Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Disneyland Monorail, 1961

Disneyland Monorail
Disneyland Monorail Anaheim, California, 1961

Whooshing by on the highway in the sky, passengers travel in supreme space-age style between the Disneyland Hotel and Tomorrowland. I certainly hope they all heard the “Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times” recording because there are no windows!

The monorail is like an airplane without wings, or a cross between a snake, shark and catfish. It also has a foot-long hot dog/Oscar Meyer Wienermobile feel to it. Never have green tinted glass, ribbed stainless steel panels, lipstick red, and pinstriped white looked so great together. The design is so brilliant that it’s still fashion-forward nearly fifty years later.

The earliest concept sketches of Tomorrowland included a monorail. But as Disneyland was being built Disney had neither the technology nor the money to build his vision of the mass transportation’s future. Then while visiting Europe in 1958 he found a prototype monorail running on a track on a rural farm being developed by Alweg, a German engineering company. Within one year Disney had married the technology with a futuristic design and it was ready to go.

In the days leading up to the ribbon cutting and “first ride” ceremony, every time the engineers ran the monorail around its track for a test run – it caught on fire. Finally the dedication day came. All eyes were on the first official passengers, Vice President and Mrs. Nixon, and their two girls as they boarded the futuristic transportation vehicle along with a very nervous Walt Disney for the trip. Disembarking, Nixon had no idea that it was the first time the monorail had gone around the track without catching on fire!

Here’s to you and the Monorail!
Charles Phoenix

P.S. Read more about the monorails in Southern California in the 50s and Southern Californialand

Ray Bradbury’s LA Times Editorial: L.A.’s future is up in the air

Visit Charles’ site or join his Slide of the Week Mailing List.

Charles Phoenix Mouse Ears“Disneyland” Tour of Downtown Los Angeles

Sundays March 19 and April 2, 2006
The similarities between Downtown Los Angeles and Disneyland are staggering!

I will be your tour guide as we explore “Main Street USA”, “Adventureland”, “Fantasyland”, “Frontierland” and “Tomorrowland” in the heart and soul of the city by foot and vintage school bus. Info & Tickets