Monday, December 16, 2019

On the Skyway With Lou and Sue

Today I am sharing a series of photos taken from the Skyway (circa 1992), courtesy of Lou and Sue. I still think of the 90's as being "not that long ago", and yet... these are from nearly 30 years ago!

This first image is the most spectacular - there's so much to see! Skyway gondolas, the Matterhorn, the busy corridor below, the Autopia (with that cool sign in the lower right), the Peoplemover, and the Monorail Station with the zig-zag roof. This one is "souvenir guidebook worthy".

Lou panned a bit to his left, where you can see a bit of the ramp from the Carousel Theater.

Now we're aboard the Skyway, having boarded at the Fantasyland chalet terminal - you can see part of the Casey Jr. track below. 

It was exciting to get closer and closer to the Matterhorn every second! 

So dark. I hope I don't feel the powerful hands of the ferocious Yeti around my neck.

Many thanks to Lou and Sue for these wonderful photos!


Nanook said...


What a swell trip on the Skyway-!

Thanks to Lou and Sue

Andrew said...

Nice pics! The POV shots are something different. I've also never seen a photo of that Autopia sign before.

Chuck said...

Odd thought that never occurred to me before...I've always kind of mentally grouped the Autopia, Skyway, and PeopleMover together because the 1967 vehicle colors (which were what I saw on my childhood visits and reviewed endlessly at home in the guidebooks of the period) were very similar - solid bodies in similar (and maybe identical) shades and white tops (except for the Autopia, which had no tops). Seeing that grey-and-striped PeopleMover in the first two shots alongside the "properly" painted Skyway gondolas and Autopia cars is kinda jarring. And I never noticed it once on any of my 1990s visits when I was an APH. I think my CDO tendencies are becoming more pronounced as I age.

In that last shot, if you zoom in while looking out the nostrils you can really see how the Matterhorn was the summit of the entire Skyway system.

I can't remember if I asked this before and obviously don't remember the answer if I did - does anyone know what the center cable on the Skyway was for? Was it just a grounding line?

Thanks again, Lou & Sue & Major!

Stu29573 said...

I miss the skyway. As a kid, I wouldn't go on anything the least bit "thrilling" so the Skyway offered a nice semi-thrill. Of course I rode the WDW version much more, with it's turn in the middle. The turn was somewhat less spectacular than advertised, since the bucket pretty much landed and then skirted around the pole to relaunch in the other direction. Still, it was fun!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I wouldn’t think that I’d be nostalgic for 90’s Disneyland, but obviously there was much to love!

Andrew, I’ve had one or two photos of that Autopia sign, but might have posted them before you joined us.

Chuck, I have always wondered what the rationale was for repainting the Peoplemover vehicles, changing them from their cheerful classic colors to the much-less-interesting white (or light gray?) and color-striped versions? Whatever the reason, I would bet that it is dumb. I agree with you about the Skyway, Autopia, and Peoplemover vehicles all being part of a set, so to speak. I hope somebody knowledgeable chimes in about that central Skyway cable!

Stu29573, I’m not sure why, but the Skyway never bothered me, even though I was generally not fond of anything that went up high. I guess I felt safe in my sturdy gondola! Your description of the turn on the WDW Skyway is way different than what I imagined, for sure.

zach said...

Thanks! I haven't been on the skyway in decades!


Chuck said...

dzacher, neither has anybody else. ;-)

Irene said...

I just love the colors in those first two photos! My daughter was born in 1984 and I am so glad she was able to ride the skyway as a child before it was removed - boy was that every a sad day when they took it out!

JG said...

The Skyway was great, and these pictures show why. I love the POV of the interiors, really makes these "you-are-there"! Thank you Lou and Sue.

A trip through the Matterhorn Nostrils is the high point of the Skyway and the whole visit, or it was once, anyway, before the bean counters took over.

Not to make any "extra work" for you, Major, but I wonder if photos 1 and 2 would make a panorama?

Photo 1 & 2 viewpoint shows an area near the Skyway pylon at the edge of the submarine queue that was seen under construction in some recent posts. I don't recall the Autopia queue and load zone being so far east as shown here. I wonder if that construction was related to reconfiguring it? Or maybe it wasn't changed at all, and my memory is faulty, or this picture is before the construction and not after it. Now my head aches.

Major and Chuck, I read a comment in a blog somewhere that the gray-and-white PM scheme was meant to coordinate with the Monorail (Mark V?) that was mimicking the WDW monorails, which were mostly white with different colored stripes. I can see this as a attempt to keep DL current with the newer WDW. I remember being pleased about the monorail update. Now I think it was dumb because the Bob Gurr trains were so much better, but I am older now and hopefully wiser.

For some reason, this notion was not carried out on the DL Skyway. Maybe they had already decided to remove it and so would not spend the money on the re-do.

It sure goes to show how seemingly simple design choices can affect perception of the whole experience, and how brilliant (both in concept and coloration) the original design really was.


JG said...

