Friday, July 25, 2014

Autopia Stuff, 1957

Here are two super nice vintage photos of Tomorrowland's Autopia! 

First we have this neat view from the Skyway as it approaches the Tomorrowland terminus. There's a whole lot of construction going on below; this slide was amongst a group that is dated "1957", but I wonder if this could actually be from '58, during the removal of the Viewliner, and the building of the Monorail/Subs/Matterhorn? Whatever the case, I like the flurry of activity below, along with a cement mixer and a "woody" wagon. In the lower right is the Yacht Bar in its original location (it would be picked up and moved when the Matterhorn went in). We also get a nice look at the Space Bar, with not much except an empty field in the distance. 

There's no construction going on here; maybe this was from earlier in the year. In any case I love the bright Kodachrome colors, especially the tomato-red cars. Bob Gurr's styling on these (Mark I's? Mark II's? Mark III's? They all look the same) is just perfect.


Nanook said...


I believe you are correct, of the first image being from 1958 - and "specifically" some time after June 15th of that year. That's when the Junior Autopia, Viewliner Train most of the first Motor Boat waterway, and the entire back portion of the Tomorrowland Autopia were removed. Plus, we get a glimpse of 'bucolic" Harbor Blvd. The new Fantasyland and Tomorrowland "SuperAutopias" opened together on June 6, 1959.

As for which version of the Autopia car is seen in the 2nd picture, I'm votin' for the Mark IV - but what do I know...

Thanks, Major for these terrific images - especially #1-!

Nancy said...

the first view is a perfect "before", would be so cool to have a pairing "after" about 40 years in the future! :-)

neat pictures today!

MRaymond said...

After looking at the first picture, how different would Disneyland be if the company had bought that vacant property?

K. Martinez said...

I'm going to go with late 1956 for the Autopia construction image. This was about the time that the load area was converted from a straight single load lane into a curved double load area with two separate tracks. The photo shows the construction of this and the triangular blue & white striped canopy hasn't been added yet of which it was present in 1958.

Melissa said...

Looks like Crow T. Robot's Grandpa on that Richfield sign.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that would make sense… thanks for the info. Also, the second photo might actually be from 1957, which would explain the differences. As for whether the car is a Mark II or iV, it's hard to say since we done really know the date; isn't it amazing that they were up to their fourth iteration by '58?

Nancy, I might actually have a Skyway view from pre-1994 (when that ride was removed) showing more or less the same view. I'll have to look.

MRaymond, it would have been amazing. I always think that when I see old aerial photos with all of the undeveloped land around the park. But… lack of money was a real problem in those early days.

K. Martinez, huh, late '56? Your explanation sounds plausible… I wish these darn things had dates on them!

Melissa (welcome back!), who knew that Crow even HAD a grandpa! (You did)

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great photos. Disney could still buy that land now. Plow the Hojo's, Mimi's Cafe, Best Western, etc. But it would very quickly translate to $10 bottles of water, $15 churros and $20 corn dogs. Not worth the trade off. Just look at the price spikes since Carsland/Buena Vista Street.

K. Martinez said...

@Major - It's probably 1957 as dated. I was reading that the track was doubled in 1956 so I went with that, however images I viewed online show the blue & white striped awning/canopy showing up sometime in 1957. That was added when Tomorrowland Autopia converted to two-lane.

When The Submarine Voyage/Monorail & Matterhorn were under construction in 1958, the Tomorrowland Autopia was open and operating.

In this Yesterland article are photos of the 1958 construction going on with the Autopia still operating plus the blue canopy.

Here's Tomorrowland Autopia with the new awning and two load areas along with the Viewliner under construction 1957.

In today's photo, there's no evidence of monorail or submarine voyage construction activity going on. I think this photo was taken before the Viewliner opened in June 1957.

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

Thanks for your 'sleuting' with this timeline puzzle.

K. Martinez said...

@Nanook - Thanks. I totally enjoy doing detective work on stuff like this. This is what I came up with from looking at the various pics and writings on Disney related sites. Most of the time Wikipedia and DisneyWiki articles are not as detailed as I would like. Sometimes I guess right and sometimes I guess wrong.

UPDATE - I just dug out my 'E' Ticket Magazine #27 and it confirms that the Autopia was reconfigured in late 1956 to double lanes with the new Mark IV vehicles added. Right after that in 1957 the area was prepared for the installation of the Viewliner and Motor Boat Cruise. What would I do without my 'E' Ticket magazines?