Adventure Thru Inner Space by Louis Gonzalez (permission
In the beginning...
Disney's Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 with 22 attractions
at a total cost of 17 million dollars. Tomorrowland, one of
the 5 lands, was the last to be completed on a budget that was
quickly running out. The following quote from Walt Disney furnished
the text for a plaque in Tomorrowland: "Tomorrowland A
vista into a world of wondrous ideas, signifying man's achievements a
step into the future, with predictions of constructive things
to come. Tomorrow offers new frontiers in science, adventure
and ideals: the atomic age the challenge of space and
the hope for a peaceful and unified world." But by the
time Tomorrowland was completed, it was made up mostly of corporate
sponsored exhibits that emphasized their own interests over
Walt's idealistic goals. Walt Disney wanted to improve and update
Tomorrowland. After the technological advances achieved by Disney's
architectural, engineering, research and development firm WED
Enterprises, Disney finally had the chance. WED Enterprises
had just successfully created 4 major attractions at the 1964
New York World's Fair seen by nearly 47 million people including
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, It's a Small World, Progressland,
and Magic Skyway. It was time to update Tomorrowland.
1965 Walt Disney approached the Monsanto Company with his idea
of a new, expanded Tomorrowland. Monsanto and Disney had previously
collaborated on 3 Tomorrowland attractions: Hall of Chemistry
in 1955, House of the Future in 1957, and Fashions
and Fabrics through the Ages in 1965. Dr. Charles Allan
Thomas of Monsanto, principal scientist in the development of
the atomic bomb, and Walt Disney discussed an attraction that
would explore the world of Inner Space into the microscopic
realm of a drop of water. They combined ideas of a 1957 project
called Science Land with a 1958 project called Adventures
in Science. In both Science Land and Adventures
in Science, guests were to have learned the history of science.
Adventures in Science riders were to enter through a
giant microscope and travel from the prehistoric days of the
dinosaur all the way to the futurism of outer space living.
In February of 1966, the resulting concept was born as Micro-World,
only to be changed to The Magic Microscope two months
later. At that point Monsanto agreed to be its sponsor and mentor.
WED Enterprises started work on the project right away. This
time guests were to enter the microscope and get "shrunk"
to explore a drop of water. The idea of a trip into a water
drop was soon changed to a trip into a snowflake. At the same
time they were working on all the attractions for the new Tomorrowland,
they were also working on Disney World in central Florida and
elements of the Disney plans for a year-round recreational facilities
at Mineral King, California.
The Magic Microscope
Enterprises created and designed the attraction The Magic
Microscope with much help from Walt Disney and Dr. Charles
Allan Thomas. WED opted to use a transportation system called
Omnimover first used for their Magic Skyway attraction
at the New York World's Fair. The Omnimover consisted of an
endless loop of vehicles moving on a fixed track. All the
vehicles were attached to one another. Because the vehicles
would not stop for loading and unloading, guest would have
to use a moving ramp. In 1965, Bob Gurr designed a version
of the Omnimover for a ride system that was never built at
the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles that looked promising
for The Magic Microscope attraction. Together with
John Hench, Gurr tried to figure out how it could be possible
for the Omnimover to travel up and down steep hills, and look
in any direction. Gurr assigned a new engineer, Bert W. Brundage,
to start the Omnimover drawings based on Gurr's original designs.
At the same time, WED made arrangements to use a recently
acquired warehouse as an indoor test track. Bert W. Brundage
along with Roger E. Broggie completed the design for what
became known as the Atomobile. The Atomobile comfortably carried
two-and-one-half passengers. Each individual vehicle could
rotate 180 degrees to each side to highlight special points
of interest in the attraction.
