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Rocket Rods
RocketRodsEntrance wb.jpg
The entrance to Rocket Rods. Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters now occupies the spot seen here.
Land Tomorrowland
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Manufacturer Walt Disney Imagineering
Attraction type "Prototype" Rapid Transportation System
Theme Futuristic
Propulsion method electric bus bar system and electric motors
Soft opening date none
Opening date May 22, 1998
Closing date April 28, 2001
Hosted by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Music "World of Creativity" - (Magic Highways of Tomorrow) by the Sherman Brothers
Vehicle type Rocket Rod XPR (Experimental Prototype Rocket)
Cars per vehicle 1
Guests per car 5
Ride duration 3:00 minutes
Total height 21 ft (6.4 m)
Track height 21 ft (6.4 m)
Maximum speed 35 mph (56.3 km/h)
Height requirements 46" (117 cm)
Site area Tomorrowland sq ft
Number of lifts none
Sponsored by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (3 weeks in 1998)
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Attraction transfer icon.svg Must transfer from wheelchair
Assistive listening icon.svg Assistive listening available
Closed captioning symbol.svg Closed captioning available
Fastpass availability icon.svg FASTPASS available
Single rider line availability icon.svg Single rider available

Rocket Rods was an attraction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.


The Ride

Opening on May 22, 1998 as part of the New Tomorrowland, this high-speed attraction ran on the former PeopleMover track. Riders entered the attraction at the former Circle-Vision 360° building at the front of Tomorrowland.

Guests boarded an unusual 5-seat Rocket Rod before moving forward to a staging area similar to one used for drag racing. Anticipation was built by the lights changing from red, to yellow, to green, and then having the vehicle zoom down a straightaway toward the entrance of Tomorrowland, before quickly decelerating at the curve in the track. In the earlier days of the attraction, this straightaway was used for a small wheelie as well. The Rocket Rod took riders through the building housing Star Tours, the Star Trader, and the Starcade, offering views of all three through glass panes in the tunnel. Segments of the tunnel were entirely opaque, and one turn created the effect of nearly colliding with an oncoming Rocket Rod. (In reality, this was only the vehicle's reflection in a mirror). Afterwards, the Rocket Rod took guests into Space Mountain, during which the riders could catch a very brief glimpse of the ride. The vehicle then took riders back outside again before entering the Carousel Theater, home of Innoventions. Due to the long, slightly curved nature of this stretch of track, the Rocket Rods were able to accelerate to a comparatively high speed here. After leaving the other side of Innoventions, the Rocket Rod took riders through a series of turns and dips above Autopia and the Submarine Voyage lagoon, which was unused at the time. Finally, the Rod passed next to the Disneyland Monorail station before entering the Rocket Rods queue building, where the riders were surprised by a strobe light and blast of air. The vehicle then traveled along the straightaway from the first leg of the ride back to the station. Rocket Rods were the first attraction to house a Single Rider lane due to its long lines and limited capacity.


Guests entered the former CircleVision 360 building. In the first room, huge blueprints of old and current Tomorrowland attractions hung on the walls, along with actual former Tomorrowland attraction vehicles, which were repainted blue with an orange grid to make them appear like blueprints. The ride vehicles included were four PeopleMover cars, two Rocket Jets, a Space Mountain rocket, and the front of a Mark III Disneyland Monorail. Near the end of the room was video screen that displayed old Walt Disney animated segments from the distant past (1950s to early 1970s) that featured what transportation may one day look like in the future. All of the segments featured radical and far fetched concepts of future transportation systems like fully automated and auto guided mobile homes and cars using a form of anti-gravity or magnetic devices to scale walls and objects. Each segment concluded with a short narrated segment of how these technologies evolved into forms of technology we use today (in 1998) or will use in a few years to come. The short narrations brought insight to the (somewhat outdated) animated segments and explained to guests that "in the world of creativity there's no end to the possibilities" (the theme of Rocket Rods). The next room of the queue was the nine-screen Circle-Vision 360° theater, where guests watched old transportation videos, excerpts from the Circle-Vision 360° films "America the Beautiful" and "The Timekeeper" put between a Walt Disney narrated video, and a video depicting the evolution of General Motors cars. Guests then continued down the "transit tunnel" (formerly a backstage area) where guests passed "proposals" for extending the Rocket Rods system all the way to the John Wayne Airport and other nearby destinations. The Transit Tunnel lead to a series of stairs that circled around the inside of the tower that held up the Rocket Rods platform and the Observatron (the former Rocket Jets attraction). At the top of the stairs guest found themselves on the elevated Rocket Rods station in the center of Tomorrowland.

