Thursday, August 8, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Monorail History


One of the most quintessential features of the Disneyland Resort is its groundbreaking monorail system. The monorail itself was first introduced as far back as 1820 in Russia, and didn't find its way to the US until the 1950's. In 1959, the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail System was first constructed. It circled the Disneyland park perpetually, being the first daily-operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere.



The Mark I monorail system was initially a ride, having only one station and two three-car trains. By 1961, it was upgraded to four cars per train and a third train was added. In addition to being able to accommodate more guests, the track was expanded to meet a station at the Disneyland Hotel, and the monorail's primary function became transportation. This was the beginning of the Mark II.

The newly enlarged Tomorrowland Station was extended once again in 1968 to hold four, five-car trains. Known as the Mark III, this was the most drastically changed model to date, as it no longer had an observation bubble, glass windows were added, and the doors were pressurized. After the Mark III monorail, the quantity of cars became five-per-train, and it remains that way to this day. However, four trains appeared to be too many, and the number was shortened back to three in 1988, during the lifespan of the Mark V.

But it seems that the Monorail jumped from Mark III to Mark V. Was there ever a fourth model?

The Mark IV monorail was introduced at Walt Disney World in 1971, and only existed in that park. It held an astonishing 10 trains, half with five cars and the other half with six. It came to Disneyland in the form of the Mark V, a slightly improved Disney World monorail that was German-manufactured. In 1998, the Disneyland Hotel station was demolished, and the Downtown Disney station that stands today, was erected.


The Mark IV/V is perhaps the model that most guests will remember, as it boasted the longest lifespan of any Disneyland monorail. The white chassis and colored stripe were an icon of Disney Park culture, as the design (introduced in 1971) is still employed on the Disney World Mark VI monorail today.

However, in 2008, Disneyland adopted the Mark VII, the most advanced Disney monorail to date. Its sleek design is a throwback to the original Mark I monorail, with likenesses of the red and blue trains that debuted in 1959. It also added a third, orange monorail to the fleet more recently in 2009.


Today's monorails are a far cry from the ones that were introduced in the 1950's. They stand as a testament to both the longstanding technologies that Disneyland pursues with each passing decade, and to the space-age transportation that Walt Disney envisioned to be the defining path to the future.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rides Closing This Fall

This fall, many attractions are scheduled to close for maintenance. Among the attractions that will face refurbishment are Space Mountain (9/9 - 9/12), Pirate's Lair (9/3 - 9/4), and Matterhorn Bobsleds, (first from 8/19 - 8/22, then from 9/3 - 9/5). If you plan on visiting the park in September, make sure you take note of these events.

However, these closures are routine, and should not be of concern. On the other hand, some rides are scheduled to undergo long refurbishment periods. The Haunted Mansion will be closed between the 26th of August until the 12th of September. Mickey's House in ToonTown will be closed from 9/3 to 9/26. And lastly, King Arthur's Carousel will not be operational from 9/3 to 10/10.

As of yet, it appears no plans have been announced to make much-needed repairs to Splash Mountain. Hopefully this winter, during Splash Mountain's slowest season, they will finally fix all of these flaws.

And finally, on a lighter note, Big Thunder Mountain will reopen the day before Halloween (10/30), bringing an end to a dreaded 296-day refurbishment. More info to come as the deadline approaches.

Additionally, Mad Tea Party will be closed from 8/19 to 8/22.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Old Characters Returning to Disneyland

In a rare occurrence, Disneyland fans will get to vote on which old costumed character will make a return to the park. Guests can vote on any of the previously retired characters from classic Disney films including Robin Hood, Hercules, and Lilo & Stitch.


So before the voting ends on Monday, make sure to cast your vote and bring your favorite Disney character back for "limited time magic", and you might get the photo op or autograph you've been missing.

You can vote on the official Disney blog here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Liberty Street and Edison Square


There have been many planned attractions in Disneyland, to never see the light of day. Branching off of Main Street, USA, there were to be several other streets set in-line with the theme of grand, old-fashioned America that was represented by Main Street. Such streets included, Edison Square, Chinatown, International Street, and most notably, Liberty Street.


Liberty Street hearkened back to the days of Colonial America, inspired by New England storefronts and cobblestone streets with a harbor and stationary flagship. Walt Disney's fascination with history and progressive thinking, led him to envision many tributes to the early and pivotal days in America. While Main Street represents the "turn of the century", Liberty Street would showcase the setting for settlers of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as would have been seen in the 18th century.


Edison Square was a bit like Liberty Street, though based instead on the days of Thomas Edison. Edison was a genius inventor whose practices today wouldn't have been so well-received. He is credited with the invention of the phonograph, the lightbulb, and even movies. Edison Square was not only a tribute, complete with a statue of Edison, but again, an exhibit that replicated the everyday life of Americans as they discovered new technologies like the automobile, and electric lighting.

Guests readied for the grand opening of Liberty Street and others. Signs decorated the closed-off pathways to the future sites. The maps were marked and illustrated with what was to come.


But the years went by, and we still never saw any of these planned attractions. They were left to the imagination.


I believe that if these ideas had come to fruition, Disneyland would have gone in a completely different direction. Rather than having such a focus on Disney franchises and characters, it would have better kept alive the rational Walt Disney dream of creating a timeless universe where visitors can visit different timelines of the past, present, and future. Frontierland would perhaps have become more alive with the spirit of adventure akin to the worlds of Davy Crockett and Tom Sawyer. With Liberty Street, there would be little need for the maritime streets of the much later New Orleans Square, and perhaps the pirate theme would have been a less dominant feature of Frontierland. Whereas today's pirates in Frontierland have all but assimilated the original pioneer and American Indian themes (see Pirate's Lair).

But who knows? All we can do is look back on what could have been. But if they never built Liberty Street and Edison Square, then what took their place?


Perhaps the future isn't so bad after all.