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Disneyland Monorail

The Disneyland Monorail was the first regular service monorail in the United States. In fact, originally it was owned and operated by a separate corporation licensed to Disneyland, so that Walt Disney could keep control. With modifications over the years, the monorail has been making a loop between its two stations. The second station used to be at the Disneyland Hotel, but is now a part of Downtown Disney. If you have time to wait, or get lucky, ask the loading cast member whether you can sit in the cockpit with the pilot.

General Information - Hide Section
  • Location: The Tomorrowland station is above the Submarine Lagoon between Autopia and Tomorrowland Terrace. The Downtown Disney station is next to Rainforest Cafe at the Disneyland Hotel end of that shopping area.
  • Date Opened: 6/14/1959
  • # of Ride Units: 3 monorails (Red, Blue, and Purple). A fourth monorail, Orange, has been taken out of service.
  • Ride Capacity:
  • Restraint Method: None
  • Ticket Rating: C Ticket
  • Ride Photo: No
 
Time Commitment Information - Hide Section
  • Open/Close: Opens and closes with the park. Open during Magic Mornings.
  • Wait Times: Wait times are widely variable throughout the day. After the initial rush in the morning, the wait at the Downtown Disney station is generally no more than two trains but periodic surges in riders (or delays in trains) can quickly bump this up a couple trains. When the monorail is operating normally (that is, making a loop rather than going back and forth) passengers arriving from Disneyland are not required to disembark so the amount of space available on each train is variable. All passengers are required to exit at Tomorrowland station so each train can always take a full load creating the situation that a longer line in Tomorrowland frequently moves faster than a shorter line at the Downtown Disney station. The Tomorrowland station also has a separate line giving priority to guests of the Disneyland hotels and in the morning rush the boarding at the Downtown Disney station may be limited to those guests.
  • Length of Ride: 15 minutes round trip, about 5 minutes one way.
  • FastPass: No
  • Single Rider: No
  • Queue Description: At Downtown Disney the queue is on a raised platform next to Rainforest Cafe. In Tomorrowland the smaller platform rises above the submarine lagoon and Autopia and during peak periods extends down around the lagoon. Both stations are covered.
Access Information - Hide Section
  • Health Restriction: None
  • Ride Access: The queues at both stations are wheelchair accessible though you will first need to use an elevator to get to the platform.
  • Wheelchair Transfer: One car on each monorail is built to accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs, a cast member can direct you to the correct one. The floor of the monorail is several inches higher than the floor of the platform so be sure to ask for the ramp that is available for entering and exiting the monorail. The pilot's cabin at the front of the monorail is not wheelchair or ECV accessible.
  • Service Animals: Yes
  • Audio: Pre-recorded "tour-guide" audio plays during the trip.
  • Weight and Size Issues: Should be none. Since standing is not allowed (unlike the Walt Disney World monorail) crowding is not much of an issue.
Parenting Information - Hide Section
  • Height Restriction: No
  • Child Swap: No
  • Other Issues: There should be no fright issues for children. A treat that almost any child will enjoy riding in the pilot's cabin with the driver of the monorail. To do this, ask the cast member at the loading platform if it is available. The option to do so is at the discretion of monorail pilot and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. You may have to wait several trips before the space is available. Since it may not be available at all it is probably best to first inquire before promising it to your children.
History and Trivia - Hide Section
  • At this location: This area of Tomorrowland is a jumble of former attractions and shifts from former versions of Autopia and the building of the submarine lagoon and the Matterhorn so it is difficult to know what exactly was in the spot of the current Tomorrowland monorail station. Near, if not quite in the same spot as the location of the current monorail platform was a counter service restaurant known as Yacht Club. It closed in 1957 when all the construction began and was moved to the current location of Club Buzz.

    The spiritual precursor of the Disneyland Monorail, however, was the Santa Fe and Disneyland Viewliner railroad that transported passengers on a winding loop through parts of Tomorrowland from June 26, 1957, to September 15, 1958. The ride highlighted the future of railway transportation by using an Oldsmobile V8 gasoline engine as opposed to the steam engines used for the Disneyland Railroad. The life for the attraction was short however, as construction on Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage required shutting down the attraction. In 1959 the new future of rail travel, the monorail, opened in its place.
     
  • The Attraction's History: When the Disneyland Monorail first opened in 1959 (as the Disney-Alweg Monorail System) it travelled a short 0.8 mile loop using the first generation of Disney-Alweg designed monorails. In 1961 the track was extended to 2.5 miles so that it could be used as a true transportation system, bringing guests to and from the Disneyland Hotel. Since then the track has remained mostly the same though small alterations have been made due to various construction projects (most notably Disney's California Adventure). Over the years, four generations of monorails have been used at Disneyland. The original Mark I trains were in service from 1959 to 1961 (Disney-Alweg). The Mark II (also Disney-Alweg) trains served from 1961 to 1968 and were replaced by the Mark III (WED Enterprises) trains which operated in turn until 1988. The Mark V (Ride & Show Engineering, Inc.) trains were swapped into the system from 1986 to 1988 and are now slated for replacement by new Mark VII (Burke Design) trains throughout 2007. The missing Mark IV and Mark VI operated at Walt Disney World.
  • Other Trivia
  • A prominent figure: The ribbon was cut at the dedication of the Disneyland Monorail by then Vice President Richard Nixon.
  • Firsts: The Disneyland Monorail was the first daily operating monorail system in the United States and in 1961 became the first to cross a public street.
  • A failure of marketing: Disney tried to market the monorail system to municipalities and other organizations as a clean method of public transportation but was only able to sell a short-track version at Houston International Airport. Although the monorail built in 1961 for the Seattle World's Fair was constructed by Alweg as well, Disney was not involved in the project.
Links of Interest - Hide Section

MousePlanet Links

  • On Track — Former Imagineer George McGinnis writes about his work on the design of the Mark V generation of Disneyland monorails.
  • The Monorail Myth: The Rest of the Story — Wade Sampson explores both the myths and the history of how the monorail came to Disneyland.


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