Coats served as the main designer for the attraction. Yale
Gracey supervised all the special effects such as the projected
images from film and transparencies, dimensional reflections,
and delicate crystalline etchings on glass that made up much
of the experience. Over 85 projectors and reflecting devices
would have to be built. X. Atencio wrote the script and Richard
M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman wrote the song Miracles
from Molecules. The Sherman brothers had already written
songs heard at Disneyland such as It's a Small World and There's
a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. Buddy Baker wrote the ethereal
music for the attraction. All his compositions were new except
for the piece heard in the queue area. That composition, titled
Mysteries of the Atom, was originally composed and
recorded for a scientific segment of the attraction Progressland
but never used.
A New Tomorrow
1966 everything was coming together until December when Walt
Disney died unexpectedly. Preparations for the new Tomorrowland
quickly resumed with a targeted opening for the summer of
1967. Walt would not get to experience Pirates of the Caribbean
nor the new Tomorrowland that were only months away from completion.
On January 27, 1967 The Mighty Microscope project was
rechristened Adventure Thru Inner Space.
Adventure thru Inner Space, America
the Beautiful, Carousel of Progress, Flight to the Moon, PeopleMover,
Rocket Jets, and Tomorrowland Terrace would join
the already established Submarine Voyage, Autopia,
and Monorail in the new Tomorrowland. Two 40 feet high
by 44 feet long reflective sculptured murals would greet guests
at the entrance. Each included images of atoms. Sparkling
water fountains composed of several seemingly suspended abstract
forms that symbolize inner and outer space, as tall as 15
feet high, would stand in front of the sculptured mural. Along
the corridors inside Tomorrowland, 2 ceramic tile murals by
each 54 feet long by 15 feet high, would adorned the curved
walls. One mural would be on the outside wall of America
the Beautiful and the other on the outside of Adventure
thru Inner Space. Together they would form a work of art
called The Spirit of Creative Energies among Children.
The Monsanto pavilion that would house Adventure thru Inner
Space was to be a new 21,733 square foot building at the
south entrance to Tomorrowland.
July 18, 1967, the new Tomorrowland officially opened with
its biggest new attraction Adventure thru Inner Space still
closed. Delays in construction allowed guests riding the PeopleMover
to get a glimpse of the unfinished inner space adventure.
The premier to Adventure thru Inner Space was held
on July 29, it finally opened to the public on August 5 as
a free attraction.
though your body will shrink, your mind will expand!"
small sign outside of the attraction that read "Adventure
thru Inner Space and 'Miracles from Molecules'
Presented by Monsanto. Admission free." Guests would
then enter through one of three turnstiles to begin curving
past 8 display pods showcasing Monsanto product and miniature
key scenes from the ride ahead. Ominous
music, sci-fi sound effects and a deep voice narration played
in the background while voices of a tracking crew were heard
speaking technical jargon: "Phase orange. Forward units
obscured. Cannot, repeat, cannot locate Atomobiles...still
no evidence of Atomobiles. Critical phases continue precision
scan procedure." A 33 foot long by 16 foot high electronic
tracking board showed the guests the target of their trip.
On the tracking board, there was a giant, blue snowflake with
an orange and red center. Concentric
rings of white light were on behind the snowflake. Each would
turn off in sequence to give the illusion of dark rings pulsing
towards the snowflake's center. The most impressive feature
in the queue was a massive, 37 feet long and 12 feet high,
microscope designed by George McGinnis. The microscope was
officially named the "Mighty Microscope"
and bore a Monsanto logo. Those waiting to board the continuous
line of Atomobiles which carried them into the "Mighty
Microscope" could see inner space travelers apparently
shrinking as they moved passed a transparent section of the
microscope. Through this transparent section one could see
miniature Atomobiles complete with miniature people moving
upwards to the tip of the microscope that was focused on a
slide where a snowflake flurry was occurring. The miniature
Atomobiles were passing by at the same speed as the actual
guest-loaded Atomobiles and a flashing white light seen by
the miniature Atomobiles mimicked one seen at the entrance
of the big Atomobiles into the microscope. All this helped
the illusion of guests shrinking which often scared the impressionable
children waiting in line.
