I'm going to Disneyland in two weeks! I've been there before; my husband hasn't. We're both Disney freaks – especially anything Haunted Mansion-related. Some Disneyland attractions are classics and have been around forever – Dumbo, for instance, has been around almost since the beginning (the park opened on July 17, 1955 and Dumbo followed about a month later). Peter Pan's Flight has been around since the beginning, and so has the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (the teacups!) and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Other rides haven't really stood up to the test of time, unfortunately, and those are the ones we're going to take a look at.
photo from A History of Disney Theme Parks
You're probably familiar with the different sections of Disneyland these days – Tomorrowland, Frontierland and Fantasyland, to name a few. But Holidayland? Yep. It opened on June 16, 1957, and was a nine-acre picnic area that was for… well… frolicking, basically. There were playgrounds, horseshoes, a baseball field, volleyball and the "world's largest candy-striped circus tent" which stood where the Haunted Mansion is today. Pirates of the Caribbean takes up the spot where the baseball field used to be. It only lasted a few years – Holidayland closed in 1961 because it just didn't fit in with the rest of the park (among other things like lack of shade).
This miniature train has the dubious honor of being one of the shortest-lived rides to ever exist at Disneyland. It opened in June of 1957 and promptly closed in September 1958 when construction started on the Matterhorn and Submarine Voyage. There were two trains – one for Fantasyland and one for Tomorrowland – and the track ran a figure-eight through both of those areas. The tiny, sleek (for that time) train was supposed to represent the future of train travel. Eventually the monorail filled the void left by the Viewliner.
Monsanto House of the Future
picture from Apartment Therapy
I love those old ads from the 1950s that show "futuristic" kitchens cooking the meals all by themselves with "space-age" technology. That's kind of what the Monsanto House of the Future was like. It was in operation from 1957 to 1967 and was a tour of a house in the year 1986. It's laughable now, but the MIT-built house featured technology such as microwaves, which obviously did end up being invented. Just about everything about the house – including the exterior – was made out of plastic. You can still see the support pillars of Monsanto's House of the Future in Neptune's Grotto – they were rated for earthquakes and proved to be so sturdy that they were just about impossible to remove. Monsanto, by the way, is an agricultural biotechnology company (meaning they make herbicides and pesticides and the like).
picture from AlteredDreams
In the more recent past, we have Captain EO, which I vaguely remember from EPCOT. Captain EO was a 3-D movie starring, of course, Michael Jackson. And if you're looking for more credentials than that (keep in mind MJ was HUGE at this point in time), it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and executive produced by George Lucas. They also co-wrote the script with Rusty Lemorande.
Here's the plot: Captain EO and his team are piloting a spaceship to deliver a gift to the evil Supreme Leader (Anjelica Huston). One of his shipmates is named Hooter, which seems like a huge oversight to me. Hooter is an elephant, not an owl as you might suspect. Well, the Supreme Leader isn't exactly thrilled with the crew and orders them to be tortured. EO charms the Queen by singing her a song, but as soon as the music stops the spell breaks and she orders the crew to be captured again. EO uses his music to transform the evil guards into dancers who line up to dance behind him Thriller-zombie-style. EO eventually uses his powers to turn the Supreme Leader and her entire planet into things of beauty.
The 17-minute film cost somewhere between $17 and $30 million to make. Sounds like a lot, but when you consider than it ran for more than 10 years at Disneyland (1986 to 1997), maybe it's not so bad. Then MJ went weird and Disney decided to pull the attraction and replace it with "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience".
picture from Yesterland
Looking for a collection of animatronic swamp critters singing old Dixieland favorites and old folk tunes? Too bad you missed America Sings! Had you been at Disneyland sometime between June of 1974 and April of 1988, you could have witnessed geese singing "Camptown Races", a dog singing "Home on the Range" a pink singing "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey?" and a crane and a rooster singing "Shake, Rattle and Roll". A decent number of the characters appeared to be either quite intoxicated or at least trying their hardest to get there. It's one of the few Disney attractions with characters actually drinking alcohol (Pirates of the Caribbean also comes to mind… rum anyone?). The building was used for offices for a while and eventually became home to Innoventions, which I believe is still there today. The swamp creatures, however, befriended Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear and now reside happily at Splash Mountain.
Picture from Yesterland
High school physics students who participated in Hovercraft competitions, this one is for you. Basically, the Flying Saucers ride was Disney's answer to bumper cars. When the ride starts, air would shoot up under the saucer and lift it up off the floor (just a little… we're not talking feet here). Riders would have to tilt their bodies the way they wanted the saucer to go and were encouraged to bump into other guests. Alas, the saucers only lasted about five years in the mid 60s. Those are just a few of the rides that are now defunct – things at all of the Disney parks are always changing. Even the old favorites get little updates every now and then. Do you have a favorite ride that is no longer in operation? I know a lot of people were upset when the Magic Kingdom's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea met its maker.