I always get a little nostalgic when I am planning a Disney trip. There are people and experiences I miss because they are no longer there. The story I always tell (The Princess can attest to to this) is about my very first trip to Disneyland. I rode Adventure thru Inner Space approximately four bazillion times. Since it was a sponsored ride, it didn’t need a ticket (an experience I don’t miss) and I loved it! For those of you who do not remember this ride I will describe it to you in all its glory. Or at least as much glory as my five-year-old self remembered.
At it’s heart, Inner Space was a educational exhibit. I didn’t realize that at the time. Nor did I ever really realize on this trip that attractions contained special effects. I thought the tiki gods really made it rain outside and there was actually a ghost sitting next to me in our doom buggy. This, I’m sure, made for a challenging trip for my mother. This is also, I am sure why Inner Space fascinated me so much.
As we entered the queue, the only part of what I am now sure was an elaborate lead in for the ride that I remember was seeing was a series of ‘windows’ showing riders being shrunken down in size. In reality there was a series of convex lenses that distorted the reality of the view, but I had no concept of that (gullible five-year-old, remember?). As we boarded our atommobile it was explained that we would be shrinking just like the people I had seen while I was waiting and that is what happened. I still remember shrinking into the snowflakes and being fascinated . We continued to shrink as molecules and atoms were explained and I had a moment of panic that we wouldn’t be able to get back to our regular size. Fortunately, we were retrieved, restored to our proper size, and sent on our way. I was amazed and astonished and wanted to do it again. And again. And again. Every time I got off the ride I greeted my family members (who eventually gave up and took turns riding it with me) with some variation of the phrase, “Look! I made it back!” They, bless their hearts, indulged me. It was the last ride I rode that day before we headed out and it has (obviously) stayed with me.
I didn’t return to Disneyland for 17 years. As an adult, I was prepared for things to be a little less magical. I knew there were no ghosts. Animatronic tiki gods could not make rain. There was no way of shrinking people to the size of an electron. In spite of this I was excited to see these attractions again. Sadly, while my other two remembered attractions still lived up to expectations, Adventures in Inner Space was gone. I looked and looked for it. I couldn’t remember what it was called but managed to explain it to a cast member who knew what I was talking about. He informed me that Star Tours was now in that spot. My heart broke just a little. Okay, maybe a lot. I have only five vivid memories of that trip when I was five. One was negative, one was year specific (bicentennial), and one was Inner Space. That left me two things to revisit as an adult. It also left me only two things to share with The Princess years later on her first trip. We made new memories. We always do. But a small part of me will always be that five-year-old girl who will never be able to ride her favorite ride again.
In my head I know change is good. My heart has a harder time. I somehow wish that things could change while simultaneously remaining exactly the same. This is the never ending struggle of life and ministry and I am not the only person who struggles with this dynamic. This cannot stay the same. There is no room for new things unless some of the old is cleared away. For Disney, replacing Inner Space with Star Tours was a decision that seems prescient in retrospect. But for some of us, no matter how much we love Star Tours (and I do) there will always be a small grief in that place. This is the story of our lives writ small. Change is inevitable and grief over that change is too. But we cannot allow that grief to hold us back and keep us from discovering new opportunities before us.