Friday, December 16, 2016

Midget Autopia, 1957

I have two nice images featuring the Midget Autopia in Fantasyland, circa 1957. 

First up is this fun shot showing a little black roadster right after it had passed through the familiar yellow building (a garage, I guess?). The boy is having a great time! Comparing the two photos, I don't think the "crash doors" were working. 

Look at how raw the landscape is - mostly dirt with a few pitiful plants struggling to grow. I can only assume that the attraction was quite new; love the line of unused vehicles to our right. Fantasyland Station can just be seen in the upper left.

Zooming in a bit to the right, there is some kind of construction going on. The only thing I can think of is that it has to do with the Motor Boat Cruise.

There's that cool kid again! What, no martini, no cigarette? He's sitting with an elegant blonde. "I'll drive, baby, you just sit there and look pretty. Ring-a-ding-ding!". That was his younger brother in the previous photos, I wonder if some cast member thought it would be cute to pair them up with dames? The girls don't show up in any of the remaining photos, sadly.


Nanook said...


The Midget Autopia opened in March of 1957, so it's a good bet this image was shot shortly thereafter. And that background construction certainly seems likely to be a part of The Motor Boat Cruise.

I certainly hope that gal in the last photo is "of legal age", riding-around with that 'cad'-!! And, as an added bonus - another great shot peering into the "never-never land" part of Storybook Land

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

That cool kid looks almost too big to be riding in a Midget Autopia car!

Wasn't there some kind of fundraising project started, in order to get the Midget Autopia up and running again in Marceline, Missouri?

Chuck said...

Over the years, the Cave to Never-Neverland built up quite a mystique in my imagination, and I was always craning my neck to try to catch a glimpse of the forbidden world beyond its gaping maw. Today, I learned that all of that build-up was for...a fire extinguisher and a water pump. It's more glorious than I could ever have dreamed!

I think that construction site is just there to draw our attention to J. Nartubez' favorite attraction.

TM!, your memory is correct - there was a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 that tried to raise $500,000 to fund a cosmetic replica of the Midget Autopia next to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. Unfortunately, they only received pledges for $21,740 and the project stalled. It's still part of the Museum's long-term plans, but it appears it may take some time before it becomes a reality.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

That kid in pic three is the inspiration for dapper day (fo sho). You are right he has that smoke and a martini look in a pint sized package.

Alas if they ever raised the money for a replica version of this ride political correctness would force the name change to the "Vertically Challenged Autopia". Just doesn't have the same ring (a ding ding) to it. These are gems, thanks for posting.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I have been posting scans from this series under the impression that all of them were from 1957 (based on a single hand-written date), but a recent scan shows the Phantom Boats in the distance! So they can’t ALL be from ’57. The boys look to be about the same age in all of the pictures though. I’m so confused. Time for drugs.

TokyoMagic!, you’re right, even at his young age, Mr. Cool looks wedged in. I see that Chuck has addressed the Marceline Midget Autopia fundraising matter. How much tourism does that city get from its association with a brief (but important) part of Walt’s childhood? Maybe a lot?

Chuck, $500K is a lot of dough to expect from people, most of whom will probably never make it to Marceline to enjoy the attraction. Maybe that’s a selfish way to look at it? In theory I like the idea of the little cars running again, but I'll bet it will be difficult to operate the ride and keep it profitable. BTW, what was J. Nartubez’s favorite attraction? I forget.

Alonzo, while the term “midget” is considered offensive when applied to people (totally understandable), perhaps it is not so offensive when applied to inanimate objects? Who knows. People are offended by a lot of things these days.

K. Martinez said...

Love the baron landscape of the early Midget Autopia. Thanks, Major.

Chuck, Thanks for pointing out my favorite attraction. I wonder if one put their ear up against the pole they could hear the hum. When I was a child I did that several times.

J. Nartubez

Nanook said...


Dating of images many times seems dubious, in spite of what should be accurate 'hand written' info, and not even defaulting to that of the processing date provided by Kodak. Even with my own slides, I've doubted some of the dates, written in my mom's own hand, as many times an individual roll of film was used for capturing images at more than one venue, and only one date was listed for both locations.

I don't know about drugs so much, but 'a tiny triple' might help make sense of all the confusion - or so I've ben told-!

steve2wdw said...

The construction in the distance is in the location of the walkway to Toontown/Small World Gift shop. I don't recall the Motor Boats being so far to the west. The construction seems to be beyond the end of the railroad station platform.

Nanook said...

@ steve2wdw-

Trust me, the construction really is where the Motor Boat Cruise ended up. Check some of the aerial views of the area and you'll see the SW edge of the 'lagoon' would be just off to the right from where the construction forms and workers we see lounging-about in that enlarged second image.