When the Monorail opened it began nonstop operation with only minimal maintenance problems, never any major problems. It was after two weeks that the imagineers received a telegram from Professor Wengatz of the Alweg Company in Germany (the company that built the monorail.) The telegram said: STOP CONSTRUCTION OF MONORAIL TRAIN — IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK.
Bob Gurr, an imagineer, replied with a telegram of his own and invited the German professor to come take a ride for himself. By the time the Alweg workers had encountered the problems with their monorail, Disney imagineers had already solved them. Say what you want about the power of German engineering, it’s no match for Disney imagineering!
The People Mover also known as the Disneyland transit system, was an attraction at Disneyland that operated from 1967 to 1995. The attraction was a slow-moving elevated Railway that transported visitors around the Tomorrowland area of the park.
The People Mover was part of the new Tomorrowland at Disneyland and it was a proof of concept attraction that exhibited the ability to lessen traffic in large cities. The attraction had a large capacity that could move over 4,800 people every hour. However the attraction was closed on August 21st 1995.
Disney, thinking that they knew what guests wanted, replaced the People Mover with the Rocket Rods. This turned out to be the worst gamble ever! The People Mover provided guests with a relaxing view of Walt's beloved park but Disney thought guests wanted a Tomorrowland thrill ride. Trading 16 minutes of People Mover for three minutes of rocketing.
6 months later in March of 1996 the Rocket Rods were announced. 14 months after the announcement, the Rocket Rods opened in May of 1998. The decision to replace the People Mover was based on what imagineers believed that the ride had outlived its usefulness and was no longer a prototype. They decided to replace the slow mellow ride with the futuristic rapid transit system.
The decision to close the People Mover was a dangerous one as it was a classic attraction that had an importance of nostalgia as well as the emotional connection of the guests. This bad decision has kept an empty track in Tomorrowland for over two decades. All that's left is it's ghost track rooted all through Tomorrowland an echo of better times.
In the window of Trolley Treats confectionery store on Buena Vista Street, is a model of Rock Candy Mountain. It was Imagineer and Disney Legend Claude Coats who worked on concept art for the mountain back in 1957, and while the project was never built, the idea will live on in the whimsical model that guests can enjoy in the front window of the candy shop.
The first ever oddity of Disneyland
Disney as you know has a rich 65 year history and in that history so many amazing things have come and gone but today we'll look at the weird and the bizarre. If you've ever been over into Disney's California Adventure (DCA) and walked down Buena Vista Street, you may have come across trolley treats - the candy shop on the right across from Starbucks. You may have stopped and looked in the window and wondered to yourself, what am I looking at? Where did this come from? This window has a mountain full of candy in it. There is a backstory because we know everything at Disneyland has a backstory and is all connected. Nothing's by random.
We're going to look at what was originally going to be the first ever expansion of Disneyland: Rock Candy Mountain. Imagine going into Fantasyland through Sleeping Beauty's castle working your way around King Arthur's carousel, only in the background not seeing Casey Jr or the Storybook Land Canal boats but seeing a giant mountain made out of candy. Rock Candy Mountain would be a mountain made full of candy, chocolate, gum drops, marshmallows and a candy waterfall!
Imagine waterfalls of chocolate pouring over the side of a mountain. How could you resist? When Casey Junior Circus train and the Storybook Land canal boats opened they didn't have any sort of real landscaping, this was going to be the first ever expansion of the park. The miniature buildings hadn't been put in yet.
Only concept art exists by famous Disney Imagineer Claude Coates.
There's lots of little details. From the Casey Jr platform imagine walking up onto the path on the edge of a mountain just to ride Casey Jr. The sign has been made out of lollipops and a canopy. To the right we see a friendly water tower that's going to fill our steam engine back up with water.
There's an orange waterfall and a pink waterfall. Casey Jr would load, from this awesome platform adorned with lollipops, we would go through a tunnel and begin our journey around Rock Candy mountain. Walt's original idea was the mountain itself to be built out of crystal rock candy so it would look transparent and later decided that would be next to impossible to clean.
To the left is a candy cane bridge and probably the incline that would take us up Rock Candy mountain and slowly work our way back down the the circular tracks.
Imagine getting into your Storybook Land canal boat and slowly drifting into a tunnel working your way to Emerald City because the story line was, as you enter Rock Candy mountain you're going to work your way to Oz where Dorothy is enjoying her birthday party. Imagine the different vignettes you would have floated past to work your way to this birthday party celebration. Let's drift through as we make our way to Dorothy's birthday celebration.
L Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 which meant that Walt Disney would have been among the first generation of kids to grow up with the story. When the rights to the novels were up for sale, Walt purchased them all which meant he suddenly had the ability to create any project he wanted, utilizing the characters from the world of Oz. Except he couldn't do anything with the origin story so Walt began development on a project which was set to star almost all of The Mouseketeers. It was going to be about Dorothy having to return to Oz to somehow help the Cowardly Lion who was under a spell and he become evil and a corrupt ruler.
As Walt was looking at expanding the park, he was already thinking three steps ahead. Disneyland was built in 1955. Sleeping Beauty hadn't been released yet but Cinderella had. It would have been expected for him to build Cinderella's castle in the heart of his new park. Walt being a profound promoter knew that putting Sleeping Beauty's castle in the park would help promote the film. He was spending a lot of money and time on so He wanted to use Disneyland to promote a future projects.
He wanted to use the interior of Rock Candy mountain to promote the Rainbow Road to Oz, a movie that he wanted to work on to continue telling the story of the Wizard of Oz. Now there's very very little concept art, from this their plan was to extend the tracks and the ride paths for both the Casey Junior Circus train as well as the Storybook Land Canal attraction and both the train and the canal boats would go in and around the mountain. Guests would get to see different scenes and characters from The Wizard of Oz with the through line being that all of the characters were preparing for a birthday party for Dorothy. The grand finale of the ride was actually attending Dorothy's surprise party.
Walt's hoped to adapt The Wizard of Oz into a feature-length film reportedly after Snow White. However trying to get Snow White to happen was too slow to secure the rights to The Wizard of Oz, which meant that MGM got the rights to The Wizard of Oz and made the movie. For better or worse the project was canceled and didn't go any further than a couple of production numbers aired as previews for the Disney TV show. Now all of the time, money, resources and actors that were going to be into the Wizard of Oz project ended up being in Disney's Babes in Toyland.
Below you'll find rare images of the concept.
Walt heard of a Skyway system being tested in Switzerland in the fall of 1955, and naturally had to have one. By November of 1955, Walt figured out where the ride would go, and had the Von Roll Iron Works engineers work with designer John Hench to create the attraction. Walt purchased a used 1947 Type 101 Sidechair #5, which was one of the Von Roll prototypes.
Opening ceremonies were presided over by Walt himself and Dr. Walter Smidt, the Swiss Consul General of Los Angeles. There were 42 round gondolas that could carry 2 guests at a time, seated in fiberglass patio chairs bolted into the floor. Moving at a slow and steady 4 mph, gondolas were dispatched approximately every 9 seconds.
The Skyway gave guests an overview of the park between two stations: one in Fantasyland (where the drive system was located) and the other in Tomorrowland (where 35,000 pounds of ballast kept the 2400' long cables taut). In between was the peak, a support tower located on Holiday Hill (basically a mound of dirt).
In 1959, the Matterhorn was added in the path of the Skyway, complete with 2 holes for the gondolas to pass through. The original round buckets were replaced in 1965 for the Tencennial Celebration. Each bucket was now able to carry four guests. The grips on the cars also changed; the original 10 sheave rollerbatteries and the entire tower in Tomorrowland were removed. During the Fantasyland remodel, the towers there were beefed up with extra supports at the urging of Von Roll Tramways.
On April 17, 1994, a 30 year old man jumped from the Skyway, landing in a tree, relatively unharmed. The Skyway was removed 7 months later in November, partially because it was too costly to make safety upgrades. People also threw objects and spit at guests below as they went overhead. For the final ride, Mickey & Minnie made the last crossing as guests watched below. When the Skyway closed, the holes in the Matterhorn were filled in and the supports were dismantled within weeks.
Another reason it closed was because the ride was in technical violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It was very difficult to load and unload mobility-impaired guests (guests had to step up when boarding and down when de-boarding), and this usually required having to stop the ride. Furthermore, wheelchairs could not be loaded onboard because the vehicles were too small. Approximately 150 million guests rode the Skyway.
The Disneyland railroad sweeper train makes one last circle tour only picking up park guests on the way, then everyone disembarks at the Main Street station. This train leaves at closing.
Sweeper trains are based on the number of order of which trains come out on the line on a particular day. The first train out on the line in the morning is usually the first train off the line for the night. The second train follows out soon after the first train when coming out on the line for the day, but stays out for a longer time about 30 minutes prior to part closing.
The last train to come out for the day is usually the last train put away for the night. That is the train that normally sweeps. The train departs Main Street around midnight and returns between 12:15 - 12:30 depending on the engine pulling the train and depending on how busy the stations actually are.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".