Discoveryland, the land of visionaries

Discoveryland is one of the five lands that make up Disneyland Park. With it, everything is possible: you can dive to 20,000 leagues under the sea or have as your next destination the Moon! Get ready to take a trip to a galaxy far, far away, between yesterday’s inventions and visions of the future.

Technical data

  • Location: Coming from Main Street U.S.A., to the right of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Park 
  • Opening date: April 12, 1992
  • Number of attractions: 8
  • Theme: Retro-futuristic  
  • Number of restaurants: 2
discoveryland logo
logo of discoveryland

Composition of Discoveryland

Attractions

  • Autopia
  • Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
  • Les Mystères du Nautilus
  • Mickey et son Orchestre PhilarMagique
  • Orbitron
  • Star Tours : l’Aventure Continue
  • Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain
  • Starport : Rencontre avec un personnage Star Wars

Restaurants

  • Café Hyperion
  • Cool Station

Stores

  • Constellations
  • Light Speed Photography
  • Star Command Photographers
  • Star Traders
  • Starport Photographs

The concept

Walt Disney had a passion for new technologies, the future and the conquest of space.

This is how he created Tomorrowland in his Disneyland park in Anaheim, California. Tomorrowland is the portal to the technologies of the future. Unfortunately, the present quickly caught up with the future, making this land obsolete. Since then, the Imageeners have been chasing time to try to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

A retro-futuristic land

The concept for Discoveryland is different. It is inspired by Tomorrowland, but it does not only represent the future, but rather the futures imagined during the 19th century by the greatest visionaries of the time. This retro-futuristic style is also distinguished by the architectural style called Steampunk of many buildings located in Discoveryland to make this place timeless.

It also recalls the industrial revolution of the 19th century with the massive use of steam engines and the noble materials of the time such as copper, brass and leather used to develop new tools.

locomotive à vapeur
the steam locomotive: one of the symbols of the industrial revolution

It also reflects the Victorian era through the metal beams and large exposed rivets that reference the World’s Fairs of the early 20th century.

In the middle of this industrial environment, there are huge rocks and geysers surrounding a bubbling lagoon forming the crater pools. This volcanic part reminds us of the craters in Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mysterious Island or even those of the Moon.

crater pools
craters pools at discoveryland

Science fiction

Disneyland relied on the advice of science fiction author Ray Bradbury to develop the concept and atmosphere of Discoveryland. They also called upon composer David Tolley to orchestrate the music of this land, taking into account the following themes: timelessness, mystery and glory. This specially composed soundtrack immerses us even more in the world of Discoveryland.

The worlds of Jules Verne, Leonardo da Vinci and H. G. Wells meet in this post avant-garde land. At night, the atmosphere is modernized thanks to lighting and multicolored neons that give the place a truly futuristic dimension.

hyperspace mountain by night

This way to the visit!

At the entrance to the land, you will be greeted by an armillary sphere that represents the movement of the stars. This instrument was used in pre-telephonic astronomy from antiquity until the Renaissance.

In this land where everything seems to rise to the sky, it is also recommended to look at the ground. The armillary sphere is positioned in the center of a blue nautilus shell, named Spira Mirabilis, visible if you take a little height.  

The Annual Passport Office

On your left, you will find the Annual Passport Office. Although its location is curious, it does not stand out with its architecture and its colored neon lights. Inside, you will find the remains of a former attraction that was present in this place from 1992 until 2004: the Visionarium. All that remains of this attraction is the 9-Eyes robot and a gigantic mural paying tribute to Jules Verne and his imagined inventions. Even before that, there was an arcade renamed Arcade Omega which has been definitively closed.

the Annual Passport Office

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Also on your left and freshly painted is the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast attraction inspired by one of the main characters in the Pixar movie Toy Story. Step into the shoes of a space ranger and shoot the Z-marked targets with your laser cannon to stop the infamous Emperor Zurg from stealing toys to build his new weapon of destruction. At the exit, you’ll be able to choose if you want to take the souvenir photo taken in the middle of the action in the attraction. Adjacent to the attraction is the Constellations store with the same theme. You’ll find a galaxy of Disney toys and souvenirs of all kinds.

entrance of the attraction buzz lightyear laser blast

Right across the street is the Cool Station restaurant, which does takeout if you’re feeling a little hungry and/or thirsty before resuming your interstellar journey.

Orbitron

You then reach a square where the Orbitron attraction is enthroned. It is a ride inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s visionary drawings of the solar system, with blue, gold and copper colored ships orbiting it. Fly to the farthest reaches of space through the planets in orbit!

