Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Beautiful Autopia, 1999

My friend Mr. X gave me some more photos that he personally shot back in 1999 - a mere 17 years ago, and yet the park has undergone so many changes in the intervening years. I believe that he knew that the Autopia was going to be altered, which is why he wanted to take these pictures.

This one gives a good idea of how lovely the landscaping was; with all of the flowers and greenery, it looks like a nice place  to throw down a picnic blanket, eat some cold chicken and leftover chocolate cake, and then lay down for a little snooze. If you can sleep through the incessant "putt-putt-putt" of the Autopia vehicles passing nearby! Note the Peoplemover track in the distance.

Three sporty little speedsters in primary colors zip along the roadway at an impressive 6.5 miles per hour (or so I've been told). Fuzzy red blossoms adorn the bottlebrush tree in the foreground - it looks just like the one in my mom's backyard.

Given the lack of real estate in Disneyland, the Imagineers did an amazing job of creating the illusion of a rolling countryside - one that happens to have a futuristic Monorail running  through it.


Nanook said...


The lush landscaping really does create a bucolic scene, manicured beautifully around the Autopia 'highway'. Ahhh, the Autopia has nothing on my childhood backyard - we had a bottlebrush bush-!

Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Thanks major for posting and thanks to Mr X for providing. I really miss the serene feel of the old (well pre-monster load area)Autopia. I know they did it for space savings and loading capacity but boy did they really kick the charm out of a great family ride.

It's like they turned it from a ride down highway 1 to a rush hour commute on a superslab freeway.

Anonymous said...

What verdant settings in nicely composed photos! I had no idea how park-like the Autopia area is (was?), and I worked there for years.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if only real highways were as pretty as the ones in these photos!

Alonzo, Mr. X hates that gigantic queue structure, and I have to say that it seems like some real overkill. I appreciate it when I'm in the shade for a bit, but there are less ugly ways of providing shade. The current Autopia still goes through some pretty landscaping, but I don't recall it looking quite this pretty.

Anonymous, it's kind of the same for me, I've been on the Autopia so many times, but don't remember it looking as lovely as it does here.

K. Martinez said...

I agree with Alonzo. I miss it when it was the two separate Autopias. It's definitely lost its charm.

Those Imagineers were amazing back then. To be able to create a wooded area with miniature cloverleaf roads and a monorail track system over the Submarine Voyage show building without the guest even knowing they were riding over a "rooftop" in some areas is what I call a masterpiece in design when it comes to theme park layout. No other Disney park has done that as well as the original Disneyland when it comes to overlapping intertwining attractions.

The 1967 Mark VII Corvette Stingray style cars were part of the Autopia for so long covering most of my childhood up to middle age that I thought they would always be there until the Chevron "toon" cars replaced them. Without the PeopleMover vehicles running overhead, the Autopia woods just aren't the same. It's like the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland without the Pack Mules.

Thanks Mr. X and Major.

Anonymous said...

The 3D intertwining of the various original designs really was unique and the loss of it in newer designs is noticeable. Critter Country's exposure of the train on the overhead trestle is one of the last and minor instances. I hold out hope for the new River.

Riding through this Tomorrowland "backwoods" area was one of the most restful experiences in Disneyland, and available in several rides: Monorail, Peoplemover, Autopia, and to some extent, the Motorboat cruise. One thing that made it stand out in comparison to the other "backwoods" in other lands, (Jungle Cruise jungle, Nature's Wonderland) was that, for the most part, the time here was free of "narrative". You were just riding quietly around in a garden and the sights to see were just the other rides and riders.

To me, it provided some assurance that Tomorrow wouldn't always be long queues and "buzzy" attractions, and some contrast to the exciting bits, so you didn't wear out. This was possible to appreciate even as a kid.

Thanks Major and Mr. X for such fine pics.


Nancy said...

Such peaceful beauty. :D

TokyoMagic! said...

Beautiful! And I think the stacking or layering of attractions like that is a lost art that nobody is capable of designing today. Those original Imagineers were talented beyond belief.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, in theory I like the concept of one longer Autopia ride, but you are right, the attraction has lost some of the charm that it had. Not that most people remember or care… and yes, those Corvette-style cars are SO much nicer than the cartoony things that they have now. What is up with those clunky designs?

JG, oh boy, I have a couple of great photos (from Mr X, actually) of that Bear Country trestle, it looks so great! You’ll just have to wait for them, sadly. It’s too bad that Florida’s version is a “raceway” - they could have really landscaped that area and made it spectacular. Just imagine!

Nancy, it really is.

TokyoMagic!, it’s hard to imagine that any such integration of several attractions would even be attempted, much less done in such a perfect manner.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Stop lying, Major. 1999 was just a coupla years ago. No way am I that old. Shut up