Tomorrowland – Guests could find the Phantom Boats in roughly the same place as today’s submarine lagoon, in the rear left corner of the land, beside Autopia.
The “Tomorrowland Boats” debuted on Opening Day, as one of the land’s main attractions. However, the boats failed to impress park guests, and only about 450 riders boarded the boats on the park’s first day. After a month of troubled operations and constant breakdowns, the ride closed for a brief refurbishment. In August, the lagoon reopened with the “Tomorrowland Phantom Boats”. While the ride premise was identical, the new boats were futuristic and featured bold colors and exaggerated wings.
The Phantom Boats gave guests an up-close and personal tour of Tomorrowland’s lagoon and rock formations. Guests boarded 3-4 person boats and embarked on self-guided trips around the lagoon. After a few minutes of exploring, guests brought the boats back to dock, and unloaded back into northern Tomorrowland.
CLOSURE – August 16th, 1956
Unfortunately, the mini-refurbishment did not solve the numerous problems with the Phantom Boats. The enclosed motors constantly overheated, forcing cast members to tow riders back to the dock. When the boats were refurbished, Imagineers also added a seat for a driver, to prevent engine failure from guests cranking the gas. However, the engines continued to overheat, and the need for drivers made the ride more expensive than it was worth. So after a brief and troublesome year, the Phantom Boats closed for good.
This was the first permanent ride/attraction in the park to close.