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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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Revisiting Early Space Mountain

Last week I spent a few hours at Disneyland.  I spend time looking for remnants of extinct attractions like Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland and some time looking for forgotten pieces of modified attractions that still stand today-- like Space Mountain.

I was thrilled to find so many great pieces of surviving 1970s architecture in the area.  The experience was a far cry from walking through Tomorrowland way-back-when, but it offered its fare share of appeal.

The Speedramp has been gone for well over a decade. It closed in August, 1997 and reportedly caught fire two days later...  Is that true? More disappointing is the absence of the Space Stage and seating area and Space Place Restaurant. As you see in the first photo this area had a certain energy about it that doesn't exist today.  The Space Place Restaurant offered decent food and great places to relax and eat while enjoying occasional live music.

Photo by indydisneyfan

Before the stage area was enclosed for the introduction of Captain E.O. (1986) we could enjoy amazing vistas both high and low.  This open area allowed you to feel like Tomorrowland was a rather large land, comparable in feeling to Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland and in some ways similar to the Future World pavilions of EPCOT Center.  The bold architecture with its unique angles, shapes, lines-of-sight, and colors was a sight to behold. The emotional sensations offered by its superior aesthetic qualities, use of space, and background music was a treat to say the least. Then again we had no Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

Now we have something very different.  Tomorrowland continues on with its 12+ year identity crisis.  Much of what was painted gold and copper in color is now white, blue, or silver though much of the gold remains.  The 1998 version of Tomorrowland with its odd combination of Da Vinci-Vernes-Lucas influences has evolved (or devolved) to include very non-futuristic Pixar characters.  But possibly worse is the decaying PeopleMover track and that satellite thing where the Rocket Jets once ran.  A rocket spinner ride can still be enjoyed (to a much lesser extant than before) if you want less views of Tomorrowland and more views of the Hub- and at a much shorter height than before.  Let's not even talk about how the Astro Orbiter has cluttered up what was once one of the greatest entrances to any land.  At least fans of the Rocket Jets have something similar they can still enjoy.  PeopleMover lovers, such as myself, have only a constant reminder every time we look up from any outside area of this confused land.

There's always that inevitable comment someone always blurts out at the beginning of every Tomorrowland discussion that "it's too hard to keep up with the future so the Tomorrowlands we have are the only way."  Please.  Broken rides and taking fish?  Why not something along these lines??

But this was supposed to be a positive post! Ok, ok.  Among the few remaining excellent attractions from past Tomorrowlands is Space Mountain.  And on last week's visit I delighted in not only the well-executed Space Mountain ride refurbishments of recent years, but the remaining 70s and 80s architecture of its surrounding areas. Oh but beware of a few sad shots.  A couple might fit better in our Abandoned Disney posts.

Compare to the old Space Place here.

And if you dare: Summer of 1996's Toy Story Funhouse and Hamm’s All-Doll Revue in this location.  This baffled me to no end.  Luckily when they said "temporary" this time, they meant it.

If only there was a way to ride on that there track again.  If only that there tunnel led to something like this again.

Jurassic Park game at Disneyland, eh? Hmm.  (Look closely in the above photo) 


Related posts:

Some old soothing Space Mountain entry music
1967 "New TomorrowlandBroadcast
THEN AND NOW: MK Tomorrowland [Part 1]
The Future Was Fantastic in '57
Magic Highway U.S.A... It doesn't get much better than this.

Reader Comments (9)

So many things running thrugh my mind and I know I"m going to forget to comment on something! WOW! Incredible photos! How did you take those with no people around? You'e made me look at Tomorrowland with new eyes. I agree with you completely, by the way. Incredible post!

November 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

"PeopleMover lovers, such as myself, have only a constant reminder every time we look up from any outside area of this confused land."

This is exactly how I feel! Does anybody know if they will ever do something with the old PeopleMover track? Or if they'll just bring it back? IS THERE ANY HOPE?!

November 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTraderSam

Moving the Astro Orbiter to the front of Tomorrowland has to be one of the biggest mistakes EVER! Thank you Paul Pressler. Is it any wonder that people would spit on your paver stone out in the esplanade?

November 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Connie- I took them mid-day, mid-week and waited for people to leave the shots when people were there.

TraderSam- I know how you feel. New regulations would require emergency stairways be installed every so often plus a wider track, blah blah blah-- reportedly. Who knows.

Greg- Ahhh P.P. A true fan's best friend. NOT. Sometimes non creative people with non creative interests get involved with what should be creative endeavors. Sad. PS: That's funny about his paver stone. I didn't know about that.

November 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterAdmin

I took my first trip to DL in October and couldn't help but feel bothered by the Space Mountain area. Too many awkward and empty spaces.

I'm glad you did this post because when I walk around Magic Kingdom and EPCOT I constantly think of, explain, and lament at what used to exist.

When a space or theme doesn't work at the parks, it REALLY does not work. It's important bloggers continue to point this out and show how things used to be.

November 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdisneyanaworld

Personally, I miss the old Space Stage. Spent two years there, watching some great old stage shows before they closed it off to do Eo.

Maybe it's time to start digitizing some of those old shows, and posting them on youtube ... Disneyland is Your Land, America Is, Magic of Christmas, Mickey Mouse Club ... after 25 years, the video tapes are not as bright as they once were, but the quality is still tolerable.

And I still miss the funky Peoplemover music ... not to mention suddenly hearing "Warning! You have invaded the realm of the Master Computer Program ... prepare for the game grid of Tron!"

December 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJon

That spead ramp was great. Speed ramps at Disneyland have always been great.

October 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkipper8085

I miss the old days

Every trip I take to the park, I've always wondered what those moving sidewalk things where for in the Starcade area. Thanks for posting these. Its a great article.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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