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Jim Hill
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Again, this was *NOT* supposed to be an attraction like Disney/MGM's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, with a high speed launch and loops. That said, there was still supposedly some talk at WDI of putting some banked track in the attraction, a few bumps along the way. Similar to what Walt had originally wanted to do with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland which was marry a traditional dark ride to a smallish family-friendly roller coaster to give Disneyland visitors a few extra thrills.

Adding to the excitement here was -- no matter what route your limousine took to the premiere -- you'd inevitably encounter a pack of paparazzi. As soon as he heard the click of those cameras or the flash of the flashbulbs, your limo driver would hit the gas and immediately change direction.

Because your Superstar Limo ride vehicle were supposed to be moving very quickly through its show building, there was no room for quiet, cute little gags in this Hollywood Pictures Backlot attraction. In order for stuff to really register as you rolled through this DCA ride, the jokes had to be bigger, broader.

A typical gag would have been -- as you roared up on Tail O' the Pup (That famous Los Angeles area hot dog stand that's shaped like -- what else? -- a giant hot dog) -- you would have seen the back of this grotesquely fat man dressed in a white rhinestone studded jumpsuit. At the same time, you hear the unmistakable sound of flatulence. As your limo took the corner (on two wheels, no doubt), you'd see that the man in the rhinestone jumpsuit was actually Elvis Presley. As for the source of that breaking wind sound, you'd eventually see that the noise came from the squeeze bottle of mustard that Elvis held in his hand. The King would give the bottle a few more squeezes -- making even more whoopee cushion noises -- as he squirted mustard out on his hot dog. Presley would then say "Thank you very much" as our limo roared off into the darkness, the paparazzi again in hot pursuit.

Veteran Imagineers John Horny and Rennie Marquez really did a superb job with the original version of this attraction, creating a storyline that was littered with gags that were sure to play to both adults & children. Even the attraction's exit -- which would have forced guests to walk up a stylized version of the red carpet at Graumann's Chinese -- would have been fun. The theater's lobby would have actually have been Superstar Limo's gift shop, where DCA visitors could have purchased all sort of pseudo-celebrity stuff (Miniature Oscars, t-shirts emblazoned with "Hollywood's Next Big Thing" on the front, etc.) to help them remember their wild ride through Hollywood.

And -- as for that big money contract that Michael Eisner was supposedly holding for you ... Well, because you had been unsuccessful in your attempt to evade the paparazzi (The image capture area at the ride exit would have shown pictures of DCA guests who had ridden Superstar Limo slapped on the front of a "National Enquirer" -like tabloid. These pictures would have -- of course -- be on sale to whatever guest wanted to purchase them) and were all over the scandal sheets, the Disney CEO would politely renege on his promised deal. "Better luck next time, kid," Eisner would have supposedly said.

And -- given all that Superstar Limo had for guests to see -- it was hoped that lots of DCA visitors would be happy, eager even, to re-ride this fast paced, funny Hollywood Pictures Backlot attraction. But then -- months after the ride's construction site had already been selected and well into Superstar Limo's development phase -- something terrible happened.

On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana and Emad "Dodi" Fayed were killed in a car accident in Paris. Supposedly, their limo driver lost control of their vehicle while he was attempting to evade the paparazzi.

And suddenly the concept of a kooky, crazy Disney theme park ride where the guest was supposed to be this celebrity that was in a fast moving car that was trying to get away from the paparazzi didn't seem all that funny anymore.

Coming on Thursday in Part Two: How Disney tried (and failed) to save the original version of Superstar Limo. And what the Mouse plans to do now to save this Hollywood Pictures Backlot attraction.

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-- Jim Hill

Jim Hill can be reached using the Talkback form below or by emailing him at [email protected].

Jim Hill is this guy who lives 'way out in the woods of New Hampshire. (Hey, it's not like he wants to live there. But the Witness Protection Program has got rules, you know.) He has one beautiful daughter and three obnoxious cats. When he's not looking for real work, Jim writes about the Walt Disney Company and related matters for LaughingPlace.com, AmusementPark.com, "Orlando Weekly" and Digital Media FX.

The opinions expressed by Jim Hill, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the past decisions and future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted July 16, 2001

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