Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventure Thru Inner Space, 1971

One of my "most missed" extinct attractions is the wonderful "Adventure Thru Inner Space" (presented by Monsanto!), and I have all-too-few photos of it in my collection. So I was pretty thrilled when Mr. X handed me a stack of snapshots that he had taken back in 1971, and found today's pictures in the bunch.

There it is, as seen from the outside; it's pretty cool that this was taken at dusk. Not only does it look great with the lights aglow, but we can actually see through the doorway! Along the back wall is a line of blue Atomobiles (the very first application of Bob Gurr's "Omnimover" vehicles), and a red-jumpsuited CM. There's a single stroller parked near the trash can; where are all the other babies?!

"Monsanto welcomes you to the world of the molecule". The efficient Omnimover was such a "people eater" that there was rarely a long line for ATIS. Overhead the Peoplemover passed through, allowing guests on that attraction to get a sneak peak. We can also see two of the "window box" displays that one could view while waiting in line. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but this ride was one of my all-time favorites!


Melissa said...

ATIS is one of those attractions that was so cool that I’ve poured over every word that's been written about it and every picture of it I could find until I almost feel like I did ride it myself. But these two shots are from perspectives I don't think I've seen before!

TokyoMagic! said...

These shots make me happy! I miss this attraction (and the rest of the 1967 Tomorrowland) so much. I might have said this here before, but I think that replacing Mission to Mars with Star Tours would have been a better swap. If Disney was so insistent on getting rid of ATIS, they could have at least kept the ride system and eventually designed a new attraction around it. As it turned out, they had to build an entire new Omnimover system for the Buzz Lightyear attraction across the way and then we lost the former CircleVision theater because of that. It just seems like there could have been some more thought involved on how to update Tomorrowland without destroying it.

Thank you for these, Major...and also a big thanks to Mr. "X."

Scott Lane said...

I'm in complete agreement with both you, Major, and TM. One of my very favorite extinct attractions.
In that first picture, just inside the doorway on the left - is that man jumping over the railing?

Chuck said...

ATIS photos bring me such wistful frustration, as I am old enough to have ridden it, clearly remember the waiting area and the PeopleMover "fly-by," and waited with my parents in line for it at least twice but never actually rode the darned thing! It's like that girl you really, really wanted to ask out in junior high but you were too scared to let her know you liked her, and then you find out years later that she had a big crush on you for six years but thought you weren't interested and never said anything and then got run over by a steamroller the day after graduation. I can't be the only one that's happened to, can I?

Melissa, you've probably already seen it, but this virtual ride-through is about as close as we mere mortals can get to actually riding ATIS with today's technology.

And for the three people who haunt this site who haven't found it yet, here's a fairly exhaustive website on all things ATIS.

DKoren said...

Oh how I love seeing pics of this ride! I think it's my most missed ride from Disneyland. Just loved this one.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Thanks to both of you for this one. I agree a very much missed (but cheesy) extinct attraction. The shot of the peoplemover passing thru above brings back memories from this angle as well as riding above and looking down at the people in the queue (and the mighty microscope). I had to crank (and bang my head to)Miracles from Molecules whilst I gazed on these photos.

Tom said...

Back when Monsanto was cool.

Loved this ride. So glad I was able to go on it once in my life, even though at the time I did not appreciate it fully. The virtual ride-through, linked above, is awesome!

Also - wow, is it ever deserted!

Nanook said...


It’s definitely a most-missed attraction. The excitement (and long lines) that first summer have not been forgotten.

@ Chuck-
Yes, we’ve all had that same experience. However in my version, the steamroller was replaced with a low-flying dirigible.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, Adventure Thru Inner Space is one of those extinct attractions that I can happily say I was able to ride many times. Not too many though, that would be impossible!

TokyoMagic!, I think your idea of replacing Mission to Mars with Star Tours is a great one. Would the timing have worked out? The fact that they turned Mission to Mars into a pizza restaurant - not even a very good pizza restaurant - seems like a real waste of space. I’ve always wondered how ATIS could have been updated, with fiber optics, lasers, and witchcraft - maybe it still would have been cool.

Scott Lane, that man is certainly doing something!

Chuck, how could you wait in line for a ride twice, but never actually ride it? Let me guess - steamroller. I do remember that my younger brother, who was really little at the time, was scared by the soundtrack; somehow it freaked him out. But once he experienced the actual ride, he loved it. As for that CGI ride-through, I actually bought it on DVD from the creator - this was before everyone could watch it for free on YouTube! I think I tried to contribute some photos to “”, but it seems as if the site has been mostly dormant for a very long time.