the loading area, a sign read "Monsanto welcomes you
to the world of the molecule." Guests stepped from a
turntable platform that revolved synchronized with the smooth
moving Atomobiles. The speed of the loading turntable was
adjusted to run 10% slower than the unloading because it was
discovered that people always hurried to try boarding vehicles
up ahead. Built by Arrow Development, the 123 vehicles would
travel on a hidden tubular steel track on rubber tires and
depart every 3 seconds. The track was 682 feet in length and
the vehicles moved at a speed of 1.2 miles per hour for a
6-minute ride. This allowed up to 3,275 guests per hour to
experience the trip. Sixteen electronic motors from General
Electric were located in pairs along the route boosting the
chain of vehicles along the track. Riders would never lean
forwards or backwards as tilting was done to compensate where
the track inclined or descended enhancing the feeling of floating.
The serious onboard narration, performed by Paul Frees, was
heard from 3 speakers within the vehicles behind the heads
of the riders. The narration was divided into separate blocks
that would get triggered at 14 different route locations.
This would ensure proper synchronization at all times. The
attraction included 5 other separate sound systems within
the route. Separate ethereal score parts and sound effects
were heard playing in each scene outside the Atomobile. Some
of these sounds were known as "color tones" because
they combined lighting effects with orchestrations in a synchronized
pattern. The combined effects of the cold temperature, sounds
close and distant, flashing lights, pulsing bursts of air,
the emotional narration, the faint conversations of the "tracking
crew", and the rotation of the vehicle, in the dark,
towards new scenes through a universe of complex images formed
the context for the story of an adventure through inner space.
entering the darkness of the "Mighty Microscope,"
the Atomobile turned to face backwards and entered an all
white tunnel of snowflakes projected from several hidden sources
onto the tunnel walls. The tinkling music of falling snow
was heard as a voice began to narrate: "For centuries,
man had but his own two eyes to explore the wonders of his
world. Then he invented the microscope, a mighty eye, and
discovered the fantastic universe beyond the limits of his
own meager sight. Now your adventure through inner space has
begun. Through Monsanto's 'Mighty Microscope' you will travel
into the incredible universe found within a tiny fragment
of a snowflake. I am the first person to make this fabulous
journey. Suspended in the timelessness of inner space are
the thought waves of my first impressions. They will be our
only source of contact once you have passed beyond the limits
of normal MAGNIFICATION." The word "magnification"
became a loud and reverberating echo, as snowflakes grew larger
to reveal their delicate structure. The larger snowflakes
were dimensional and some moved and spun. The snowflakes grew
larger and larger and seemed to crowd in closely.
am passing beyond the magnification limits of even the most
powerful microscope. These are snowflakes, and yet they seem
to grow larger and larger, or can I be shrinking shrinking
beyond the smallness of a tiny snowflake crystal? Indeed,
I am becoming smaller and smaller!" At this point the
huge overlapping shapes seemed to lose their resemblance to
snowflakes and appeared as solid prisms of heavy, layered,
six-sided, towering walls of ice cliffs. They clustered around
the route to form a tunnel for the line of Atomobiles. "These
tiny bits of snowflake crystal tower above me, like an enormous
wall of ice. Can I penetrate this gigantic prism? And yet
this wall of ice only seems smooth and solid. From this tiny
viewpoint I can see that nothing is solid, no matter how it
appears. And still I continue to shrink."
corridor opened into an area filled with lacy, shimmering
patterns going in every direction. This web work, which appeared
to be an infinity of two dimensional, six-sided honeycombs,
gave way suddenly to total darkness. "What compelling
force draws me into this mysterious darkness? Can this be
the threshold of inner space?" From all about a frantic
staccato plucking of violin strings was heard as guests were
surrounded by countless fleecy spheres, each of them consisted
of two smaller spheres attached to a larger one. The spheres
were multiplied by the use of mirrors. "What are these
strange spheres? Have I reached the universe of the molecule?
