August 1961 - September 1966
The Flying Saucers was an innovative ride -- something like bumper cars on an air hockey table. The vehicles floated on a cushion of air produced by a pair of enormous engines similar to those that would get the Saturn V off the ground some years later. They were steered by leaning, tilting, sneezing, or being rammed by another vehicle.
The Saucers were not the most stable ride in the park. Heavy riders' vehicles didn't get off the ground. Light riders found their vehicle hard to steer. Children wandering onto the ride's surface during its operation could be thrown more than 50 feet into the air. But the ride lasted much longer than perhaps it should have, largely due to a highly publicized event in 1964.
In 1964, average Americans Betty and Barny Knoll were on a long car ride when they thought they saw a "hidden Mickey" (a shape reminiscent of Mickey Mouse's silhouette) in some passing trees. When they reached home, they realized that the car trip had taken several minutes longer than they'd thought it had. It was not until weeks later that they learned that this period of "missing time" coincided exactly with the length of a wait in line and ride on Disneyland's Flying Saucers.
The couple began to suffer from preternaturally delightful dreams, and sought assistance from psychiatrist Dr. Biff Simone. Dr. Simone hypnotized the couple to investigate their dreams, and found that not only did Betty have vivid memories of riding the Flying Saucers (even though she'd only been to Disneyland twice), but that Barney agreed with everything she said. Under the influence of hypnotism and psychoactive drugs, Betty recounted how she and her husband had been abducted by smiling Disneyland cast members, put on the ride, given medical examinations in the labyrinth beneath the park, and transported back to their car. They'd also been given balloons and souvenir hats (which they, unfortunately, misplaced before serious investigation into the incident began).
This was the first of the celebrated "vacation abductions," later written about at length by author Whitley Striber (who, by his own admission, is not insane). To date, they have not been sufficiently explained to the satisfaction of non-scientists.
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