Friday, March 02, 2007

Adventure Through Inner Space

“YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. This is the tracking system for an adventure through inner space.” With those words began one of the greatest rides in Disneyland’s history. It was not a roller coaster, not an audio-animatronic show, not a musical show, not a humorous show. It was not a corny show (not intentionally, anyway). It was not a show for toddlers or young kids. In fact, it was almost too scary for them! (I’m sure I’m not the only person who once believed that you really do shrink when you go on this ride!)

The premise of the ride is that you enter your “atommobile” (which looks a lot like the “Doom Buggys” at the Haunted Mansion) which rides into the “Mighty Microscope,” which then shrinks you down to the size of an atom - and smaller! Along the way, you see the water molecules, the protons, neutrons & electrons, then the “universe” within an atom, then finally the blinking red nucleus of the atom! Finally, you quickly grow back to your regular size and exit the atommobile and cry out, “I want to do it again!”

If there is any way to make the basics of atomic chemistry interesting and fun to the general public, it was through this ride. Years later, when I learned more about atoms in high school, I was able to better understand the images I saw in this ride. Monsanto & Disney really should be proud of themselves for helping so many people understand the basics of this stuff. “Big Thunder” may be fun, but what did you really LEARN from it? The only thing I learned is “Don’t trust a runaway train!”

Just for fun, here are the lessons of some other famous Disneyland attractions:

MAIN STREET, U.S.A.: Buy stuff.

STAR TOURS: Robots aren’t perfect.

AUTOPIA: Do not bump the car ahead of you.

MATTERHORN: Don’t ever, ever piss off the abominable snowman.

JUNGLE CRUISE: You can not always trust the person who is guiding you.

MISTER TOAD’S WILD RIDE: Drive like a maniac and you’ll go to hell.

Back to Inner Space : I’m not the only fan of past Disneyland rides. If you’ve never visited the Extinct Attractions club, now is the time. They offer videos of footage from Disneyland past, including “Inner Space” footage! They also have a great podcast page which includes audio clips from many favorite attractions. I am definitely thankful that these folks are around to preserve the history of Disneyland in this way. You can check them out here:

If it’s only the Inner Space ride that you’re interested in, then this is the page for you. This great tribute to the ride will teach you just about everything you wanted to know. And it's designed by a fellow SoCal native!

And how about the great Paul Frees, whose voice can be heard not only in “Inner Space,” but so many other Disneyland attractions as well, including Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion (he’s the original “Ghost Host”) ! His classic voice can also be heard in the original “War of the Worlds” movie, one of my faves from the 1950s era. His voice was definitely an important “special effect” in that ride. You can learn more about him by following the link under "history" at the site above.

The Inner Space ride was in the location that “Star Tours” is today. Star Tours is great in its own way, but it can’t replace shrinking you down to the size of an atom! If I could bring back one ride from the Disneyland of my youth, it would probably be this ride. I have been told that this was one of the greatest “make out” rides in the history of the park as well. Man, what a cool idea! Making out on a Disneyland ride! Let’s face it, there aren’t too many other rides you can do that on. People will stare at you! I suppose you could do it quickly while on “Haunted Mansion,” but somehow it’s not the same. I’d feel more comfortable making out within the universe of an atom than in front of those hitchhiking ghosts. Hey, buddy, who let YOU in here, anyway? Get your own girl! :)

FAVORITE EXTINCT DISNEYLAND ATTRACTIONS: Adventure through Inner Space; America the Beautiful; America Sings; Original Submarine Voyage; Mission to Mars; Country Bear Jamboree

FAVORITE DISNEYLAND ATTRACTIONS: Pirates of the Caribbean; Matterhorn; Pinocchio’s daring journeys; Jungle Cruise; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln; Star Tours; Alice in Wonderland; Haunted Mansion; Big Thunder; Primeval world dinosaurs

By the way, if you happen to have home movies of “Inner Space” or any of the other extinct attractions from Disneyland, you may want to contact the Extinct Attractions club and offer a copy of some of your footage. You may get to see it someday in a future DVD. And if they don’t want it. . . Could you contact me?


As I was web surfing this week, I found a link to a Web page that looked interesting. But when I clicked on it, I found a page with this message:

You were landed on this page because you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer. Nothing wrong with that, really, except that this particular browser is not welcome on this particular server. Webmaster's whim, if you want the easy explanation. The more complex explanation has to do with Microsoft's monopolistic ambitions and the simple measures that people like you and I can take against the arrogant rhino from Redmond.

If the information you were trying to access is worth your trouble, you can install Mozilla or Firefox, Opera, Netscape or any other browser and then come back. If, on the other hand, you feel that's too much hassle, then obviously you can live just as happily without the information you were trying to access. In that case, off you go to the next site.

So what about this? Well, I know many people who still use Macs, and that’s not necessarily because they hate Microsoft. They just like Macs better, and that’s fine. Macs are excellent machines. But it would be wrong to limit access to your Web page only to people who used Macs, wouldn’t it? And there are other browsers out there that are definitely just as good (if not better) than Explorer. There are a lot of cars out there that are probably better than my car. But I don’t think that’s enough of a reason not to allow me to drive down your street.

Don’t get me wrong - I have no particular love for Microsoft, and I am against their dreams of a “monopoly” in the computer world. But is it really a good policy to tell people that they can’t access your web page because of their choice of Web browsers? Nobody who wants to increase Web traffic to their page would want to do that. You’d be making a good political statement, but at the cost of more than a few people visiting your site. Perhaps that’s fine - the number of viewers does not necessarily mean anything. But if I told people that they couldn’t enter my house because of the funny clothes they wear, and they had to go home and change before they could come in - well, I wouldn’t blame them for not coming back.

So I respect this action, but I also question its wisdom or necessity. Like it or not, Microsoft is a big part of the computer world. You don’t necessarily have to obey them, but it might be wise to at least understand that many people do.