Today In Disney History ~ August 7th
In 1956, the first rocket-spinner attraction opened at Disneyland and was known as the Astro Jets. The attraction was made by Klaus Company Bavaria and similar to several versions found in traveling carnivals. The “jets” made a 50-foot circle around a large red-checkered rocket and guests were able climb upwards of 36 feet in their ride vehicles from the ground level they were boarded at. The attraction stood between the Submarine Voyage and Rocket to the Moon.
The name Astro Jets was changed in 1964 when United Airlines, as a new park sponsor (sponsoring “The Enchanted Tiki Room”), contended the name was free advertising for American Airlines’ coast-to-coast Astrojet service. After this dispute, the name was changed to Tomorrowland Jets. The name lasted until September 1966, when the attraction was closed to make room for the new renovated Tomorrowland.
The attraction returned in August 1967 as the Rocket Jets. This version was located on top of the new PeopleMoverplatform, and was accessible from ground level via an elevator. The focal point of this version was its replica Saturn V/NASA-themed rocket in the center. This version remained open until 1997, when it closed for renovations with the rest of Tomorrowland. The new form of the attraction opened one year later as Astro Orbitor. The new version is a replica of the Orbitron, Machines Volantes at Disneyland Paris.
The Astro Orbitor was planned to be placed where the Rocket Jets were, but weighed too much for the current building. Instead, it was relocated to the entrance of Tomorrowland, and placed on ground level, thus making the ride the new focal point as guests step from the main plaza of Disneyland into Tomorrowland. One concept drawing had guests boarding the attraction underground and others had the center of the attraction featuring a water moat (similar to the “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” attraction in Fantasyland). Neither ideas were ever carried out.
The mechanism for Rocket Jets on top of the PeopleMover was re-used as a kinetic satellite-themed sculpture known as the Observatron, built from the same skeletal structure. The Observatron was originally planned to come to life every fifteen minutes and appear to summon signs from the skies, while a selected soundtrack (such as selected music pieces from Space Mountain and Le Visionarium at Disneyland Paris) would play over Tomorrowland. However, the mechanism has been prone to failure and occasionally will be inactive for periods of months or only play sporadically on certain days. It is unknown if the Observatron still functions.In April 2009, the Astro Orbitor closed for refurbishment and was stripped down to its skeletal structure.
It reopened in June 2009 with a silver, blue, red, and gold trim color scheme.
TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart; Wiki
- These Aristocats Donuts Are the Cat’s Meow! - April 9, 2021
- DIY Disney Fondue Sticks! - April 9, 2021
- Mears to Launch Own Shuttle Service When Disney Magical Express Ends - April 8, 2021