Yes! These are water molecules, H2O. They vibrate in such
an orderly pattern because this is water frozen into the solid
state of matter."
guests continued to shrink, they saw whirling, orbiting lights
spinning at fantastic speeds within the molecules. "These
fuzzy spheres must be the atoms that make up the molecule.
Two hydrogen atoms bonded to a single oxygen atom. And I see
it's the orbiting electrons that give the atom its fuzzy appearance."
As if breaking through a dense cloud of meteors, guests reached
the universe of the oxygen atom. "And still I continue
to shrink! Is it possible that I can enter the atom itself?
Electrons are dashing about me, like so many fiery comets!
Can I possibly survive?" When the violent breakthrough
into the atom was over, the stillness and vast emptiness within
was in great contrast. "I have pierced the wall of the
oxygen atom. I am so infinitely small now that I can see millions
of orbiting electrons. They appear like the Milky Way of our
own solar system. This vast realm, this is the infinite universe
within a tiny speck of snowflake crystal." The Atomobile
turned towards the mysterious nucleus of the atom that throbbed
with bursts of air and flashing light in the guest's direction
while emitting a synchronized booming sound like the magnified
beating of a human heart. "And there is the nucleus of
the atom. Do I dare explore the vastness of its inner space?
No, I dare not go on. I must return to the realm of the molecule
before I go on shrinking forever!" The snowflake began
to melt reversing the journey as thousands of projected, vibrating
H2O molecules blended into bubbles. "Oh, how strange,
the molecules are so active now. They have become fluid freed
from their frozen state. That can only mean that the snowflake
is melting." As the reverberating effect of the word
"melting" faded away, guests found themselves in
a room with a giant microscope's scope looking down at them.
As they passed in front of it, they saw a detailed, huge,
animated human eye looking from high above.
tone of the narration changed to signal the end of our adventure.
"Yes, the snowflake has melted but there is no cause
for alarm. You are back on visual and returning to your normal
size. This has been one of many exciting adventures through
inner space in a never-ending search for new ways to rearrange
molecules for the benefit of mankind. Now, in our display
area you will see modern miracles created by rearranging the
molecules of not only water, but of air, coal, petroleum and
many other raw materials. This is Monsanto."
Miracles from Molecules
exited into a post-show area named Miracles from Molecules.
The Atomobiles circled the spectacular "Fountain of
Fashion" before unloading into the display area. The
Sherman brothers' song Miracles from Molecules played
on a continuous loop. Five animated cartoon posters showed situations
representing five of the major markets Monsanto serves: agriculture,
home furnishings, apparel, transportation, and construction.
More than 2,000 Monsanto products were displayed in 24 glass-encased
displays that rotated continuously to create a "Rainbow
of Products." Towards the back, a 12 foot high "World
Clock" showed the locations of 90 Monsanto facilities around
the globe. This illuminated instrument depicted the world in
an extended North Polar view and showed the time of day for
any given point on the world map. The "World Clock"
didn't last too long and was replaced by more displays. Big
letters on the wall now read "Monsanto, products from molecules
working for you" where the top of the "World Clock"
thru Inner Space was a smash when it opened. No one had
ever ridden an Omnimover before, and never had guests been
so intimately surrounded by a Disney show. Guests could actually
reach out and touch the giant snowflakes. This created such
a problem that it led Imagineers to develop the concept of
the "Envelope of Protection" which kept the
guests at a distance from the sets.
only two or three guests per Atomobile, and separated from
the view of anyone else, there was a sense of privacy and
intimacy that could be found nowhere else at Disneyland. WED
had inadvertently created the ultimate "tunnel of love."
Another problem resulted in the fact that the attraction was
free when guests needed to buy A through E tickets to ride
other attractions. Children would ride unsupervised over and
over. To solve this problem, Disneyland began including a
special admission coupon in each Child and Junior ticket book.
This allowed children to ride only once. Another option was
for children to use a C coupon or ride supervised by an adult.
