The Disneyland Monorail System (originally, the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail) opened on June 14, 1959, as a sightseeing attraction in Tomorrowland in Disneyland. The Mark I trains (Red and Blue) consisted of three cars each. With the debut of the four-car Mark II in 1961 (and the new Yellow train), the track was lengthened to leave the park and stop at a station at the Disneyland Hotel. The monorail trains reached their current length of five cars in 1968 with the arrival of the Mark III. More streamlined and efficient than the Mark II, the Mark III also included the arrival of Monorail Green. There were two forms of access to the monorail. Persons who were leaving the park or persons at the hotel who had purchased tickets to enter the park could purchase a single ticket to go to the hotel or from the hotel to the entrance in Tomorrowland, respectively. Persons who had not purchased admission to the park could purchase a ticket to ride the monorail from the hotel station, into the park, and back to the hotel station. To prevent them from entering the park without paying, persons buying a monorail ticket who did not have a park admission would be loaded in a separate compartment which would remain locked until the monorail returned to the hotel.
Walt Disney originally envisioned the monorail as a practical form of public transport for the future. However, the monorail came about during a time when America’s—and particularly Los Angeles’—love affair with the automobile was increasing, and monorails in the United States came to be associated only with Disney’s theme parks.
By the early 1980s, the Mark III trains were showing their age and the wear of years. In 1985, Disneyland began phasing out the Mark III trains one by one. The older trains were stripped to the chassis and rebuilt as Mark V trains. The Mark III Green went first, to become the Mark V Purple followed by the Mark III Yellow becoming the Mark V Orange. The Mark III Blue remained blue (albeit a lighter shade) and the last was Red, remaining Red.
In 2004, Monorail Orange was removed from the line and taken to Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale to be reverse engineered. Monorail Blue was removed in September 2006 for rebuilding. The monorail was closed from August 21 through late December 2006 to prepare for the opening of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in 2007.
The refurbishment from Mark V to Mark VII was done one train at a time. The first Mark VII train, Monorail Red, arrived at Disneyland on December 20, 2007. It was originally expected to be in service by the end of February 2008, but due to design change issues, it did not begin serving park guests until July 3, 2008. Mark VII Blue arrived on-site on April 10, 2008, began daytime riderless testing on August 1, 2008, and began guest service on September 16, 2008. Monorail Mark VII Orange arrived on-site on August 14, 2008, began riderless testing in March 2009, and began guest service on April 7, 2009. Monorails Red, Blue, and Orange make up the entire Mark VII fleet.
The Disneyland Monorail has two stations: one in Tomorrowland, and another in the Downtown Disney district. The original Monorail was a round trip ride with no stops. In 1961, the track was expanded to connect to a station at the Disneyland Hotel, making it an actual transportation system. The original Hotel station was torn down in 1999 and a new station, now called the Downtown Disney Station, was built in the same place. All riders must disembark at Tomorrowland Station, and during peak traffic periods, the monorail offers only one-way trips where all passengers must also disembark at the Downtown Disney Station and re-board for the return trip to Tomorrowland.
All monorails are equipped with Grover 1016 horns. The horn must be sounded when departing a station, at one point where the track parallels the currently-unused PeopleMover/Rocket Rod track, and when approaching the Matterhorn. They are also sounded when a bird lands on the track.
“Monorail Shop”, as it is officially known (“Shop” for short), is Disney’s monorail maintenance facility located behind It’s a Small World at Disneyland and provides space for four monorails on its upper level (the bottom level houses the five steam locomotives that circle Disneyland and a bus repair facility on the west side). No train will ever be left outside the facility because routine maintenance is performed nightly.
The diesel-powered “work tractors” are the tow trucks of the system, and can tow a train to Monorail Shop.
The trains are powered by over 600 Volts DC, drawn from a small rail (bus bar) running along the right side of the beam. This bus bar is similar to the electrified or “third” rail of a subway train.
ATTRACTION FACTS AND FIGURES
· When originally built, every mile of monorail track cost over a million dollars (which computes to more than 620,000 dollars per kilometer).
· Grand opening: June 14, 1959
· Designer: WED Enterprises
· Trains: 3 Mark VII Red, Mark VII Blue and Mark VII Orange
· Max Trains on Track: 3
· Track length: 2.5 Miles (4 kilometers)
· Ride duration: 10:30
· Ticket required: ”E” (Ticket system is no longer implemented, anybody with a valid Disneyland admission ticket may ride for free.)
· Ride system: Monorail system powered by DC electric motors located on each car of the train, not just the front car
· On opening day, the ribbon cutting hit a snag when the scissors failed. So Walt tore it instead.