Welcome to Disney Extinct Attractions. My name is Cole Geryak, and I’ll be your cab driver on today’s journey through Hollywood. To start our tour, let’s take a jump back to the early 1920s and take a look at a fledgling production company located in Burbank, CA.
A young man named Walt Disney decided to pursue his dream of joining the animation world by making his mark in Hollywood. After five years of trying, he finally struck gold with the invention of Mickey Mouse, and the rest is history. Now you may be wondering why I’m saying these things that you undoubtedly know. To be honest, it was just so I could mention Hollywood, where today’s featured attraction takes place (and to mislead you a bit).
In the mid-1990s, plans began in earnest on Disney’s California Adventure — the long-awaited second gate of the Disneyland Resort. One of the lands was going to be known as Hollywood Pictures Backlot, home to a myriad of attractions based on Hollywood sights and locations.
As guests progressed through the land, they would have seen a giant building based on the LA Airport Theme Building (shown above). Guests would enter through the building, helping plant the idea that they had just gotten off of their flight and were on their way to a premiere in Hollywood. Once successfully seated in your taxi cab, you would begin your journey into town, with then Disney CEO Michael Eisner giving you the lowdown about how important you were. You were Hollywood’s hottest actor or actress and he wanted to you to star in Disney’s next big movie. But you had to hurry from the airport or you wouldn’t get the job.
What ensued next has been described as a combination of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but I prefer to think of it more as a roller coaster version of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Your vehicle would careen through the streets of Los Angeles and Hollywood all in an effort to get you that elusive contract, leading to that out of control feeling you get on Roger Rabbit. However, it was all a giant dark ride, so you wouldn’t be moving so fast that you couldn't enjoy the scenery. After all, it’s not every day that you get to visit Hollywood!
Of course, the attraction wouldn’t fit with true Disney fashion if it didn’t have some gags. Because of the faster speed at which the attraction zipped along, the gags had to be visible enough that you could see them as you made quick turns. One good example of a gag in the attraction was when you quickly drove past a man eating a bunch of food. As you made the turn you realized it was actually Elvis Presley, back from the dead.
Anyways, your trip progressed through Hollywood, full of gags and exciting maneuvers the entire time. But that wasn’t all, because you needed to avoid the paparazzi following you throughout the streets. Eisner had told you that you would only get the contract if you avoided being spotted because he wanted to ensure he only had the best of the best. The entire journey ended with an exciting dash to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
After your miraculous journey through the streets, you finally made it to the theater, but not without your photo being taken by some press. Unfortunately, this meant that you lost your chance to be a big star, but Eisner wasn’t too harsh on you because you still had the chance to attend that upscale Hollywood premiere.
Now I don’t know about you, but this attraction sounds pretty exciting to me (unless I didn’t do it justice). It’s unlike anything I had seen before in a Disney attraction, so it is definitely something I wish I had a chance to experience myself. But, sadly, nobody ever got the chance to experience it because of some unforeseen circumstances.
While this attraction was being developed, Princess Diana was killed in a terrible traffic accident due to her driver attempting to avoid the paparazzi. Smartly, Disney thought it would have been distasteful to go through with this attraction due to the circumstances. But unfortunately for us all, they decided not to completely scrap the attraction and, instead, reworked it into this:
Opening with Disney’s California Adventure on February 8, 2001, Superstar Limo is known as one of the worst Disney attractions ever created. I have to agree with that statement, but, for some reason, that terribleness has made Superstar Limo one of my favorite extinct attractions. The ride is simply so absurd that I cannot help but love it.
But before I get too deep into the story of the attraction, I want to give you the chance to watch the attraction and experience its terrible beautifulness first hand. As opposed to usual, I’m actually going to talk a bit about what happened in the attraction to make my case for why Superstar Limo should be a cult classic.
So now that you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’m sure you are asking yourself what I possibly put you through. I mean it starts off with an introduction to your agent, Swifty La Rue — one of the most absurd looking characters in the Disney pantheon. Swifty can be really annoying at times, but he really is a kind-hearted agent, just trying to get you to the Chinese Theater for the premiere.
But after that, you get a chance to see some of the Hollywood’s "best and brightest", albeit in a very caricatured form. Some say that these figures are all too scary, but I think it simply adds to the charm. All of these characters are completely over the top, but that fits the idea of what many people think about Hollywood and its celebrities. The absurd characters completely fit the stereotype of celebrities being larger than life and different than regular people, so having the characters look so ridiculous really emphasized that idea.
One other interesting distinction is that all of these Hollywood celebrities had connections with Disney previously. They were trying to cut costs, so the brass up top decided to focus on only choosing celebrities who had worked with the Mouse House before. Throughout the attraction, you’ll see Tim Allen (Toy Story), Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show), and, of course, Whoopi Goldberg (Sister Act). I don’t think it was terrible to have only Disney-affiliated celebrities in the attraction because it already had a lack of Disney, so bringing in these celebrities Disney fans would be familiar with helped them feel more at home of the attraction.
The last part of Superstar Limo that people don't like is how cartoonish the landscapes looked as you traveled throughout Los Angeles and Hollywood. On the bright side, all of the streets do exist and each is themed pretty perfectly to encapsulate what happens on those streets. Plus, it fits with the same theme of the celebrities being larger than life because some of Hollywood and its surrounding areas can also feel unrealistic.
Now don’t get me wrong, Superstar Limo is one of the worst attractions ever created, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. If you simply think of the attraction as a satire on Hollywood and its celebrities, it makes the attraction seem a lot more clever and well-thought out. That being said, if my arguments couldn’t convince you, it’s hard to deny how much fun it is to ride a truly terrible attraction. It keeps you entertained the entire time because of its absurdity, and I’m really glad that it had a chance to exist.
The Disney higher-ups did not want to keep this attraction around, not even lasting a year in the park, closing on January 11, 2002. The attraction building sat there for four years, untouched, simply because Disney felt that keeping the attraction open would do more harm than good. Finally, Disney announced that, in 2006, a new attraction would finally be making its way to the area: Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! Interestingly enough, not much actually changed inside the attraction in terms of the actual layout.
The layout of the track was identical to Superstar Limo and the vehicles were even repainted and reused as Monstropolis cabs. But my favorite carryover was that fact that some of the characters skeletons were used to create the animatronics for the attraction above. The CDA agent you see above actually used to be Drew Carey, so utilizing the figures in this way actually helps us remember Superstar Limo and its brief time in the park.
And with that, our time talking about Superstar Limo has come to a close all too soon, just as the attraction's lifespan did. Next week will be another throwback Thursday, where one of my older posts gets a facelift and moves over to LaughingPlace. Without further ado, here are the clues for what next week's post will be.
- This attraction was exclusive to Walt Disney World.
- This attraction is currently on its third iteration.
- This attraction featured a Sherman Brothers song.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed today's trip through Hollywood. This is one of my favorite extinct attractions, so I'm glad I finally got the chance to share it with you all. I love hearing what you all think about the article, so be sure to comment and let me know what you think! (Plus, follow me on Twitter, @kfcman13.)
Have a magical day!