Steam-Powered Fun, Part One: Disney retro-future features Steampunk-style attractions

in Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Park, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney World

Steampunk has been around for over a century. The imaginative works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are prime examples of this unique genre of science fiction set in the Victorian age.  Admiration for this whimsical wonder has been growing in popularity.  Such is the favor of steampunk, that museums and attractions dedicated to this delight are appearing around the globe.

Perhaps the most recognized steampunk adaptation is Disney’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.  Harper Goff’s realization of the “Nautilus” was so popular that Disney used it in three theme parks and at a private island for their cruise ships.

In addition to covering Victorian Science Fiction in film, the Walt Disney Company doubled down on the genre with several attractions and themed areas.

DisneySea, in Tokyo, has, within its Steampunk inspired “Mysterious Island,” several attractions dedicated to the genre.

An updated version of “20,000 Leagues under the Sea,” has riders in smaller pods for their underwater journey.

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“Journey to the Center of the Earth” is a thrilling, fast-paced adventure based on the Jules Verne novel. Disney’s version includes references to Captain Nemo, who never appeared in the 1864 novel.

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Just outside of Mysterious Island is Port of Discovery, home to the “Aquatopa.”  This steampunk watercraft seats three and tends to spin around in unexpected paths.

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Over in Disneyland Paris, another steampunk adventure awaits guests at Discoveryland.

“Mysteries of the Nautilus,” is a walk through tour of the iconic submarine.

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Space Mountain Mission 2, which is currently undergoing a “Hyperspace Mountain” overlay, features a giant “cannon” for blasting riders into the outer space.

Orbitron, based on Leonardo Di Vinci’s planetarium is a steampunk version of the Star Jets that have appeared at other Disney parks.  In this version, the only one that is at ground level, the rockets revolve around the planets.  Each rocket has a different symbol of the zodiac on its tail fin.

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The Magic Kingdom, in Florida, was once home to “The Timekeeper.”  This Circle Vision 360 attraction, known as the “Tomorrowland Metropolis Science Center,” actually debuted in Paris in 1992 and was also featured in Tokyo.  The Florida version featured Robin Williams as the Timekeeper and Rhea Perlman as the Circumvisual PhotoDroid “Nine-Eye.”  In this time-travelling adventure, Nine-Eye is sent back through time on a historical journey of Renaissance and invention culminating in a meeting between Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  The attraction closed in 2006. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor now occupies this space.

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The adventures at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland are not the Walt Disney’s company first foray into the retro-futuristic world of Steampunk.  Discovery Bay proposed as a steampunk adventure expansion for Walt Disney World.  Though it was never realized, elements of the plans materialized in both Paris and Tokyo.  Disney parks with a version of Tomorrowland feature a retro-futuristic theme akin to Steampunk.

Come back to ITM soon for Part Two: “World-Wide Wonders,” in which we’ll explore exciting non-Disney Steampunk-themed entertainment and amusements around the world!

Source & Images: Disneyland Paris website, Tokyo Disneyland website, Wikipedia

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Voxel

    Slight correction, the Journey To The Center of the Earth is based around the same “slot car” technology used in Test Track And Radiator Springs. Not a roller coaster.

    1. Avatar

      Michael Gavin

      Thank you for the clarification. I’ve updated that part of the story

      1. Avatar

        Voxel

        It’s no problem at all. Glad I could help 😀

  2. Avatar

    Joe

    Another correction. In this article you state Discovery Bay was a shelved proposed expansion for Walt Disney World. It wasn’t. However, the article you have it hyperlinked to DOES have the correct information saying it was in mind for Disneyland.

    As an aside, I was hoping for a direct mention of WDW’s extinct 20K as the progenitor for Disney’s in-park use of the Nautilus.

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