In 1982 Michael Jackson released Thriller, one of the best selling albums to date. It literally launched MJ to super star status. Jackson was at his height, and Disney saw this as an opportunity to create a spectacular new show for Tomorrowland at Disneyland. They would team up with Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to create what was then considered an epic 3D spectacular. Although Disney never officially stated just how much the 17 minute long movie cost to make, some reports stated that it cost around $30 million! Considering it was only 17 minutes long, this would make it one of the most expensive dollar per minute movies of all time, $1.76 million per minute! It proved to be very popular with guests. It was housed in the newly constructed Magic Eye Theater in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and lines were often que’d up well outside of the theater. Of course this could be because the turn around time from show to show was more than 20 minutes and only 500 guests could see it at a time. In due time, Captain EO was showing at all Disney Parks world wide. But by the early 1990’s the 3D film’s as well as the pop stars popularity started to fade. The film was dated, and Michael Jackson was starting to be seen in a different light than the great artist that he was known to be in the 80’s. Various allegations and legal troubles surrounding accusations of child mollestation began to consume the singer. Michael was never convicted, having been aquitted and managed to settle a few cases out of court, but the damage had been done. This was a one-two-punch for the attraction at Disneyland. The attraction closed quietly in 1997 as part of the “New Tomorrowland” makeover of the time. Honey…I Shrunk The Audenience took up residence in the Magic Eye Theater, now called The Immagination Institute.
Once again, you can only see a non-changing 3D movie so many times before the numbers begin to drop off and guests start to loose interest. With Michael Jacksons sudden death last summer, rumors started to circulate almost immediately about a “tribute” to him by returning Captain EO to Disneyland. This was followed by Disney going back and forth with the decision to bring the show back. The memories of his unpopularity in the 90’s was a real concern for Disney Executives that were worried that this could bring a negitive public relations backlash against Disney, a family park, for re-endorsing Mr. Jackson. But as the world morned his death, it was clear that the majority of the public was able to let the past issues that he had to overcome lay to rest. The fans of both Michael Jackson and Disneyland were becoming very excited about the possiblity of this 3D classic to return to Tomorrowland. On December 18, 2009 Disneyland made the official announcement that Captain EO would return for a limited engagement to the old venue in Tomorrowland, and today (Feb 19th) it was announced that the show would open to the public on Tuesday, Feburary 23rd.
You would have to be at least 13 years old to have been alive when Captain EO was last shown at Disneyland, and of course you would have been quite a bit older to have seen it and remember it! This will be a real treat for those under the age of 20 who probably have never seen this much hyped and remembered show. Disney stated that the Captain EO Tribue will run for a limited time, although they have not set a closure date. I’m sure it will remain open for as long at it is popular, and if the hype surrounding this show is any indication it should be around for at least a year.