Monday, May 02, 2016

Midget Autopia, May 1960

Hey look, an Autopia just for kids! Grownups, don't even try to ride this one. Yes, I am talking about the Midget Autopia.

I want to drive my car straight through that little garage. Hopefully I can scare the bejesus out of some sleepy pedestrians too. I love the way the Imagineers added plenty of hills (beautifully landscaped) for the track to run between. This was you wouldn't know what was around the next turn, adding a little thrill to what would ordinarily be a flat, tame ride. Notice how the girl is really leaning into that curve. 

Little Fantasyland Station can just be seen, in the background.


Slow down kid! Who do you think you are, Barney Oldfield? (Barney was the first person to drive a car over 60 miles an hour). Both girls are steering with every ounce of concentration - they know that driving is serious business. Dad probably let them drive home later that evening, since they were seasoned veterans.


10 comments:

Nanook said...

Major-

In spite of the fact the Midget Autopia was an Arrow "off the shelf" ride, (the vehicles, that is), but when placed in the hands of the Imagineers, just look at the results they achieved. As you pointed out, it really seems to exist in a little country all its own.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

"That drive-thru garage would have come in handy when mom was learning to drive!"

Is that Walt lurking around near the Storybook Land exit in that first pic?

Patrick Devlin said...

Well of course it's in a little country of its own: you can see the "Disneyland City Limit" sign right there. Adults were banned from the ride after the rash of "slam-dunks" that were performed by standing up and dunking smuggled basketballs through the hoop that was on the garage over the entrance doors.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the blueprints for a ride like this. Laying out all the intricate concrete forms to very specific heights and radii must really challenge concrete contractors. And then bending rail to match the finished concrete pathways. Gotta be an art.

K. Martinez said...

"Barney Oldfield Speedway" was the name of the "Autopia" auto ride up here in Marriott's Great America and I can tell you didn't pass 60 mph. Heck, not even 6.

Now if Disney did holiday overlays back then like they do now, they could've themed to Saint Patrick's Day and call it "Darby O'Gill and the Little People Autopia". It couldn't be any worse than "Jingle Cruise". Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

I'm sure the little kids would have loved the Banshee, Ken...

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it is true, in the case of the Midget Autopia, the landscaping (or theming I guess) makes ALL the difference. I’ve seen photos of the ride as it was installed in Marceline, MO, and it was as flat and featureless as a frying pan.

TokyoMagic!, is that from a Disneyland TV show? Walt is always lurking.

Patrick Devlin, I noticed that sign; I wonder how many kids did? But the Imagineers made the effort to create the fantasy that the children were driving out of Disneyland, which might have made it more exciting for them.

Anonymous, I’ve often wondered if contractors who work on amusement parks are used to crazy construction requests, or if there is a big learning curve for each individual project. Think of things like the Swiss Family Treehouse, or even the Matterhorn.

K. Martinez, I think it’s amazing that Barney Oldfield’s name somehow lived on for so many years. I am not sure I would have known who he was except that a grade school teacher of mine told us about how her mother (or maybe grandmother) would say, “Who do you think you are… (etc)”.

Chuck, oh man, that Banshee terrified me when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

Popping out of that garage is one of my fondest memories of the ride. It was especially cool at night as the headlamps worked. With a child's imagination, it was as good as the real Autopia...even better with those headlamps! KS

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, yes, that sexist line is from one of the DL TV shows where they would show footage of the new attractions in the park. The narrator says, "This would have come in handy when mom was learning to drive" indicating that instead of mom driving the car into the back wall of the garage, dad could have saved some money and frustration by just putting in a second set of doors that would fly open when she hit them. Waa, waa.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, I remember seeing that in a theater as a little kid and it was scary. It's still one of my favorite "Walt era" live-action films. I always wanted them see a ride at Disneyland based on the film. The closest reference they had was a green motor boat on the "Motor Boat Cruise" named "Darby O'Gill".