Orbitron ATTRACTION

To the left of Orbitron you can see a blimp in a hangar housing the Videopolis theater and the Hyperion café, named after the blimp. This is the drop-off point for all explorers. Inside, you will see a huge map of the world representing all the destinations accessible by the sky. The theater has hosted shows such as The Lion King for example. There are also occasional screenings of Disney movies and shorts.

HYPERION COFFEE

Autopia

To the right of Orbitron is Autopia. It’s a car circuit that looks like a concept from the beginning of the 20th century. The scenery and cars are as they were imagined in the future at that time.

autopia ATTRACTION

Hyperspace Mountain

The centerpiece of the land is visible from afar and is even more impressive when you arrive at its approach. You are at the foot of the famous Hyperspace Mountain! This attraction opened in 1995 and has had three versions:

  • Space Mountain Mission 1: Earth to Moon (1995 to 2005);
  • Space Mountain Mission 2: Supernova (from 2005 to 2017);
  • Hyperspace Mountain (from 2017 to today).

Originally, Space Mountain was to be called Discovery Mountain to mark its difference from other versions designed around the world. The current name was adopted at the last moment, hence the presence of the “DM” logo in several places even today.

LOGO From the old name of space mountain

The 1995 Space Mountain and the 2005 Space Mountain were a tribute to Jules Verne in reference to the novel From the Earth to the Moon. The attraction catapulted us through space at an astronomical speed thanks to the Colombiade cannon. Since 2017, the Star Wars universe has reinforced its presence in the land. Even if the structure of the ride remains unchanged, the universe of George Lucas has taken possession of the scenery of this flagship attraction. At the exit of the attraction, you will be able to buy the souvenir photo taken during your excursion alongside the Rebel Alliance.

l’attraction hyperspace mountain

The Nautilus

Jules Verne has not been completely ousted, right next to the Hyperspace Mountain is the Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s ship that is moored in the lagoon at the foot of the attraction. You can visit this submarine and dive into the Vernian universe about 20,000 leagues under the sea.

the nautilus attraction

Discovery Theater

Just behind Hyperspace Mountain, there is a theater called Discovery Theater that has been home to the Mickey and the Philarmagic Orchestra show since October 2018. Donald has arranged a surprise for Mickey. But you know Donald, with him, nothing goes as planned… Let yourself be carried away by this little 4D movie-concert that will delight young and old. This theater has produced some 3D shows like the famous Captain EO with Michael Jackson or the unforgettable Honey, I skrunk the audience!

poster of the show mickey and the philarmagic orchestra

Starport

On the other side of Hyperspace Mountain, you have the Starport station where you can meet the characters of the Star Wars universe. You’ll see that even Darth Vader can have a sense of hospitality!

Star Tours

Then you will see an X-Wing that seems to take off from the queue, it announces the entrance of the Star Tours attraction. Based on the Star Wars universe, this attraction has had two versions since its opening: 

  • Star Tours (from 1992 to 2017);
  • Star Tours: the adventure continues (from 2017 to today).

In the old version, we experienced the journey at light speed of a small robot called Rex, an apprentice pilot and a little clumsy… Now, Rex has given way to real pilots. Travel through different galaxies in 3D with a combination of 60 possible missions, the Jedi who want to take part in the adventure will not be bored! You will then pass through the Star Traders store at the exit of the attraction. It is a store dedicated to the Star Wars franchise. Fans of the saga will be delighted to go to this large and well-stocked store.

Discoveryland Station

A little further up on your right, you can change land by taking the Disneyland Railroad while waiting for it to pass by Discoveryland Station. This station exists since 1993, one year after the opening of the land.

entrance to discoveryland station

Wall-E et Eve

As you walk along Hyperspace Mountain, up towards the Hyperion café, you will see statues of the little robot Wall-E and his companion Eve. Aren’t they both cute?

wall-e and eve

In concusion

It is on this moment of android poetry that our visit of Discoveryland ends. Even if it was necessary to make room and remove some declining references from the land, the strengthened presence of Star Wars has allowed to flesh out and develop its offer. Before 2017, this one indeed seemed more impoverished compared to other lands that had a theme perhaps more accomplished than the one Discoveryland offered. Whether you are in a submarine or in a space shuttle, Discoveryland amazes and allows us to travel through the imagination of great visionaries. I hope you enjoyed this trip to the infinite and beyond?

I also invite you to explore the other lands of our beautiful Disneyland Park through MinnieSmart’s articles: Fantasyland, Adventureland and Frontierland!

Marine
When Tinkerbell leaned over my cradle, she must have dropped a lot of pixie dust... because since then, the magic of Disney has always accompanied me! I joined ED92 team to support and perpetuate this wonderful legacy that Walt Disney left us. Join me in the world of history, discovery and eternal fantasy...