Monorails to the Future
Walt Disney World Travel Blog› entry 3 of 6 › view all entries
In addition to celebrating flights of fantasy and idealized views of the past, Disney theme parks celebrate the future. Disneyland had a Tomorrowland from the beginning that featured a Rocket to the Moon ride and the all-plastic Monsanto House of the Future. At DisneyWorld, the Disney organization set about to create a theme park focused on the future. That endeavor would become the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow--Epcot. Public transportation to Epcot would be that futuristic transport, the Monorail.
Monorails seem to always be viewed as the futuristic form of public transporation. (Yet the first monorail transit system opened in Wuppertal, Germany in 1901. It's still in operation.
Today, there are two monorail loops at DisneyWorld. One takes passengers from Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and Polyneisan resort hotels and the Transportation and Ticket Center and back. (In fact the monorail line travels through the inside of the Contemporary Resort.) At the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) one can make an across the platform transfer to the second monorail line to travel to Epcot.
We've ridden the monorail many times as a ride and as transporation. After dining at Chef Mickey's in the Comtemporary Resort, one can take the monorail over to Magic Kingdom, for example, without returning to one's hotel first. It's easy to use the monorail to travel between Magic Kingdom and Epcot to visit both in a day. A sought-after expence in riding the monorail is the "cab ride". That is, you ride in the nose of the monorail vehicle along with the operator. There are seats for several passengers in the nose. But, you must make your reqeust known to the cast member at the station and arrange to be in a special queue to board the nose. (I was once waiting in such a queue when the cast members changed shifts. The new cast member established her own new cab ride queue and ignored me in the old queue.
Perhaps the most futuristsic Disney public transit innovation is the most overlooked. Disney introduced the People Mover (automated transit vehicles on a fixed guideway) concept at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair and later brought it to Disneyland. The concept is now common at airports and elsewhere (there'e even one at the US Capitol), but was new then. It became so common in later years that the ride was removed from Disneyland. But the futuristic concept remains in operation at DisneyWorld as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA). TTA is a true ride. It doesn't actually go anywhere except in a loop from Rockettower Plaza Station and back, though interdmediate stations are announced. However, during the ride, passengers travel through the Space Mountain roller coaster and pass by the orignal concept model of Epcot as a working city rather than as a theme park.