Friday, December 21, 2018

Rocket Jets

Oh boy, more beautiful Tomorrowland pix! I'll never have too many. Both of today's examples come to us courtesy of Mr. X, who loved those Rocket Jets - and who can blame him? 

I love the way the central tower of the Rocket Jets was built to look like a mighty Saturn V rocket. I remember seeing that portion of the ride for sale years ago, but don't remember if there were any takers. 

As I'm sure I've said before, the attraction was almost as fun to look at as it was to ride, with the smaller rockets spinning around in formation like a space ballet from Stanley Kubrick - if I recall correctly, they looked like they moved pretty slow from the ground, but when you were in them, it felt much more rocket-y. You experienced up to 18 Gs, and the skin of your face pulled back, like you see in movies. It was hilarious, especially if you barfed.

Was this taken from the upper level of the Carousel of Progress? I know somebody out there will know! Notice that Mr. X would always wait until the Rocket Jets were in the air before he took his pictures... the mark of a true artist. Also note the cast member in the red jumpsuit with the white stripes.

The Peoplemover on the middle level isn't operational, and in fact there appears to be pieces of what might be side panels of Peoplemover trains scattered near the railings, while men work on the track. On the lower level, the Space Bar is literally shuttered. Perhaps this was the off season? Mr. X couldn't be sure.


Nanook said...


These are some lovely shots. It does appear the Peoplemover's track is undergoing a bit of R and R. (Perhaps the tires were being re-balanced...) That second shot gives every indication of being taken from the upper level of the Carousel of Progress.

What a time it was back then-!

Thanks Major & Mr. X.


What a perfect Tomorrowland that was!
The first image is taken from the PeopleMover entry corridor approach - and the second was definitely taken from the Carousel of Progress second level balcony.
Looks like the PeopleMover loading turntable is getting a cleaning! Early in the PeopleMover’s life the station had several improvents like the addition of railings to the second level outerring and changes to signage - like when the GOODYEAR / PEOPLEMOVER CARS RIDE ON Goodyear Too! Hanging signs were removed and the rotating “rear” sign was added etc. that image could be from one of those rehabs - but probably is just a regular scheduled maintenance days.

TokyoMagic! said...

Yes, pure perfection! Seeing these photos reminds me of just how much I miss being able to go up to the second and third levels of that structure. The photos are also a reminder of just how much that structure was bastardized in the 1998 redo. Oh, by the way...unhappy 20th anniversary, Crappy Brown Tomorrowland! :-(

Someone please hurry up and invent a time machine!

K. Martinez said...

Awe shucks! The Space Bar is closed. Now I can't get my Space Mist and Twinkies!

The Rocket Jets pic is wonderful! Thanks, Major.

Kel said...

It should still look similar to this. It's gone though... time to tear it all down and put in a Tron coaster.

DrGoat said...

I'll echo everyone's sentiments about these 2 pics. Just wonderful. Later on in the 90s, if you had an early entrance pass, Tomorrowland was a great place to eat breakfast before the crowd arrived. You could picture the crowd, surging up Mainstreet, as you sat there with your french toasty tidbits.

Melissa said...


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, imagine having to balance all of the hundreds of tires along the Peoplemover track! Time to call in the Pep Boys.

Mike Cozart, so are those panel pieces that are stacked near the railing from the Peoplemover track? I couldn’t quite figure out what they were. You also mentioned that the outer railing was a later improvement - seems hard to believe that it wasn’t there to begin with! Just as a wild guess I would say that these photos are from around 1969 or 1970 - not long after that, Mr. X bought a nice 35mm camera, and that was the end of the square Instamatics.

TokyoMagic!, yeah, whenever I see that track, and especially that dumb “moving sculpture” that is the remains of the Rocket Jets mechanism, I remember how wonderful it all used to be. And as crappy as the Brown Tomorrowland was, at least they finally admitted some of their mistakes and fixed them (like painting Space Mountain white again).

Kel, a Tron coaster would be cool, but I’m not sure where it would go in relation to the old Peoplemover track, etc. I would assume it would require a fairly large building like Space Mountain does?

DrGoat, interesting, I’ve never heard anybody talk about having breakfast in Tomorrowland! It’s always Main Street or Frontierland, it seems. It’s nice to know that I will still be able to get french toast in the FUTURE.

