Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Aboard the Monorail, September 1972

It's always fun to find photos taken from the Monorail; and in today's examples, our lucky guests sat in the front with that large nosecone windshield providing an exceptional view.

In this first one, we're zipping through the tangle of transportation systems found in Tomorrowland, with the Peoplemover overhead (is it still a Peoplemover if no people are in it?!), and the Autopia roadway below. It's quite a feat of engineering.

Next we're scooting alongside Harbor Boulevard; the vast parking lot is to our right, and you can see the wonderful sign for the Disneyland Hotel. If you look carefully (try standing on your head) the reflection of the colorful shopping bag can be seen...

... you know, this kind.

To our left are some of the motels that Walt found to be so tawdry and ugly. Ironically, now they are beloved as prime examples of mid-century architecture. We can see the Sands, the Carousel, the Tropicana, and the Mecca, with Denny's thrown in as an added bonus.


Nanook said...


Although the view from the very front of the Monorail car is quite stunning, you ain't kidding about the eyesore that is (was) the collection of what might now be considered 'classic examples' of mid-century architecture. Although Walt wisely disliked this blight on the landscape greeting guests as they approached the parking lot to Disneyland. Well, as was once brilliantly stated in a famous film: "Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough".

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

Great detective work on the bag reflection, Major! My brain looked right through the reflection and didn't even see it. Even if I had, I wouldn't have had any idea what it might have been. Different people have different information locked in their cranial spaces, and that's part of the fun of checking in with this diverse community on a daily basis.

It's funny - I always liked riding the monorail (particularly the left side for the views of the parking lot, Hotel, entrance plaza, and Tomorrowland backstage area), but my least favorite part of the trip was always the strip along Harbor Blvd. Something about chain link fences topped with barbed wire and wall-to-wall motels made the transition from the carefully managed and manicured world of the Park to the Real World particularly jarring and ugly to me. Now I kind of miss the long-gone world that they were part of.

(I'll let Ken point out the telephone poles and high-tension power lines.)

Jon Skinner said...

I remember those shopping bags. We hadn't been to the Park for several years, but I remember these being used in '73.

Ironically, I never did ride in the front of a Disneyland Monorail. That distinction goes to WDW...and that wasn't until I was in college!!

As always, thanks for your great pictures and posts!

Melissa said...

"Whaddaya mean, Ossifer? I wasn't weaving. The sign says, clear as day, 'USE BOTH LANES.'"

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

You see, that’s the kind of thing that makes me happy Melissa’s back. Kind of a “Lucy” kind of thing going on there. Thanks for making me smile Melissa!

Great quote Nanook, I had to look it up. Never cared much for that film, maybe it’s not old enough yet. A great quote nonetheless.

K. Martinez said...

I've read lots of comments on various fan sites how people don't care for the stretch along Harbor Blvd. For me, riding the Monorail along Harbor Blvd was the best part of the monorail experience. It's the one section where it felt like a true transportation system within a city while demonstrating Walt's futuristic ideas of transportation and its application in a real world environment. Once the monorail goes inside the park it feels like just another theme park ride. And I do appreciate both the real world and fantasy world environments the monorail travels through. It's like Kansas and Oz. The stretch along Harbor Blvd. just happens to be my favorite part of the trip.

Wonderful shots today! I too never rode the front cab. Oh well! You can't have everything. Thanks, Major.

Chuck, Ah, yes! I'm in telephone pole and high-tension power line heaven. One of the things I love when traveling south to Disneyland via 405 is viewing the cat's cradle of wires and high-tension power lines blanketing the urban landscape like spider webs. It's a wondrous site!

Nanook, One of my favorite films and film quotes.

DrGoat said...

Those pics have a particular quality that really takes me back.
K. Martinez said it quite well.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Ok, downloaded, zoomed in, rotated; still can’t see that bag.

Passing through all those hotels and their illuminated signage at the end of the day was the opposite end of the bookends to the ritual of entering the old parking lot. They had a magic of their own, and for me they were just as much a part of a wonderful day at Disneyland as anything else was.

