Making of: Adventures Thru Inner Space

By Keith Mahne

It was in 1965 that Walt Disney approached the Monsanto Company with his idea of building a new and expanded Tomorrowland. The original Tomorrowland had, within a decade, become more of a Todayland and it was time to think about updating the entire land, including replacing the Hall of Chemistry attraction, presented by Monsanto, with something that reflected the excitement of the present and future. Out of this partnership came the attraction Adventure Thru Inner Space.



Hall of Chemistry attraction

Today we’ll have a look at the making of that attraction as we return to our popular Making of series…



Adventures in Science concept drawing
 
More Adventures in Science concept drawings

The earliest concept for a ride into the world of the microscope appeared in 1957 as part of a proposed Tomorrowland attraction called Adventures in Science. When the idea resurfaced in the 1960s for New Tomorrowland, Journey into the Microscope, as it was originally titled, was to take guests into the microscopic realm of a drop of water. The attraction was intended to share with an exhibit to be presented by the Ford Motor Company.



Claude Coats with attraction model

The Ford attraction never materialized and the design for Adventure Thru Inner Space, as it was renamed, was expanded to encompass the entire building. It was also decided that a snowflake would make a more exciting destination than a drop of water.

Adventure Thru Inner Space opened as a free attraction with Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland in June 1967. One of the highlights of the attraction was the mighty microscope, a 37 foot long, 12 foot high microscope that appeared to miniaturize guests. Those waiting to board the Omnimover chain of “Atomobiles,” which would carry them into the microscope, could see inner space travelers apparently shrinking as they moved through a translucent section of the microscope.

The attraction was based on an idea by Monsanto President Dr. Charles Allen Thomas, and designed by Imagineer Claude Coats, with the illusions done by Yale Gracey. X. Atencio’s script was narrated by Paul Frees, with musical effects by Buddy Baker. The theme song, Miracles from Molecules, was composed by the Sherman Brothers naturally. Adventure Thru Inner Space represented the first use of the Omnimover ride system in a Disney attraction.

The slow paced journey through the attraction’s dark passages quickly became a hit with teenagers. Because it was a free attraction, young couples would board the ride continuously, “taking advantage” of the two seat, three sided Omnimover vehicles. To discourage the couples from doing just whatever it was they were doing in there, Disneyland began including a ticket in each of the park’s ticket books, good for one complimentary ride through Adventure Thru Inner Space. Guests would have to purchase another book of tickets if they wished to ride the attraction again. When this strategy didn’t seem to work, Disneyland Operations sped up the attraction, hoping to shorten the ride time. However, this only led to the attraction’s slow, deep narration sounding helium induced in certain zones where the soundtrack attempted to keep up with the ride speed.

Adventure Thru Inner Space went from being a free attraction to a C-ticket one in 1972. In 1977, Monsanto’s participant contract expired. The display area at the end of the attraction became a shop.

Over the next eight years, Adventure Thru Inner Space became more and more dated. Although it had been state of the art when it opened in 1967, the technology of television, video, lasers and other modern special effects quickly eclipsed the attraction’s uniqueness and the queue lines grew shorter and shorter. In fall 1985, after 18 years of “piercing the wall of the oxygen atom,” Adventure Thru Inner Space shut its doors forever to become Star Tours. To ensure that the campiness that was Adventure Thru Inner Space was never forgotten, Imagineers paid homage to the attraction in a few places throughout Star Tours.

And so, whatever became of those Disney icons that were once a part of Adventure Thru Inner Space? Those museum quality set pieces that will forever be cherished in the hearts and minds of all who have visited Walt’s Magic Kingdom? Except for a few items, it seems that everything was destroyed. The giant eyeball that stared guests down as they returned from their adventure, the one that was always a target for long distance spitters, is supposedly inside one of Imagineering’s storage facilities. Most of the miniature pods from the queue area dioramas went to the Disney Archives when the attraction was dismantled. Wherever the remains may be, Adventure Thru Inner Space will always remain a fond memory of Tomorrowland history. Let’s do some reminiscing and check out the video below:

 
 

 
 
 
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