Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TPE: Riding The PeopleMover

Originally created for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, The PeopleMover was a beloved transportation option in "New" Tomorrowland from July 2, 1967 until August 21, 1995.

The vehicles were constantly in motion and accessible by a large rotating platform inside the station. The trains were powered by rotating Goodyear tires embedded in the track, which the trains would pass over every nine feet. Painted red, blue, yellow, or green with white roofs, each car held 4 guests (4 cars per train) while traveling at a top speed of 2 miles per hour during the 16 minute journey through Tomorrowland.

In 1977, the SuperSpeed Tunnel was added to the PeopleMover. It was located in the former Carousel of Progress Building, then housing America Sings. Race cars were projected on the walls all around the trains. In 1982, the scenes were changed to clips from “Tron”’s light cycle race scene, and the tunnel was renamed Tron SuperSpeed Tunnel.

This June 1970 photo shows the PeopleMover cruising through what is now the Star Traders gift shop.

Sadly, the PeopleMover closed in August 1995 and was replaced by Rocket Rods in 1998 (which is even more sad!).

The Peoplemover was much more than just a slow journey through Tomorrowland. It was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself who hoped it would solve a real-world problem (that has only gotten worse).

The PeopleMover was a prototype transportation for EPCOT; Walt's idea was that it would carry citizens of EPCOT from their home to work, to shopping areas, etc., without having to use cars.

This extremely forward-thinking mode of transportation eliminated traffic jams and was a huge energy saver. If only Southern California had a PeopleMover.

For those who are nostalgic for the PeopleMover, Orlando still has its version, although it has been redubbed the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

One man took a different path. Instead of traveling to Orlando to ride the PeopleMover, he merely goes to his backyard.

You may remember Kevin Doherty's story, previously posted on this blog and featured on my website. I recently had the privilege of seeing Kevin's PeopleMover duo and he graciously allowed me to photograph them.

Time to get out the Windex? No way! That's a genuine Bob Gurr signature on Kevin's PeopleMover duet:

In case you're wondering...this little control booth actually works, as the guests at Kevin's house were surprised to find when they started randomly pushing buttons.

Many thanks to both Kevin and his wife Jan for allowing me into their home. They are two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. For more on my trip to Kevin's house, you'll have to return tomorrow. There was much more to see than can be covered in one post!

See more vintage & current Disneyland PeopleMover photos on my PeopleMover web page.


Major Pepperidge said...

So nice to see the restored Peoplemover cars, Kevin did an amazing job!

Kevin Crossman said...

Actually, they've gone back and started using the PeopleMover name at WDW Magic Kingdom.

K. Martinez said...

Are you sure the black and white photo is the old Character Shop (Star Trader)? It looks more like it's from the Adventure Thru Inner Space area. I see “Monsanto welcomes you to the world of” just below the vehicles. I could be wrong though. Maybe that sign was in the old Character Shop.

I think the Orlando version has been redubbed once again combining the old name with the new as “Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover”.

Kevin Doherty has quite a collection there. The safety signage is very cool.

K. Martinez said...

Regarding my comment about the black and white image, it just occurred to me that maybe the Star Trader was expanded beyond the original Character Shop footprint into part of old ATIS area making the photo caption correct.

stu29573 said...

Great article, as always! Yes, its great to be able to cruise Tomorrowland in WDW on their TTA Peoplemover. Its worth noting, however, that apart from the general concept the two attractions functioned quite differently. While the DL version was pushed along with tires in the track, the WDW version uses linear induction magnets, and therefore has no moving parts in the "motor." The WDW version also has a higher top speed (almost 7 mph). I try to ride at least twice each trip, and often even more!

JG said...

@K Martinez. You are correct, the Star Trader shop expanded into the "Miracles From Molecules" conclusion of ATIS at some point. Not all the signage was changed, apparently.

Dave, fantastic post and pictures. What a lucky guy to have his own PeopleMover. I would go out and sit in that with a cocktail and just "be".

I really really miss this quiet sightseeing ride. The views were spectacular.


Daveland said...

K. Martinez - I guess I waited long enough for your question to be answered - ha!

Kevin - Thanks for the update; obviously I am not as in touch with what's going on in Orlando!

JG - You'll see about the cocktails tomorrow!

Thufer said...

@jg What a wonderful picture you paint. Just a wonderful post. BTW.... excellent poster!