Whoever would’ve thought that crappy old Harbor Blvd. would hold such fond nostalgia?

Thanks for these, Major.

MRaymond said...

I've ridden in the cab twice and on one of those occasions the Monorail struck the roof of a truck as we arrived at the DLH. We sat there for about 40 minutes before the tug pulled us into the station. The delivery truck went were it shouldn't and damaged the skirting under the track. The monorail hit the damaged skirting and grazed the top of the truck. I think it was in 77 or 78.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the kind words, Kurt, and thanks to everybody for the kind words you've given me over the last couple of days. I've missed you all terribly and just hanging out on this blog.

JG said...

Wonderful pictures and memories, everyone.

I'm a big fan of the old '60's junky motels and strip cities, but there's a lot good to be said for the manicured perfection of Disney's vision, especially hiding the backstage. It makes stealing the momentary glimpses tantalizing, like you got away with something, and it's hard to imagine feeling that way about a view of a dumpster or a cooling tower, but there you go.

I understand Anaheim's effort to regularize signage and improve the consistency of what is now the "Disney Resort" area for better guest experiences, similar to Las Vegas, but there was so much vigor in all the wild signs and goofy buildings vying for attention. I'm not sure if that's what I miss, or if I miss being a kid with Mom and Dad. Maybe both.

I've never ridden in the front or back of the monorail, maybe someday. Both sides of the car are fun.

Melissa, glad you're back. Hope all is well. We missed you.

Major, thanks for hosting this coffee klatsch. I rarely post using my account anymore, I use Google Docs for work now and I'm always logged in on that account, so it's too much to log out and back in just to leave some silly comments.

Cheers all, you're all really a big part of my day.


Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I was going to say “wow, JG is legitimate today!”. So, is that really you in the spacesuit?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, everyone knows that the famous quote is actually the way Mr. Rogers signed off on his show every day. It was inspirational to many children! I can understand how Walt disliked the chaos just outside his magical park, but in a way it made for an even bigger contrast once guests entered Disneyland.

Chuck, my own rides on the Monorail have been so rare (for no good reason) that I have no memories of the old “motel row”. And now I see that you made the same point that I just made to Nanook about the contrast between the real world and the park. Great minds think alike?

Jon Skinner, I guess I’m going to need to make a point of riding in the very front of the Monorail, in spite of the extra wait - it seems like it would be worth it. Of course things have change quite a bit since these 1972 photos.

K. Martinez, I agree with you, the Monorail truly felt like a viable transportation system when it was practically outside of the park. I seem to remember that the queue for the Rocket Rods had a fictional map, as if the Rocket Rods would be another possible transportation solution - which was weird. It would have supposedly taken people to places as far away as Hollywood and the Disney Studios in Burbank.

DrGoat, it’s the smog!

Monkey Cage Kurt, perhaps the problem is that you didn’t “ENHANCE” like they do on CSI? Wait until “part 2” of these photos, you’ll get a clearer reflection of the shopping bag. And yes, I’ll bet the rows of motels actually was kind of pretty in its funky way!

MRaymond, wow, I’d never heard of the Monorail hitting trucks. I wonder how often that has happened!

Melissa, we’ve got a pretty good group here, as you have seen for yourself.

JG, I can definitely see both sides - the appeal of the old motels, and the carefully planned and maintained Disneyland style. It was always a little bit of a thrill for me to get any views of backstage areas - in fact it still is fun. I did not know that Anaheim wanted to “regularize” signage - in my opinion, the signs with their varieties of fonts and colors was half of the fun of the area. As for the coffee klatsch, it just sort of happened - I don’t think I can take credit for it!

Monkey Cage Kurt, JG wears a spacesuit at all times, just in case.

David Zacher said...

Many of you have already touched a bit on what I was thinking. In the beginning, as a kid, the Motels were all part of the trip. I don't think my parents planned ahead because looking for the 'Vacancy' sign was part of the fun. When I click on GDB I'm a kid again and today I got to look for Vacancy signs and ride in the front of the Monorail. As JG said, for a moment I'm with my Mom and Dad reliving those moments.

