Thursday, November 22, 2012

Remembering Monsanto's Adventure Through Inner Space

[Revised 1/15/2013]

If you grew up on Southern California in the 1960s as I did there is a good chance that you share certain cultural experiences, a baseline as it were, with your fellow Southern California adolescents.

Some of us went surfing, some did not; some obsessed on and drew hot rod cars (e.g. RatFink and Big Daddy Roth) and some did not. Perhaps you went to that famous intersection where you could buy Red Devil or Black Cat fireworks, just about everyone went there.  (1)

But whoever you were, if you lived in Southern California, you went to Disneyland and went on the Adventure Through Inner Space, the Mighty Microscope, and experienced the world inside an ice crystal and the perils of shrinking ourselves to smaller than a molecule.

I always remember that anguished question "Dare I enter the world of the nucleus itself?  No!  I must turn back!  Or I will go on shrinking, forever!"  

The Adventure Through Inner Space was replaced (nothing could replace it, of course, not really) with Star Tours. How could they ? Well, they could. Time marches on, and Tomorrowland is not "1960s land" after all. Even if the 1960s was the highest expression of American Culture, it apparently did not fit in to the new Tomorrowland.

Then several years ago, Disney released a 6 CD boxed-set of audio from the original Disneyland, including the complete soundtrack of Adventure Through Inner Space.  This included what you heard while waiting in line (the preshow) and what you heard while exiting the attraction (the post show).  For the first time, I could hear exactly what was being said.  I sent excerpts to various friends who I knew had grown up in S. Calif to see if they would recognize it and got a reaction from every one.

I thought about doing some computer simulation of this attraction, in schematic form, without too much attempt to recreate it really, but just a bit of an outline.   Then I discovered, to my amazement, that someone out there took the time and energy to do a very detailed 3D simulation of this cultural landmark, attempting to preserve it for future generations.   His name is Steve Wesson and I have a link to his website and to the 3D simulation of the attraction in all its glory at the bottom of this post.

Simulated water molecules in the recreation of the attraction.  The original was projected, and so this is not so far from that.  Are these water molecules (H2O) or do we perhaps have hidden Mickeys?

But the real world interferes even with this selfless and probono work. Someone has posted the 3D simulation of the Mighty Microscope on Youtube where you can enjoy it free of cost, but he did so without asking Wesson, who would like to make some money on his work.  Of course, he doesn't own the intellectual property either, the Walt Disney Company does.  So its a little sticky.

But we won't worry too much about that.   I invite you to review this amazing simulation on Youtube and to visit Steve Wesson's site as well. Possibly you will even send him some money via Paypal or something to reward his extraordinary effort and devotion to the excellence of theme park attractions.

The video on Youtbe:

The Steve Wesson site:


1. The intersection was somewhere out in the San Fernando Valley, possibly near San Fernando Road itself.   I was very young and being driven by my father so I probably did not even know exactly where it was.

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