Adventure Through Inner Space, 1967
A little amusement park ride that made a big impact on a kid.
I loved Adventure Through Inner Space; it was my all-time favorite ride at Disneyland. It might seem like a nerdy choice – it had no flying pirate ships or dancing ghosts; it was a ride that took you through a shrinking microscope to the world of atoms – but it was different from all other Disneyland rides in one very significant way: it was 100% real. I was certain about this.
The proof was right out there for anyone to see. Waiting in the loading area you could see other riders board their ‘Atommobiles’ and enter one end of The Mighty Microscope. The other end of the microscope had a glass tube where you could see the miniaturized riders getting smaller and smaller. Even my Mom, who always took me on the ride while my Dad waited outside, had to admit it; you could see it with your own eyes! Who could doubt that kind of veracity? The real clincher, however, came at the end of the ride.
Once through the microscope your Atommobile shrank smaller and smaller to take you through the crystalline structures of snowflakes, then into the water molecule, and finally into an atom itself. Nerd or not, passing through the zooming electrons was pretty exciting (if you’ll pardon the pun).
For me, the final proof came when the Atommobile began growing again. Once we were large enough to be visible, we passed underneath a microscope where we could see the blinking eye of my Dad peering in at us! He’d promised to look in on me, after all, and it wasn’t possible for them to fake that.
I was sad when the ride closed on September 2nd, 1985, but it wasn’t forgotten. Star Tours opened it its place in 1987 – on my birthday, thanks Disneyland! – and included a small tribute to the ride. In that version, The Mighty Microscope could be seen after the Star Speeder headed the wrong way into a maintenance bay. The Mighty Microscope was used again when they updated Star Tours in 2011 – you can see it after the escape from the Death Star under construction above Geonosis.
Of course, it’s not the real Mighty microscope. Not anymore, anyways.
Did you know? Adventure Through Inner Space was originally sponsored by Monsanto Company – makers of DDT and Agent Orange, and the first company to genetically modify a plant cell.