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October 12, 2017: Disneyland Monorail System, California


The Disneyland Monorail System (originally named the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail System) is more than just an attraction.  It is a transportation system at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, that was way ahead of it's time.  Walt Disney and his engineering group visited Europe in the Summer of 1957 and examined the experimental monorail developed by the Alweg Corporation, near Cologne, Germany.  Walt Disney and company were so impressed with what they saw that they brought the monorail technology to Disneyland, and on June 14, 1959, the Disneyland Monorail System became the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere, and the first in the United States.


The fleet of trains comprises the Red, Blue and Orange Mark VII trains each with an innovative painting technique, for the surface of the trains shimmers with a visual electricity i.e. the colors shift with a brush of light — from red to crimson, from blue to teal and from orange to a golden sunburst...they truly are a work of art!  Computer monitored, the trains are operated and controlled by onboard pilots who are seated in the forward car.   Each train consists of five cars and can accommodate approximately 132 passengers. 


Running along a concrete beamway, the all- fiberglass body trains reach running speeds from 10 mph to 35 mph, depending on the curvature of the beamway and proximity to the boarding stations.  The train's undercarriage straddles the beamway with rubber- tired drive and braking wheels on top of the beamway; guiding and stabilizing wheels are in contact with both of it's sides of the beamway.  Each train has ten vertical or load- carrying wheels,  40 stabilizing or horizontal wheels, and four guiding wheels.  All of this results in a very smooth ride for passengers.  Each train is powered by four 100 horsepower, 600 volt direct current motors and therefore no exhaust or pollutants are emitted.  I admire Walt Disney and his engineering groups vision, for they created "green" transportation long before climate change became a hot topic (a little climate change humor there).


As you are whisked around the Disneyland Resort for a 13-minute ride, sit back and enjoy aerial views of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland in Disneyland Park, and Grizzly Peak, Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land in Disney California Adventure Park. The route also parallels Harbor Boulevard and travels over the Disneyland Main Entrance and Entrance Plaza, taking you above and beyond the Park scenery.


The monorail travels in one direction only.  There are only two monorail boarding stations which are located in Tomorrowland  and the Downtown Disney District, making it the only Disneyland Park attraction that can be boarded outside of the Park.


I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that in 1986, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers designated The Disneyland Monorail System as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, making it the eightyfourth landmark to be designated since the program began in 1973.


Images (6)
  • Disneyland Monorail entering the Downtown District Station.
  • Disneyland Monorail, Downtown District Boarding Station.: The monorail train can accomodate approximately 132 passengers.
  • Interior of the Disneyland Monorail, spacious and comfortable.
  • Disneyland Monorail passing through Fantasyland.
  • Disneyland Monorail passes by the Matterhorn.
  • Disneyland Monorail entering the Tomorrowland Boarding Station.

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