Thursday, October 07, 2010

1500th Post - It’s A Celebration, Pt. 7: Transportation

There is the famous quote by Walt about Disneyland in its infancy: “I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.”

Walt Disney loved a serious dose of nostalgia; Main Street U.S.A. and The Disneyland Railroad are living testimonies to this fact.

Let’s hop aboard The Ernest S. Marsh with Walt and take a vintage Grand Circle Tour around the park, shall we?

Get those windows exactly where you want them to could get drafty here!

The original Santa Fe water tower in Frontierland and the depot based on the one from “So Dear To My Heart.” On the left, you can see the back of the Chicken Plantation Restaurant. Eventually, this station would be moved down a bit to make way for New Orleans Square.

The colorful Fantasyland Depot:

Look at these friendly engineers, parked at the Tomorrowland Depot:

If you think that Walt was stuck in the past, you are sorely mistaken. Walt was constantly on the lookout for the newest idea in transportation that could solve the world’s problems both economically and ecologically. Disneyland was his testing ground for many of these newfangled contraptions.

In 1956, he introduced The Skyway as a means of travel for guests between Fantasyland to Tomorrowland.

The Viewliner was Walt’s first attempt at a modern streamlined train, debuting in June 1957:

Not long after The Viewliner appeared, a Monorail in Germany caught Walt’s enthusiasm:

And that was all she wrote for The Viewliner. Plans were drawn up for The Monorail and The Viewliner was yesterday’s news.

For the New Tomorrowland of 1967, The PeopleMover was introduced at Disneyland. Constantly moving, it provided a way for guests to get an overview of the wonders of Tomorrowland.

The same concept of travel was utilized in both The Haunted Mansion and Adventures Thru Inner Space, where it was dubbed “The Omnimover.”

TRANSPORTATION TODAY: Sadly, The PeopleMover of 1967 was the last major form of new transportation that was introduced to Disneyland, unless you count the Jolly Trolley in Toon Town:

Not only were the Skyway and PeopleMover removed, but The Jolly Trolley eventually got bolted down to become merely a photo opportunity. Hey Imagineers, how about unbolting the Trolley and extending the route out of Toon Town, passing the Matterhorn, and stopping at Central Plaza? Currently, there is no transportation from Main Street to Toon Town, and this would sure help a number of families who are struggling with a ton-o-kids at their feet. Just a thought...

On the plus side, The PeopleMover is supposedly making a return to Tomorrowland. Here’s to hoping that the Imagineers take this opportunity to rethink that classic vehicle and update it into something that ignites the imaginations and hearts of guests from all over the world.

The public relations nightmare of the revamped Mark 7 Monorails of 2007 will hopefully show the importance of careful yet forward-thinking planning.

Speaking of The PeopleMover, Kevin Doherty was kind enough to share his recap and photos from the recent event at The Disneyland Hotel celebrating mechanical marvels:

“Disneyland (and, it seems the PeopleMover vehicles) will never be completed”

As I sit writing this installment (I thought it would be the last … maybe not) the event is done and the machines sit in the back yard, looking very cool. I’m told that they were the hit of the show. To get them there was…well, something else.

I was reminded by a friend that it’s like planning a wedding. You want everything to be perfect, but no matter how much time and planning you do, everything seems to fall apart and go wrong at the last minute. But—the big day comes, you see all the flaws…yet nobody else notices and everyone has a great time.

Same here. From running out of screws to the last batch of painted parts being done wrong to forever remaining “sticky” (seats no less) and worse, my wife went to emergency the afternoon before the event (she’s ok now)—everything went wrong. Did I mention that the weekend before, while screwing in a part, I pulled my elbow out? Hurt like heck and couldn’t use it for 2 weeks.

Despite the issues – I’m told by many that the units were a hit. My favorite moment was when Bob Gurr agreed to sign the inside “dash” of 10B. Very fun.

Many guests (there were about 500) took pictures and the most fun was seeing the smiles when they sat in them. I could tell they were remembering good times. I was impressed not only with the guests’ interest and the usual questions (“Will they ever bring the PeopleMovers back?” being the most discussed) but with the interest and conversations in the technical aspects. People really care about Bob Gurr’s wonderful engineering.

The copy of the control box that had decided to give me fits during testing, worked perfectly all night and was the center of many discussions. Bob even explained the purpose of the 101 – 102 switch, which I had installed but had no idea of the function.

My one error of the night? The MC for the event was Neil Patrick Harris. I remember him coming over a couple of times during breaks and once he politely asked if he could take pictures. I was so pre-occupied, I didn’t ask if he had questions and didn’t get a photo with him. Hope he doesn’t think I was being rude. I know he was truly interested.

We dismantled the units and display the next morning and transported 10B and 10C to their new home in our back yard (they look and feel so much better in the open than in a building). Jan (my wife) and I will again be able to sit and enjoy some wine while listening to Jack Wagner’ s “Go-Go-Goodyear” spiel. Wonder which unit we’ll enjoy more: 10B or 10C?

We’ll still need to disassemble them once again to fix the painted panels that aren’t right but that’s for next year – just before we put down the track for them to run on…and start the next project, a working Autopia vehicle…or maybe the Space Mountain car? On a track? Did you know Bob calculated the frame for stresses on this car?

Boy, I love this stuff—hope you do too.

For you nostalgia buffs, here’s a photo from Jason Schultz showing 2 PeopleMover vehicles and their short-lived replacement, The Rocket Rods.

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Connie Moreno said...

Once again, you hit it out of the Park! Great history, here!!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

I love this stuff too! Another amazing post - THANKS DAVE!

The PeopleMover is coming back? Is that just the persistent rumor or do you know something I don't

Davelandweb said...

Tim - Here's what I read:

TokyoMagic! said...

As with the irony of your picture from yesterday showing a trash can marked "WASTE" at the entrance of Tomorrowland, I find it ironic that the bastardized PeopleMover cars (last pic in your post) sit beneath the words "In the world of creativity, there's no end to the possibilities".....not to mention the hideous brown Rocket Rod vehicle above.

Jim said...

"Bob even explained the purpose of the 101 – 102 switch, which I had installed but had no idea of the function."

Now I wish I knew!

He's building a track for um in his backyard?! Wow!I wanna go.

Major Pepperidge said...

I am sad to think that this looks like the last post that will feature these beautifully restored Peoplemover vehicles!

JG said...

Dave, what terrific work. I depend on you for these comprehensive editorials, thank you!

Also thanks for the link re peoplemover. Here's hoping.