Thursday, July 4, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: PeopleMover and Rocket Rods

The PeopleMover was one of the most famous and iconic transportation rides in Disneyland's rich history. Today, it's one of the most mysterious. Many younger guests who never got to experience the PeopleMover, such as myself, have always been puzzled by the abandoned tracks circling above Autopia and the Submarine Lagoon, and weaving about the many attractions in Tomorrowland. The long-lived attraction was a slow moving transport ride, with many different colorful trains. The PeopleMover eventually took guests inside other rides too, like Space Mountain and Star Tours.

It departed from the still-standing Tomorrowland station and arrived back where it started. The PeopleMover operated at a slow pace, often enticing guests into jumping from car to car. This caused many serious injuries, and even a number of fatalities. In 1995, the PeopleMover closed for good, after a 28-year run.

Although the PeopleMover has been gone for nearly two decades, the tracks and loading station remain intact. Why not use them to create another ride? Well...

They tried.
The Rocket Rods opened in 1998. Advertised for its speed and adrenaline, it was instead famous for excessively long wait-times, and an underwhelmingly short ride experience. Guests would expect to see wait-times of 1-2 hours, and be treated to a ride that lasted three minutes. Keep in mind that the PeopleMover traversed this track in 16, and didn't subject guests to nearly as long a wait. It did however reach a top speed of 35 mph (56 km/h), making it quite a thrill for young riders. The Rocket Rods were loved by many, but hated by most, and were closed after a measly 2 years.

Personally I think the PeopleMover tracks are an eyesore, but couldn't imagine Tomorrowland without them. Disney is known for its lousy job of removing forgotten attractions, mostly because it's an expensive and time-consuming process. But it doesn't explain why this massive set of tracks has been untouched for nearly 15 years. Hopefully, the Imagineers plan to revive the PeopleMover, or maybe even convert them into a large walkway queue. Something to occupy the wasted space sitting above the lands of Tomorrow and Fantasy.

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