Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Autopia, December 1998

Today we're going to check out a few more Autopia images from only 15 years ago. But things have changed a lot in that time! 

Oh boy, look at all of those beautiful cars, the "Mark VII" versions that resembled the Corvette Stingray. They were introduced in 1967 and had worked faithfully for over 30 years, quite an achievement after so many less-successful versions. I think (but am not positive) that these photos show the Fantasyland Autopia, and it appears that it was not in operation. Overhead we can see one of the short-lived Rocket Rods passing by on the old Peoplemover track!

Well, I admit that the photographer ("Mr. X") probably couldn't have shot this angle if the ride was closed, so I don't know what was going on. Unless he hopped the fence, took the photo, and then flew to Paraguay to hide from the Disney police. To the left, the Mark V Monorail makes an appearance - I don't miss this particular design. And hey, another Rocket Rod!


K. Martinez said...

You are correct Major. This is the Fantsyland Autopia. Nice rare shot of the Rocket Rods in action.

I actually liked the Mark V Monorails. Especially Monorail Purple. I preferred them over the current monorails.

Chuck said...

I've always thought the Mk IVs/VIs look great at WDW, but the Mk Vs never looked quite right to me zipping past the Matterhorn. Strong impressions of childhood, I guess. As a kid, I always liked the fact that WDW and DL's monorails looked significantly different. But, like everyone else, "my" Disneyland is a series of snapshots of when it became the stuff of my own personal dreams, and for me, that was the early-to-mid 1970s. Other people, of course, will have "their" Disneyland, which includes different key elements. And that's cool.

I haven't seen the Mk VIIs in person, but I like the retroish styling and color scheme that remind me of Bob Gurr's original artwork (which is the intent, I'm sure). For those of you who've ridden it, how's the new seating arrangement?

Melissa said...


K. Martinez said...

I was really disappointed with the Mark VII monorails when I saw them in person. It was probably just a matter of personal taste, but the color tones are too dark (kind of like the current Tomorrowland) and the dark tinted windows hide the people inside so it looks cold and impersonal.

As for the seating, it's hard plastic and reminds me of riding a city bus. In addition the windows only open a small crack ajar at the bottom to let air in. At least in the previous monorails the half open windows let in more fresh air and allowed clearer views.

The Mark II and III were the monorails of my childhood, so I’d have to say my favorite was the Mark III, but I thought the Mark Vs looked visually appealing and had a comfortable interior. I certainly liked them a lot better than the Mark VIIs there now. I’m sure there are many fans of the new Mark VIIs, but they just don’t feel quite right to me.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I think the reason I am not crazy about the Mark Vs is the boxy, 70's look; I much prefer the "futuristic 50's" look of the earlier versions. I never actually went inside a Mark V though, so maybe they were superior as a ride.

Chuck, I agree, I kind of liked how "our" Monorail looked different from the one at WDW. I rode the Mark VII (at night), and thought it was fine. There are blue lights that glow beneath the seats, which looks cool. When we stopped at the hotel, the darn vehicle filled up, it was like the Tokyo subway at rush hour. Other than that the experience was good.

Melissa, if ONLY they sounded like that!

K. Martinez again, you make some good points; I don't mind the tinted windows, thought it would be nice if they could open more. I guess originally they didn't open at all? And the hard plastic seats aren't ideal… though maybe practical, just like in a city bus! It's all completely subjective of course, but I like the Mark VIIs, admittedly mostly from a strictly visual standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a day that the rocket rods were running. How rare is that.

I'm not sure if I ever got to ride that model of the monorail, but I do recall the Ripoff Rods, so we probably did.

I'm not a fan of the current model interior, but the exterior I think is rather nice.

Thanks for these great pics, Major.


Alonzo P Hawk said...

This looks like my dream car lot!!! Cal Worthington wouldn't have to stand on his head or eat a bug to get me to buy one off this car lot.

I have never seen so many together before this. Thanks, as always.

Nanook said...

@Chuck hit the nail square on the head, when he stated: "my" Disneyland is a series of snapshots of when it became the stuff of my own personal dreams...

And as much as each one of us can be critical when changes are afoot at either Magic Kingdom, this is the conundrum faced by each Imagineer who attempts to modify "what has always been" - even though in many cases it wasn't really 'always'.

K. Martinez said...

Pics below of the 3 monorails discussed:

The Mark IV at Disney World definitely looks boxy.

The Mark V and Mark VII at Disneyland actually look strongly similar except for the front/back design and color styling. Their window configuration is nearly the same and both share the same cylindrical style car-trains with the top spine running down the center.

Disneyland's Mark V mimics Walt Disney World's Mark IV in color scheme and nose cone, but follows more the cylindrical styling found on all versions of the Disneyland Monorail. Also all Disney monorails above the Mark III have no bubble on top.

If The Mark VII returned the bubble dome on top I probably would've been more inclined to like it.



DL Mark V


Major Pepperidge said...

JG, the two times I was at Disneyland when the Rocket Rods were there, they were working! They did break down when we were in line though. Eventually they got them working.

Alonzo, as far as I know, Cal is still working and producing commercials - no more wrestling with tigers, but still, that guy is amazing.

Nanook, you and Chuck are right about the problems Imagineers face, and I think in a way they have just decided that they need to ignore the cries of the outraged. I can't totally blame them, but it has resulted in some terrible stuff (like the current Tomorrowland) - definitely not an improvement on what used to be there.

K. Martinez, my understanding is the WDW Monorail is big enough for lots of people to stand comfortably, which probably explains the straight sides. The Mark V is a bit rounder, but I just don't find it to be as pleasing as the earlier design (only a personal opinion). I like the old bubble domes, but even without it I think that the photo example you linked to (of the Mark VII) looks pretty sweet!

CoxPilot said...

Cal Worthington? Whow! does that bring back old memories. I haven't been in California since 1996, and it's hard to believe he's around.

Dave said...

@CoxPilot Imagine my surprise after years of Cal Worthington commercials growing up, of course Worthington Ford in Long Beach (open 'til midnight, every night!) and later Worthington Dodge in Huntington Beach, my home town (just a "leetle" bit south of the 405 freeway). I flee north in 1984, 21 years old looking for a new start, and who's there to greet me on the TV out of Sacramento, good 'ol Cal, this time it's Worthington Chevrolet in Sacto.