04 September 2021

Walt Disney World 50 for 50: Thirst Rangers

When looking back over the articles we’ve shared on the Gazette over the years, it is amazing how some things change and somethings stay the same. The subject matter we’re revisiting after a decade in today’s article does, in fact, both of those things. Let’s start with what is still the same at Walt Disney World for this one.
The Cool Ship, also known as Thirst Rangers, has been docked above a Coca-Cola stand in the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland for many years now. The ship itself has a very sleek in design, and while not the same as Stitch’s red convertible police space cruiser, it definitely gives of the same vibes. Okay, now try to imagine it without its engines, the horn/radar, the air intake system atop the ship, and the dorsal fin. Is it starting to look familiar? In your mind’s eye remove the front viewport and, instead of red, picture it as a metallic silver color. Do you recognize it now?
If not, let me stop beating around the bush. The Cool Ship is actually a Trimaxian Drone Ship from the 1986 film, Flight of the Navigator. The drone ship had many different shapes in the film, depending on whether its portal was open or if it was accelerating at unheard of speeds, its most recognized shape is the one seen here, once we remove some of its after-market parts. The Trimaxian Drone Ship originally appeared to have a metallic design, but that was all part of the magic of moviemaking. The construction of the various ships were actually thin sheets of wood that had been bent to the appropriate curvature, with the reflective metallic surface created through a digital mapping process.
Now, I mentioned multiple ships above, and for a time you could see the Trimaxian Drone Ship in its original state and with an opening over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The pair of the ships were featured as a part of the boneyard that guests passed by while on the Studio Backlot Tour. The row of screen used vehicles included various cars from productions like Dick Tracy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as well as other recognizable science fiction transports, such as a snowspeeder from The Empire Strikes Back and one of Jabba’s skiffs from Return of the Jedi.
Sadly, the Studio Backlot Tour is no longer a part of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios experience and the vehicles of its boneyard have moseyed along. Thankfully, however, there is still a remaining Trimaxian Drone Ship that can be visited in the parks. It may take some imagination to see it in its original form, but it is also a great bit of trivia to pass along to your friends and family the next time you visit Tomorrowland. I suggest sharing this little detail while either enjoying the cooling mists beneath the Cool Ship or while taking a tour around Tomorrowland on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.

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