said...

Thanks for posting this!!!! I remember visiting ATIS when it was shiny and new. It was absolutely amazing to a 4 year old who believed they would actually shrink! There was absolutely nothing else like it! Even the ride system was a new concept. I also remember remember towards the end when it was in such disrepair -- practically broke my heart. Even so, I wish they would have found a way to update it rather than to replace it.

I remember quite a number of times visiting the park and the PeopleMover not working. I was always disappointed because it was such a favorite of mine. Does anyone know if it broke down a lot? And what did they do with all the trains when they weren't on the track??

Connie Moreno said...

Major, not only are these pics great, reading all of the comments was cool, too! Great way to end my day!

Nancy said...

I still marvel at this and wonder "how'd they DO that?" tho of course, I have my own ideas.

Tomorrowland was definitely the place to be back in '68... sorry Haight! (I, of course, was nowhere near either of them, and being that I was only 11 I didnt get a whole lotta say) and I am BEYOND thrilled when the Major's time machine can take me there....Yes, I have finally figured out that this IS my time machine

Melissa said...

When I first went to WDW in 1983, Tomorrowland is what fascinated and inspired me the most, too. The gorgeous architecture and clean, seamless design, Space Mountain with the RCA Home of Future Living, If You Had Wings, Mission to Mars, the WEDway Peoplemover, Circlevision 360, all the cool coordinating signage... it was paradise for a nerdy kid. It had an incredibly strong sense of place. The '90's remake is cluttered, garish, and half-hearted. (I do love Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, though.)

Kamela said...

I totally remember this ride and being a bit freak out as a kid! Does anyone remember the snow flakes where it shows the scale of how small things got on the ride? That was awesome. I love this blog! Thanks for posting these pics!