Innoventions was conceived as an attraction that could accomplish three things for Disneyland: Get some use out of the most expensive unused building in the park, entice guests with demonstrations of new technology, and please the financial folks by paying for everything with money from the companies whose products were being touted.
When it first opened, Innoventions was, indeed, quite innovative. Guests were first ushered into the building by a robot "scientist" named N. Vention and given a brief demonstration of what technology had in store for the near future. After that, guests could explore the bulk of the building which housed dozens of fascinating exhibits. There were displays of fuel-cell bicycles, fully immersive virtual reality environments, and electronic fish tanks inhabited by fish that could (with the help of built-in computers and an Internet connection) do you homework for you.
Over time, however, Disneyland began having trouble retaining sponsors. Nobody wanted to show guests things that they couldn't run out and buy. The self-driving car went first. Then the spray-on clothing. Then the hologram telephone, the gasoline pill, and the Mickey Mouse "spybot" doll that talked and told jokes as it monitored your child's every move and relayed massive amounts of raw data to a central "Big Walt" processing center. That left almost nothing but demonstrations of new video games and a big, empty floor that Disneyland decided to turn into a museum -- both for historical reasons and because they had a big warehouse back stage that needed cleaning out.
Interestingly, the building is kept rotating even when the park closes. It is designed in such a was that the wheels beneath the walls are always rolling down hill, so it would actually take more energy to stop them than it would to just let them go on their way.
Update: January 2005
Plans to use the upper level of Innoventions as a Disney history museum fell through when executives decided that putting the exhibit in the Main Street Opera House would be a good excuse for "temporarily" displacing "that damned Lincoln." This left a vacuum in Innoventions, which was problematic in that it caused any liquids entering it to instantaneously boil.
And into the vacuum stepped Honda.
Disneyland signed a multi-year agreement with the automobile manufacturer to sponsor Innoventions exhibits. As part of the agreement, Innoventions' host N. Vention was replaced by Tom Asimo (or possibly Thomas Imo -- details were sketchy at press time) a customized version of Honda's revolutionary robot ASIMO ("Asian Science Is More Original"). The upper level of Innoventions will be converted into a test track on which guests over six years of age can drive prototype Honda CBR700RRX motorcycles at speeds of up to 100 MPH, with more daring guests using high speed and special curved ramps to ride along the inside of Innoventions' walls, parallel to the ground. Other cutting-edge Honda products -- from ATVs to riding lawnmowers to snowblowers -- will be available for kids to "take for a test drive" with easy financing available to parents.
For more on Honda at Disneyland, see the January 24, 2005, press release at InsidEar.com.
Trivia: In the mural that covers Innoventions, you can see some past Tomorrowland attractions, such as the Monsanto House of the Future Featuring Futuristic Things You'll Be Able to Buy in the Future, Casey Senior Hovercraft Train, and Hall of Bacteria.
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