In the queue area, near the stairway to the boarding area was a fictional map reading titled Rocket Rods Proposed System Expansion, showing guests where Rocket Rods was to expand to in the future. The map was just for fun, but had real life locations on it (as well as ambiguous ones), including Tomorrowland attractions already bypassed by the Rocket Rods' route, such as:

Rocket Rods leaving the loading platform. Cars paused before being flung down this track at high velocity and then slowing down to make the sharp corner toward the end.


The evolution of GM cars video featured an electronic version of the Steppenwolf hit Born to Be Wild, arranged and recorded by former Oingo Boingo member Steve Bartek.

In addition to the re-arranged version of "Born to Be Wild," the attraction featured its own theme song: "World of Creativity (Magic Highways of Tomorrow)" also arranged and performed by Steve Bartek. The song, originally known as "Detroit" from the 1967 Disney film The Happiest Millionaire, was composed by the Robert and Richard Sherman.

Demise and Closure of the Rocket Rods

The Rocket Rods closed on September 25, 2000 for a refurbishment that was to last until Spring 2001, but no work was ever seen on the attraction.[1] On April 28, 2001, the Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register reported that Rocket Rods would never reopen.[2]

There are a number of reasons that led to the closure of the Rocket Rods:

  • The Rocket Rods completed the course of the 16-minute PeopleMover in only about 3 minutes. Because the Rocket Rods project was not given a large enough budget to bank the track's curves, the Rocket Rods had to slow down substantially to maneuver most of the turns.
  • The support structure and track originally built for the PeopleMover was not meant to be used for a high speed attraction and began to weaken.
  • Tires were also a problem for Rocket Rods, Disney had a contract with Goodyear Tires, who sponsored the PeopleMover during its entire 28-year run. Disney would advertise Goodyear in exchange for tires for the attraction, the deal only lasted three weeks. The reason was that due to high speeds and turning the tires wore quickly and had to be replaced within 4–7 days.
  • The constant changes in speed caused the vehicles' on-board computer systems to fail, shutting down the entire attraction. The attraction broke down at least once a day, causing queues of up to three hours. It was not uncommon for guests to receive rain check passes to ride on another day.

Most of the Rocket Rods vehicles were scrapped after the closure, but at least two survived. One was placed in front of the Hollywood & Dine restaurant at Disney's California Adventure, where it remained for only a few months. It was gone by the spring of 2002. Another Rocket Rod is in the hands of a collector. The track is moderately rusted and very overgrown with foliage after almost a decade of sitting unused. However, Disney did repaint it at one point, suggesting they are still maintaining that structure.

After the closure of Rocket Rods, hopes arose that the PeopleMover would be reinstalled. Rumors still circulate today, usually stating that the PeopleMover will return, possibly as a copy of the Magic Kingdom's version of the ride: the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. The equipment used for the PeopleMover only still exists on the Rocket Rods track in some places, which would mean that most of the equipment would have to be reinstalled to restore the ride.

Rocket Rods' queue area, which was formerly Circle-Vision 360°, is now Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, which opened in March 2005. Currently the track sits vacant and unused, and repeating visitors sometimes call it the "the eyesore of tomorrow."

It is rumored that Tony Baxter has plans for a Lightcycle type attraction based on the upcoming Disney re-make Tron.


See also

External links

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