Misadventures Thru Inner Space

Indulge me one final plug for Magic Pursuit, our puzzle quest game through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, happening this Sunday!  You can still register your team!  Now, on with the blog…

It’s said that as you get older, you grow wiser.  I think I mostly just grow nostalgic.  I’m not new to the whole Disney thing.  I’ve seen some of the classics in their heyday.  Those original Future World attractions?  I saw them, which is more than I can say for some of you.  Let’s face it, if I say “Old Epcot,” some of you think of Food Rocks.

I’ve ridden Dream Flight, picked my own Horizons ending, driven Mr. Toad’s car.  I remember a time when parades didn’t stop every 30 feet to perform some kind of hyperkinetic kindergarden playground game.  I’ve even seen those Universe of Energy Radok screens in action — and believe it or not, I saw one of the early previews of Ellen’s Energy Adventure projected on those very same tiles (though of course, they didn’t move)
The last thing you want is Bill Nye’s face rippling across the landscape like some Amityville phantom.
But there actually is a period in time where memory fades into nothingness.  Truthfully, I have only fragmented recollections of the Orange Bird.  I can just barely recall the Mickey Mouse Revue (King Louis scared me), and have no familiarity with Spaceship Earth narration prior to Walter Cronkite.  And don’t even ask me if I remember my mother.  My real mother.
Just images, really.  Feelings.
So there is a point where my Disney experience stops.  Everything that came before is but a hanging chad on my geek street cred ballot.  Some of these things I can sort of get a sense of without ever having seen them.  Like Flight to the Moon.  I mean, I saw Mission to Mars.  The seat sinks, the circular TV shows a grainy landscape, the bird blocks the runway.  I think I get the gist.  Or Magic Carpet ‘Round the World.  Aren’t all CircleVision movies kind of the same?
But there are many rides I never got to experience, and while I’d love to be able to walk through the House of the Future or catch a ride on the Pack Mules, the one big regret I have is missing out on Adventure Thru Inner Space.
I have romanticized this ride in my head for years now.  Every description I’ve read makes it sound very much like another EPCOT dark ride.  It had its own theme song. An educational storyline.  An omnimover.  A weird air conditioning smell.  I’m sure the reality was a little more hokey (more If You Had Wings than World of Motion), but it’s just something I really feel I’ve missed out on.
Even though my life overlapped with Adventure Thru Inner Space (it was open well into the 1980s), I never got to see it simply because it was on the West Coast, and my family always went to Disney World.  We took one trip to Disneyland in ’86, and I remember seeing a stencil on a dark Tomorrowland window that read “Adventure Thru Inner Space.”  It sounded intriguing at the time, but there was no hint of any actual ride.  Just that forgotten stencil.  I had no way of knowing that I was a year late.  Inner Space had closed to make way for Star Tours.
It didn’t really show up in the literature.  This was before the internet, and as a kid, my exposure to classic Disneyland rides came only from any souvenir books I managed to scrape up, or some bare-bones info in one of the three Walt Disney biographies at my school library.  I went years before finally understanding that ATIS was a dark ride.  I think it wasn’t until I got my hand on David Koenig’s Mouse Tales that I finally read something longer than a sentence about it.
Oh, and along these same lines, don’t even get me started on Disneyland’s “PeopleMover Thru The World of Tron.” This was listed on the guidemap during my ’86 Disneyland trip, but for some reason was closed for refurbishment.  For years I thought I was missing out on some awesome new Tron ride.  Turns out it was just a lame speed tunnel overlay.
Star Tours 1.0 apparently contained a nod to the “Mighty Microscope” from ATIS.  I’m sure this is a great thrill for long-time Disneyland fans.  But the reference always slipped past me.  I know it’s somewhere in that opening scene (the big swinging piece of equipment that almost takes out our speeder?), but I really have no context.  I’m not in on the joke.
Also, any self-respecting Mighty Microscope would have a big block M on its chest.
I’ve since heard the theme song (Miracles from Molecules, a tune that can only belong to the Sherman Brothers) and even listened to the entire narration, thanks to that awesome Disneyland 50th CD collection.  But I’ve always avoided watching YouTube video of it, simply because I have built this thing up so much in my head now.  I don’t want to be confronted with some half-baked Body Wars precursor.  I want the intellectual equivalent of Horizons, with tasteful corporate message, matched with the elegance of Tomorrow’s Child!
I’m pretty sure with dialogue like “Will I possibly survive?”, I’m in for disappointment.  Maybe this weekend I’ll finally dig up an old ride-thru and see what I’ve been missing.  But part of me really doesn’t want to.
Especially if I’m going to be confronted by a parade of shadowy alien fetuses floating through the molecules.
This post is especially timely, with Star Tours 3-D officially opening tomorrow.  The ride that replaced Adventure Thru Inner Space is itself being replaced.  And even though Disney announced that the original Tiki Room may be coming back, it’s doubtful that they’ll ever rebuild a 1960s dark ride.  I’m sure many of you have similar regrets, and part of the fun is sharing with everyone else.  What rides or shows did you miss out on?  And please, no votes for Doug Live.

