FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail
Rocket Rod over Tomorrowland Sign

The original PeopleMover opened in Disneyland in Anaheim California in 1967 in the Tomorrowland section of the park. This ride was a popular transport ride that took guests on a slow-moving, scenic tour of Tomorrowland and its other attractions. The ride was so popular it spawned a second incarnation in the Magic Kingdom in 1975.

PeopleMover with the Monorail and Submarines
Gene Spesard, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along with the ride’s popularity, it also had a number of incidents involving guests exiting the slow-moving vehicles while they were in motion. Less than a month into the ride’s operation, a teenage boy attempted to jump from one PeopleMover train to another as it entered a tunnel. He missed and lost his footing, and was tragically crushed to death by another oncoming vehicle. Soon after, safety railings were implemented on all PeopleMover cars to prevent guests from climbing out. Unfortunately, this would not be the last incident the PeopleMover saw.

Despite the additional safety measures put into place following the accident in 1967, two more incidents involving guests exiting the moving vehicles would take place throughout the ride’s remaining years of operation. In 1972, two women climbed out of the PeopleMover train they were seated in with their friends to retrieve an item that had fallen out onto the track. One of the women successfully climbed into another train, but the other fell thirty feet from the lifted track and landed on the hard concrete below. She would survive this event, but was left with substantial injuries.

In 1980, yet another person attempted to jump from one train to another and was crushed to death. This time, it was an 18-year old boy that tragically lost his life on the PeopleMover.

Despite this handful of incidents, the PeopleMover itself was a popular and well-received attraction that offered a slow-moving and leisure ride through a portion of the park. It was viewed by many as a nice place to rest between thrill rides. Its popularity never truly dwindled, even until the day of its closure in 1995. 

The PeopleMover’s track and station remained in place after the ride’s closure and played host to Tomorrowland’s replacement attraction, the Rocket Rods. The closure of the Disneyland PeopleMover was met with relatively poor feedback with many park guests lamenting the loss of a simple, relaxing ride in favor of the faster and more thrilling Rocket Rods. The replacement was chosen as an attempt to breathe new life into the Tomorrowland that was rapidly growing outdated, and it would be the first ride in Disneyland history to implement a single rider line.

Like the PeopleMover before it, the Rocket Rods took guests on a tour of Tomorrowland, above and through many beloved attractions. The track weaved through several buildings that housed other rides and attractions such as Space Mountain, Star Tours, and the Carousel Theater which, at the time, was utilized by Innovations. Though, unlike its predecessor, the Rocket Rods were less of a leisure ride and more of a fast-paced speed through the land. 

Rocket Rod over Tomorrowland Sign
Ellen Levy Finch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, soon after the ride’s opening, the Rocket Rods began experiencing severe operation issues. The turns on the Rocket Rods’ track were not banked due to budget constraints following the failure of Euro Disney, so each time a speeding Rod approached a turn, it would be forced to decelerate. This resulted in a somewhat oddly-paced ride that would regularly accelerate, brake, then accelerate again.

Rocket Rods on the Track
Rabit, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, the foundation on which the station and track were located was not created to handle the speed and weight of the Rocket Rod vehicles. Only a month after the ride’s opening, the Rocket Rods were temporarily closed for a refurbishment intended to deal with these glaring issues. Originally, this refurbishment was estimated to take around five weeks, but the ride remained closed for over three months. It finally reopened again in October of 1998.

The ride itself received mixed reviews with many guests favoring the original PeopleMover over the clunky Rocket Rods. For two years, the Rods continued to operate above Tomorrowland, but the final nail in the coffin came in September of 2000 when yet another lengthy refurbishment was announced. The ride was intended to be down until mid-spring of 2001, but in April the news came that everyone had been expecting–the Rocket Rods would not be reopening.

To this day, the bones of the once-beloved PeopleMover sit above Tomorrowland, a shadow of the fan favorite attraction it once was. Despite the ride’s turbulent story, the PeopleMover and Rocket Rods have solidified their place in Disney history as a nostalgic memory to those who got to experience them. Over the years, there have been talks of the PeopleMover once again returning to Disneyland, but to this day no concrete plans have been revealed to the public.

Walt Disney World PeopleMover
WillMcC, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For those with a desire to experience the PeopleMover, the second version located in Walt Disney World is luckily still operational and quite similar to the original, and to this day remains a popular Tomorrowland attraction. As for the Rocket Rods, it is unlikely we will ever see another incarnation of this attraction. The popularity and demand for the ride simply is not there. Few people harbor the same feelings of fond nostalgia for the Rods as they do the PeopleMover, so unfortunately it seems as though this ride will never be returned to the parks.

If you’ve ever ridden the Disneyland PeopleMover or the Rocket Rods, which did you prefer? Which would you rather see return to the park in the future? Or do you think there is another attraction that could better utilize the space? Be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments.

 
FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Add new comment

About Theme Park Tourist

Theme Park Tourist is one of the web’s leading sources of essential information and entertaining articles about theme parks in Orlando and beyond.

We are one of the world’s largest theme park guide sites, hosting detailed guides to more than 80 theme parks around the globe.

Find Out More About Us...

Plan Your Trip

Our theme park guides contain reviews and ratings of rides, restaurants and hotels at more than 80 theme parks worldwide.

You can even print them.

Start Planning Now...