DKoren, you have good taste!

Alonzo, gosh, I don’t know if I would call ATIS “cheesy”. It would have been 50 years old this year, so it might be a bit dated, but I loved the music, and Paul Frees’ narration, and the whole concept of being reduced to the size of an atom by passing through the Mighty Microscope - it was cool! Part of the appeal was how they used abstraction to represent things like whirling molecules… it required a lot more use of imagination on the part of the rider than any other attraction I can think of.

Tom, it is true, “Monsanto” is a dirty word these days. I’ve always wondered if the ridership was truly low (which is why it was supposedly removed), or whether the Omnimovers were just so efficient that they ate up any lines quickly, OR whether they just said that because they wanted “Star Tours” so much that they needed to justify its removal (the kind of thing they’ve done before).

Nanook, I don’t think I rode ATIS until the 70’s, but man did I love it. And in my memory there was always some line. I’m sure in the off-season it was a walk on, however.

Anonymous said...

This was the 'psychedelic' attraction that many times at night was filled with the scent of pot. We joked about it frequently. KS

Anonymous said...

Major, thanks for this ATIS post. Clearly a Disney classic and a personal favorite.

Thanks Chuck for those links. I will spend lots of time with those.

My speculation about Star Tours replacing the Mission to Mars was based on:

1. Similar ride concept based on trip into space via multiple theaters.
2. Extensive pre-show (both are mission control)
3. Similar queue requirements due to the stop-start surge of the theater presentations.

Some speculative reasons that ATIS went instead:

1. Pride of Place location right at the entry.
2. Bigger space in the show building, allows more than two theaters, speeding up throughput.

I hated to lose ATIS, but Star Tours is a fun show, sad that it sat unchanged for so long, but now it's rejuvenated a bit with the variable story lines. I admit that I crack up laughing at it every time I ride. On the last trip, the Rebel Spy was a toddler, the whole theater was laughing uproariously.

Still seems odd that there is no meaningful follow-on for the rest of the vacant space in Tomorrowland. Seems like even a Star Wars walk-through static display of sets like 20K leagues would draw a crowd. I know I would enjoy walking through the Millenium Falcon or a Star Destroyer bridge. Anything would beat Innoventions, which seems like an answer waiting for a question that no one will ever ask.


Chuck said...

Major, my parents actually told me it was too scary for me and my little sister to ride. I was so freaked out by POTC when I was 2 and the Earthquake Ride at Cedar Point (the former San Francisco Earthquake from Freedomland) when I was 4 that I refused to ride either again for years, so I can't blame them too much. I think if they had explained the concept thoroughly before I rode it, I would have been OK. On my last childhood visit, when my sister and I both rode HM and POTC multiple times at our own request, I know we would have been fine.

I had a similar relationship with the HM that your brother did with ATIS - the "soundtrack" I associated with it (The Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House) had been freaking me out since preschool, and the ticket-taking CM telling my parents that we probably would be scared when I was 6 just sort of sealed the deal. Once I rode it a year later, however, I was hooked.

Matthew said...

I find it strange that there is a man in the first photo doing an impersonation of Knott's Berry Farms's Haunted Shack just inside the doorway, beyond the railing, on the left side. Hey bub! Stay in the walkway.

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

PS, Couldn't agree more... Adventure Thru Inner Space is much loved and well missed.

TokyoMagic! said...

I don't remember a childhood visit when we didn't go on ATIS or Carousel of Progress. I'm sure part of that was because they were free and you didn't have to use one of your tickets, but the other part of it was they were both truly my favorite rides as a kid...along with Alice In Wonderland. Don't ask me why Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion weren't at the top of my favorites list. I loved them and we always went on them, but the other three attractions rated higher with me for some reason.

I also remember the first time I took a chemistry class, the info about molecules, atoms, electrons and the nucleus, all clicked and made more sense to me because of ATIS. I was already familiar with that info because of the ride. Disneyland used to be educational AND fun at the same time. They've removed the educational aspect from the parks. Unless you want to learn about bread-making over at DCA.

I used to hang out at the park a lot in the early to mid-eighties. My friends and I knew some of the cast members in Tomorrowland just from hanging out and talking to them so often. During the time that Fantasyland was getting remodeled, they were telling us that Tomorrowland was going to be next to get a full remodeling. At that time they said that bringing back the Carousel of Progress was being seriously discussed. They also told us that they were trying to decide whether to update ATIS with brand new effects, or change the ride to where you would still shrink, but you would ride through the human body instead. Well, obviously none of that happened and the full remodeling just ended up being piecemeal projects, with a new CircleVision film in 1984, Star Tours in 1985 and Captain EO in 1986.

