Friday, January 05, 2018

Adventure Thru Inner Space

I have far too few photos from "Adventure Thru Inner Space", one of my all-time favorite attractions.  My theory is that people were so apprehensive about being shrinkified that they weren't even thinking about their cameras. The thing that fascinates me most is how abstract (and sometimes very minimal) the scenes were; this required the use of your 'magination! It hurt to use my brain that much, but it was worth it. The soundtrack was also amazing, with ominous orchestrations, the tinny sounds of technicians frantically trying to keep you "on visual", and Paul Frees' dramatic narration.

As you can see, guests wait in a switchback queue (as usual), approaching the area where they would hop onto the blue Atomobile. The Mighty Miscroscope looks like it was designed by Jonny Ive (of Apple fame). Picture boxes in the queue gave you something to look at while waiting, in case the Peoplemover vehicles and shrunken Atomobiles (in the clear tube to our right) were too boring for you.

After surviving your journey thru INNER SPACE, you walked through a display of the many ways in which Monsanto products improved your daily lives. Sadly, this slide is too dark to really see what the displays looked like (curse you, GAF film!) but sometimes we must take what we are given.


Nanook said...


I still remember waiting on-line that first summer of the new Tomorrowland, to board our Atomobile. The lines, as you can imagine were quite long. Can't say that initial run stands-out from all the subsequent journeys thru Inner Space, but the memory lingers nonetheless.

The second shot reminded me of another location for those great "rain curtains", utilizing nylon monofilament (undoubtedly supplied by Monsanto) as the vehicle for glycerin droplets to be deposited, making their slow descent to the bottom. And this example had the monofilament strands running at lovely angles, somehow managing to pull-off that hourglass shape. Much classier than the version installed at Topanga Plaza, in Canoga Park.

Thanks, Major.

Graffer said...

I remember first seeing the ATIS queue area. Tomorrowland was brand new and we jumped on the People Mover. We had no awareness of the ATIS attraction and suddenly a window opens up on the left side of our car and we were looking down at miniature guests riding along in little blue clam shells. Then we saw full size humans boarding big blue clam shells. Then the next window showed people dis-embarking and a giant hourglass rain sculpture. We didn't know what we had seen and immediately headed back to find it.

Disneyland was better when it was not so polished, pre-packaged and uniform. There were surprises around every corner. Every day was 'Anything Can Happen Day'.

MonkeyMensch said...

Patrick Devlin here: I know everyone is curious so I'll just say that the figure the drops of glycerin trace out is an Hyperboloid of revolution. There, now I can sleep...


My first visit to Disneyland was in 1971 ( I was four) it was a General Dynsmics Employee private party. Ironically , all my earliest memories of Disneyland were of Tomorrowland - the plane taking off and the amusement park from the miniature Progress City model , sitting on my dad's shoulders and seeing a PeopleMover train pass overhead and excitedly pointing and asking "what's THAT!!??" When I was told the PeopleMover I thought the passengers inside were pushing the vehicles with their own feet - the way the cards are propelled on The Flintstones!

The third big memory was being completely TERRIFIED of seeing guests disappear in their blue chairs , entering a hole tube and being squeezed down into a clear tube and THAT everyone in line seemed perfectly fine that this was about to happen to them. I rememember thinking it was going to hurt so bad being squeezed down - but being so relieved it didn't hurt and that when I opened my eyes I thought the projections around us were MISTER BUBBLES from the package of bathtub bubble I used as a kid and also being aware that our "blue chair"was now moving backwards. I also remember wondering why I never saw the people in the line while we were squeezed thru the the tiny clear tube and that I must have had my eyes closed longer than I thought.....

K. Martinez said...

These are all wonderful memories shared. I too remember thinking "what would it be like to shrink and journey into the micro-world of ATIS. I wasn't scared, but more curious. Once I saw close up, the miniature Atomobiles in the clear tube with my own eyes, I figured the "magic" out.

Today's post is fantastic just for the nylon/glycerin structure alone. Thanks, Major.

JG said...

Oh man, the GDB hits just keep coming.

Thanks to everyone for the detailed memories of ATIS, sparks memories of my own. For some reason, I can barely remember the scenes inside the ride other than that the spinning electrons made you dizzy, and the giant eye near the end. MAAAAGGGGNNNNIIIFFFFIIICCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNN.

