On this day in 1961, the last attraction to open in Disneyland's
original Tomorrowland - the Flying Saucers - debuted.
Held on a 16,000 sq. ft. metal floor, 16 saucers "flew" guests while another 16 were being loaded. Air valves allowed the saucers to float about an inch off the ground while guests shifted their body weight to control their flight. Similar to bumper cars, guests would often ram each other with their saucers!
The attraction was an immediate hit (even making the cover of National Geographic) but it was also plagued with technical problems. If a guest weighed too much - the saucer wouldn't move, if too light - the saucer would just hover. The saucers were also expensive to operate and did not fit the normal Disneyland guest-flow as only a relatively small number were able to ride per hour. The attraction was designed by Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan from Arrow Development, who helped create many of the earliest ride systems for Disneyland. The Flying Saucers were cutting edge for their time, but Disney paid for it with constant breakdowns.
The Flying Saucers only lasted five years and were replaced by the Tomorrowland Stage in 1967 and eventually Space Mountain in 1977. Still a much talked-about attraction among Disney fans, rumor has it that a similar ride themed to the animated film Cars may be part of the expansion of Disney's California Adventure.
Click HERE for more August 06 Disney History.