Monday, November 23, 2020

Tomorrowland Photos, 1990s

I have some fun Tomorrowland photos for you today, courtesy of the Dream Team. You know them - Irene, Bruce, and James. And probably Michael Jordan. 

This first photo is very neat, taken aboard the Rocket Jets during a supersonic orbit. I have a lot of Disneyland photos in my own collection, but don't think I have any that were taken from a moving Rocket Jet. 

The tops of the Tomorrowland buildings aren't exactly pretty, but somehow it never mattered when you were up there with wind in your hair and bugs in your teeth. Notice the multi-colored It's a Small World in the distance to our right, and a yellow Submarine (pre-"Nemo") just visible in the lagoon.

The Matterhorn has tarps and scaffolding, so perhaps we can date this photo to 1994. The Skyway had closed that year - the holes in the mountain were filled in, and the glittering ice grotto was added, along with a tribute to Frank Wells, who had died in a helicopter crash that year.

Here's another very unusual view, presumably taken from the Rocket Jets platform. We're looking down on the Peoplemover track, with six evenly-spaced Peoplemover trains on the track but devoid of riders. Perhaps this was taken around the closure of that ride (August 21, 1995). Notice that the south (left) side of the corridor has a Star Tours mural, while the north side still had the Mary Blair mural. It would survive until 1997.

Here's a nice look at the entryway to Tomorrowland from the Plaza - undated, but there is no sign of the Peoplemover (other than the empty track of course) by this time. 

MANY THANKS to the Dream Team!


Nanook said...


Some wonderful 'you are there' images.

Thanks, Dream Team.

TokyoMagic! said...

These pics make me sentimental. I visited the park a lot around this time. It seemed like Disney was destroying the park at a rapid pace, in the nineties. Once I found out that the Rocket Jets were going to close for good, I started taking a lot of photos and video during the ride, and also from the loading platform.

I took this one in 1995, while the ride was in motion:

Thank you, Major and the Dream Team!

Anonymous said...

goddamned 1996

Melissa said...

Lots of whee in that first picture! From the angle of the second, the roofs of the Peoplemover cars look like Chiclets laid out in rows. And what could be better than a nice, sunny day in Tomorrowland?

stu29573 said...

I wonder if the "powers that be" had any idea how future generations would hate them. Yuck! I spit at you! Ptooie!


In the early 90’s the PEOPLEMOVER was temporarily closed after a small accident involving two PeopleMover trains colliding with each other approaching the Circle Vision theater entry tunnel. A section of the front end bumper collapsed and snagged on the train’s trackway .... slowing the train then almost stopping it. The stuck advanced PeopleMover train was then hit by an approaching PeopleMover before the zone was deactivated. Nobody was hurt and there was little damage. The attraction remained closed for almost 6 months while a new safety detection system was installed along the trackway to shut the entire PeopleMover system down automatically if a train in ANY zone slowed or stopped. During the shutdown a new intrusion and security system was added as well as a replacement to the loading turntable disc - and Speedramp belts . both the loading platform turntable and the Speedramp belts were produced by Dunlop. I’m not sure as to why Goodyear was not invoked - probably a bid loss by them or no longer having the capability to manufacture the items any longer .

This may have been during this long PeopleMover repair period . Sadly the entire attraction was permanently closed in about two years after these improvements.

MRaymond said...

Look how empty Tomorrowland is, I would kill for another day like that. One thing I always liked about the Peoplemover was it's loading speed. The attraction never had a line because it could load as fast as people came up the ramp.

I only took a ride on the Rocket Jets, ONCE, and it scared the socks off of me (I picked them up before exiting). But as they say, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom. The Skyway scared me as well but not as much.

Anonymous said...

Major and the Dream Team, these photos are good for the records, but there is little joy here for me, knowing what is to come.

Some of the few Disneyland photos that I don't want to step into.

Thanks Mike Cozart for the back story, as always.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, as much as I loved the Tomorrowland of the ‘50s and 60’s, I do still have a fondness for it from the ‘80s and ‘90s too!

TokyoMagic!, I know what you mean. And of course that was the era of “Save Disney!”, when so many fans (like you) were seeing what was happening to the park, all in the name of higher profits - not by offering a better park, but by cutting rides and services. Thank you for the link to your photo! I still dislike that monstrosity that they put on top of Rolly Crump’s beautiful stage.

Anonymous, that about sums it up!

Melissa, yum, Chiclets. Remember the mini fruit-flavored Chiclets? I used to love those when I was a kid - I assume they are extinct. That sunny day in Tomorrowland is pretty sweet, but the loss of the Peoplemover was still pretty fresh at that point.

stu29573, yeah, they were particularly bad in that era, removing so much great stuff. That was a dark time in Disneyland history.

Mike Cozart, gosh, with the Peoplemover trains running on constantly-turning wheels that were all going at the same rate (presumably), you’d think that a collision wouldn’t be possible. I wonder what happened? Was there slippage on the bottom of the cars? And I wonder how often the ride shut down after the new safety system was installed? Rarely, I hope. That photo could be from the early ‘90s, but it seems like many of the Dream Team’s photos tend to be from the mid-to-later ‘90s. Thanks as always!

