If I ever found Aladdin’s magic lamp, I already know what my first wish would be: to go back in time to the 1950s (maybe even to July 17, 1955 to be exact). In all actuality, I love the 50s, and sometimes I think that I was born in the wrong era. My music of choice is 50s rock and roll and my dream car is a 1957 cascade green Corvette. Just like I wish I could go back in time to the 50s, I wish I could travel back in time to see how Disneyland was during different eras. I’m jealous of Disneyland guests who got to ride the Skyway to Fantasyland, and I envy guests who dined at Skull Rock and Pirate’s Cove. Without further ado, here are my top five attractions that I wish were still at Disneyland.
#5: Rocket Rods (1998-2001)
I know, I know. I was alive when the Rocket Rods were at Disneyland, so why don’t I remember them? Maybe because I was only three at the time, or maybe because I wasn’t as invested into Disneyland at that time as I am now. Believe me, I scold my past self every day for not paying more attention when I visited Disneyland as a youngin’. According to the a 2002 Disneyland souvenir book, “This thrilling attraction puts guests behind the wheels of high-speed vehicles of the future as they tear along an elevated highway around Tomorrowland”. That elevated highway was actually the old PeopleMover track. The rockets looked like “futuristic hotrods” that traveled at a speed of 30 miles an hour. Although the attraction was thrilling to some, it left many disappointed from the frequent breakdowns throughout the day. The ride retired in April of 2001; the old queue is now part of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and the old track is still standing above Tomorrowland.
#4: General Electric Carousel of Progress (1967-1973)
Imagine my excitement when my grandparents gave my family a trip to Walt Disney World a couple years ago. It was my second time going (but it was more like my first because I had no recollection of my first visit since I was only three months old), and being the Disneyland nerd that I am, I was most excited to ride the Carousel of Progress in the Magic Kingdom. My dad always raved about the ride, and I was so excited that I’d get the chance to experience it for myself. The attraction didn’t disappoint! Just as my dad explained it, guests would file inside a theater, and after they were inside, the floor would start rotating, as if you were on a carousel. The guests would be led to another theater where audioanimatronics would reenact how life was in a certain time period. The carousel rotated three more times, and each time the same family would reappear about twenty years later, in a different time period. The last show reenacted life in the future. Walt Disney’s go-to song writers, Richard and Robert Sherman, wrote the famous song for the attraction “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”. Originally, the attraction opened at the 1964 New York Worlds’ Fair and afterword, it was such a success that it was brought to Disneyland. In 1973, the attraction moved to Disney World. Today, the Star Wars Launch Bay takes its place.
#3: Skyway to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (1956-1994)
The skyway attraction (commonly known as The Buckets) was part of Walt’s plan to introduce innovative transportation in Disneyland. The buckets were suspended 60 feet above the air on cables that would travel to and from Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Guests had spectacular views of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland attractions such as Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, and the Submarine Voyage. By-far, the coolest part of the attraction was that the cable cars traveled through the Matterhorn. Contrary to popular belief, the ride wasn’t shut down because of maladies; it was shut down because guests would regularly spit and litter on the guests below. The hole in the Matterhorn was sealed up and the Tomorrowland chalet was destroyed, but the Fantasyland chalet is still visible tucked away in the trees across from Pinocchio’s Village Haus and adjacent to Casey Jr. Circus Train.
#2: Skull Rock and Pirate’s Cove (1960-1982)
The Pirate Ship Restaurant opened five years before Skull Rock was constructed. Guests dining at the restaurant had a beautiful view of the turquoise lagoon and the elaborate pirate ship. Skull Rock was built and modeled after Skull Rock in Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. I know I would have enjoyed this attraction because as I’ve said before, I have never wanted to grow up and I know that Neverland would be a perfect fit for me. It would have been so exciting to see a little glimpse of Neverland in Disneyland. The attraction was torn down when Fantasyland was drastically remodeled in 1982. Dumbo The Flying Elephant took its place and part of the pirate ship can be seen on Peter Pan’s Flight.
#1: Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, aka Rainbow Cavern’s Mine Train (1956-1977)
This famous Disneyland attraction was one of Walt’s ideas to bring national parks to Disneyland. The 30 inch, narrow gauge track took guests on a quarter mile journey through colorful waterfalls, barren deserts, eerie caverns, exploding geysers, and lush forests. Other attractions such as Conestoga Wagons, Stage Coach, and Mule Pack shared the same route as the mine train. Over 200 audioanimatronic animals added to the ride’s authenticity. The attraction was replaced by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Some of the waterfalls are still visible from the various modes of transportation around the Rivers of America. An old mine train used to be on Tom Sawyer’s Island but it was recently removed. A boarded up tunnel that was used for the ride is visible from Big Thunder Trail.
Although all of these attractions are no longer at Disneyland, I’m thankful for the Disneyland that I’ve grown up with. Disneyland will continue to grow, and the Disneyland I know and love won’t be the same Disneyland that my kids or even my grandkids will enjoy. As Walt famously said, “Disneyland is something that will never be finished. It’s something that I can keep developing. It will be a living, breathing thing that will need change”.
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