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Rocket Rods
Rocketrods
Disneyland
Land Tomorrowland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Manufacturer Walt Disney Imagineering
Attraction type "Prototype" Rapid Transportation System
Theme Futuristic transportation
Opening date May 22, 1998
Closing date September 25, 2000
Music World of Creativity - (Magic Highways of Tomorrow) by the Sherman Brothers
Vehicle type Rocket Rod XPR
Ride duration 3:00 minutes
Maximum speed 35 mph (56.3 km/h)
Replaced PeopleMover
Replaced by Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Rocket Rods was a three-minute futuristic transportation ride formerly located at Tomorrowland in Disneyland Resort. The ride was part of the park's 1998 New Tomorrowland phase, and was located on the former PeopleMover track.

Ride synopsis

The whole purpose of the attraction is to make people believe in the futuristic transportation being brought thousands of years before its creation.

Queue

The queue for Rocket Rods was in the old CircleVision 360 building.

First Room

In the first room, blueprints of old and present-day Tomorrowland rides cover the walls. Also in the room are former cars from old Tomorrowland rides, such as four cars from PeopleMover , two Rocket Jets, a rocket from the popular and well-known Space Mountain, and the front of a Mark III monorail. At the end of the room is a video screen, displaying old Disney scenes that explained the future transportation of the world.

Second Room

The second room of the attraction's queue was the 9-screen CrcleVision 360 theater. People in the queue watched videos about transportation. In fact, one of the films had excerpts from America the Beautiful and The Timekeeper, two films that had played in CircleVision 360.

Transit Tunnel

After the theater room, guests continued their walk through the queue inside the transit tunnel. Formerly, the transit tunnel was a backstage area of the park. Also in the tunnel was a layout featuring planned stops on the Rocket Rods tour/transport, which included Downtone Los Angeles, Hollywood, and "The Hills", which may mean the Tehachapi Mountains.

Staircase to Loading Dock

Following the transit tunnel was a staircase. The staircase led riders to the loading dock for Rocket Rods. After the ride's demise, the lower level under the dock was used as a queue area for Autopia.

Ride

Five guests board the unusually-formed golden Rocket Rod. After the riders are loaded in, the rod moves to a staging area similar to ones featured in drag racing. There was a slight pause, and after several colorful lights anticipate the scene, the rod zooms and passes the gateway to Tomorrowland. After, it curves and the rod transports riders inside the building for Star Tours, Star Trader, and Starcade. All three could be seen from the Rod courtesy of three large glass viewing panels. Afterwards, there was a sharp turn (it was dangerous because it was very close to having a rod collide with another, an effect achieved with a mirror), and the rod exits the Star Tours building. The rod continues to hover above Tomorrowland, nearing and entering Space Mountain. Riders could get a short look at the rockets of Space Mountain zoom by. The riders then exit the building and head for the Carousel Theater, home to Innoventions from 1998 to 2015. Another turn was added here, and thanks to its space, the rod could generate a large amount of speed at this single turn. The ride then leaves the Innoventions area, and takes riders through small dips and turns above the Submarine Voyage lagoon and small areas of Autopia. The rod then passed the Monorail station, before heading back to the station in the heart of Tomorrowland.

Attraction closure

On September 25, 2000, Rocket Rods closed. Disney announced they would refurbish the ride until spring of 2001. Unexpectedly, nobody at the park in that time period saw any work done on the ride. On April 28, 2001, two local newspapers confirmed the ride would never be open again.

Reasons for closure

  • During its two-year run in Tomorrowland, the ride could transport guests across the PeopleMover track in three minutes, almost five times faster than the PeopleMover could (16 minutes). When building/testing the ride, Rocket Rods wasn't given a big enough budget to refurbish the sharp turns located on parts of the ride, due to the highly-conservative park management at the time.
  • The track for the ride had already been used for almost 35 years. The structure and track was not built for a high speed ride. As its closure neared, the track weakened.
  • The ride had constant mechanical problems. Every day, Rocket Rods would break down at least once, bringing up queue times to almost three hours. Normally, when a Disney ride breaks after guests wait for so long, they are given a readmission pass, a 6-person Fastpass to any attraction in the park, excluding few. Meanwhile, it was very rare to be given a readmission pass on the attraction's breakdown.
  • In one instance of a breakdown, a brake shoe was shot halfway across Tomorrowland. No injuries occurred, but it highlighted the unreliability of the attraction.

Aftermath

The ride closed, and everything was destroyed, except small parts of the ride still continue to be displayed.

Rocket Rod vehicles

After the area for Rocket Rods was closed, most of the ride's memorabilia was thrown away. All but two of the original Rocket Rod vehicles were scrapped. One of them was given to the Hollywood and Dine restaurant at the newly-opened (at the time) Disney's California Adventure. The restaurant closed in 2002. The other Rocket Rod was given to a collector.

Rocket Rods track

After the ride's closure, the track began to rust and molt. Rumors begun to spread that the PeopleMover might be brought back to Disneyland, but nothing has been confirmed. Besides, most of the equipment used for both attractions only remains on few parts of the attraction track, meaning it would take a long time to construct the PeopleMover. Almost a decade after the closure of Rocket Rods, the track was used in the opening ceremony for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in 2011. It was a high vantage point for a group of stormtroopers.

As of August 2015, the track remains standing. According to multiple sources, even if Disney wanted to reopen the PeopleMover, they could not do so with the current infrastructure, as the Rocket Rods had greatly weakened the nearly 50-year old track. Thus, CAL/OSHA has delared the structure unusable, meaning that it would have to be torn down and rebuilt to meet current state safety regulations. As this would carry a large price tag, this mean that the PeopleMover's return is in limbo.

Rocket Rods queue

The queue (A.K.A. CircleVision 360), was transformed into Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, a ride themed after the space superhero from the popular Pixar franchise. The ride opened on March 17, 2005, to commemorate the park's 50th anniversary.

Photo Gallery

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