While Disney has had their fair share of weird attractions, the Superstar Limo ride at Disney’s California Adventure may be one of the absolute strangest. Yes, even a major corporation like The Walt Disney Company can make fatal attraction mistakes.

Disney’s California Adventure Park

Let us set the scene: It is the year 1984 and The Walt Disney Company is failing, so the board of directors decided to fire Disney's CEO at the time, Ron W. Miller, with Michael Eisner being instated as the new CEO of the company. At first, it made a lot of sense. Eisner had big plans to save the movie studios, expand the Disney Parks, and make those parks more appealing to teens and adults.

California Adventure was to be the final addition to what was supposed to be an incredible Disney Park expansion. Unfortunately, the parks that preceded it–Euro Disney and Tokyo Disney–were nowhere near as successful as they hoped. So, the planned budget for California Adventure had to be cut significantly, and when the budget is cut, corners are also cut.

Superstar Limo History

The Superstar Limo ride was originally supposed to be a high-speed, indoor rollercoaster, much like Space Mountain or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Since it was located in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area of the park, the plot would have to revolve around Hollywood. It was supposed to be a thrilling chase between you, the superstar, and the paparazzi.

Superstar Limo track

All that may sound like a lot of fun. But in the year 1997, that idea became extremely problematic. Diana, Princess of Wales and her boyfriend were killed in a brutal car wreck, and it was officially ruled that the accident was the result of their driver trying to get away from the paparazzi that followed them. Of course, The Walt Disney Company did not want to be disrespectful to their story and situation, so the paparazzi roller coaster idea had to be thrown out.

Well, now what? They thought about bringing one of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ iconic attractions to the West Coast with the Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Great Movie Ride all being contenders. Sadly, the budget just could not cover what any of those attractions would cost. Instead, Imagineers had to settle for a dark ride, a cheesy version of the original plan–minus most of the paparazzi references.

Superstar Limo Ride-Through

Guests walked through the outdoor winding switchbacks surrounded by shabby posters with cheap Hollywood jokes on them. Even the announcer spoke in the stereotypical “valley girl” accent and said things like “no schmoozing.” So, maybe guests could tell they were in for something weird. Once inside “LAX,” guests realize they are the newest rising star; they are here for their big movie premiere! Baggage claim is full of wrapped Oscar awards; on the television is a creepy puppet version of Joan Rivers, and she is talking all about Hollywood’s new rising star–you!

Props in the queue line

Eventually, guests loaded into purple, shiny, cartoonish limousines. These limousines were anything but glamorous, quite the opposite actually. Riders then travel very slowly through a dark tunnel with a television screen on the driver’s side of the limo, your creepy puppet agent gives you a debriefing. You have to make it to the Chinese Theatre for your first movie premiere. If all goes well, you will get a new contract. Yay.

Superstar Limo ride vehicle

Then guests pass through Rodea Drive, Sunset Boulevard, Bel-Air, Malibu, and finally arrive at the Chinese Theatre. Along the way, guests saw two-dimensional interpretations of famous Hollywood landmarks. In fact, the only three-dimensional elements were the celebrity “animatronics.”. The word “animatronics” must be used pretty loosely, because they didn’t do much movement at all. They did not move any more than the Jungle Cruise animals, which opened in 1955. The celebrities included, in order, Regis Philbin, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Cindy Crawford, Tim Allen, Jacki Chan, Drew Carey, Cher, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Celebrity Animatronic on the Superstar Limo attraction

Why these celebrities, exactly? Well, with such a tight budget, Disney could only afford the celebrities that they already had contracts with or whose likeness was very inexpensive. On the unloading dock, there were two signs that said “Limo Unloading Zone” and “Limos with Stretch Marks Pull Forward.”; a joke that is lost on us. There were tons of gags like this, too.

Much like the rest of the new park, guests could tell how cheap the attraction was, and It was not well received. Only eleven months after opening, on January 11, 2002, the ride was permanently closed.

Mike and Sully to the Rescue

The building sat abandoned and somewhat untouched for several years, with ideas for replacement coming and going, but never sticking. One idea was for a Muppets transformation–where the Muppets were tearing down the current version because it was so terrible. The ride would have been the same, but with some Muppets in construction uniforms demolishing the attraction as you ride it. Eventually, the ride would reopen completely refurbished as “Ms. Piggy’s Superstar Limo.”

Mike and Sully to the Rescue attraction at Disney's California Adventure Park

Thankfully, in the year 2005, Monsters Inc. was released and immediately became a hit and Disney'd Imagineers finally had a good idea for Superstar Limo’s replacement. Mike and Sully to the Rescue is essentially a re-themed version of Superstar Limo, as the budget was limited. The purple limos transformed into Monstropolis taxis, the animatronic celebrities are now just animatronic Monsters Inc. characters, and the track layout is the exact same.