Retired or Extinct Disneyland Rides, Exhibits, and Attractions I Miss Most - Tomorrowland's The PeopleMover 1967 -1995

Source

The Ford Motor Company's "Magic Skyway" World's Fair Exhibit

This is a small actual page cut out from the "Official Guide, New York World's Fair 1964 -1965"
This is a small actual page cut out from the "Official Guide, New York World's Fair 1964 -1965" | Source

WED Enterprises

(WED Enterprises would go on to build among other things the InterTerminal Train at George Bush International Airport)

Making it's way back toward the station at TomorrowLand, the Peoplemover offers passengers a bird's eye view of Disneyland's Submarine Lagoon.
Making it's way back toward the station at TomorrowLand, the Peoplemover offers passengers a bird's eye view of Disneyland's Submarine Lagoon. | Source

It Was Green Before Green Was Popular

The Peoplemover's ride vehicles were actually continuously running trains, that were made up of four individual open-air cars, each of which held up to four passengers The trains were not operated by traditional gasoline or diesel fueled engines, but were instead pushed by rotating tires, each of which had its own electric motor embedded every nine feet in the track that ran high above Tommorrowland.

With it's ability to accommodate 1,000 people at a time, and to absorb almost 5,000 people an hour, the PeopleMover worked during the busy summer and holiday seasons to reduce the congestion in Tomorrowland and throughout the park.

Designed as a model for the future of public transportation within a central urban or metropolitan area, it endeavored to show how people could commute to work and around town without rushing to catch individual trains, or the need to drive a car. This was some thirty years before we ever heard the word "green," but with it's use of electricity instead of fossil fuels, and it's potential to reduce congestion on the road by making us less dependent on the use of personal vehicles, The PeopleMover, was most definitely ahead of its time.

Passengers rode an escalator up to the Peoplemover station where they boarded the trains by stepping on to a speed-matched rotating platform, for a sixteen minute overview that not only ran above Tommorrowland, but also went through the Circle Vision 360° waiting area, the entry way for Adventure Through Inner Space, and over both the Autopia attraction, and Disneyland's Submarine Lagoon. Each car was equipped with its own sound system, which broadcast an oral narrative that was synchronized to the train's location along the tour.

The PeopleMover 1967 - 1995

The PeopleMover was an updated version of the Ford Magic Skyway exhibit, which had been created for the Ford Motor Company by the Disney owned WED Enterprises for the run of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The PeopleMover came to Disneyland when I was three months old, on July 3, 1967 and it remained one of my favorite attractions throughout its twenty-eight year run.

Passengers rode an escalator up to the Peoplemover station where they boarded the trains by stepping on to a speed-matched rotating platform, for a sixteen minute overview that not only ran above Tommorrowland, but also went through the Circle Vision 360° waiting area, the entry way for Adventure Through Inner Space, and over both the Autopia attraction, and Disneyland's Submarine Lagoon. Each car was equipped with its own sound system, which broadcast an oral narrative that was synchronized to the train's location along the tour.

Very few changes were made to the PeopleMover during it's nearly thirty year reign. When the attraction opened in 1967, all the cars had white roofs, and were painted either red, blue, yellow, or green. During the 1987 revitalization project, their paint color was changed to the all white paint scheme, and they remained that way until the very end.

The SuperSpeed Tunnel which through projection, made it appear as if there were race cars speeding all around the trains, was added to the Carousel Building in 1977. The race car theme was then replaced in 1982, with clips from the light cycle race scenes from the movie "Tron."

With a top speed of only two miles per hour, the PeopleMover was a one-size-fits-all type of attraction, which meant that it was a ride that I could ride with both of my grandparents, an important feature to me since throughout my childhood, up until the time when I was allowed to go to Disneyland on my own with my friends, (when I was around thirteen), they were the adults who usually accompanied me, and those memories of happy Disneyland days, are precious to me now. As I grew into a teen ager I may have scoffed at the slowness of the PeopleMover, choosing the thrill of the new faster rides like Space Mountain, and The Big Thunder Railroad, but in the early nineteen ninety's, as a new mom with two babies under the age of two, the Peoplemover was a wonderful late afternoon break, and it's sixteen minute round trip was usually just perfect for settling a fussy baby down for a nap.

See The Peoplemover as it Appeared in 1990,- Part 1

One of the Greatest Sponsorships of All Time

Following the World's Fair, Walt Disney approached Ford Motors about bringing the exhibit to Disneyland, throwing into the negotiations the offer to use credit the one million dollars that had been Disney's fee for building the exhibit, toward the moving of the exhibit from New York, to the Disneyland park in Anaheim, California, but they turned him down, some say, because they were hesitant to support technology that could one day replace the automobile.

Upon their refusal, Mr. Disney approached Goodyear, who readily accepted. The PeopleMover's tires were of course changed to Goodyear tires, and sharing the same typeface, the new logo for the PeopleMover was designed to look very similar to Goodyear's own logo. Goodyear sponsorship of the Peoplemover would last for the entire run of the ride, making it one of the longest and most successful sponsorship agreements of all time.

View From The People Mover as it Appeared in 1990 - Part 2

The End of the Era and Beyond

The people at Disney ended the PeopleMover's twenty-eight year run on August 21, 1995.

Disneyland used the old PeopleMover Track again, when in 1998 they introduced the short lived Rocket Rods. A high speed roller coaster-like attraction that completed the PeopleMover's old 16 minute course in about 3 minutes. Rocket Rods though, was not the PeopleMover, and lasted only two years, before it was permanently closed in 2000.

As of today's date, if you should be walking through Tommorrowland, and you turn your attention upward toward the sky, you will see it standing there still, the original track and structures of the PeopleMover. It stands there like some proud, but sad monument to the past, to what it once was, it is empty and quiet now as it has been for just over a decade.

I am not the only one to have a soft spot for the PeopleMover either, with its closing came a grassroots campaign of die-hard Disney and PeopleMover fans, who are heading the fight to bring back the PeopleMover to it's rightful place at Disneyland, with a petition that is being circulated by the People for The Peoplemover.org

It appears that there may be some hope for the PeopleMover's return, as recently there have been some rumors circulating that the Disney Imagineers are working on a new and updated PeopleMover, to be part of an upcoming Tommorowland revitalization package, bringing it back to Anaheim, and perhaps changing the name to "Tommorrowland Transit Authority, the name under which, the PeopleMover at Walt Disney World continues to operate.

© 2011 Kristen Burns-Darling

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Comments 4 comments

Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

What a great article! I've never been, but this should bring back lots of wonderful memories for those who have and bring many comments on other people's favorites. Wonderful topic and so well written, in your usual style! ;)


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Hi Poohgranma, If you ever come to California, I would love to be your tour guide through the park. Growing up less than 10 minutes away I was there a lot, my husband and other various members of my family have all worked there, and up until this year, I've always been an annual pass holder, I know this park inside and out. I was there on Wednesday with my youngest daughter and my nephew for his last trip before they move to Denver next week, which is what gave me the idea for this little series of hubs. I am glad that you liked it, and I mean it, if you ever come, let me know, I love to see Disneyland through the eyes of people who have never seen it before!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

AWESOME Hub. The People Mover is such an interesting cultural artifact. I also heard that some people died on it... or rather, for fooling around on the tracks and getting run over!! O_O


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thanks Simone..There are supposedly two park guests who have died on the people mover, both from getting out of the car during the ride...I haven't been able to verify it, I know that I have heard about it all of my life, and since I haven't been able to verify it, I sometimes wonder if it is an urban legend? Glad that you liked it! :-)

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