Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Black and White Snapshots

Color is overrated! It's so confusing. Cobalt blue! Viridian green! HELIOTROPE! It's too much, I tells ya. Why do you think all the kids are twerking? Color, that's why. In order to make a difference, I am sharing some calming, old-fashioned black and white snapshots. But I'm not a hero! I'm just an ordinary Joe who loves his country. 

I love this first one for several reasons… first, I always love seeing the Tomorrowland Spaceman. He doesn't really fit in today's version of the land, but there's a part of me that would still enjoy seeing him (and the Space Girl) back, shaking hands and posing for photos. Second, the kids looking up at the Spaceman (with their fun/weird conical hats) are so entranced. Even the toddler in the stroller is trying to figure out who this strange character is! Don't you wish you could hear what the little girl and the Spaceman were saying to each other? Noticing the tiny jet pack on his back, I can't help imagining him taking off into the sky, Superman-style!

I can't say I approve of roly-coasters; in my day, we sat in chairs, and we liked it! At least this kid had the smarts to take off his glasses so that they didn't go flying and kill a nun or something. 


Patrick Devlin said...

Boy that Monorail beamway looks ever-so-low! I wonder if it got raised eventually?

Chuck said...

I think the beam stayed the same height, but over time the weight of the mountain may have dragged the surrounding landscape down.

Is that a rear-view mirror on the monochrome Monorail beam support post in the background?

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick, there are points where the Monorail beamway is surprisingly low… I think that it is only in areas in which the public can't get close to it though. I don't believe it's been changed, but I could be wrong!

Chuck, I was wondering what that thing was as well. It does remind me of those mirrors that you sometimes see on narrow streets, or the entrances to some driveways, but why would they need one there? I can't think of what else it would be, though.

K. Martinez said...

Love the shy little bobsled on the Matterhorn lawn. The monorail beam height hasn't been changed in this area. Part of it is the angle of the shot. Also, the monorail beam has always been very low and close to the ground around the base of the Matterhorn and some areas of the Autopia woodlands.

Yeah, what is that disc-on-a-stick object attached to the monorail pylon about? Always been a fan of black and white. Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

It appears that round thing on the Monorail pylon is actually the back side of a sign showing a number. You can see the other side on this photo over at Daveland:

I initially thought that this might be the pylon number, but I haven't been able to find other pictures that show a number on a pylon. I now tend to think this may be a speed limit indicator, as the Monorail has to slow down when circling the Matterhorn and heading into the Tomorrowland Station.

Chuck said...

I just watched a Monorail ride-through from September of 1990 ( which, in my mind, further reinforces the speed limit sign theory.

There are similarly-placed and -shaped markers before every turn in the beamway, which is where you would logically slow down to avoid tipping the train over or running into a stopped train that you can't see yet.

The signs are visible to the left side of the track at 1:10 (illegible), 1:54 ("20"), 4:02 (illegible), and 4:07 (illegible, partly in shadow). There may be others that got lost in the windscreen glare or were missed when the photographer incourteously forgot that he was shooting this video purely for my future historical reference and turned the lens to record other attractions (like anyone in the future was ever going to care about lame rides like the PeopleMover, the Skyway, or the Motorboat Cruise). He also all but missed the switch to the engine house siding, which you get a glimpse of at 5:37.

There is also a similarly-placed-but-differently-shaped-and-colored sign at 1:49. It almost looks to me like a non-standard "traffic light ahead" sign, which may be intended for the motorists below, although with the blur I'm not really sure. Any other theories as to what that indicates?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Chuck, great research. Very cool.

Yes, you are right, the sign in today's pic is a monorail speed limit marker, placed ahead of the tight turn around the Matterhorn.

Somewhere in the multitudes of Disney stuff online, I once saw a chart of the monorail track with the posted limits, and the places where the horn is to be blown.

The locations of these signs were also shown on that map, generally preceding curves, but also the station approaches and similar transitions.

The long straightaways across the parking lot had higher limits.

That must be a fun job, anyone know what the title is? "Monorail Jockey", "Engineer of the Future", "Mononeer"?

Also, "yea, space suit guy!"


