Photos and comments by Kim Pedersen
Here we see Monorail Blue about to cross the Disneyland parking lot in October of 1996. It was a familiar sight for park visitors from when the system was expanded from the park to the Disneyland Hotel in 1961 to the late 1990's.
In early 2001, the former parking lot opened as a new theme park, Disney's California Adventure. This view is taken from a new Ferris Wheel inside the park looking towards a familiar landmark, the Magic Kingdom's Matterhorn Mountain. What is new here is the view and what you see in the foreground. To the left is the brand new Grand Californian Hotel, which borders the new park. You can see the monorail track crossing the new park and in front of a spectacular new attraction, California Soarin'. While the surroundings are new, the track is still vintage 1961.
I took this shot of Monorail Blue's controls shortly before the trains were refurbished and outfitted with new equipment. During construction, half of the guideway was shut down for construction of California Adventure. During this period, trains shuttled back and forth on the other half of the loop. Since there are only driver controls at one end of Mark V's, unlike Walt Disney World Mark VI's, monorail pilots drove backwards on one leg with the aid of a tail-mounted camera and television monitor (seen at upper right).
Here you have the new revised driver's equipment. Note the joystick controller as well as a touch-screen monitor of systems are new.
The entrance to the new California Adventure park features a fanciful re-creation of the Golden Gate Bridge. Funny enough, there have been several proposals to run monorail over the real Golden Gate, but politicians haven't figured out what a good idea that is yet. Will they ever?
In the Condor Flat's area of the park, a tribute to the aviation history of California, the track crosses over this vintage Cessna as it heads for the Grand Californian. In the distance you can see Monorail Purple entering one of two tunnels through the hotel. Between the tunnels is a beautiful courtyard.
Here's a view from the Grand Californian courtyard. Only with monorail can you wrap a luxury hotel around the track, because the trains are whisper quiet. This is the second tunnel before the monorail crosses Disneyland Drive. Up there in the corner is where yours truly's family stayed while visiting, Room 4128. My son Kory is up there with his Dr. Pepper shirt on. Gee, I wonder why we picked this room?
Maybe this is why, what a view! Again you see my son Kory, only this time he's down in the court warning me when to get my camera ready for the approaching monorail. Unfortunately this image was taken a bit late in the day, and the light was low. That's why the train is a bit blurry, but it's still a very special picture. Why? Because that's our very own TMS Southern California Representative, Teri-Lynn Wheeler, doing the driving. Nice job Teri-Lynn!
Another view down in the Grand Californian court. Before too long the many redwood trees will grow up and fill the court with even more green. I have to add, we loved this hotel! It's really spectacular inside, but we'll leave all the Disney fan sites to provide you with images of that. If you stay here, you are only footsteps away from the front entrance of Disneyland and you have your own entrance into California Adventure. As far as the new park goes, I think it needs some serious work to get up to Disney standards. This is just personal opinion, you can judge for yourself if you visit it.
More evidence of the kind of landscaping possible along a monorail corridor.
Arts and Crafts architecture wraps around monorail track. This is in front of the Grand Californian Conference Center.
The track is the same, but there are taller supports added here as a new subway for Disneyland Drive (formerly West Street) and pedestrian bridge have been added for Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney, a shopping/entertainment district, is another addition to the resort. Another change is that the monorail track is no longer painted white. In recent years before the resort expansion, the paint got to looking a bit worn out. Now the guideway actually looks almost new since it has been sandblasted.
The old Disneyland Hotel Monorail Station. It was a bit cramped up there, but many of us loved the nostalgic circa-1950's look. Our next shot shows a new station built in the same spot, only with a new name.
Downtown Disney Station! Even on a gray day the landscaping around it looks pretty. It'll be even better when all the plants grow up. The station design resembles large leaves wrapping over the platform and trains. The new Rainforest Cafe is in the building behind.
My favorite monorail track section in the world. This is where the Monorail enters Disneyland, gracefully banks down through the trees and crosses the lagoon (where submarines once cruised, sigh). Since 1959 the Disneyland Monorail has crossed over the traffic of the Autopia below and still there have been no collisions with the scale automobiles. Of course in the "real world" the experts know it's better to put your trolley trains right down there in the traffic, isn't that right? There's that Pedersen sarcasm again, forgive me.
And finally, another lesson on how landscaping looks great with monorail. Notice the vines growing on the stanchion. This is right by the Disneyland Matterhorn attraction.
Photographs are copyright 2001 the Monorail Society unless noted otherwise.