May 18, 2013

Remembering the Rocket Rods

Disneyland Rocket Rods PeopleMover station tower empty
From PeopleMover to Rocket Rods to...Pretty much nothin'....
The old tower loading platform has become the saddest sight in Disneyland. Many fans avert their eyes as they walk past it, and everyone hopes that maybe--just maybe--this will be the year that Disney announces a great new project that will finally take over the location and erase the memory of Rocket Rods.

But we shouldn't forget the ill-fated PeopleMover replacement, because--truth be told--the Rockets Rods were a lot of fun...while they lasted.

I took three trips on the ride shortly before it closed for good in 2000, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It wasn't the greatest attraction in history, but it was unique (in a good way), mixing a mild thrill ride with a scenic tour of Tomorrowland.

A while back, we poked a little fun at the Rods' legacy and the fact that many fans blame them for the disappearance of the PeopleMover. But, in all honesty, Disneyland's People Mover was in fairly sorry shape by the time it bowed out. In its last years, the once-smooth-and-futuristic transportation system clunked and thumped around its course ungracefully, and it broke down constantly. A major renovation was needed; Who can blame Disney for trying something new and promising?

If only they'd done it better. The decision to build a high-speed ride on the un-banked PeopleMover tracks--resulting in the need for the Rods to constantly accelerate and decelerate--resulted in a maintenance nightmare. Technical woes aside, my main criticism was that the ride simply felt incomplete, as if still awaiting some high-class indoor special effects and a fun storyline to tie the whole experience together.

Rumors abound now about a new thrill ride coming to Tomorrowland--one that will fulfill the original promise of the Rods and make a lot of science fiction fans very, very happy. Fingers crossed!

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