I was a little older when I encountered it and so none of the special effects took me in, I knew it was all Imagineering, but still great fun to try to figure out how it was done.

This ride was definitely a high point of New Tomorrowland and it's so sad that nothing this cool has ever come around again. Star Tours is fun, but it's just a dolled-up motion simulator that you can see a lot of places. There was never anything like ATIS EVER, anywhere.

@Nanook, the Topanga Plaza fountain always comes to mind when thinking of ATIS. That was back when malls were cool. We sometimes stopped there on the way home from Disneyland. I still have a nice wool blanket that my Dad bought in one of the shops, hasn't aged or worn a bit. I've read that the mall is kind of beaten down now by the online retail changes.

@Mike Cozart. I have a scan of the architectural drawing that I think is posted on your site, showing the roof hatch that was the only access inside the oil fountain. I remember wondering about that as a kid, "how do they get in there to set up the exhibits". The ceiling was too dark to see the hatch. As I recall, the displays inside the hyperboloid (Thanks Patrick) were seasonal (or at least different between my visits). I seem to remember mannequins wearing "Lycra" sweaters once, but that may have been outside the oil fountain. I don't recall the illuminated displays in the Major's picture, but it's still wonderful.

Thank you, everyone for making my Friday AM.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don’t remember the lines for ATIS ever being super long - maybe they were at peak Summer. Even if they were, we always wanted to go on “the eye ride”, as we called it! And I loved “rain curtains” at Topanga Plaza because they were so darn huge.

Graffer, the Imagineers really hit one out of the park with ATIS; I loved everything about it! I know that if it had survived they might have updated some of the effects, or added new elements, and as much as the thought of those is intriguing, the original was somehow perfect.

MonkeyMensch, I first heard of a “hyperboloid” when my grade-school class toured Three Mile Island (in reference to the shape of the cooling towers). No joke! We went there before it was operational. I had moved back to California by the time it had its accident.

Mike Cozart, I certainly didn’t remember cool details of Progress City, such as a plane taking off! Was it on a wire?? Your memories of ATIS are similar to mine. I was a little bit older than you, so I don’t know if I was terrified, but I was a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. And I’m sure every kid watched the full-sized Atomobiles go in one end of the Mighty Microscope, and then seeing them only about 8 inches high as they continued through the clear tube. I always tried to match people in the vehicles to the tiny people in the tube!

K. Martinez, it’s been so long that I can’t remember seeing the small Atomobiles so well that the trick was obvious. Or maybe I just wasn’t so smart!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, many years ago I communicated with a guy who said that his father in-law had worked on ATIS, and that he had the giant eye in storage somewhere in Tujunga. I wish I could find that guy and verify that the eye was still around!! Unfortunately he said that he was divorced and had nothing to do with his ex anymore.

Melissa said...

Re: long lines - ATIS is often compared to its Florida cousin, If You Had Wings (one of my all-time faves). There was rarely a significant wait for IYHW, but it had more to do with it being a continuously loading Omnimover then it did with lack of ridership. I'd wager it was probably the same at ATIS.

Those clever older attractions that inspired the imagination were far more “Interactive” than any number of touchscreens. They used the same kind of brilliant stagecraft as Disney's motion pictures.

JG said...

Major, how cool would it be to have that eye? I'd put that right in the man-cave over the bar.

I think some of the little mini-fig peoples from the clear tube effect are still around since I see pics online that look too recent to be vintage. Like one of the other commenters, I remember trying to spot figures with hats or distinctive clothing, even though I knew it was fake, I desperately wanted it to be real.

In fact, I just had a brainstorm: Since we have been wondering what will happen to Tomorrowland when Galaxy's Edge opens, they can reconfigure Star Tours to be a new ATIS, just re-program the motion simulators and make a new film. They can even re-use C3PO, just cook up some feldergarb story about the Empire's new shrinking ray.

There, fixed it for you, WDI. It's OK, don't thank me, pretend you came up with that on your own.


Melissa said...

...even though I knew it was fake, I desperately wanted it to be real.

That sums up my whole experience with Disney parks as a kid.

Anonymous said...

You can see some of the details of the aftershow in this film:

beginning at 3:19.

JG said...

@Melissa. ;-D