Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#Disneyland60.....Today In Disneyland History.....August 6, 1961

Flying Saucers Open in Tomorrowland
August 6, 1961

On August 6, 1961 one of my all time favorite attractions, The Flying Saucers opened in Disneyland's Tomorrowland.  The ride actually allowed guests to board their own personal flying saucers. The saucers flew several inches off of the 16,000 square foot arena floor on a cushion of air, similar to how an air hockey game works. Once in flight, the Flying Saucers were very much like bumper cars with guests ramming each other with their saucers.

At the beginning of the ride, saucers were subjected to a high volume of low-pressure air directed underneath them by means of a grid of circular valves. As the saucers floated and moved above the field, the valves would open and close in response to their proximity. As guests shifted their weight in any direction by leaning, the saucer movement would respond.  If the weight was centered, the saucer would begin to "hop" up and down as the air randomly escaped around the plenum. All that was required to regain control was for the guest to lean in any direction.

The ride consisted of two sets of saucers (approximately 14 each) on a semi-circular field and a mechanical boom that would sweep the arc of the field and corral one set of saucers in the loading area. As the boom moved, it would free the other set of saucers (with their new riders) from their loading area to roam the field while the other set was unloaded and loaded in-turn.  Sadly, the ride was expensive to operate, maintenance was intensive, and it did not fit the normal Disneyland "guest flow" in that a relatively small number of riders were able to participate on any given day. After only five years of flight, when the transition to the New Tomorrowland took place, the Flying Saucers did not survive. When New Tomorrowland opened in 1967, the space that The Flying Saucers had once occupied had been transformed into the Tomorrowland Stage.

On June 15, 2012, a new ride using similar technology opened in Cars Land inside Disneyland's sister park, Disney California Adventure. This ride is named Luigi's Flying Tires, and is themed on Luigi's Tire Shop from the film Cars This version holds two or three passengers per ride vehicle instead of one.  And that’s what happened today in Disneyland history, 


  1. Another ride I would have loved to try! It seems like everywhere you look in Tomorrowland, if you look closely, there's all kinds of legacy stuff just hanging out or re-purposed into other attractions. I look forward to reading about more of these rides from Gayle who's actually been on all of them.

  2. Thank you Robert for your kind words! Part of the magic of Disney is the ability to hand down the stories and history to the next generation with the hopes that it is a legacy that they too will hold dear.