Monday, July 06, 2009

Midget Autopia, August 1959

The popularity of the Autopia must have surprised everyone, even Walt Disney. Folks just loved those little cars and the pee-wee highways and cloverleafs. It wasn't that long ago that you could ride on either the Fantasyland or Tomorrowland Autopias (they were combined into one much longer ride back in 2000). And there was the Junior Autopia, which was there for a mere 3 years.

Anyway, today we celebrate the Midget Autopia, aimed at satisfying the small fry who were too short to reach the pedals on the larger Autopia cars. In fact, it was for kids only; adults who attempted to ride were promptly executed. In this photo you can see the little yellow barn that had "crash doors" that opened as a vehicle approached, sort of a "Mr. Toad" idea. I love those little cars, kind of a dinky Studebaker. Or something. Notice Fantasyland Station in the background, both the Midget Autopia and that station would be removed when "It's a Small World" was built.


Now that's a hairpin turn! If you see photos of typical "kiddie car" rides from that same era, they were generally on a featureless flat surface, with little attempt at a theme. Kids aren't very picky, let's face it! But Disneyland took the time to landscape the thing until it looked respectable.

15 comments:

TokyoMagic! said...

That first shot also shows the entrance to "Never Never Land", (the storage area for the Storybook Land Canal Boats..."we call it that because we never, never take you in there!")

In that second pic, we can see the roof of the Skyway Chalet, part of a stone bridge from Casey Jr., the sails from the Pirate Ship, the upper half of Monstro the whale, and a lone Skyway bucket....a lot going on!

Great shots today, Major!

Davelandweb said...

Great shot of the barn door; kids must have loved driving through that!

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Man, you got a couple of beauty shots here. Vintage DL, nothing like it.

Katella Gate said...

I remember riding these cars, and yes, the whole thing was magic. And yes, riding thru the barn doors was too much fun.

OldDog said...

Wonder why they closed the Midget Autopia? Not enough capacity to handle lots of kids? Maybe kids that small didn’t want to ride without their parents?

mr wiggins said...

I remember riding the Midget Autopia too, and yes it was magical.

Almost magical enough to make you forget you were just one #&?@! inch too short to solo on the real deal.

Almost.

Little People of America said...

The word "midget" is offensive.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, it may be offensive to us today in supposedly more enlightened times (I am also a minority--a gay man). The use of the term was perhaps insensitive, but surely it was not intended to offend (why would the park deliberately act in a way that was offensive). Its use today on this blog is obviously historical. This is essentially a history blog, displaying vintage Disneyland photographs, and that was the name of the attraction depicted in these photos. None of us does his (or her) cause any good by finding offense where none was intended, and judging the past by the standards of the present is generally of questionable value. I am sorry that you were made to feel bad by the term, but glad to see such wonderful pictures and to have the opportunity to explore an interesting place in our nation's cultural history.

mr wiggins said...

Boy howdy, can I ever sympathize. I was an inch under the Autopia sign, and I'm still kickin' my chihuahua about it!

:(

Nancy said...

these are wonderful!! some rarely seen photos of the "inside" of this ride.... :D

Chris Merritt said...

Don't forget - this attraction was very much designed by Arrow Development! It reminds me in some small ways of Bud Hurlbut's Little Car ride, also done by Arrow in conjunction with him... Beautiful shots Major!

olddisneylandfan said...

I so want that "Disneyland City Limits" sign in the first picture...

Major Pepperidge said...

So much of Disneyland was designed by Arrow Development, it's really incredible. Not to mention all the other parks they had a hand in!

Glad everyone liked these photos (except for maybe the LPA rep, who does not seem to understand that the attraction was called the "Midget Autopia" by the folks at Disney, whether I like it or not).

Matterhorn1959 said...

This attraction still exists today- in Marceline, Missouri. The vehicles and track was donated to the city in the late 1950s. The Disney museum in the railroad depot has a couple of the cars on display. Also parked in the town park (Walt Disney Park by the way) is a large locomotive bearing the lettering for Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad.

Chiana said...

They traded Autopia for Utopia!

(Get it? "Midget Autopia" > "Small World"?)

Try the veal.

Matterhorn- I didn't know that! Cool.