Thursday, March 21, 2013
On March 21, 1975 Mission to Mars was opening at Disneyland, Anaheim. That was 38 years ago but the attraction, now extinct since November 2, 1992 still remain a beloved one in the memory of Disneyland fans - as well as WDW fans where the attraction closed one year later. The show was originally named Flight to the Moon and as we know it opened in 1955. In 1975, the destination was changed to Mars because man had already been to the moon. During that time, the attraction was considerably updated.
The show was initially sponsored by McDonnell-Douglas. After sponsorship ended, logos referring to the company were removed from the attraction, but the outline of the stylized tail fin in the McDonnell-Douglas logo still remains part of the former building's facade as you can see on this short Youtube video showing Mission to Mars entrance at night.
The show was designed in cooperation with NASA and was basically a revised and updated version of the previous attraction Flight to the Moon. Guests would now be launched on a spacecraft into space and then approach the surface of the red planet Mars.
Guests would first enter a viewing area known as Mission Control, which was modeled after a typical mission control center with chairs and control panels for about ten seated Audio-Animatronic "technicians" whose backs were to the audience as they moved their heads and arms. Facing the audience was the Audio-Animatronic flight director Mr. Johnson. He would then talk and show film clips to explain how man had made numerous advances in space travel and manufacturing in microgravity, and also learned how to deal with the effects of space. The lecture was interrupted once per show by an intruder alarm caused by a large bird crash-landing near the spacecraft launch pad.
After the pre-show, guests would move on and finally board their spacecraft. Inside was a circular theater with stadium-like seating with circular flat screens on the ceiling and floor. During the mission, guests could look at the views from outside the spacecraft from either of these screens. There were also side screens that showed film clips or graphics.
Below the theater room at the time of Flight to the Moon...
And below, for Mission to Mars.
"Third Officer Collins" was the tour guide, and discussed the mission as the spacecraft explored space and Mars. Eventually, the ship was damaged, possibly by a volcanic eruption, and the ship had to quickly head back to Earth. The seats in the attraction would simulate the vibrations and G-forces from "Hyper-space" during take-offs and landings by filling up with compressed air. Finally, the spacecraft landed safely back on Earth and Officer Collins would then urge guests to return and visit again. As he explained, "there's a lot more to see on Mars".
The attraction closed at Disneyland on November 2, 1992, and at the Magic Kingdom on October 4, 1993. It re-opened as the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter as part of the Magic Kingdom's New Tomorrowland on June 20, 1995 but that's another story...
Below two videos of Mission to Mars, the first one shows the pre-show with Mission Control room and the second one the show itself. Please note that the show was quite dark, so...
Another video in which you have the full pr-show and show all in one, this one was shot at Disneyland.
Pictures: copyright Disney