Monday, September 14, 2015

Making of: Adventure Thru Inner Space

By Keith Mahne

It was in 1965 that Walt Disney approached the Monsanto Company with his idea of building a new and expanded Tomorrowland. The original Tomorrowland had, within a decade, become more of a Todayland and it was time to think about updating the entire land, including replacing the Hall of Chemistry attraction, presented by Monsanto, with something that reflected the excitement of the present and future. Out of this partnership came the attraction Adventure Thru Inner Space. Join us today as we return to our Making of segment and explore the creation of this Disneyland classic...

Hall of Chemistry attraction

The earliest concept for a ride into the world of the microscope appeared in 1957 as part of a proposed Tomorrowland attraction called Adventures in Science...

Adventures in Science concept drawing

Adventures in Science concept drawing

When the idea resurfaced in the 1960s for New Tomorrowland, Journey into the Microscope, as it was originally titled, was to take guests into the microscopic realm of a drop of water. The attraction was intended to share with an exhibit to be presented by the Ford Motor Company.

Claude Coats with the attraction model

The Ford attraction never materialized and the design for Adventure Thru Inner Space, as it was renamed, was expanded to encompass the entire building. It was also decided that a snowflake would make a more exciting destination than a drop of water.

Adventure Thru Inner Space opened as a free attraction with Disneyland's New Tomorrowland in June 1967. One of the highlights of the attraction was the mighty microscope, a 37 foot long, 12 foot high microscope that appeared to miniaturize guests. Those waiting to board the Omnimover chain of "Atomobiles," which would carry them into the microscope, could see inner space travelers apparently shrinking as they moved through a translucent section of the microscope.

The attraction was based on an idea by then Monsanto President Dr. Charles Allen Thomas, and designed by Imagineer Claude Coats, with the illusions done by Yale Gracey. X Atencio's script was narrated by Paul Frees, with musical effects by Buddy Baker. The theme song, Miracles from Molecules, was composed by the Sherman Brothers naturally. Adventure Thru Inner Space also represented the first use of the Omnimover ride system in a Disney attraction.

The slow paced journey through the attraction's dark passages quickly became a hit with teenagers. Because it was a free attraction, young couples would board the ride continuously, "taking advantage" of the two seat, three sided Omnimover vehicles. To discourage the couples from doing just whatever it was they were doing in there, Disneyland began including a ticket in each of the park's ticket books, good for one complimentary ride through Adventure Thru Inner Space. Guests would have to purchase another book of tickets if they wished to ride the attraction again. When this strategy didn't seem to work, Disneyland Operations sped up the attraction, hoping to shorten the ride time. However, this only led to the attraction's slow, deep narration sounding helium induced in certain zones where the soundtrack attempted to keep up with the ride speed.

Adventure Thru Inner Space went from being a free attraction to a C-ticket one in 1972. In 1977, Monsanto's participant contract expired. The display area at the end of the attraction became a shop.

Over the next eight years, Adventure Thru Inner Space became more and more dated. Although it had been state of the art when it opened in 1967, the technology of television, video, lasers and other modern special effects quickly eclipsed the attraction's uniqueness and the queue lines grew shorter and shorter. In fall 1985, after 18 years of "piercing the wall of the oxygen atom," Adventure Thru Inner Space shut its doors forever to become Star Tours. To ensure that the campiness that was Adventure Thru Inner Space was never forgotten, Imagineers paid homage to the attraction in a few places throughout Star Tours.

You may be wondering, whatever became of those classic Disney icons that were once part of Adventure Thru Inner Space? You know, those museum quality set pieces that will forever be cherished in the hearts and minds of all who have visited Walt's Magic Kingdom.

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Well, except for a few items, it seems that everything was destroyed. The giant eyeball that stared guests down as they returned from their adventure, the one that was always a target for long distance spitters, is supposedly inside one of Imagineering's storage facilities. Most of the miniature pods from the queue area dioramas went to the Disney Archives when the attraction was dismantled. Wherever the remains may be, Adventure Thru Inner Space will always remain a fond memory of Tomorrowland history.

Now, let's do some vintage Disneyland reminiscing and return to the Tomorrowland classic Adventure Thru Inner Space as we watch the video below:



Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing read. I have been curious about the history of the park as of late, especially on old attractions that were replaced. I have been trying to figure out how and what they changed inside the building in terms of layout of Star Tours and all that.