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The Magic Years
Disney through the eyes of teens
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Adrienne Krock, editor
Disneyland's Autopia
Hello! My friends call me Jewel. I am almost 13 years old and my family and I live about 30 minutes away from Disneyland. I'm new to MousePlanet and will be writing columns about "Disney stuff." All from a kid's point of view. Every other week, I should have a new column for you. On the weeks that I'm not writing, my good friend Casey will be hanging out with you. I am happy to be here, and would love to hear what you have to say about my writings. You can e-mail me at CoolKids@MousePlanet.com. If you would like to know anything in particular about Disneyland, please suggest it and I just might consider making a column out of it!

I go to Disneyland all the time and am very interested in Disney and all that goes on with them. I've been following Radio Disney since the day they went on air. Another thing that grasps me is music. I play the flute in my school band and take piano lessons at home. I work with various other instruments as well, and want to be a deejay when I grow up. I live with my mom, my dad and my little brother. We have six cats, one dog and my goldfish.

The sign out front
The sign out front

This first column is about Disneyland's new Autopia. Hope you enjoy it!

Now, you've probably either seen or heard the fast-paced commercials for the new Autopia, right? Well, some commercials can be exaggerated and misleading. Causing you to think something is really great. Leaving you to find out how lousy something really is. The Autopia commercials are neither misleading nor exaggerated. These commercials are in fact, right on beat. No matter how old you are, you're sure to love this ride. I'd say it's one of my top five favorite rides!

The line is usually long, but it is most definitely worth the wait. When you enter the Autopia line, you will receive an Autopia driver license. Hold onto it! You wouldn't want to be caught without your license!

When you enter the queue ($25 word for line) look to the back of the big Autopia sign. There you will see a screen on which animated cars and drivers are displayed. This screen will display funny road signs, animated Autopia cars telling jokes and Auto Mottos (silly car phrases) and police reports of dangerous cartoon drivers on the Autopia track. You can also watch the Autopia Cam. Along with the animated screen, jazzy music will keep you entertained and help pass the time in line. My friend's mom said she could clean house to the music!

The paint changes colors
The paint changes colors

Before you walk down the steps to the loading area, please know how many people will be riding in your car. It will make the line go faster. Now you are ready to ride! Along the track, check out all the cool new cars on the road. My favorite style is the new sports car. I totally dig that iridescent paint! It rocks. I think the cars look great! Also be sure to look at all the statues and road signs along the way. These are landmarks of the ride! My favorite is the Birdbath Carwash. And the car fountain... how cute! Now, the off-road portion of the track is cool, but in my opinion far too short. I think they need to make that part longer. It's a lot of fun though.

While you're driving, you go under bridges, cruise the highway and there's even a speed limit. Just like on the freeway! Autopia is more scenic than ever, too. Disneyland really went the extra mile with this one.

Now for some history. There was always just a regular Autopia. But, in the in the very early days of Disneyland, there was a Junior Autopia. This Autopia was designed for older kids. It opened in 1956, one year after Disneyland opened. Junior Autopia was in Fantasyland. It closed in 1958. When it reopened in 1959, it became the Fantasyland Autopia. A one-size-fits-all Autopia. Like the Autopia there is now.

There was also a children's Autopia. It was called Midget Autopia. It opened in 1957, just two years after Disneyland opened. Midget Autopia was designed for children of about four years of age or younger. The cars were smaller with two steering wheels. They were easier for littler kids to drive. Designed just for them. The Midget Autopia lasted about nine years, closing in 1966. Little kids really liked it, but when It's A Small World was introduced, Midget Autopia had to go to make room for the walk-way to Small World.

That left two Autopia tracks. Tomorrowland Autopia and Fantasyland Autopia. Until just recently, these two tracks were both operational. Disneyland has now combined these two tracks and with some elbow grease and a little magic, upgraded Autopia 100%. Bringing it into the year 2000 with a bang!

The photo booth
The photo booth

As you exit Autopia, you will come to a store. It's the Autopia Winner's Circle. Here, you can stop by the photo booth and have your driver's license picture taken for $5. When you buy your picture, you will get a sheet of 16 mini sticky photos. That's actually a pretty good deal. The self-adhesive pictures fit perfectly on the spot provided on your license. From now on, if you get stopped on your bike, you have valid photo ID!! ;-)

In the Autopia Winner's Circle, you can also purchase sunglasses, Autopia pins (very nice), "Character Crossing" road signs, Autopia license plate frames, Autopia keychains, and those extremely cute Chevron cars. I just love 'em, don't you? This is just a taste of what you can buy. Autopia Winner's Circle carries much more than that. They carry Autopia merchandise like you've never seen it before. If you liked Autopia, you definitely need to check this store out.

One of the Chevron cars
One of the Chevron cars

One more thing you may want to know is that a little thing called FastPass is available for Autopia. A FastPass will allow you to come back to the Autopia later on in the day and get into a very short and exclusive FastPass line. FastPass machines are across from the Autopia entrance. FastPass will reduce your wait in line by a lot, and make the most of your precious time. (In a future column, I will write more about FastPass.)

The best part of this ride is the fact that you are behind the wheel. Not your big brother, not Mom, YOU.

Well, I think I can wrap this up by saying that Autopia is a first-class ride. I give it two thumbs way, way up. I love it. I would recommend, however, that smaller children take along an adult to help put the pedal to the metal.

Have you ever been on Autopia? Tell me what you think! And remember: "Be real happy, do not mopia... Drive a car on the Autopia!"

Happy tails!

~Jewel


Jewel's FastFact: In the ride Peter Pan's Flight, when you are flying over Neverland, there is an "erupting" volcano. The tiny white balls used to look like lava are really the same Styrofoam "beans" they put into beanbags!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jewel
Hi!
My name is Jewel.

I am almost 13 years old, and a typical junior high student. I live with my mom, dad, and little brother. My family and I have annual passes to Disneyland so we go quite often. I love school, and science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I am in band and hope to be involved in music for the rest of my life.

Right now, my career goal is to become a deejay. In my mind, that is the coolest job in the world! My hobbies include: listening to and playing music, reading, writing, messing around on the computer and hanging out at Disneyland. We have seven cats (four of them found us), a black Labrador, and I have a goldfish.


Autopia photos courtesy of Al Lutz

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