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"Honey, I Shrunk the Audience"

May 1998

Disneyland has had a "3D" movie playing in Tomorrowland since June 1984 when Magic Journeys (the story of a magic trip that turned out to be a journey) opened. Magic Journeys was -- after a brief showing of the 3D version of Creature from the Black Lagoon -- replaced by Captain EO in September 1986.

Captain EO was a musical science fiction spectacular, featuring a cast of talented dancers, and muppets including then-king-of-pop Michael Jackson whose reputation was yet to be tarnished by accusations of asking young boys to stay at his home over night so that they could be trained to tell him "No, that weird outfit doesn't make you look fat," and "You're looking more and more like Elizabeth Taylor every day."

Captain EO was hugely successful, in part because at times Imagineers took the movie experience off the screen and into the theater. Smoke, light, vibration, and electrical shock effects were delivered to the audience at appropriate times, making them feel like they were part of the film.

After ten years, guests were getting pretty tired of that high-pitched "yeow" thing Michael Jackson did, and Captain EO was replaced by "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" (a sequel of sorts to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" which was inspired by Fantastic Voyage and Dickens character Tiny Tim, named for the musician of the same name) in 1997.

In the film, the audience is made to feel as if they have been accidentally exposed to rays from a "shrinking" machine. As audience members shrink, it begins to snow, and soon guests find themselves viewing snowflakes that seem as large as houses. Crystal structures become visible, then individual water molecules, and then, just before the shrinking effect is successfully reversed, actual atoms. It's actually pretty interesting, although not exactly scientifically accurate (quantum atomic theory is pretty much brushed aside for clarity's sake, and the scene where the giant snake strikes at the film's viewer may look pretty good in 3D, but it doesn't make much sense in a molecular context).

The success of 3D films of this type has led to a number of attractions using the same technology, including It's Tough to Eat a Bug!, Stanley Kubrick's Muppet*Vision 3D, and Abe Lincoln Rocks! It's also been "borrowed" by nearby Universal Studios for their Terminator 3D, Shrek 4D, and Jackson 5D attractions.

Trivia: If you do not return the special 3D glasses at the end of the performance, Disneyland officials will come to your house in the middle of the night and take them -- by force if necessary.


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