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Disneyland Article
This Is How Disneyland Changed In The 1990s

Orange County Register
Mark Eades
July 15, 2016
July 24, 2016
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It was a "Fantasmic!" start for Disneyland in the 1990s, and the decade ended with a new Tomorrowland and the disappearance of the parking lot.


Not much happened for the first two years in terms of changes or additions of new attractions until 1992. Mission to Mars had its last flight and was grounded. In New Orleans Square, something new was coming to the waterfront of the Rivers of America. An innovative live show that would combine film projections on screens made of water, pyrotechnics, a stunt show on the Sailing Ship Columbia and a big finale with Mickey Mouse.

The show was called "Fantasmic!" and it was an immediate hit. In the years to follow, Disneyland would rebuild the area to better run the nightly show (in season) and the crowds. As word got out, the show would be run twice nightly and some would stake out their viewing spot early in the afternoon. This practice got so bad, it caused problems with crowd flow during the day and Disneyland recently had to institute a Fastpass-style ticketing system for shows.


The toons invaded Disneyland and took over a section of land to the north of the berm near It's a Small World. Mickey's Toontown opened in 1993, featuring homes for many of Walt Disney's beloved characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip and Dale, and Donald Duck.

The town was designed to make visitors think they had stepped into a cartoon world as depicted in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" There was a small kid-style roller coaster supposedly built by Gadget Hackwrench, an inventor from the "Chip 'n Dale's Rescuer Rangers" cartoon show.

That same year, a statue was unveiled in the center of Disneyland's Central Plaza (known as the hub) of Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse. The Partners Statue, with Sleeping Beauty Castle as a backdrop, became one of the most popular places in the park for visitors to have their picture taken.

That year also saw the disappearance into Yesterland of the Bank of America in Town Square, and the closure of the Tahitian Terrace.


A longtime Disneyland attraction, the Skyway, took its last flight in 1994. The cables were removed and the towers torn down. The Fantasyland Station, known as the Skyway Chalet, remained standing until this year, when it was demolished to make way for "Star Wars" land.

Roger Rabbit finally showed up in Mickey's Toontown with a new attraction, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, a trip through the wacky world based on the movie. The ride vehicles allowed riders to spin the "taxis" around to pick the direction they wanted to look.


Reports surfaced of a new archeological find in Adventureland. They were confirmed when Indiana Jones cracked his whip, opening the entrance to another innovative attraction, Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

Visitors to the temple would board Jeeps that were actually moving simulators. This enabled Disney Imagineers to program the vehicles to start, stop and motions to simulate the ride through the temple, dodging hidden and visible dangers along the way.

The character of Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, is the host and guide for riders on the journey.

This year was also Disneyland's 40th anniversary. During a ceremony, the park buried a time capsule near Sleeping Beauty Castle, with instructions to open it in 40 years.

Other changes that year included a new "1930s" look for the Jungle Cruise boats - although the same punny, groan-inducing jokes.

Videopolis disappeared into Yesterland as the facility was renamed the Fantasyland Theatre. It has been used for a variety of live shows in the years since. Currently playing is "Mickey's Magical Map."


Space Mountain got an upgrade with modifications to the ride vehicles so that a soundtrack could be heard by the space travelers throughout their journey.


A new holiday tradition started in November when thousands of lights were placed on the facade for it's a small world. When they were turned on, the attraction lit up in Christmas season colors. Inside, a new soundtrack was introduced for the dolls to sing. It was a mix of the classic song with several holiday songs.

In addition, the scenes inside received holiday decorations, and the dolls got a new holiday wardrobe. Every year since, the attraction has received the popular holiday overlay.


A new Tomorrowland was hatched on top of the old Tomorrowland. One of the most visible changes was the placement of what was the Rocket Jets down near the front entrance to the land, with a new name, Astro Orbiter.

But the new version of the land meant some things had to go. So the WEDway Peoplemover was moved off the tracks, and World Premiere Circlevision was closed. The latter became the entrance for a new ride on the former: Rocket Rods. It utilized a programmable technology to propel the ride vehicles along the same track used by the Peoplemover.

It had a very low theoretical capacity, and a long wait time - sometimes two hours. It also had frequent breakdowns. In September 2000 the ride closed, never to open again.

Elsewhere in Tomorrowland, "Captain EO," starring Michael Jackson, disappeared and a new 3D show took its place: "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" starred Rick Moranis as Professor Wayne Szalinski. During the show the audience perceived they were shrunk down. The attraction featured the use of some innovative in-theater effects to make the audience think that mice were running through their legs.

The building that previously held the Carousel of Progress was repurposed as Innoventions, where a robot, Tom Morrow, introduced the future of new technology in the home and elsewhere.

There were other cosmetic changes, including painting Space Mountain's exterior with a new color scheme of gold, bronze, green and copper. It was restored back to its original white in 2005 in time for the park's 50th anniversary.

Many regular park visitors felt that the revamp of Tomorrowland was done "on the cheap," but other than Rocket Rods, most of the changes are still there.

But it was outside of Disneyland where some huge visible changes were beginning to take place as construction began on a new parking structure, and a new theme park: Disney's Califonia Adventure, which would open in 2001.


With the success of the animated film "Tarzan," Disney Imagineers looked for a way to introduce the character into the park. Downsizing the Jungle Cruise was not an option, as it had all ready been downsized some to accommodate the queue line for the Indiana Jones attraction. So they turned their eyes to a tree.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse was closed, and four months later it had been refashioned into Tarzan's Treehouse. There is one nod to the original attraction though, a phonograph continuously plays the organ music that used to play in the original walk-through attraction.
Attractions Referenced

Astro Orbitor

Captain EO

Carousel Of Progress

Chip n Dale Acorn Ball Crawl


Fantasyland Theatre

Gadget's Go Coaster

Goofy's Bounce House

Honey, I Shrunk The Audience (Magic Eye Theater)

Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple Of The Forbidden Eye


It's A Small World

It's A Small World Holiday

Jungle Cruise

Mickey And The Magical Map

Mickey's House

Minnie's House

Miss Daisy Houseboat

Mission To Mars


Rocket Jets

Rocket Rods

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

Sailing Ship Columbia


Sleeping Beauty Castle

Space Mountain

Swiss Family Treehouse

Tarzan's Treehouse


Wonders Of China

Restaurants Referenced

Tahitian Terrace

Lands Referenced



New Orleans Square


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