Chuck said...

According to this article, (the blue square in the middle of the article), there is (or perhaps "was" now) a segment of track that the Monorail had to coast over in neutral "because of the way power is supplied to the track inside and outside of the park." That odd sign at 1:49 in the video above appears to indicate the end of the "neutral zone" (and a warning that you are headed into Romulan space).

The Interwebs are awesome; I was able to find a 1966 Monorail operators' guide online ( Fairly detailed instructions on operation are given on Page 15 (PDF Page 17) which describe the shift into "neutral" between the "Section 'J'" and "Section 'H'" parking lot signs. There's also a system map on Page 6 (8) that shows the max speed limits, which correspond pretty closely with the sign locations in the video above and today's photo, although they don't align exactly with the numbers on the two signs I could read.

I also consulted a couple of videos taken in the 2011-2014 period (1,, and the only remaining circular number sign I could find was on the northbound track paralleling Harbor Blvd as the train is preparing to re-enter the Park.

Chuck said...

JG - looks like I was typing as you were posting. Was the map in the operators' guide the one you were referencing above?

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, That is some great info you got there. You're definitely the master of Disneyland detective work and research. Thanks for all your effort. I love it.


Nancy said...

Cool info, Chuck! That was what I was wondering as well, what that was there above the rider in picture number two.

I also love black and white. Thanks for these, Major.

I notice the two girls talking with space man are siblings dressed alike...something I am familiar with having had 2 younger sisters by the time I was 4 and a half. :-)

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I guess it is like a form of forced perspective! The Imagineers would be proud.

Chuck, ah yes… as soon as I read your description, it set off a tiny alarm in my tiny brain. I had heard of those "speed limit" signs before. Thank you for all of the links and research! All of your hard work meant more time to watch TV and eat Doritos for me.

JG, I'll bet that chart was on Matterhorn1959's blog… I know he had an operating manual for the Monorail, and my guess is that there would have been a chart of the speed limits in it. Now I'll have to go back and look!

Chuck, it looks like the "freeinfosociety" took Matterhorn1959's scans right from his blog! They are definitely the same. See his post here. I guess I just want to be sure that Patrick (Mr. Matterhorn1959) gets some credit for sharing a rare item from his personal collection!

Nancy, dressing siblings alike eliminates bickering, I'm sure.

Chuck said...

Major, thanks for giving credit where credit is due. A downside of the Interwebs is the ease with which information can be reappropriated without proper citation. It was an occasional problem when I was teaching at the university level, and this is a perfect example of why you now watermark every image at GDB.

And any time I can hook a brother up for some quality TV & Doritos action is time well spent. :-)

Chiana_Chat said...

Funniest. Commentary. Ever.

On a not so funny side. Isn't it odd how, as everyone notes, so much of Tomorrowland was owed to corporate sponsors, but there could be a "space man and woman" as an ideal without corporate anything. Whereas I've not heard it much noted that today, when there's no need for Disney to have other corporate sponsors, the only "space man and woman" they would ever think to offer would be merchandise related characters from, say Star Wars, now a corporate acquisition. Hrm.

Anyway. Color or black and white, it was all about what both of those pics capture: the smiles on the faces. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Chuck and Major. Yes, I am fairly sure the documents I saw were on Matterhorn's blog. I did not save a copy.

@Chuck, that's wonderful stuff. I'm going to watch those videos on lunch hour. Thanks for your great research.

Chuck, Major (and others in this thread), if you are interested, I have some Park soundtrack files with fairly recent narration of the monorail trip. They're not much to hear over and over, but once in a while, it's a trip back to the park.

LMK via post in this thread.


Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I need to eat FEWER Doritos. But they're so delicious! Especially the nacho cheese. My favorites.

Chiana, I wonder if guest would just be confused by a character that has no connection to a movie. Frontierland used to have Black Bart and Sheriff Lucky as well.

JG, you can still get those from Matterhorn's blog, see the link I provided in the comment up above this one. I probably have the Monorail spiels that you mentioned (you should see my crazy "Disneyland Sounds" folders), but perhaps others do not… if you'd like to share them here, that would be great!