Thank you, Major, you may have no idea what your blog means to some of us.


Patrick Devlin said...

In the first shot it looks like we're in the station waiting to commence on our voyage through non-liquid space! Remarks like that got me fired from writing spiels for the company.

TokyoMagic! said...

"We're cruising at 35 miles per hour alongside Harbor Blvd., probably the road YOU used to enter Disneyland." Actually, I climbed over a fence in the back.

Nanook, is that a Ford El Camino pick up truck with a vinyl top in the employee parking lot?

David Zacher said...

BTW, My dad's employment with the Southern Pacific RR got us on the Disneyland Alweg Monorail because it was sponsored by Santa Fe RR. They honored his employee pass on the DLRR and the Monorail. Saved us an E Ticket!


Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Well, now that TokyoMagic! got me looking at the vehicles in the employee parking lot, I want to know if Nanook is up to taking a stab at identifying the little sports car with the car cover on it.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

Make that a Chevrolet El Camino 'mini' pick up truck - which it is.

@ M C K-
Kreskin, am I now-? (spoken in my best Yoda-ese...) I'm flattered-! I could say it's a Jaguar XKE; it doesn't seem wide-enough to be a Corvette - but one never knows.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, thanks! Ha, ha! That shows you just how much I know about cars. You've never seen me comment on a car before today and you probably won't ever see me comment on one again! That pick up truck just got my attention because my uncle had an El Camino in the seventies. I didn't know (or I don't remember) that they made them with vinyl tops.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the first phot was taken from the BACK of the monorail

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. The photo is from the rear of the train. We are passing over the train tracks and under the beam where the monorail re-enters the park.

Also, If you remove all the utility poles in the Harbor Blvd photo, the skyline actually is kind of interesting (in my opinion)

Anonymous said...

Reading all the "front of the train ride" comments reminded me. I'm old enough to have ridden in the bubble of the Mk III's (my brother and I would always run to get the two seats up there). It was interesting to see how very close the top of the bubble came to the bottom of the beam that carried the trains back into the park, Great memories.

Anonymous said...

The Disneyland sign in the second photo is for the park, not the hetel. It has the "The Happiest Place on Earth" sub-heading. And that's not the Disneyland Hotel in the background. That hotel is on the corner of Katella and Harbor; The D-land Hotel is far to the right, on the west side of West Street.

Now that I'm done whining about details, thanks for the great photos, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I just have to ask, so who else has had the old Disneyland Monorail theme music going through their head today?

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

You should always spout-off about things you haven't a clue-! Who's to doubt you-?

I think for many, many automobile models, once they become a "mature" product, they magically sprout all sorts of 'luxurious' options - including vinyl or Landau Tops, if'n you really want to get fancy - hubba, hubba.

Nanook said...

@ Anonymous, Anonymous & Anonymous-

I don't see how the shot can possibly be taken from the rear of the Monorail, as the Monorail always travelled towards the Disneyland Hotel on the outer beamway, entering the DL Hotel load station from the south, then departing back to the Park heading north. In today's shot, we can spy that inner beamway on the extreme right edge of the image.

But, yes, that is the infamous sign for Disneyland, not for the DL Hotel. (I would say that's The Inn At the Park in the background, but I'm probably wrong about that).

Major Pepperidge said...

David Zacher, during the years that we visited the park the most, we were close enough that we didn’t have to stay in a hotel. Otherwise we just bit the bullet and endured long drives. Thanks for the nice words!

Patrick Devlin, at least you didn’t use any “swears’, like I tended to do!

TokyoMagic!, did you ever actually scale the fence to get into the park?!?

David Zacher, LUCKY!

Monkey Cage Kurt, if it ain’t an Oldsmobile, I don’t wanna know.

Nanook, I’d say more “Carnac the Magnificent” than Kreskin!

TokyoMagic!, if I comment on a car, I’ve probably done more research than anyone would believe. I always thought that El Caminos were cool!

Anonymous, I was afraid of that.

Anonymous II, how do I know you’re not the first Anonymous? My conspiracy alarm is going off.