Comments (13)

  1. Ummm, when I think “Old Epcot” I think Food Rocks. That might have something to do with the fact that I was born 3 years after Epcot opened. Oh, I also have enjoyed ALL of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. \

    But I have definitely ridden Mr. Toad!
    And I really enjoy this site! Discovered it about 2 months ago, have been working my way through the archives….great stuff.

    • Glad you are digging it Ben but you are making me feel old if you think Food Rocks was old school… Yikes!

      • Well, I said that because of the way Shane worded it in the original article. But I just looked up info about Food Rocks, and I’m not positive I remember it. I do think of World of Motion as “old school” Epcot though….I only went there once or twice in the years it was open.

  2. Thanks for the link, Shelly! It’s a little more hidden than I realized. I wonder if they snuck a Mighty Microscope reference into Star Tours 3D somewhere? Maybe in all the chaos of Coruscant.

  3. @Mr. Lincoln, I was fortunate enough to experience River Country a couple times. I love the concept, and it needed expansion, not shuttering. Adventurer’s Club was never really my thing, but I understand why so many people love it. It had a level of detail that was unmatched in all of Downtown Disney.

  4. Phil, I think this just proves you’re older than me 😉 I have no memories of the Swan Boats. But I would give my right arm for a chance to see my Treehouse from the river (or at least my right pinky finger). And there are some promising rumors that we may get our Orange Bird back, when the new (old) Tiki Room reopens! They’ve got some extra AA guts from Iago or Zazu that could be put to use.

  5. MAGNIFICATION! Yon! Yon!
    I’m with you on this one Shane, it’s sounds classy and I wish this fellow east coaster could’ve seen it.
    I was once at the age of avoiding the WDW Swan Boats like the plague; I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would waste the line time to see what you could do just by walking. On this last trip however, I even fried tons of time closely checking out the Swiss Family Treehouse, to which I think security thought I was ready to freak. This was also after riding Buzz with eyes closed to relive If You Had Wings, so they may have had good premise. ( It does work by the way)
    So yea anyway, I’m standing there studying the amazing yet neglected detail, and realize that the Swan Boats would have offered an unprecedented view of not only the Tree House, but all along the route. Which means I’m regretfully pissed for skipping it.
    Time for some ole timer chat~ shame shame Shane no golden memory of Orange Bird? ;} I stopped by the SST this past week and curiously asked the counter gal about the “motion wheels” above the counter. Of course she had no idea ( and by now must have called security) but maybe she will wonder enough to someday ask someone up the ladder, setting off a positive chain reaction. And no, whoever said there is a small souvenir Orange Bird at the SST is now officially wrong. At least I still have my little plastic orange with Mickey on it, and now a paper straw thanks to Animal Kingdoms ECO bent. Pat pat, good Phil.

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