"Welcome aboard, friends. This is Captain Collins speaking...."
The Original Rocket to the Moon
When Disneyland's Tomorrowland opened in 1955, the centerpiece attraction was the Rocket to the Moon, sponsored by TWA (Trans-World Airlines). Situated at the rear of the land, the massive Moonliner rocket ship in front of the attraction worked as a "weenie," drawing guests deeper into the Tomorrowland.
What they found was an experience beyond belief. Guests "entered" the rocket. Using projections on both the floor and ceiling in a theater in the round, the Rocket to the Moon transported guests to a place they could only dream of: space. Aboard the rocket ship "Star of Polaris," Disneyland's visitors made the trek past the space station Terra, then around the moon and back.
The Moonliner was designed by Imagineer John Hench, with guidance from former-Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. Von Braun - hired by Walt Disney to imagine how human space flight could be possible - helped keep the fanciful plans for spaceships more deeply grounded in the possible. The Moonliner imagined a future - the year 1986 - when civilian spaceflight would be a normal, everyday occurrence.
Von Braun also worked on the Disneyland television series, appearing in the 1955 episodes "Man in Space" and "Man and the Moon." These films were shown to American President Eisenhower and Soviet Commissioner for Spaceflight Leonid Sedov, helping to kickstart the worldwide dreams of putting man in space.