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YESTERDAYLAND : Nostalgia: Every change at Disneyland brings a reaction from visitors. Often they are upset by replacement of something they remember fondly from past visits--even if it wasn’t very popular. What dooms an attraction? If it isn’t moving, it might be moved out.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peggy Winder, visiting Disneyland from Racine, Wis., for perhaps the 20th time in her 48 years, said something seemed different. But she couldn’t put her finger on it.

She searched Tomorrowland’s panorama for a clue. Finally she glanced up and saw it. The Skyway, whose four-passenger gondolas rode an aerial cable between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland since 1956, were gone. She was standing on a new patch of asphalt where a support tower had been uprooted only four days earlier.

Winder was angry--no, hurt. “How would they do that?” she said. But what she meant was, how could they do that to me?

“The baby boomers miss these old rides the most,” said David Koenig, a baby boomer who grew up going to Disneyland and recently published an unofficial history of the park.

“I was at a Disneyana convention over the summer. The Disney people announced a minor change in Storybook Land--a scene from ‘Aladdin’ was going to replace a scene from ‘Mr. Toad'--and these people started booing. These people just don’t want Disneyland to change.”

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But it has, does and will, say Disneyland planners. Of the 38 attractions operating during 1955, the park’s first year, only 17 remain, some in altered form. In all, about two dozen Disneyland attractions have been closed or replaced, but only one has ever been saved by public outcry. Two attempts to replace “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,” in which a realistic Lincoln robot delivers a speech, were thwarted by what a Disney executive called a “deluge” of letters and telephone calls.

The irony, says Disney management, is that “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” was one of the park’s lowest-volume attractions and remains so today. People love it, but they don’t go to see it.

“It’s kind of like music,” said Craig Smith, Disneyland’s director of attractions. “It’s associated with certain things in your life and reminds you of them. I remember when they tore down the Sunshine Broiler on Harbor Boulevard. I met my first girlfriend there. How can they pull out the Sunshine Broiler?!” Smith can answer the question when it comes to Disneyland. What dooms an attraction there is one or a combination of three factors: “being too passive, low attendance or we could put something better there.”

But it’s not even that simple, he conceded. “America Sings” was closed because it was too passive and therefore poorly attended; visitors merely sat and watched robot animals perform. But still open is “Country Bear Jamboree,” in which visitors merely sit to watch robot animals perform.

The difference, according to Smith, is that the bear show is “a critical element of that particular area, Critter Country. We put ‘America Sings’ in Tomorrowland, and it was a borderline fit.”

It is the reason that while Disneyland disposed of all its pony and mule rides because the creatures were troublesome to control, it maintained the horse-drawn streetcars on Main Street. They were just too important to the image, Smith said.

“We like to have things moving. It gives a kinetic focal point. It gives movement to the area. The streetcars were such a key element, they were probably the featured thing on Main Street.” Some departed attractions are still mourned. “People always ask about the House of the Future, and they remember Skull Rock and Pirate’s Cove and the Mickey Mouse Club Theatre and the Flying Saucers,” said publicist John McClintock.

On the other hand, some fall into the good-riddance category as far as Disneyland management is concerned.

* The Flying Saucers, opened in 1961. Great fun. Huge fans blew air through holes in the floor, lifting the one-person saucers like Hovercraft. Riders could steer by leaning, making the saucers act like bumper cars.

“It was my favorite ride,” said visitor Elden Buckler, 50, of Wichita, Kan., “but it took forever to get on because it was always breaking down.”

The official history of Disneyland declared the saucers a “maintenance nightmare.”

“We have to have attractions with good reliability,” said Smith. “We have to have operating reliability in the high, high 90 percents. If an attraction goes down, we upset guests. With the Flying Saucers, it was just awful.”

According to Koenig, the ride also frightened safety managers. A boom that would sweep the saucers to one side at ride’s end was powerful enough to maim anyone who fell onto the floor.

* The Phantom Boats, 1955. You have to be a real old-timer to remember these. They were ugly little motorboats with grotesque tail fins that were even more unreliable than the Flying Saucers. Randy Bright, author of the park’s official history, wrote that “each boat that left the dock seemed to have only a 50-50 chance of making it back without having to be towed.”

The boats were redesigned after two years, then removed in 1993.

* Mule Pack, 1956. Most horse- and pony-drawn rides like stagecoaches, fire wagons and surreys were gone by 1960 after accidents like a stagecoach capsizing and another being carried away without a driver. The mules persisted, however, until even Walt Disney admitted they, too, were a liability.

Drivers complained that the mules often refused to budge, sometimes just sitting down mid-ride. Worse, they enjoyed nibbling on the visitors.

“I remember as a little girl, one of them ate the hat on the girl in front of me,” said visitor Linda Westmoreland of San Diego. “I laughed until my mule reached around and started eating my skirt. Then I screamed.”

* The House of the Future, 1957. “I thought it was boring, but people always ask about it,” said McClintock. An X-shaped house on a low pedestal, it was intended by its sponsor, Monsanto, to show how chemistry would provide us with virtually our entire domestic environment.

“Everything was plastic,” recalled visitor William Arnett of San Francisco. “Even the house and furniture were plastic. I remember it was the first time I ever saw a microwave oven, although I forget what they called it then. It was really pretty nifty.”

But as the future came nearer, the house became less of a wow, and Monsanto wanted something different. The house was demolished, and Monsanto instead sponsored . . .

* Adventure Thru Inner Space, 1967. Riders entered two-person cars that seemed to envelop you like a cocoon, carrying you into a giant microscope and through a particularly dark ride.

