Thursday, January 27, 2022

Monorail! May 1981

Here are two photos featuring the fabulous Mark III Monorail. Red, that is. BUBBLE DOME! The Mark IIIs had been in service since about 1968, but they still looked incredible. 

In 1985, the Mark III trains were phased out - they were apparently very worn out - and Mark V models (Mark IVs were at WDW) were built on the old chassis - these are the "Lear jet" models that were around until the Mark VII models began being introduced in 1997. I don't think anyone has surpassed Bob Gurr's wonderful designs. The guy was good!


JB said...

Very futuristic scenes today, Major. The sleek, shiny Monorail and the Rocket Jets tower looking like a spaceship getting ready for blast-off. Like the artwork of a sci-fi paperback book cover. Even the lighting contributes to the dramatic feeling with things in partial silhouette.

- Jasmine Bouquet (Sue made me do it. Valentines names, that is.)

TokyoMagic! said...

Seeing the doors hanging open like that (second pic), always makes me think of Lisa Welchel and the gang, jumping out of the Monorail and singing, "Welcome, welcome, one and all!

Major, I think the Mark VII Monorails were introduced in 2008. I think they were supposed to debut in 2007, but they were designed wrong and the new cars were not running properly on the existing beam. Mike Cozart, please correct me if I'm wrong.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I forgot to tell you that I saw your last comment, yesterday. I am still too busy working on names for Groundhog Day! ;-)


Yes... the DISNEYLAND MONORAIL MARK VII debuted in 2008. Monorail RED VII rides on Monorail Vs ORANGE’s chassis. The Disneyland MARK V began introduction in 1987 with Monorail PURPLE ( that rode on Monorail III Green’s chassis ) and by 1988 all four Mark 5’s were in operation.

The WDW Mark IV was born after Bob Gurr was waiting on a flight at a airport in the late 60’s and saw a new Lear Jet .. and was so impressed with the striking sloped nose cone he decided that WDW would get a entirely re-designed Monorail. Before that Walt Disney World was going to get a Mark III looking Monorail with more polycarbonate lightweight construction.

Bob Gurr designed all of the America Disney Monorails, except the Disneyland Mark VII which was designed by Scott Drake.

Chuck said...

Mark III - that's the monorail for me!

TM!, thanks for digging up that NMMC memory!

Chuck said...

Mike, I didn't realize that the Mark VIIs used rebuilt Mark V chassis, which, in turn, were built on the Mark III chassis. That means that Mark VII Red was originally Mark III Yellow. Cool to know that parts of my favorite monorails are still riding the rail.

DrGoat said...

Everything about the Mark III is perfect. The first photo is so very cool. Love that fiberglass screen the lucky passengers are behind. JB's comment hit the nail on the head.
Rode the Mark III as much as we could back then. One of the best perks for staying at the Disneyland Hotel.
Great pics Major.

Stu29573 said...

Beautiful pics!
One thought though- why are all monorails named "Mark?" How about "Al," or "Sidney," or "Earl?" We could be saying, "I really loved the Sidneys, but those Earls were fantastic!"
Just a thought...

Chuck said...

Stu, there were monorails named Manny, Mandy, and Mona operating at Disneyland beginning in May of 2012 to celebrate the opening of Cars Land. By January of 2013, however, all of those names had been marked off.

Stu29573 said...

I zee what you did there, Chuck.

Jim A said...

Hey Major, these pictures had to be around Halloween because there is a skeleton riding in the front of the Monorail in picture two. Scary looking guy nobody wants to ride with.
Wonderful pictures as usual!

Nanook said...

@ Stu92573-
'Earl' had a previous gig in the world of 'sandwiches'-!

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, that Mark III was about as cool as it gets, it’s too bad that they jettisoned that streamlined look for the more boxy Lear Jet look after this. Maybe in the ‘70s that was what passed for “futuristic”?

TokyoMagic!, I can’t open ANY door without fearing that Lisa Welchel will jump out of it with her big toothy smile. She’s like the Babadook! I need to take sips of my “tonic” before I go into any room. Since I wrote this blog post months ago, I have no idea why I wrote the dates that I did, maybe it was because of my tonic!

TokyoMagic!, ha ha!

Mike Cozart, I am so surprised that Bob Gurr liked the look of the Lear Jet that much. I mean, the jets look cool, but somehow the Monorails appeared more angular (and boxy) to me. Bob is famously interested in aviation. Maybe I’m mixed up on what those old Lear’s looked like. When they were planning on an updated Mark III for WDW, would they have scaled it up accordingly?

Chuck, we will have a Mark III shipped out to you by next week. As for the track… you’re on your own.

Chuck, hmmm, I wonder, are there still really parts of those old Monorails that are in service to this day? Or is it like the guy who bought Abraham Lincoln’s hatchet, only the handle was replaced twice and the head three times?

DrGoat, the Monorail really is so cool, it’s a shame that Walt couldn’t convince cities to put in Monorail services for commuters. Now L.A. is spending a fortune building subways. I know I never rode the Mark III, as my family somehow never took the Monorail anywhere in all of my childhood trips to the park. It’s so weird how there were some attractions that we just didn’t do!

Stu29573, well you see, they already had the Mark Twain, and they continued with that name for the Monorails. It all makes sense when you think about it. And the Mark Twain does run along a single rail!

Chuck, oy vey! In theory I would be all in on wrapping the Monorails with a fun design, but those look pretty dreadful. Just my opinion!

Stu29573, don’t encourage him!

