Fun Facts About Peter Pan’s Flight
Wendy and the rest of the Darlings befriended a strange young man. Even his youth was debatable. He seemed eternal, and he had some form of dominion over a wondrous realm known as Neverland. Yes, Peter Pan led the Lost Boys. He also angered a pirate named Captain Hook over the small matter of a hand getting chopped off. And then there was a flight through the London skyline. Wendy and the Darlings formed an unlikely friendship that’s on full display in a classic ride at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom. Here are a few fun facts about Peter Pan’s Flight.
One of the Originals
When Walt Disney planned the Happiest Place on Earth, one of his linchpin strategies involved his movie library. He planned to capitalize on the greatness of the Disney catalogue by building attractions based on these intellectual properties. It remains the backbone of the Disney theme park empire today.
In 1954, Uncle Walt had exactly one year to construct the world’s first theme park. He needed to select the best of his film premises for rides. While he chose his first film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for the basis of one memorable attraction, he went more current with another.
Peter Pan debuted in theaters on February 5, 1953, a time when movies ran for a year or more. It was still fresh in the collective conscience when Imagineers readied Disneyland. Based on an order from their boss, they embarked on the creation of a theme park attraction that mirrored the film. And that’s just what they did. On July 17, 1955, barely two years after the movie entered theaters, Peter Pan’s Flight was there on Disneyland’s opening day. It’s one of only a handful of attractions from that day that are still in operation.
The Name Was Confusing at First
While the title would suggest that Peter Pan’s Flight would involve Peter Pan, you know, flying, that wasn’t the case at first. Well, it was, but nobody understood it.
The core conceit of the attraction was that guests took on the role of Peter Pan. The flight that they witnessed was intended to reflect his point of view. As with Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Imagineers tried to tell their story in this unusual way. With both attractions, they aspired to show the events of the films as if the rider were the title character. It just didn’t work, though.
Riders expected to see Peter Pan. They spent the body of the attraction trying to find him, only to see all of the characters and set pieces from the story, none of which featured Peter Pan in them. The same thing happened with Snow White’s Scary Adventures, which didn’t have Snow White in it at first.
In both instances, Disney didn’t do the obvious thing, and in both instances, the idea failed in execution. In Disney’s defense, no one had ever built a theme park attraction before. They faced a learning curve, one that they overcame in time.
Still, one of the oddities of Peter Pan’s Flight is that Peter Pan was nowhere to be seen at first. In fact, he didn’t arrive at Disneyland until 1983, 28 years after the ride’s debut! Instead, guests flew through the London skyline and Neverland as if they were Peter Pan. And nobody understood this at the time, forcing them to wonder where Peter was.
The First Ride Design
Do you know what an Omnimover is? It’s a connected track system that guarantees a set of ride carts will be in the appropriate spots along the path. With several different carts on the track simultaneously, this sort of assurance is imperative. It matters for safety reasons, but it also ensures ride throughput.
Disney patented the technology in 1968. They called it the Omnimover although others named it the Endless Transit System, which is certainly an on-the-nose description. Imagineers had finalized the concept during the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Its origins trace back to Disneyland’s opening day, though.
One of Walt Disney’s grand ambitions for Peter Pan’s Flight was to recreate the sensation of flying. As mentioned, guests needed to believe that they were Peter Pan soaring through London and Neverland. Imagineers built a ride system that would use the same sort of track that was popular in amusement parks at the time. The difference is that theirs would soar through the sky.
To accomplish this goal, Disney had to do something different. They had to put their ride track on the ceiling! The unique design proved liberating in an unexpected way. With none of the standard hazards of a ground track, Peter Pan’s Flight could deliver steadier throughput than normal. The carts on the track never need to stop, the underlying theory of the Omnimover.
The Best Line Queue
One of the dirty secrets of Peter Pan’s Flight is that the lines are consistently huge. At Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the wait here is prolonged, especially for such a short ride. It’s a tribute to the longevity and sustained excellence of the attraction that guests still wait an hour to fly through Neverland.
The delay is beyond Disney’s control. The throughput that they built into the system was ambitious for 1955. What Uncle Walt couldn’t have anticipated was that Disneyland would become a place where almost 18 million people visit each year. During its first year, 3.64 million entered the park, and that seemed like a huge success.
Accepting that this situation is unlikely to change, Disney’s chosen to make the best of it. They built what they describe as “interactive murals.” When you enter the line for Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, you enter the home of the Darlings. Specifically, you’re in the children’s bedroom.
In this room, you’ll discover some of the greatest recent feats of Imagineering. The details are impeccable, even by Disney’s lofty standards. You’ll even see Nana’s doghouse in one corner! The truly spectacular touches are on the walls. Fairy lights sprinkle their way up and down the side panels. You can almost see Tinkerbell at times as she playfully decorates the room with her special magic.
Finally, you reach an interactive display that looks like a wall with shadows. One of those shadows is Peter Pan himself, and he’ll playfully dance and laugh with you. What you do directly influences the behavior you see on this interactive display. If you stand there long enough, you may even get a shadow hat for your trouble. Touches like this are visible throughout the room, turning an agitating wait until a delightful way to spend an hour.
Check out the line queue in this video. It exemplifies the way that Peter Pan’s Flight has come full circle over its 63 years in existence. It was once the most novel ride design in the world. Today, it possesses arguably the most novel line queue. Imagineers first triumphed with this attraction in 1955, and they continue to do so today.
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below!