Friday, September 14, 2018

Autopia & More

It's Friday, and that means (in theory) that I will be posting some photos that are at least slightly above average, or more interesting than usual. 

This first scan is an uncommon angle of the Tomorrowland Autopia, with a line of cool miniature cars loading and unloading. Teenagers especially loved this ride, clearly! You can see that the CM in the foreground is holding a version of a seat belt for the incoming passengers - I wasn't sure if the Autopia had seat belts in those early days (they were just starting to be accepted for full-sized autos in the U.S. at around this time, I believe). 

Skyway riders are exiting the load platform down that flight of steps, and there is a helicopter in the sky - presumably one of the L.A. Airways aircraft that ferried guests to and from LAX.

Any idea what that crude wooden structure might have been for? At first I thought it could be early construction for Tomorrowland Station, but that didn't open until some time in 1958 - it was such a simple structure that it certainly did not take two years to build. If you go back to the first view, it appears that there is another framed-in structure in the shadow of the Autopia building. Perhaps it had something to do with maintaining cars that were out of service, since there is a wall, and one car can be seen with its hood up.

Here's a nice view of Tomorrowland Station (previously posted) from July, 1958.

Changing gears (see what I did there?), I have this photo from April, 1958; It's a bit dark, but still nice!  Guests are handing over their "A" tickets to see the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru dioramas, which had debuted almost exactly one year earlier. 


Melissa said...

I've always loved that crown-shaped awning over the Sleeping Beauty walk-through entrance.

I like those matching white hats with red ribbons. Was that a souvenir hat that was sold in the park, or did those girls just wear matching hats? Maybe it's part of a school uniform?

Nanook said...


That 'mystery building is, well - quite "a mystery". According to a SIMILAR VIEW over at Daveland, with the same August, 1956 date, that structure is gone. (Perhaps the dates are 'off', or the "lean-to" had a short life...)

Gotta love the matching straw hats - with ribbons, atop those ladies about to march through the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Thanks, Major.


That shed and structure appear to be an Autopia service area. The road leading away from it behind the Autopia Patroll car connects directly to the main Autopia roadway. You can also see a CM leaning on a fender panel section - there’s one of this crane-winches used to remove body shells or engines - there’s a fuel pump spigot and a few air compressors.

While the following doesn’t directly relate to today’s images - I’m sure by now most of you have either seen online or seen in person the continued Disneyland destruction happening in Anaheim to fit the anticipated crowds of GALAXYS EDGE.

While it was a hard pill to swallow to see the Frontierland back country and Rivers of America be cut down in grandeur, now other areas are being cutback it chopped completely away : currently the Enchanted Tiki Garden is being reduced and re-configured. The planters that ran along the fencing and gates have been completely removed and now the planters and built in benches to the PEOPLEMOVER supports have been cut and removed.
It makes it difficult to see Disney throw out design and planing elements that were important to Walt and the Imagineer’s JUST to cram in something else....

JC Shannon said...

It is always great to see early pics of Disneyland. How simple and clean the structures were. The Autopia was a must-ride for me. I remember seeing the Sleeping Beauty walk-thru only once, I was more of an E coupon type of guy.
@Mike, I feel fortunate to have seen the Park in it's hey day. They can never demolish my memories. Thanks to Major P. for today's photos.

zach said...

I enjoy the early photos of the Autopia, especially with no center rail. It just felt more like 'driving' when you tried to not hit the curb. Just like how I drive now!

How many of you have friends or relatives who pronounce it AutoTopia? I've given up correcting them.

It's funny but I didn't discover Sleeping Beauty Castle walk through until the mid 60's. Where'd that come from, I wondered?

It's Friday, again!


Anonymous said...

Intriguing photos, Major. Thanks Mike Cozart and Nanook for the commentary. It does look like a (very temporary) Autopia repair area.

Any idea where this function was moved to, or where it is now? Is there a location in the "Navy Yards"?

Very sad to hear about the Tiki Room changes. I had heard there was going to be a new restaurant in the old Tahitian Terrace again, maybe this is connected?

I suppose the PM benches had to go, that area is so congested now that traffic is two-way in the evening, and we can't have people sitting down and just resting or enjoying the Park, can we? Up and at 'em, spend money, buy t-shirts, coffee cups, keychains and stuffed plush toys!!!

Oh wait. Sorry.

Thanks Major, for some rare views.