Jim A, I have to admit that I generally avoid riding in Monorails with skeletons. It’s a prejudice that I need to conquer!

Nanook, I thought Hoagy Carmichael was the one who had sandwiches named after him!


Chuck : yes ... the chassis were greatly overhauled and pieces from Monorail Purple Mark V were used on all three current Monorails as well as canabalized for back up parts as Disneyland operations felt there was no need for a fourth Monorail this time around.

The current Autopia’s all ride on 1968-1969 MARK 7 Autopia chassis and reconditioned motors.

Bob Gurr did create some designs for a possible replacement of the DL Mark V’s but ran into the Eisner / Pressler regime , and the Mark Vs were still holding up very well. Some of Bob’s unbuilt DL “after Mark V Monorail” design proposals were incorporated into a piece of artwork commissioned for the Disney Gallery called “ Disneyland's Monorail of the Future” and was made as a marketing postcard and a limited edition Lithograph for sale.

I actually love the designs of the current Mark VII Monorail , but the interiors feel so cheap and flimsy.

And a extra note of the Monorails that were originally going to be built for WDW had the “Lear Jet nose “ design been created , would have looked very similar to the DL MARK IIIs but lighter with less stainless steal and NO Bubble Dome control top.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, it’s funny, I realize that I know very little about the Mark V Monorails, I don’t think I knew (or probably forgot) that there was a Monorail Purple. Like Chuck, I am happy to know that those old chassis are still doing their thing! I wasn’t sure if Bob Gurr was still doing stuff for the company back in the Eisner/Pressler days, I’m sure that was an exercise in frustration. Those guys did some great things, but they also dropped the ball on a lot of things too. Hmmm, I’d love to see the unbuilt concept artwork. Wonder if any of that is on the internet? I agree, the interior of the current Monorails feels pretty cheap - as if they wanted to be able to hose it out to clean it instead of making it actually comfortable. I guess the bubble domes had seen their time and nobody (except the fans) wanted them anymore.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, you are welcome! And just in case you want the full visual, here is that clip of them popping out of the Monorail, and also the procession of polyester that follows it:

Chuck said...

Thanks again, TM! Hard to tell, but the designs on their tops look like they might be stylized versions of the first letter of their first names.

Melissa said...

This comment has been a Mark VII Production.

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, ha, ha! I remember that from the end of "Adam-12." I guess they used it at the end of "Dragnet," too. I wonder if that was a "fuzzball" that blew into the bottom of the frame at the very end, or a giant spider?

Melissa said...

It looked like some kind of bug to me!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I looked at these picture this morning, but didn't even notice the rocket jets until I glanced, again, tonight. My eyes were glued to the monorail.

JB and TM! :oD
It appears that JB is a true romanticist, as he's skipping right over that special groundhog holiday.
TM, I'm looking forward to your groundhog names!

Oh, Chuck, those are strange-looking monorails. At first I thought you were going to link to maybe THIS. Nothing like cartoons everywhere you look.

Jim A - are you new here?? Welcome!

Melissa, :o) That sure does have a creepy-looking-crawly thing at the end.

Thanks, Major, and everyone for another fun day!

Bu said...

Why oh why would you even consider a re-do of the Monorail design? This all baffles me. You don't "RE-DO" these things. This isn't anything "Disneyland will never be finished as long as....." no...this is just changing stuff. People don't go "ohhhhh! A new Monorail! Now the ride is different! Lets plan our next trip to ride the Monorail! plan your next trip to see a Pirates of the Caribbean or that Star Wars whatever that abomination is. I would go to Disneyland to see a RE-CREATION from exact specifications of a REAL Monorail. I would definitely go to that. Maybe we are the odd ones...but I really don't think so. Timeless design is timeless design. Trees have no scale. Skeletons live in Monorails. I do remember riding this exact Monorail more than a few times. My friends and I would wait for the next, (or the next several) so that we could sit in the upper bubble with the pilot. The chosen ones would be up top, then the rest of the brood in the bigger bubble underneath. Both were great rides and NOTHING like sitting back in steerage. I never got to go into the back bubble- that one was if you bought a special ticket at the Disneyland Hotel. They locked you in there and the door did not open in Tomorrowland. It was a round trip only from the Hotel and I think it was $4.00. I don't think I've ever seen that ticket nor have I heard that story outside of me just telling it. I certainly gave guests this information so I know it was a real thing. When we (me + friends) stood at the platform waiting for the next Monorail we would speculate the next color, etc. The Retlaw guys would know that we wanted to ride in the bubble and made us stand in a certain place on the other side of the barricade (fuzzy memory about what that looked like..) so we would be able to get on without encumbrance, or without being stampeded. It felt super special. Especially to geeky High School "drama club" and "Yearbook editor/school newspaper" types. Retlaw guys were all very chill...not like the screaming Autopia or P-Lot bunch- screaming not because they wanted to, but because they had to. "Safety First" and that was a employee handbook thing. "Horseplay is the number one cause of accidents in the workplace"....yes...we know...but horseplay is fun. Why do they call shenanigans horse play? Will have to look that up.

TokyoMagic! said...

Bu, I've mentioned this here in the past, but it was probably before you started commenting. My friend and I did the "round trip" ride in the Monorail's rear nose cone, on several occasions. We were teenagers, and there were times (before annual passes) when we just couldn't go to the park whenever we wanted to, because of the cost. So, we'd go hang out at the DL Hotel, buy some DL souvenirs....and ride the Monorail. However, it was torture being inside the park, and not being able to exit the Monorail.

JG said...

Best. Monorail. Ever.

Thanks Major.