After reflecting on my two year old daughter’s first trip to Disneyland experience, I can concur that in her mind, Disneyland has two things- the teacups, and the rockets. In fact, they were the only two attractions in Disneyland that we duplicated because she was requesting them so much. Yes, even meeting two of her favorite characters (Rapunzel and Tinker Bell) didn’t quite compare, as my little princess spent most of her time in Pixie Hollow chatting with Tinker Bell not about Peter Pan, or fairies, or pixie dust, but about the rockets across the way in Tomorrowland. Yup… my little princess didn’t even try to hide her enthusiasm for the rockets, nor the urgency in her mind to quit talking to Tinker Bell so she could go do more important things, namely ride “the rockets”.
For those of you who have never experienced “the rockets” or as the ride is more formally known, “The Astro Orbiter”, it is an attraction that is similar to the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland. How the ride operates is that you climb into a horizontal-facing jet rocket, seat belt yourself (and your companion if you are riding with someone else) in, and then use a joystick to adjust how high your rocket goes. You can move the joystick up and down to repeatedly to make your rocket mimic the motion, you can push it all the way up to go as high as possible, or you can find a height that you are comfortable with and leave it there as your rocket joins the others in a circular parade around a towering display of planets while having a fantastic view of the rest of Tomorrowland for the few minutes of your flight. There is also plenty of room to store purses, diaper bags, or backpacks inside the rocket, as you can see in the image of my husband and daughter riding below.
The Astro Orbiter ride at Disneyland has gone through several renovations, paint jobs, and even been renamed multiple times since it first opened in 1956. When the ride first debuted, it was known as the Astro Jets. In 1964, its name was changed to the Tomorrowland Jets. In 1967, they were renamed the Rocket Jets. The switch to the name “Astro Orbiter” occurred in the late nineties, and the latest version that can be seen today has been around since 2009. As previously mentioned, the ride is located in Tomorrowland, and is pretty hard to miss seeing as it is one of the main focal points of Tomorrowland due to its central location. If you are entering Tomorrowland from Main Street, you will notice it right away, with Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters to the left and Star Tours to the right. And if you’re looking for a place to eat afterwards, Tomorrowland Terrace is right across the way, and Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and The Spirit of Refreshment (if you need a drink) aren’t too far away either.
Disney Diva Tip: The Astro Orbiter is also a good ride if you’re trying to use up time before using a Fastpass in Tomorrowland. Space Mountain, Autopia, and Star Tours all currently allow you to get Fastpasses, so if you don’t have too long a wait and want to spend some time in Tomorrowland as opposed to racing back and forth from one end of the park to the next, the Astro Orbiter can be a good ride to use your time… the line moves relatively quickly, it’s in a central location so you don’t have to go too far to race back to whatever Fastpass ride you are waiting for.
Disney Diva Tip: Due to its great location, if you have a group where one (or more) person(s) can save seats, it can also be a great attraction to ride on while waiting for a parade, and you’re also close to the Jedi Academy if you have Star Wars fans in your party and need some time to kill before that starts. It can definitely help everything go a lot smoother, and prevent people from losing their patience while waiting for the next big thing to start.
Other Things to Consider:
The Astro Orbiter does require that you transfer out of a wheelchair, According to the attraction website, “Manual wheelchairs will enter through the standard queue. Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) will enter through the exit ramp across from Star Tours and contact a Cast Member for boarding instructions.”
There is no height requirement for this ride, however children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by a person who is 14 years or older.
According to the Disneyland website, up to three people can ride in one spaceship.
Scream Factor: 1. The only screaming my two year old did were more squeals of excitement. The ride is pretty tame, however if you do get motion sickness, you may wish to skip this ride due to its circular procession. Also, if you are not a fan of heights, you may wish to skip this ride, or at least keep it at a low level, but the nice thing with having a joystick is that you get to determine what height (or heights) you are most comfortable with.