Friday, March 09, 2012


Rocket Jet -PeopleMover station concept c.1965
artist unknown

As WED Enterprises began to clear space to make way for the Carousel of Progress return to Disneyland from the New York World's Fair, it was clear that a whole new Tomorrowland was needed. Americans were becoming more sophisticated and NASA was developing REAL rocket ships destined for the Moon and beyond. Walt was excited about having his Imagineers create a whole second level adding addition space for 1967 "World ob the Move" Part of this revision included using the rotary-motor system from the former-ground based ASTRO JETS and elevating to a raised launch platform. This included an exciting Gantry Lift to give Tomorrowland guest all the excitement of a real rocket launch.

early 3-level concept designs  1965
Herbert Ryman
(note the "jets" are still envisioned as the bullet nose 1950's type)

John Hench's concept is one of the first to show a full gantry elevator.
Here, the snak-bar service  on the lower level is reduced to a small counter in the rear facing the elevators. This was to show GOODYEAR how their corporate image and story could be integrated into the loading building---but that's ANOTHER story!!!

George McGinnis 1966 concept showing the  SATURN V Rocket that inspired the look of the new Tomorrowland Rocket Pylon

The FINAL Rocket Tower! Isn't she a beauty!!

The predecessor to the 1967 Rocket Jets was the Astro Jets. This version loaded at ground level, and while they DID raise up into the air, they were no match for the "High Altitude" experience guests got in the NEW TOMORROWLAND's ROCKET JETS!!

The TWA Moonliner has always been a Tomorrowland (and Disneyland!!) icon. It's design was a beautiful  sleek rocket and very 1950's. While the Astro Jets had no rocket, the SATURN V (Saturn 5) rocket designs became the inspiration for the Rocket icon of the sophisticated 1960's.


Like the Disneyland 1967 Rocket Jet Tower, the real SATURN V Rockets began space service in 1967.
The last SATURN V launched in 1973

Visitors to FLIGHT TO THE MOON attraction, might remember MR. MORROW saying:
"The SATURN V ROCKETS are SO reliable, that we're STILL using them! In fact they've become the real workhorses in outer space!"

Here's a view of the Gantry Lift. Atop the elevator tower are show lights for the Tomorrowland Stage to the far left. 1967 blueprints however show there were plans for a series of antennas and radar dishes to sit atop the gantry tower.

Here is the costume patch for the 1967 Rocket Jets cast member costume. You'll notice the colors are the same used on the actual attraction tower, rocket, and jet vehicles--orange/red, black and white.
I have an original 1967 costume but I forgot to take it out to photograph it for this post, so you'll have to due with a patch. I'll show the costume another time.

Here's the John Hench designed attraction poster for Rocket Jets as once displayed inside the Main Street Penny Arcade from the 1960's through the early 1990's.

Some final views of the ROCKET JETS in the TOMORROWLAND of 1967



TokyoMagic! said...

I miss the look AND the location of the 1967 Rocket Jets! Restore them to their original glory, I say! The Astro Orbitor or whatever they call it today is soooooo ugly and clunky. They should really be ashamed of what they did to this attraction....and the rest of Tomorrowland as well.

Anonymous said...

Great post Mike,

Can't wait to see #2.

Major Pepperidge said...

I love the early concept artwork. And the patch! I still don't get what the reasoning was behind removing the Rocket Jets. Was the Saturn V theme out of place in the Jules Verne-ish Tomorrowland? Was it a capacity thing (eliminating the need for the elevator)? Whatever the reason, it was a mistake.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

I too love that early concept art, wow! The photos in this post are how I want to remember Tomorrowland! (and part two of course, can't wait!)

Major Pepperidge said...

Hey, where's part two of the mega post?!


Rocket Jets Mega Post #2 is up and flying!!

Tom Matew said...

you have got a great blog. It is interesting to read it. Hope to see the next post soon.

Devoman said...

Ok, it's been a year...Part 3?