Thursday, March 28, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Astro Blasters Gift Shop

Climb out of your space cruiser, and record your scores. Congratulations, you've just defeated the evil Emperor Zurg! Take a look at the candid photo of you abusing your trigger figure on alien invaders and walk past the gift shop, back into the busy streets of Tomorrowland. That's the drill when riding Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

But have you ever stopped to take a closer look inside the gift shop? It hasn't got much; an assortment of Toy Story memorabilia and pins... but if you're old enough to remember the once popular Astro Jets ride, then you'll surely recognize this little guy:

It's not a replica either; it's one of the actual rockets that people used to ride in. If you look inside, you'll find the lever that would launch the rocket into orbit or bring it back down to earth. Many of the features have been updated - obviously it received a Buzz Lightyear-themed paint job, and the seating area has been bolted over. But look at the underside and you'll see that it hasn't exactly been altered from its original state. The mechanics and supports are all still in there.

The whereabouts of the many Rocket Jets have varied. After the ride was replaced by Astro Orbitor in 1998, they were auctioned off, and only a couple remained within Disney property. One of them was put on display in the line for the Rocket Rods attraction, a short-lived thrill ride whose waiting queue included many nods to the past, such as an actual Rocket Jet, a Skyway Gondola, and a PeopleMover car. Speaking of the PeopleMover...

That's right, the cashier counter itself is modeled after the PeopleMover. Obviously, this isn't a real vehicle that was used to carry guests, like our rocket friend up there. It's just a cool tribute to that beloved ride. Disappointed that you'll never see the PeopleMover again? Well, if you can manage to get into the Imagineering headquarters in California, you'll see lots of them scattered about. In fact, if you visit Walt Disney World in Florida, you can still ride their PeopleMover, it's called The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. But at least here in Disneyland you can come to this store and revisit memories of this forgotten ride.

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