Friday, May 24, 2013

Autopia, December 1998

I just scanned some nice 35mm negatives from December 1998, all of which feature the old Autopia before it closed in 1999 and was completely refurbished (reopening in 2000 with new cars and a track that combined the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland tracks). My pal "Mr. X" had heard about the upcoming changes and decided to take a lot of pictures for posterity.

Here's a great shot showing the distinctive sign that graced the entrance to the Autopia for a few years. I like it, but it is a weird mish-mash of steampunk and 1950's styles. 

This one is really all about the little pathway to Tomorrowland Station, with a little bit of Autopia added for flavor. I think it looks pretty much the same today, with minor alterations.

And finally, a nice overview as seen from the Monorail platform. The former Peoplemover track was the Rocket Rods track at this point (more on that in a future post). Hard to believe that this was 15 years ago!


Nanook said...

I barely remember the Autopia sign. It looks so un-Disney. Rather, it would seem to be more at home at the 'Pomona Fair'.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Another attraction that they have totally ruined! And who in their right mind could have possibly thought the Tomorrowland fencing in that second pic would look better painted the color of baby poop?

K. Martinez said...

To me these photos represent Disneyland at it's worst. What happened to simple design? There's too much junk and conflicting styles. Even today the Autopia queue building is so oversized and junky looking. It also blocks the view of the Matterhorn from the Tomorrowland Station.

Nice set just to remember what it looks like. Thanks for posting.

Tom said...

Not a huge fan of Autopia but these are great pictures, particularly in light of the fact that these show what once was, before the great queue refurbishment and those bizarre Chevron ads.

Snow White Archive said...

I'd like to see the Autopia cars go 100% solar/electric. That would be more fitting for a Tomorrowland theme.

Yet, I do think the old sign was kind of groovy.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don't remember that sign at all (except for seeing photos of it online). It takes a real talent to make a simple, beautiful sign, and unfortunately this one is not beautiful.

TokyoMagic!, that brownish color was everywhere back in those days. Fortunately a lot of it has been repainted white or light blue or something more attractive. Presumably the brown was supposed to evoke bronze, but it didn't work.

K. Martinez, the sign itself is bad, but the ride still looks very nice to me (at the time the photos were taken). I don't love the new cars, thought it is cool that there are different styles of cars. The friend who took these HATES that huge queue building.

Tom, you don't like the Autopia? It's a classic! Perhaps it's a bit slow for adults, but that doesn't bother me.

Snow White Archive, I wonder if solar would be possible? The cars would have to be all charged up first thing in the morning, and then run even on cloudy days and into the night. Maybe standard batteries would be the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Tony Baxter at his (almost) worst. Hard to believe he could dream up even more awful ideas but we all know about his total desecration of Tomorrowland -- as it still reverberates today. Ugh.

Nancy said...

Wow, tough crowd!!

I dont think it was that bad...

Major Pepperidge said...

Anonymous, do we know for sure that this was Tony's baby? I have a friend who is very critical of Tony and the New New Tomorrowland, but I'm pretty sure that was overseen by somebody else.

Nancy, it IS a tough crowd!! Who knew that these photos would stir up so much disgust.


That Autopia sign was done with the intent that it would only be temporary. As The budget got smaller for the New Tomorrowland of 1998 WDI didn't want the old Autopia entry --rather tired by then -- to open with the new land so what you see in those pictures was what little they could afford to do. But Tony Baxter was in charge of that Tomorrowland and the NEW Cheveron Autopia. To me the current Autopia is cheesey and low class. The Autopia car designs are oversized and clown like --specially the "SUZY" fun car. The entire roadway is tacky. I can't beleive Cheveron didn't close it's wallet and walk-away while it could when it saw what WDI had proposed.

Electric Autopia cars were considered for PHASE TWO of TOMORROWLAND 2055 in the early 90's but at the time the battery recharging technology took too long. Hong Kong Disneylan'd Autopia sucessfuly uses a battery powered car.

TOMORROWLAND 2055.......that was never built....the grand budget was bled out for TOONTOWN and FANTASMIC......I watched Fantasmic ONCE.......but can't stand what it did to New Orleans Square and how it left Disneyland with TACO BELL TOMOOROWLAND '98.

Anonymous said...

The Tomorrowland train station is a personal favorite. It appears to be some of the oldest and original metalwork in the Park. Little changed for over 50 years.

I think I read somewhere that it was part of the Viewliner queue which was relocated here. Not sure that was true, but the perforated beams are the same look as the old Disneyland Hotel, which makes me happy.

For some odd reason I often get on the train here, and almost never on Main Street.

Thank you, Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, thanks for you interesting letter; obviously you feel passionately about what has become of Tomorrowland. I agree that the current cars are dumb… the philosophy seems to be, "Well, it's hard to do futuristic stuff that will last, so let's just go cartoony". The 1967 cars were still cool when they were removed! I'm sure that Chevron was subjected to lots of enthusiastic sales pitches.

I've heard only a little about "Tomorrowland 2055", wish I knew more about it. You should do a post on your blog!

JG, I don't think I have ever used Tomorrowland station! It is cute and small, reminds me of a vintage gas station. Now that you mention the possible Viewliner connection, I am intrigued. I want to compare pictures of Tomorrowland station with the old Viewliner station and see how alike they appear.