It was supposed to explain the structure of molecules and atoms, but the ride was popular among dating couples for a different reason. Some found the seeming isolation in the dark an invitation to fool around.

The isolation was an illusion, however; ride operators were stationed throughout to keep an eye on things, and according to Koenig, they quickly dubbed the ride “Adventure Thru Inner Course.” Koenig said a common prank was to tell inquiring couples that the ride took much longer than it actually did, then gather at the exit to see the couple emerge suddenly into the light.

The ride maintained its popularity but was removed to make way for “Star Tours,” a high-tech ride based on the “Star Wars” movies.

* Rocket to the Moon, 1955. Visitors sat in a room where projected images and vibrating seats gave the illusion of space flight. But it suffered from Tomorrowland disease; that is, it couldn’t remain futuristic for very long. Redesigned twice to stay ahead of reality, its reincarnation as Mission to Mars was doomed after spacecraft really did reach Mars.

Trying to keep Tomorrowland fresh “is like chasing your tail,” said Smith. Most closed or replaced attractions have been associated with Tomorrowland, and another overhaul of that area is planned by 1999.

But no attractions are yet marked for extinction, Smith said. When the new Indiana Jones attraction opens in Adventureland in February, “We think we’ll be pretty much where we want to be. Nothing’s about to be put out to pasture. But we’re thinking about it all the time.”

Tomorrowland planners have only a goal, to make the new Tomorrowland somehow more durable by making it agelessly futuristic. “Maybe it could be a retro look at the future,” Smith said.

Which would bring Tomorrowland nearly full circle. It’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” exhibit--sets and props from the Disney movie of Jules Verne’s 1870 science fiction novel--was closed 28 years ago. It may be forgotten, but it’s not gone. Today pieces of the exhibit are incorporated into other attractions. For example, Capt. Nemo’s pipe organ is part of the Haunted Mansion.

“What strikes me as kind of interesting is how some of these extinct attractions can still be seen around the park,” said Koenig.

“The mine train that was replaced by Big Thunder Mountain--you can still see pieces of track and the cars here and there. You can still see the graveyard from the Indian village. The rigging from the pirate ship in Fantasyland was incorporated into the Peter Pan ride when they rebuilt Fantasyland.”

And if you yearn for the nostalgia of date night in the old Inner Space ride, look closely on the right when your Star Tours spacecraft goes “out of control” in its hangar. You’ll see a huge microscope lying there, its only purpose to remind you of days gone by.

Major Attractions That Have Come and Gone at Disneyland

Original attractions, operating when the park opened on July 17, 1955, are marked with *.

*

MAIN STREET * Horse-drawn fire wagon: Removed in 1960. - Horse-drawn surreys: Removed, date uncertain. Main Street Shooting Gallery: Opened in 1955, removed in 1962. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln: Opened in 1965, replaced by the Walt Disney Story in 1973, reopened in 1975.

*

TOMORROWLAND - Space Station X-1: Redesigned as Satellite View of America in 1958, removed in 1960. - Monsanto Hall of Chemistry: Removed in 1966. Rocket to the Moon: Opened in 1955, redesigned as Flight to the Moon in 1967, as Mission to Mars in 1975, closed in 1992. Phantom Boats: Opened in 1955, redesigned as Motor Boat Cruise in 1957, removed in 1993. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Exhibit: Opened in 1955, removed in 1966. Thimble Drome Flight Circle: (for flying model airplanes) Opened in 1955, removed in 1966. Astro-Jets: Opened in 1956, closed in 1966, replaced by Rocket Jets in 1967. Skyway to Fantasyland: Opened in 1956, removed in 1994. House of the Future: Opened in 1957, removed in 1967. View-Liner: Opened in 1957, removed in 1958, replaced by Disneyland Monorail System in 1959. Art of Animation: Opened in 1960, removed in 1966. Flying Saucers: Opened in 1961, removed in 1966. Carousel of Progress: Opened in 1967, moved to Walt Disney World in 1973, replaced by America Sings in 1974, closed in 1988 and animated characters transferred to Splash Mountain. Adventure Thru Inner Space: Opened in 1967, removed in 1985, replaced by Star Tours in 1987.

*

FRONTIERLAND - Stagecoach: Renamed Rainbow Mountain Stage Coach in 1956, removed in 1959. - Mule Pack: Renamed Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules in 1956, Pack Mules Through Nature’s Wonderland in 1960, removed in 1973. Conestoga Wagons: Opened in 1955, removed in 1959. Indian Village: Opened in 1956, removed in 1971 to make way for Bear Country. Rainbow Caverns Mine Train: Opened in 1956, renamed Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland in 1960, removed in 1977.

*

FANTASYLAND Mickey Mouse Club Theatre: Opened in 1955, removed in 1983. Mickey Mouse Club Circus: Opened in 1955 and flopped, closing within weeks. Skyway to Tomorrowland: Opened in 1956, removed in 1994. Midget Autopia: Opened in 1957, removed in 1966 and donated to Marceline, Mo., where Walt Disney was raised. Installed in a public park, it continued to operate until the late 1970s. Fantasyland Autopia: Opened in 1959, closed in 1993, but reactivated when Tomorrowland Autopia is not operating. Skull Rock and Pirate’s Cove: Opened in 1961, removed in 1982 during preparations for new Fantasyland.

*

ADVENTURELAND Safari Game Shoot: Opened in 1962, removed in 1982.

* Source: Disneyland


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