Superstar Limo: The story behind the worst Disney ride ever

Disney's Calif. Adventure Opening
Disney's Calif. Adventure Opening / Kevin Winter/GettyImages
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The actual Superstar Limo ride

Opening on February 8, 2001, with the rest of the park, Superstar Limo was one of the first rides guests came to if they entered via the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area. The outside of the building was a wildly garish affair mixing everything from the Hollywood Sign to other landmarks. The queue area also had Joan Rivers doing a "red carpet" report as guests boarded cars shaped like limos. 

The ride itself was simply going from room to room, designed like L.A. spots from Muscle Beach to Malibu and more. Most figures were just 2D cardboard stands with TV screens marking your progress. There were also wildly caricatured figures of big stars like Goldberg, Regis Philbin, Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Antonio Banderas and more, many of whom supplied their real voices. It finally ended with an arrival at a theater and guests seeing photos of themselves on a screen before disembarking.

The backlash begins

From the moment it opened, Superstar Limo was hated by guests. The cheapness of it was obvious with the lame backgrounds, terrible figures and garish theme. It looked less like a Disney attraction than a dark ride one might find at some county fair. In the Imagineering Story series, Imagineer Bruce Vaughn summed up that between the budget, the changes, and the lack of a cohesive story, "it just didn't work."

Guests agreed. Despite Eisner's hopes, the ride never caught on, and before long, lines for it were non-existent. So on January 11, 2001, just under a year after it opened, Superstar Limo had the dubious honor of becoming the first California Adventure attraction to be permanently closed. 

The transformation to Monsters Inc

After the ride was closed, its exterior would remain for a few more years as Disney tried to figure out what to do with it. It took until 2004 for them to realize that Pixar's hit Monster's Inc could be a worthy substitute. 

All they had to do was change the exterior and interior from L.A. to Monstropolis, paint the limos into taxis, film new animated sequences and shift up a few scenes with characters. They even used some of the old Superstar figures clad in suits for the CDA agents on the ride. Opening in January 2006, Monsters Inc: Mike & Sulley To The Rescue was a huge success and a fun ride. 

Thus, the legacy of Superstar Limo was a lesson to Disney on how a last-minute ride change combined with poor budget can lead to disaster and how this ride became a Disney legend in all the wrong ways.

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