JC Shannon said...

Sad that nothing survived in these cool snaps. I agree with everyone, and all the great comments. TokyoMagic, let me know when you get that time machine, I'm all in! The new Tomorrowland did not disappoint, and remember, I am old enough to remember the original. Mr. X, in addition to being a great photographer, picked good subjects. Thanks to Major P. for sharing 'em.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

These are some beauties! I agree with JG from last week when the comment was made about the iconic look/design of the Peoplemover track and station. With rocket jets atop it was the "weenie" that Walt said would draw you into a specific "land".

When I die, if heaven exists and on the minute chance I can get in, I hope the ride is a smooth elevated moving sidewalk up there complete with animated Goodyear advertising.

Thanks for posting!

Major Pepperidge said...

Jonathan, I’m always complimenting Mr. X on his photography, which seems to embarrass him! For me, the New Tomorrowland "MY" Tomorrowland (the one I remember from childhood), and from the very beginning I loved it more than anything. I recently found a set of about 20 beautiful New Tomorrowland photos from around 1969, I look forward to sharing them here.

Alonzo, ha ha, “if heaven exists, and on the minute chance I can get in”…! I’m sure some people would claim that I have a first-class ticket to the “bad place”. But I’m not too worried about it! I’m glad that you guys enjoyed these photos of the good old Rocket Jets.


MAJOR: I believe those panels are the loading turntable’s “lip” or inner edge - the part between the PeopleMover track and the end of the rotating part - it’s function was to basically keep the outter rim of the turntable from raising up or “curling” up.
Also as I’ve mentioned before - in 1968 all the PeopleMover cars had their ABS body shells replaced with Fiberglas and the first versions of the car’s safety bars we’re installed .

One thing I thought was crappy Imagineering was the way guests were brought out of the circle-vision theater and into the tunnels to load the Rocket Rods - there was that space that was left unfinished and I designed as you were taken down to the Tomorrowland sewers. and the shitty way guests went up stairs . The people who worked on Tomorrowland “98 should have ended their careers in design period.

And the whole excuse for the infected wound color-scheme of Tomorrowland ‘98 : totally film-flam!! At a 1998 WDI talk with some of the current Tomorrowland designers and John Hench - John didn’t hold back and told the whole audience what he thought of the “new Taco-Bell Tomorrowland” . He REALLY hated how the Astro Orbiter blocked the entry flow of guests entering Tomorrowland - and he hated how unfinished the “Comunitron” looked. He also made combers about how Tomorrowland colors were always to be “bright and positive “ and that the “new” 1998 looked rundown and dark to start with and “did they select these colors because the paint store had a sale”!?? Lol!!
Bruce Gordon - was technically a newer Imagineer even admitted ( in regards to Inoventions) : “ we have no idea what the hell we are gonna put inside there!!” And in regards to Rocket Rods: “ GM has no interest in sponsoring it - we can’t get anyone to sponsor it!”

There ISN’T always a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!

Sunday Night said...

Welcome to GDB After Dark!
Like you Major I have always loved the "new" Tomorrowland. I have some vague memories of the original 55 version, but NEW Tomorrowland is really my land. There was a lot there and it felt so "open" Perhaps it was the light colors and the way everything felt so 60s streamlined. The Rocket Jets - what a great idea taking the old rocket jet concept and putting it up high to make it even more "rockety". Loved the gantry elevator - it heightened the experience!

Chuck said...

Well, the commentary above shoots down my theory. I thought they were prepping for a hurricane in the second photo.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Major for a splendid post, and the GDB crew for the comments.

Special thanks to Mike Cozart for the inside scoop. It is sad to reflect on what was, especially in the dim light of what it became.

Hat tip to Alonzo P Hawk. The concrete work in this station is amazing, three-dimensional curves and rebates everywhere. Concrete formwork is reminiscent of that comment about Ginger Rogers dancing, "She did everything that Fred Astaire did, backwards and wearing heels." Construction of formwork like that, without computerized assistance, is a lost art.

Thoughts from the time when we readily expected that Disneyland would keep improving forever.

Best regards to everyone for the holidays, Merry Christmas.