MRaymond, you’re right, I have never seen a photo showing a long line waiting to go up the speedramps to the Peoplemover. That ride was a thing of genius. Even now I will occasionally see remarks on how “boring” the Peoplemover was (I think some of those people never actually rode the Disneyland version). You had to be there! People can be bored doing just about anything, so I am not impressed by their lack of enthusiasm.

Irene said...

What kills me is the removal of the Mary Blair murals!!! All the other stuff was bad too. I also hate that they moved the rocket rods to the front and totally clogged up the entrance. Sigh.

"Lou and Sue" said...

You're right, Major, the Disneyland Peoplemover was the better version - so much more to see, too.

Unique shots - especially the first one - thank you, Major, and the Dream Team!

DrGoat said...

I'm with you Irene. Mary Blair's murals were very special. When I saw your comment I called my sister because in the past she had mentioned that my uncle Charles met her once in the 60s (I don't remember that). His children's books and other projects he did were in that same style, and he was an admirer of the murals. Sis said he went out of his way to meet her to talk about their work. That's all I know but we all loved those murals.
Thanks Major.


MAJOR: a bumper / spring assembly collapsed blocking the PeopleMover track - ss I mention at first it slowed the train down from the jamb then it couldn’t move at all - the wheels still spinning against the push plate - the following train still being pushed along its normal speed was pushed into the jammed train ahead of it that was not or barely moving at all .

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I know what you mean, it’s hard to think of all that was lost. It would be one thing if we lost old rides to get some truly good replacements. I miss “Nature’s Wonderland”, but am OK with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But when we lose the Peoplemover and get the ill-fated Rocket Rods… that’s a bad deal for all.

Irene, oh gosh, I hope today’s photos don’t just dredge up bad feelings for everyone! That was not my intention at all.

Lou and Sue, I don’t know much about the Magic Kingdom’s Peoplemover - I believe that it goes through other rides, and provides a nice elevated view of Tomorrowland. But it would be hard to improve on the Disneyland version

DrGoat, wow, neat to learn that your uncle met Mary Blair! I used to work with an animator who knew Mary Blair and her husband, and he used to visit them at their home in Soquel (California). His stories were interesting, but sad, as Mary had declined mentally, probably due to alcoholism (like so many animators of that era). I would have loved to talk to her when she was still firing on all cylinders.

Mike Cozart, ah, I see; my reading comprehension needs improvement! It almost sounds as if some well-needed maintenance on the vehicles could have prevented any further accidents. Poor maintenance was responsible for several accidents at the park - I guess it took them a while to learn their lesson.

Melissa said...

The WDW Peoplemover is pretty sweet, although it could still use a tweak here and there. But knowing I’ll never experience the original is always a huge bummer.

Omnispace said...

I agree, there was a definite trill to riding the Rocket Jets high above Tomorrowland. It didn't matter what you looked at - it was more the experience of being up there whirling around. I'm surprised the pilot was able to get the shot of the Matterhorn. I guess back then there were no rules to taking photos while piloting a rocket.

The Matterhorn looks fairly "squarish" from this angle (no just because the camera is tilted). I guess the tarps covering what I assume was construction scaffolding gives it that impression.

I find Mike's story about the Peoplemover improvements to be typical of the shortsightedness management can take. Fix it up and then shut it down for something lesser. I'm in the camp that loves these pics from the dream team but also thinking of all the things that were lost during that time. It's when I really started struggling to search out the Disneyland of my youth that gave me such joy.

"Lou and Sue" said...

A few really unique things about the Disneyland version of the Peoplemover that made it extra cool: The monorails were zooming around you; the Peoplemover went up and down to different "levels"; and you had the majestic Matterhorn in view - with all its activity - bobsleds bobbing and Skyway gondolas gondoling. Oh, do I miss it! Especially as a kid, riding it with my mom - she LOVED it.

Major, are you testing us to see if we read your commentary? I only count 5 Peoplemover trains. Or am I missing something?? :p

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, hey, I would LOVE to ride the WDW Peoplemover! In fact, if I ever get to the Magic Kingdom, it will be one of the things I most want to do. Several times!

Omnispace, I’ve said it before, but I believe that putting the Rocket Jets way up high was a true stroke of genius. SO STRIKING. It was one of those features that was almost as fun to look at from afar as it was to ride. The pilot who took that first photo was a real hotdog, like Maverick in Top Gun. He got chewed out by the brass afterwards, but secretly they knew he had the Right Stuff. You’re right, the Matterhorn looks like it’s got some hips, almost like a lower building with a misshapen cone set on top. Those darn Rocket Rods were just a bad idea in so many ways, and it is doubly aggravating when it turns out that they didn’t even really have the engineering necessary. Imagine if the Peoplemover had survived a decade longer? I truly believe that it would have been popular all over again.

Lou and Sue, you are so right regarding all those great features of the Disneyland Peoplemover! Just your description makes me miss it (and all of the old Tomorrowland) so much. As you know, it was my favorite land. And NOPE, I just can’t count!! My shameful secret.