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, that ride was pretty trippy even when 100 percent straight, so I can only imagine how crazy it must have been when “under the influence”.

JG, I’m sure that most of your theories are correct. I actually do like “Star Tours” (and was the Rebel Spy once!), it just killed me to lose one of my most favorite attractions for something that (at the time) was “not Disney”. I wonder how they choose the Rebel Spy? Is it totally random? Is it whoever happens to sit in one particular seat? I love the idea of the toddler. Personally I would like a static walk-through display - they’ve apparently done stuff like that in the old Carousel of Progress building - but as you said, if they did a super accurate version of the Millenium Falcon or a Star Destroyer… people would flip!

Chuck, I still remember kids at school describing POTC to me before I had gone. They said something about how your boat goes UNDER water - either that or I misinterpreted what they said. Either way, I wanted NO part of it! They also described the Haunted Mansion and said something about ghosts going right through you. NOPE! Don’t want that either. I finally went on the Haunted Mansion with my Grandpa (who was always up for anything) and had so much fun. Unfortunately I don’t really recall my first ride on POTC, but I’m sure I was amazed at things like the cloudy sky and the fireflies - not to mention the pirates.

Matthew, I really do wonder what the heck that guy is doing. Some form of parkour!

TokyoMagic!, we always called ATIS “the eye ride”! At some point I remember looking down and being aware of the trash on the ground that you weren’t supposed to notice. And I remember older kids banging on the sides of the giant snowflakes at the beginning of the ride, and thinking they were jerks. I love that ATIS helped you to understand molecules and chemistry in school! Walt would have been so proud. I only want to learn about where tortillas come from. It makes me a little sad to hear about all of the potential plans for Tomorrowland that never went anywhere; I know there was a “Body Wars” ride in EPCOT, but imagine if you were on a real, moving vehicle going through a pumping heart!

Anonymous said...

@Major, I think the "rebel spy" is whoever sits in the seat that has the special camera aimed at it. The CM's make sure every seat is filled, so that seat is never accidentally empty.

When I saw the little kid come up, I was laughing so hard it didn't occur to me that the youngster might have been too small to ride. Should have noticed what seat he was in, so I could figure out where the camera was located.

The Body ride sounds like a good follow-up but very similar to the "Fantastic Voyage" IP from Asimov, that might have killed it.

I don't recall ever being scared in any Disney ride, maybe the first time down the Pirate waterfall. I guess I was just lucky. There were a few rides my Mom didn't like and would sit out, the Matterhorn and ATIS among them, but she loved the Pirates and always went for the HM too. She had some dizzyness issues, so I shouldn't be too hard on her.


Sunday Night said...

Welcome to GDB After Dark. Dancing nightly at the Carnation Plaza featuring Major Pepperidge and his Dixieland Syncopaters.

Yes ATIS is one of my all time favorites. Rode it many times. I remember when it first opened and people actually didn't yell and scream. Loved the giant eye at the end. Is the eye in storage somewhere?

Re: POTC. Loved it since the first time I rode it in the 60s. One of my fondest memories as a kid was once when it broke down and we were taken off the boat in the middle of the ride. Wow!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what was more disappointing: that this attraction was ahead of my time (with me being a product of 1987), or that a similar attraction was never built in Disney World, so that, even if I was alive to ride it, I would not have been able to.

Yes, apparently, Disney World didn't build an ATIS attraction. Instead, they created If You Had Wings (Later Dreamflight).

So rather than a sci-fi adventure through inner space, Disney World guests received a ride about...airlines...something they probably already experienced during their trip to Florida.

Yeah, I don't get it either. Not sure what that has to do with "tomorrow." But as a consolation, at least we received the Carousel of Progress

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I don't remember seeing trash on the floor below, but I do remember looking down at the floor from up above. I liked how unlike the Haunted Mansion omnimover vehicles, the ATIS ones were elevated and the projection screens around you went way down below the level of the track. Because of this, the ride used to bother my mom a little because she had a problem with heights.

I did get to see Body Wars at EPCOT and it was majorly disappointing in comparison to Star Tours. From what I remember, the footage wasn't done with miniatures like Star Tours was. It was done with animation, so the effect wasn't as convincing as Star Tours was. It really is a shame that they didn't try to do a "human body" ride like that with a some type of ride vehicle such as an omnimover, going past physical props, the same way that ATIS was done.