Friday, May 18, 2012

TPE: Location, location, location!

When it comes to the Astro Jets/Rockets Jets, it's definitely all about location, location, location.

I can only surmise that a lack of time and money convinced Walt to put this basic off-the-shelf attraction in Tomorrowland. Basically, it's Dumbo disguised as a rocket. Or Astro Jet, depending on the years you are looking at.

Zooming in, you can see the control booth, and Snow Hill in the background...pre-Matterhorn.

The Astro Jets closed September 1966 to make room for the new Tomorrowland, reopening in August 1967 as the Rocket Jets. This version was located on top of the new PeopleMover platform and was accessible from the ground by elevator. Rocket Jets lifted guests 70' above ground, giving them fantastic views of the park.

This version remained open until 1997, when it closed for renovations with the rest of Tomorrowland. The new form of the attraction opened one year later as The Astro Orbitor. Weighing too much for the current building, it was moved smack-dab in the middle of the Tomorrowland entrance, making the attraction the new focal point as guests left Central Plaza.

I say, shore up the foundation and put it back on top of the platform where it belongs!

Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter. See more vintage Rocket Jets photos on my Astro/Rocket Jet web page.


K. Martinez said...

I agree. This attraction needs to be returned to the center of Tomorrowland back on top of the platform.

They should get rid of the Astro Orbitor completely and start a new design, perhaps combining the styles of the old Astro-jets and Rocket Jets to a retro yet futuristic look.

Anonymous said...

The 1967 central structure, with so many things going on, was a real statement of "future architecture", in addition to being a beautiful concrete sculpture.

Mike Cozart has some blueprints on his blog which show the extraordinary mathematical work required of the architect to develop those curves and chamfers, which then have be executed "in reverse" by the contractor as formwork for the concrete.

All this was done by hand, with physical tools, before the Computer aided drafting of today.

I think this structure and the peoplemover tracks rank with the best concrete designs of Saarinen and Calatrava, executed with the tools of that era.


Thufer said...

Well said Dave and I couldn't agree more. Bring them back and put them where they belong; atop that brand new and fully functioning PeopleMover.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

I heard from Bob Gurr that all the hydraulic cylinders and other load bearing pieces from the 1956 Astro-Jets were re-used on the 1967 Rocket Jets. And they were again re-used on the ugly radar/antenna thing that still sits on top of the 67' Rocket Jets platform. There's a piece of 1956 Tomorrowland still there and hardly anybody knows about it.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that the original bearing/rotation platform was gleaned from a WWII Panzer tank (those Germans did build'm good.) When I ran the Jets during the 1962 employee party, you could see some old German stampings low on the machinery.

"To raise you jet, push up on the stick. To lower you jet, push down. . . ."


rusty said...

Davelandweb...I only "discovered" your site a few months ago, but it has got to be one of the most enjoyable sites I visit each day. Your photos and commentary are always great. Your recent GCH and trip report pictures just blew me away. Keep up the awesome work and thanks for bringing this site to us. I REALLY appreciate and enjoy it more than you know.

Connie Moreno said...

Great post and great pics to get our blood boiling, Dave!

Douglas McEwan said...

Love shots like the first one in this post, where you can see huge swathes of incredibly undeveloped Anaheim of the 1950s.