K. Martinez said...

MIKE COZART, I've been following it closely and not a "land" has been left untouched because of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Now the entrances to Adventureland and Frontierland will be altered with widen pathways including more tree removal as well as along the path from Sleeping Beauty Castle to Frontierland and in between the Adventureland and Frontierland entrances. I read many of the large and older trees are slated for removal and the paths widened.

The job they did on the new Dumbo queue looks just okay on the front, but the beautiful green hedge that separated Dumbo from Storybook Land was torn out and replaced with an ugly light blue wall destroying the charm and intimacy of the miniature Storybook Land setting. All so they could push the queue off the walkways right up against Storybook land for the anticipated crowds for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

And this is the finished product:

Also, the Haunted Mansion front area planters have been removed and they didn't even bother to finish the brick posts for the fencing/railing that fronts the Mansion.

Fantasyland has had several of it's planters and some trees removed and the current Matterhorn Chalet area has been stripped of many of it's trees. Again, I believe this is to widen the pathways for the expected increase in attendance because of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

All of this for one new "land" at Disneyland. And there's more alteration to come. Should've been built at DCA where the pathways are wider and the park needs building up.

As a GDB buddy would say, they ruin everything!

K. Martinez said...

Now about the pics. I love the Tomorrowland Depot image and I love the views of the still barren berm in today's pics. Any image of the Skyway is a treat too. The telephone poles are the cherry on the Sundae.

I never had a single ticket left in my ticket book by the end of the day and the one 'A' coupon usually went for either a ride on a Gurrmobile or the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walk-through. Usually the walk-through.

Nice pics of Ye Olde Disneyland. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, these days I’m sure that awning would be criticized as too spiky and un-Disney. I would guess that the hats with the red ribbons were souvenirs, but you never know!

Nanook, I neglected to mention that photo #1 is from 1956, But it sure looks different from that Daveland photo! The straw hats with ribbons reminds me of Ludwig Bemelmans’ “Madeline” - even though I discovered that Madeline’s hat doesn’t have a red ribbon!

Mike Cozart, I also considered the Autopia service area, but there are Autopia vehicles apparently being service in the open air, and why would they need such a crude lean-to? Meanwhile I am shocked that the Tiki Garden is being reduced. Is that to make more room for the new Tahitian Terrace restaurant (or whatever that thing is going to be)? I’ve always wondered about the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” tour - pretty soon there will hardly be anything to see beyond Main Street and the castle.

Jonathan, luckily the castle walk-thru was beautifully restored in 2008 - it really is a wonderful experience. Effects have been updated, but it still feels like an “old school” attraction.

David Zacher, I don’t remember driving the Autopia without the center rail, but based on stories I’ve read about how kids thought of the ride as a form of bumper cars, I can understand why they got tired of repairing damaged cars or damaged curbs and roadways. My grandma called it the “Autotopia”!

JG, unless I am mistaken, I thought that there was some sort of Autopia repair area beneath the Skyway. Perhaps that was just storage for unused vehicles. Maybe the Peoplemover benches had to go so that there would be room for more strollers. I get that strollers are a necessity for parents with small kids, but at some point they began to take over large swaths of real estate.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, OUCH. Those photos are painful to look at. For anyone who read the recent interview with Rolly Crump (, Ken’s photo links are the perfect illustrations. Damn “Galaxy’s Edge”, WHY didn’t they build a third gate for it, for gosh sakes? If there was anything that would draw people in, it would be that. Meanwhile they are ruining the rest of the park. Terrible.

K. Martinez II, yes, looking at some nice vintage photos is a salve for the soul - temporarily, at least. We always had leftover “B” and “A” tickets, but I wish we had been smart like you and used them on the appropriate rides.

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

That "wall" in Storybook Land is absolutely appalling. Even in the early days of the park, when both time and money was very tight this kind of thing only existed as a necessary expedient. (I suppose at some point the bottom of the 'brickless' columns can be fixed - as I suppose that 'permanent' "construction fence" in Fantasyland - but still-!)

If this is an example of the way things are headed, Rolly Crump's sentiment is, sadly, quite true: "Fall in love with Disneyland, and Disneyland can break your heart" ... "The park is gone".

Nancy said...

It seems to me that the umbrella table was there for the cast members maybe? Would they be allowed to have breaks "in public" so to speak?

The Tomorrowland train station is where we always get off the train for some reason; probably because its my favorite land.

Melissa said...

The Sleeping Beauty CM's costume is also pretty rad. That's one I'd love to wear

Connie Moreno said...

Holy crap the loading area of the Skyway was wide open? Yikes. So by the time I actually got ON the Skyway, I was already terrified.