Major and Chuck, I have absolutely zero specific knowledge on which to base this speculation, but FWIW, I have always assumed the center cable was a telephone/PA wire connecting the two stations.


MRaymond said...

The third cable was for the PA system and an intercom for the two stations.
I couldn't resist zooming in on the pics and looking for myself and family (no dice).
I still remember when you could go into the Matterhorn and look all the way to the bottom.

"Lou and Sue" said...

My dad will be happy to hear everyone's enjoying these pictures. Thanks for the nice comments.

Irene, how was Knott's Berry Farm, last week?


K. Martinez said...

The Skyway was and still is my most missed attraction at Disneyland. I never felt the same way about Disneyland after they removed that. There was ajust something about the Skywya passing through the Matterhorn with the Bobsleds rushing about. They ruin everything.

Thanks, Lou and Sue. These particular photos are extra special because the Skyway is my favorite past attraction.


I always thought about the colors of the Skyway, Autopia and PeopleMover as being kind of the same group. They gave Tomorrowland a lot of its color and warmth too. The day they made the PeopleMover vehicles and Monorails white it seemed Tomorrowland turned bland, colorless and cold.

K. Martinez said...

JG, since the DL Skyway is a shared attraction between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland I think if they painted the Skyway buckets white with stripes (modern) it would look like a total mismatch over Fantasyland. Perhaps that is why they never did it.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-
There has been some previous discussion about the center, non load-bearing 'cable', or cables. Looking at very early images (pre-1959), two, or briefly - three - cables can be seen connecting each tower. At some point the cables reduced down to one, and appeared to act as a messenger cable, supporting some sort of communication and/or electrical cabling. The cabling bundle may also have contained wiring attached to some sort of sensors monitoring the rollers/bearings at each tower.

MRaymond said...

I got this info straight from Robbie Von Roll: It's called a comm line. All the wiring for the safety switches, wind speed indicator, intercom and station to station communication.


Along with the 1969 New Monorail station, a new Tomorrowland Autopia loading area and a updated Skyway exit area had been designed but never implemented. These were suppose to have been completed by 1970. The new Autopia que included a “traffic control tower” that appears to have been a set only. A sculptural fountain was to be added to a wider exit stairway on the north side of the Skyway station and the payphones recessed under the stairway. I think the increasing costs and energy being spent on the Florida project killed the last two changes - and they were mostly cosmetic only.

As much as I missed the Mark III Monorails, I really liked the Mark V design. The color changes on the PeopleMovers very much modernized the vehicles greatly - all without having to change any of the actual design elements. While we love the colors and look of the 1967 versions , the colors schemes had become very dated and “amusement park” looking and didn’t reflect late 80’s futurism. Also a Tomorrowland project that predated TOMORROWLAND 2055 nicked-named EPCOT TOMORROWLAND would have brought major changes to the architecture of area. The only result of the abandoned “EPCOT TOMORROWLAND” was World Premiere Circle -Vision , Magic Journeys. left out was THE CENTURY OF PROGRESS ( basically Horizon) the TRON ARCADE and VENTUREPORT (this evolved into STAR TOURS , and the crystalline tower encasing the ROCKET JETS ( this was to be a realization of the unbuilt crystal tower shown in the 1983-1984 Discovery Bay concepts )
A final note on the 1987 White PeopleMover colors : WDI really did predict the future as the highest percentage of all passenger vehicles color sold in the USA is WHITE.

The Magic Ears Dudebro said...

Such a shame they don't have the Skyway anymore in Disneyland or Disney World. On the plus side, at least the ride was the inspiration for the new Skyliner at Disney World. I had the opportunity to ride it recently, and it was fun. Of course, it was at night, so I couldn't really judge the sights from it. Maybe next time.

"Lou and Sue" said...

The Magic Ears Dudebro: I also rode WDW's Skyliner, last month (with my husband and 2 girlfriends) and we LOVED it! Such a smooth, relaxing ride - and it was a beautiful, sunny day, too. We rode 2 of the 3 "routes" but the scenery was all resorts, waterways, roads and parking lots. It would be a wonderful addition inside the parks, but I haven't heard of any plans for Disney to use them for anything other than transportation. My husband (a maintenance mechanic for a large manufacturing firm) commented that the Skyliner looks like a highmaintainance ride - and it's already had problems - so it'll be interesting to see if it stays (or gets added to other locations). My girlfriends and I commented on how we DIDN"T like the way the gondolas went over/near some of the resort pools. We would NOT appreciate thousands of people going over/past us, while lounging by a pool.


Irene said...

Sue - Knotts was great! I wanted to stay later but it turned too cold to do that, I wasn't prepared. The weather was supposed to be warmer but it wasn't! But what I did do and see was great so I'm glad I was able to go :)

M.Raymond - I saw your question to Robbie Von Roll :)

"Lou and Sue" said...

^ high-maintenance ride (I really can spell, sometimes)

TMED, I also meant to say that I would love to hear what you think about the Skyliner - after you get a chance to ride it during the daytime. Please let me (us) know.

Irene, I'm glad you enjoyed Knott's last week! I wish I could've joined you.