Anonymous III, I’ll bet it felt like the top of your head was about to get whomped off!

Anonymous IV, don’t confuse me with the facts!

Monkey Cage Kurt, I didn’t before, but I do now. Thanks a lot.

Nanook, I had a car with a Martin Landau top.

TokyoMagic! said...

Anonymous, the Monorails travel to the DL Hotel on the track closest to Harbor Blvd. They return from the Hotel on the track closest to the park and the main gate. This would have been taken from the front nose of the monorail on it's way to the DL Hotel. I believe the hotel we see in the distance was the Inn at the Park (now the Sheraton).

Kurt, I didn't until you mentioned it! But that's okay. If you ask me, it's a nice little song to have playing in your head.

Nanook, thanks....I'll remember that!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I never did scale the fence.....or the Matterhorn. But as a teenager, I often drove through the "cast members only" lot and into the guest lot without paying. They never checked for I.D.s when driving into the C.M. lot.

TokyoMagic! said...

I should have mentioned that one of the exits in the C.M. lot led right into the guest lot.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ooops, Nanook I missed your last comment. Sorry. You had already cleared up the rear/front nose controversy and stated what the hotel was in the distance.

Major, I had a car with a Barbara Bain bumper. It was a 1999 model with a moon roof and plenty of space.

Anonymous said...

I said the FIRST photo was taken from the rear car. Photos two and four were taken from the front.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I just got back from driving some very lovely country roads over to town, the Monorail music was playing in my head the entire time. It worked well with the countryside, but it’s starting to get kind of old now. MAKE IT STOP!

Nanook said...

@ Anonymous...

Yes you did. Now it all makes sense. Whew-!

Nanook said...

@ Anonymous, again-

You got me so curious, I went back and took another look, and I've come-away with a different answer. I don't believe there's any other place on the Monorail's route, that both crosses underneath the Peoplemover, and heads-off into an area above the Autopia - except on the east side of the Monorail load platform - which would be the front end of the Monorail. Additionally, off to the left of the image, we can just see the railing for the ramp leading to the Speedramp, going down to Tomorrowland. Nothing is ever easy.

Anonymous said...

I drove the monorail for eight years; I'm pretty sure.

Chuck said...

After a careful overhead imagery analysis, I'm going to have to agree with Nanook here. Comparing the first photo with both a 1970 aerial photo ( and a higher-resolution contemporary DL Google satellite view (,-117.9160855,144m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x2ef62f8418225cfa!8m2!3d33.8120918!4d-117.9189742), there is only one place on the Monorail beamway that could match this view, and it's from the front of the Monorail just as it pulls out of its Tomorrowland station.

It has been suggested that this is a rear view as the Monorail crosses the DLRR as it re-enters the Park, but at that point it passes over the PeopleMover/Rocket Rods beamway, not under it as shown in the first photo. There is also only one PM/RR beamway at the Park re-entry point, but this photo shows two. There is also no concrete structure with a sharp right angle paralleling the Monorail beamway at that point, although there is one as the Monorail pulls out of the Tomorrowland MR station. Finally, if you look closely, you can see another Monorail beamway hidden in the trees behind the yellow PM cars; that corresponds with the location of the beamway that brings the MR back into the Park in relation to the Tomorrowland MR station.

Not trying to beat anybody down, but sharing in the interest of accuracy.

Chuck said...

Additionally, here's a 1990 POV ride-along videotaped from the front bubble of the Monorail ( The view as it pulls out of the TL station at the start of the video corresponds exactly with the first photo.

Anonymous said...

@MC Kurt, no it is not me in the space suit, but I am in the same picture (cropped it for my avi). Mom took a quick snap of us, way back when.

If you care to see the whole photo, it's in Daveland's gallery of the Space Man / Space Girl, he was kind enough to put my initials on it.


Chuck said...

So, I gotta ask, JG - which one are you?

Anonymous said...

@Chuck, the happy one.


Chuck said...


Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Nanook, it must be the Jag you mentioned, although it doesn’t look quite as “hippy” as the ones I see on line. Definitely not the Corvette though. Good job! You are the man!