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Astro Orbiter (Disneyland Park)

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Astro Orbiter
Astro wide
Disneyland Park
Land Tomorrowland
Designer WED Enterprises
Opening date 1956 (as Astro Jets)
Vehicle type Rockets
Vehicle capacity 2
Ride duration 1:30 minutes

The Astro Orbiter is a rocket-spinning attraction at Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort in California. It opened in 1956 as Astro Jets, it was then renamed Tomorrowland Jets in 1964; the name lasted until September 1966 when the attraction was closed to make room for the new renovated Tomorrowland. It returned in August 1967 as the Rocket Jets, it then closed in 1997 for renovations with the rest of Tomorrowland. The new form of the attraction opened in 1998 as Astro Orbiter.

Summary

  • Maneuver a rocket-like spacecraft into the farthest reaches of space and back. As the newest star pilot to join the fleet, the time has come for you to take to the sky. Board an elevator with fellow cadets and ascend to a loading platform for your space flight to begin.
  • After receiving authorization from Ground Control, make your way to a gleaming 2-passenger spaceship of your choice and prepare for launch. Then, hold on tight as your spacecraft levitates and begins a series of rapid revolutions around a galaxy of planets, as the sights and sounds of Tomorrowland whizz by in the distance below.
  • As you take control of your very own rocket, you are in command of your flight. Control how high you fly by pulling or pushing the lever inside the ship.

History

Astro Orbitor
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 PeopleMover platform, 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 Orbiter 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). Both ideas were never carried out.

The mechanism for Rocket Jets on top of the PeopleMover was re-used as a kinetic satellite-themed sculpture known as Observatron was built out of the ride's 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.

In April 2009, the Astro Orbiter 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.

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