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Peter Pan's Flight
Peter Pan's Flight is a single-bench (two to three person) suspended dark ride at the Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris theme parks. Located in Fantasyland, it is one of the few remaining attractions that was operational on Disneyland's opening day in 1955. The ride's story, music, staging and artwork are based on Walt Disney's Peter Pan, the animated film version of the classic Peter Pan story by J. M. Barrie.
The original intent of the attraction was for the guests to fly through the ride as if they were Peter Pan. Audiences did not quite grasp this concept and were left wondering, "Why wasn't Peter Pan in the Peter Pan ride?"
The Florida version of the ride, which opened in 1971, expanded on the original Disneyland attraction. While the overall theme and format of the ride was consistent with the original in California, the Florida ride, as with the other dark rides, would feature its characters in Audio-Animatronic style.
In 1983, Disneyland's Fantasyland was in a phase of major overhaul. Some of its rides were relocated to make room for expanded versions of the dark rides (as well as a brand-new one). The posh redo of Fantasyland now resembled a rustic European village in the Alps, rather than a medieval faire. Mr. Toad and Snow White's dark rides moved their respective loading areas (and partial murals) indoors, but the Peter Pan ride still featured a colorful mural, depicting the characters from the film. In 1983, an Audio-Animatronic Peter Pan was added to the ride.
Ride plot and features
Original Disneyland version (1955 - 1982)
The original ride featured the ride vehicles flying through the nursery, out over London, onward to Never Land, and finally through Skull Rock, where riders saw Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Princess Tiger Lily and the Crocodile before unloading. The exterior had a medieval design with the queue being outside.
Expanded Disneyland version (1983 - present)
Departing from the station, but before entering the actual ride building, guests fly over the rooftops of London. The new version of the ride includes Audio-Animatronic versions of the characters, just like in Florida. As part of the new remodel, scenes from the Florida ride were added to Disneyland, including the pirate ship deck (unlike in Florida, Peter and Hook do not duel on the ship's mainsail in California, but rather on the tip of the ship's bowsprit). Few scenes are identical between the two versions, but they are very similar nonetheless. The new Disneyland ride opened as part of the rest of the New Fantasyland on May 25, 1983.
After winding through the queue, guests board a three-passenger miniature galleon, which is suspended from above to enhance the sensation of flying through the air (the ship hangs from a track on the ceiling, not on a floor track). The ship leaves the load area and winds through the Darlings' nursery, passing Nana the Nursemaid next to some toy blocks, the Darlings (Wendy, Michael and John) in bed and Peter Pan's shadow on the wall. Peter's voice is then heard saying, "Come on, everybody! Here we go!" At this point, the ship flies out the nursery window and out over moonlit London. Lights twinkle all around. Below the ships are various miniature versions of London's famous landmarks: St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the River Thames. It is also interesting to note that, when flying over London, a police siren is heard regardless of the fact that the police siren heard is a modern-day version, and were not even created until after the story of Peter Pan took place. Then, going past "the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning," the flying ships reach Neverland, where the guests go past some of its landmarks, including the Indian village, a glowing volcano, Mermaid Lagoon and Skull Rock. It is here that the guests encounter some of Neverland's most famous residents, including Princess Tiger Lily, Mr. Smee, the Crocodile and Peter's arch rival, Captain Hook (in addition to Peter and the Darlings).
Expanded Walt Disney World installation (1971 - present)
The load/unload area features Omnimover-style moving ramps (like the Haunted Mansion) to better allow for smooth traffic flow. The scenes in the ride are done on a larger scale and feature audio-animatronic figures. The Lost Boys camp and Mermaid Lagoon are now a part of the Never Land scene. Also, Hook's 48-foot pirate ship, complete with deck, masts, sails and rigging is included. Guests see Hook and Peter engaged in hand-to-hand combat on the mainsail, while the boys are lashed to the mast and Wendy is about to walk the plank. Guests then see Peter and the Darlings posed victoriously on the ship, poised to sail into the sky, back to London.
- Wikipedia: Peter Pan's Flight