Before Star Tours, Guests Traveled to Inner Space on Another Adventure

Michele Himmelberg

by , Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

As you enter Tomorrowland, just beyond the Astro Orbiter attraction, you come to a familiar building on the right side. It’s home to one of the most popular places at Disneyland park this summer, the new Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The first Star Tours attraction opened in this spot in 1987, and two decades before that, another popular “adventure” occupied this location.

If you’re older than 30, I bet you know what it was: Adventure Thru Inner Space. (I’ll have a harder question for you at the end of this post.)

On August 5, 1967, Adventure Thru Inner Space was the Star Tours of its day – a futuristic journey to a place far, far away. Walt Disney partnered with experts from the Monsanto Company to develop an attraction that would take guests to inner space by traveling through a “mighty microscope” and into the realm of a snowflake. To make this daring journey, guests had to “shrink” to the size of a molecule. The concept of guests “shrinking” became the hallmark of the attraction.

Adventure Thru Inner Space remained popular with guests for nearly two decades. The experience that once was futuristic, however, became outdated as science and space travel advanced. So, on September 2, 1985, Adventure Thru Inner Space shrank its last guest to the size of a molecule, making way for a new, inter-galactic adventure.

In both the original and the new version of Star Tours, Imagineers paid homage to Adventure Thru Inner Space with a hidden reference to the “mighty microscope.” Have you found it?

Here’s your trivia question: When Imagineers first developed the new attraction for this location – Star Tours – what was it called?


  • Great ride, thanks for the memories… I also knew it as “Monsanto” and believed in all the Disney Magic tricks! And I’m putting my 2 cents in about bringing back the People Mover… the tracks are there, it’s running in WDW, so what gives?

  • ATIS was my favorite ride! When I think of Disneyland, I still think of it.

  • The ride scared me when I was little. I rememeber seeing the snall people on the ride at the top of the microscope. I was so afraid I was not going to return to normal size andd miss the rest of the day at Disneyland.

  • I never got to ride this attraction but it sure does look and sound to have been fun! People movers? where are the remains of those that some comments are refering to? I also agree DisneyLand needs to work on Tomorrow land, its not very tomorrow anymore. New rides, new Tomorrow would be an awesome treat!

  • Would love to see an updated attraction playing on the theme of this classic that could have guests take a harrowing ride in a Large Hadron Colider; bringing the ride up to date but keeping the shrinking ‘inner space’ experience. Paul Frees narration would still be missed, though.

  • Hi,
    Do you know if you are having Character Fan Days for 2012. I had an awesome time and would like to go again if you are having it. Just need to know so my wife and I can schedule the time off from work.

  • How I loved this ride! One of my favorite early memories of Disney magic is standing in line memorizing the clothes of guests boarding the ride and then waiting in wonder for their shrunken avatars to come through the clear section of the tube.

  • Yea, the eyeball I thought was real for the longest time. The people shrinking after getting on the ride, the snow flakes and the voice saying we better get back or we may keep shrinking. It’s sad how you don’t think much of a ride till it’s gone.

  • I seriously wish that I could have experienced this attraction. It looks amazing…

  • That was my favorite ride when I was a kid! I really thought that I was being shrunk down!!!

  • I totally agree Michelle & Ron!! I was a bit spooked by the whole concept of shrinking, which i completely bought as a youngster. i was also not a big fan of the blinking eye & heartbeat sound. now being in my upper 30’s it’s enough to make me chuckle a little & would like to do it over as an adult…and for those missing the people mover, come to the east coast!! it’s still @ magic kingdom in fla, classic.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that clip! Now I can show my husband my all-time favorite ride as a child (although then I only knew it as “the Monsanto ride”). It sparked my interest in science. I really did believe we were being shrunk and loved watching the minature vehicles move through the microscope and tried to see if I recognized anyone who had been in the line ahead. This ride and the Tiki Room instilled a lifelong belief in the Magic of Disney.

  • Haven’t been on the new Star Tours, but the old Star Tours had the mighty microscope in the warehouse when you plunge downward.

  • I really miss the PeopleMover. It was a relaxing way to view the park (as was the Skyway) and no doubt got a lot of the crowd off of the walkway thru Tomorrowland. The tracks are a sad reminder of a great landmark and ride.

  • Magnification! This was an absolute childhood favorite of mine! Would love to enjoy this attraction again with my own little mouseketeer.

  • When I was 3 I was lucky enough to go to Disneyland for the 1st time. One of the only things I really remember from that trip was being so intreged by the giant microscope on Adventue Thru Inner Space. Also I remember freaking out on Space Mountain, but thats another story. I just wish I was able to go on ATIS one more time, when I was a little older, so I could really experince it.

  • This was a classic! Brings back some very funny memories!

  • I remember ATIS from my very first trip to Disneyland; I guess I was about 8 yrs old! This ride has always stuck in my memory, because it seemed so real. Sometime around the time I was there, the movie “Inner Space” had come out, which made it all the more interesting. Great memory!

  • Would love to see Adventure Thru Inner Space brought back at Epcot.
    It would fit so perfectly at Innoventions!

  • I thought it closed in 1986?

  • When I was a kid I really thought you were being shrunk! One time after we got off the ride, my dad told my aunt he thought her neck looked a bit longer after being unshrunk. My 4-year-old mind was HORRIFIED. XD

  • For the 2011 version, the Mighty Microscope can be seen on the left as you exit the tunnel in the Death Star.

  • Thanks for the blogging about ATIS and sharing the short video. Brings back fond memories. I remember really believing I was being shrunk down!

  • I remember hearing that one of the original names for Star Tours was “Cosmic Winds.”

  • This looks fun! I wish it could have stayed around a few years more. I was born December 1985 haha. Darn. I love the whole ‘shrinking’ effect!

  • Loved Inner Space and the People Movers. It really added to the Tomorrowland ambiance which is now in need of more stuff in that land.

  • To answer the trivia question, I recall hearing that the original proposed name for Star Tours was “Star Rides”.

    • Very close, Philip! Imagineers first dubbed it Star Ride.

  • I remember the hidden reference to the mighty microscope in the original Star Tours, but I didn’t know that there was a reference to it in the new Star Tours as well, very intriguing!

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