A retro ride in a Superstar Limo
I was browsing some Disneyland-related sites because you know I loves me some Disneyland, and I actually will get to spend a few days in Anaheim this summer when I decided to check out this YouTube video showcasing one of the Disneyland Resort's former attractions, Superstar Limo. At the very moment that the late-but-unlamented ride's Audio-Animatronic version of Drew Carey appeared on my monitor, my television tuned at the time to a 17-year-old stand-up comedy special on HBO displayed the youthful visage of Drew Carey, from way back before anyone knew who Drew Carey was.
How weird is that?
In case you're wondering what in the name of Walter Elias Disney I'm babbling about, Superstar Limo was one of the original attractions at Disney's California Adventure, the amusement park that now occupies what used to be the main Disneyland parking lot at the corner of Harbor and Katella in Anaheim.
A so-called "dark ride" in the classic Disney park model think Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, or others of that ilk Superstar Limo allowed the visitor to pretend that he or she was a celebrity riding to a big Hollywood premiere in (what else) a miniaturized limousine. Along the route, one encountered Audio-Animatronic versions of a number of then-current pop culture icons, including Regis Philbin, Cindy Crawford, Whoopi Goldberg, and the aforementioned Mr. Carey, who at the time of DCA's opening was the star of a hit sitcom on ABC (the network of Disney, as you are certainly aware).
Superstar Limo was roundly panned by DCA attendees both for its corporate-pandering concept and its lackluster execution and closed about a year or so after the park opened. The current Monsters Inc. attraction now occupies the space its short-lived predecessor inhabited.
My memory of Superstar Limo was that it was cheesy but fun in typical Disneyland fashion. The recording of the experience on YouTube bears this out, I think. The main problem I had with the ride was that, had it survived, it would quickly have become dated. How big a star is, say, Tim Allen or Melanie Griffith today, more than a decade and a half later? It would have cost Disney megabucks to continually replace passé show-biz personalities with celebs that kids, especially, would recognize megabucks that Disney has shown little inclination to spend in its upkeep of the Disneyland Resort.
Still, it's a kick to recall what it was like while it lasted.
Potentially fascinating historical trivia: The original concept of Superstar Limo when DCA was in the development phase called for a simulated high-speed escape from a band of aggressive paparazzi. Then, the Princess of Wales met her untimely demise during... well... a high-speed escape from a band of aggressive paparazzi. Disney's Imagineers retooled the ride's storyline at the last moment to avoid the grisly and unfortunate connection.