Disney installed closed circuit TV cameras in the attraction
to help apprehend guests who leaned out to touch, break, or
remove set pieces. This didn't stop amorous couples who continued
being demonstrative in their activities while monitored by
attentive Disneyland cast members. Because of this, the ride
was sped up to shorten the ride time. This left the slow,
deep narration sounding helium-induced in certain zones where
the soundtrack attempted to keep up with the ride. Other minor
problems resulted from the innovative special effects. The
smaller orbiting lights that whirled within the molecules
at high speeds were a maintenance headache and were replaced
by a static image.
patent 3, 554, 130 was filed for the Atomobile on April 26,
1968. The patent also covered the Doombuggy and was
finally approved on January 12, 1971. Adventure thru Inner
Space became a C ticket attraction on December 15, 1972.
Almost 5 years later, on September 30, 1977, Monsanto ended
their sponsorship. The journey into a snowflake would have
to go it alone. All references to Monsanto were removed. The
narration was re-edited to drop any references to Monsanto.
small sign outside the attraction now read "Adventure
thru Inner Space, a child under age 7 must be accompanied
by an adult." The mannequins with modern clothes in the
"Fountain of Fashion" were replaced by generic
snowflake logos. The five animated cartoon posters were replaced
with Disneyland attraction posters while the rest of the Monsanto
display area became a shop. The attraction continued without
a sponsor through the middle of the next decade, and then
suddenly closed on September 2, 1985.
snowflake has melted"
destruction of Adventure thru Inner Space began September
3, 1985 to make way for the new attraction Star Rides.
Much of the Plexiglas and Lexan sets were trashed along with
the "Mighty Microscope." The Atomobile vehicles
became landfill. The giant eyeball was sent to a storage facility
at Tujunga, while most of the miniature Atomobile pods from
the dioramas in the queue area went to the Walt Disney Archives.
A few other items such as molecules, scrim sheets, big metal
letters from the sign outside, projection systems, additional
miniature Atomobile pods, and even eyelashes from the giant
eye were "salvaged" by cast members and Imagineers.
The rest of the building's interior was destroyed. The building
structure itself was to remain untouched, but then production
problems arose that necessitated a section of the ceiling
to be raised higher. The name Star Rides was changed
to Star Tours and on January 9, 1987 it opened to some
of the biggest crowds ever seen at the park.
today's Star Tours building from Tomorrowland's entrance,
it's not difficult remembering Adventure thru Inner Space.
The two sculptured murals that greet guests at the entrance
of Tomorrowland are no longer reflective, but they still have
the images of atoms. Inside the building, the curving walkway
leading into the attraction loading area is identical. In
the same location where the giant, electronic snowflake was,
we now see the "Moon of Endor" travel film. And
in the exact position were the "Mighty Microscope"
was located, now stands a "Star Speeder 3000" vehicle.
Further in the "Droidnostics Center" area of the
Star Tours queue, one of the droids, officially known as R4-M9,
works on one of the 8 display pods that were once in the Monsanto
queue, now redressed as a control panel. In the same room,
a miniature Atomobile pod passed overhead mixed in within
the baskets of robot space junk but has been removed since.
In the film that is part of the ride portion of Star Tours,
sentimental homage is paid to Adventure thru Inner Space
as an 18-inch model of the "Mighty Microscope"
is seen in the lower right of the screen just as the runaway
craft swings out of the hangar bay and plunges into space.
Ice comets encountered on the way to the "Moon of Endor"
were loosely inspired by the dancing inner space snowflakes.
The two tile murals outside the Tomorrowland buildings remained.
The mural on the Inner Space building was covered
with a new Star Tours painting but the tiles remain underneath.
The mural across the street, on the America the Beautiful
building, remained intact until the opening of the new
Tomorrowland in May of 1988. In its place, a new painting
depicts all extinct Tomorrowland attractions. As a last farewell,
the new painting depicts a line of Atomobiles going into a
microscope. "This is Monsanto"
I've compiled this information from every source I could find
and from my own recollections. If there is any information that
needs to be corrected or expanded, feel free to e-mail me at