Major Pepperidge said...

dzacher, it’s hard to believe that the ride has been gone since 1994!

Chuck, it’s sad because it’s true.

Irene, I think people who never rode the Skyway don’t completely get why it was so wonderful. I really do miss it!

JG, yes, passing through the Matterhorn was kind of a highlight, even though the whole ride was a highlight. I’ll see if I can make a panorama from those photos, but the perspective on the cables might make it difficult - that’s a common problem if the Skyway is in two photos. I guess it makes sense that the Peoplemover color scheme change was intended to go with the Mark V Monorails, but I still think it was a real mistake that left Tomorrowland that much more bland. I wonder if you are right about the decision to remove the Skyway having already been made??

JG, what we need is for Rob Von Roll (on Facebook) to chime in, he knows all about the Skyway!

MRaymond, hm interesting, I’m not sure I ever knew that about he third cable. I guess it makes sense?

Lou and Sue, yes, for sure, tell Lou how much we all liked these!

K. Martinez, the Skyway is up there among my “most missed” attractions. I still remember, in “Disneyland: The Nickel Tour”, they claimed that Fantasyland was so much better without that darn Skyway cluttering things up. Such baloney!

K. Martinez, I agree!!

Nanook, since the old Skyway buckets had red lights on top of them (I am pretty sure), I always wondered if that cable had something to do with providing power for the light. I have no idea how that would work though! Interesting about the change in cables, clearly I haven’t been that observant.

MRaymond, aha, straight from Robbie Von Roll hiimself!!

Mike Cozart, it always kills me to hear about the neat plans that they had - and never implemented. Probably mostly due to money, of course. I’d love to see artwork of the traffic control tower. Do you agree that the current Autopia building is way too massive? That’s how I feel, anyway. “Epcot Tomorrowland”, that’s a new one on me! Why was Tony Baxter so obsessed with crystalline structures? He had lots of drawings incorporating those geometric shapes, and frankly, I don’t think they look that great. Maybe the reality would have been better than the artwork. I know that white is the most popular automobile color, but that doesn’t mean that they have to stick to white in the park! I know I complain about Kim Irvine's over the top colors, but *some* color is always welcome if tastefully done. Thanks as always for the interesting info!

Major Pepperidge said...

Magic Ears Dudebro, good to hear from you! I like the idea of the Skyliner a lot, it’s certainly better than buses. And cheaper to build than a Monorail line.

Lou and Sue, oh that’s a bit disappointing that you don’t pass over anything pretty. I imagined it would be a little more spectacular somehow. Yes, inside the parks would be the best, but they clearly didn’t want to do that for some reason. Can people with wheelchairs use the Skyliner? I would assume that they have to make it ADA compliant.

Irene, somehow a chilly night at Knott’s sounds good to me. Probably keeps the crowds down too. I’m glad you had fun!

Lou and Sue, I have to admit that the Skyliner sounds a lot more fun to me than many actual attractions (since it is really a transportation system). It’s fascinating to see cities in South America that use skyways for transportation, it seems like a very successful solution.


In the early 1990’s a new Skyway cabin for Disneyland had been designed. The new cabins were enclosed, slightly larger and there was to be several that could accommodate wheelchairs. The stations also would have had a news automated entry grab and dispatch release doing away with the dangerous catching, pulling and pushing of the Skyway gondolas - one of the park’s biggest causes of castmember injuries. The Tomorrowland station would have a added elevator for wheelchair guests...... and THAT single elevator is one of the main causes the Skyway attraction was removed. A handicap rights organization demanded that if non-handicapped guests could enter and exit and both Fantasyland and Tomorrowland stations so should the handicapped guests ( the new system would require wheelchair guests to do a round-Trip back to Tomorrowland) Disneyland couldn’t add a elevator accessible parkside in Fantasyland and didn’t want guests traveling the maintainence tunnel leading from the mouth of the Big Thunder Trail into the backstage area of Fantasyland. Eventually California politics was going to fine Disneyland everyday the existing system operated without elevators ( wheelchair access specifically) after a set target date BOTH stations . Disneyland said REMOVE the Skyway ..... and cancel the New Skyway.

Interestingly the new Skyway has it been built would not have gone through the Matterhorn , but doglegged in a cable change station near the MotorBoat Cruise docks and redirected back towards the Fantasyland Chalet Station.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm late to comment, but these are all so BEEEEEEEAUTIFUL! Thank you, Lou, Sue and the Major, too!

By the way, that girl in the red and white (left side of the second photo) is tugging on her mom and saying, "I want to go see what's in the Carousel Theater!" And her mom is saying, "Silly child! That's been closed for four years now, and it's going to remain closed for another six! And when it DOES reopen, you are not going to want to go in there, because it's going to be two entire levels filled with exhibits that are SO incredibly boring, they will make you scream!"

Chuck said...

Thanks, guys, for the info on the cable! And specific thanks to MIKE COZART for all of the fascinating (as usual) info on unbuilt Tomorrowland and the background info on the Skyway's ultimate demise.