Autopia

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This article is about the ride at Disneyland parks. For the Doctor Who comic, see Autopia (Doctor Who comic).
Autopia
DL05 039.jpg
Disneyland's Autopia
Disneyland
Area Fantasyland, relocated at Tomorrowland
Coordinates 33°48′45″N 117°54′59″W / 33.8125°N 117.9164°W / 33.8125; -117.9164
Status Operating
Opening date July 17, 1955
Magic Kingdom
Area Tomorrowland
Coordinates 28°25′10″N 81°34′45″W / 28.4194°N 81.5792°W / 28.4194; -81.5792
Status Operating
Opening date October 1, 1971
Tokyo Disneyland
Area Tomorrowland
Coordinates 35°37′53″N 139°52′44″E / 35.6314°N 139.8788°E / 35.6314; 139.8788
Status Operating
Opening date April 15, 1983
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Area Discoveryland
Coordinates 48°52′22″N 2°46′46″E / 48.8729°N 2.7794°E / 48.8729; 2.7794
Status Operating
Opening date April 12, 1992
Hong Kong Disneyland
Area Tomorrowland
Coordinates 22°18′53″N 114°02′31″E / 22.3147°N 114.0419°E / 22.3147; 114.0419
Status Operating
Opening date July 13, 2006
General statistics
Attraction type Passenger controlled car
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Length 782 m (2,566 ft)
Riders per vehicle 2
Duration 5:10 minutes
Height restriction 32 in (81 cm)
Sponsors Disneyland
Chevron (2000-2012)
Richfield Oil Company (1955-1970)
Disneyland Paris
Ford
Hong Kong Disneyland
Honda
Disney's Fastpass available at Disneyland
Must transfer from wheelchair

Autopia is a Disneyland attraction, in which patrons steer specially designed cars through an enclosed track. Versions of Autopia exist at Anaheim, California, Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallée, France, and at Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Other versions of the attraction can be found at the Magic Kingdom as the Tomorrowland Speedway and at Tokyo Disneyland as the Grand Circuit Raceway.

The name Autopia is a portmanteau of the words "automobile utopia." The term was later popularized in academic circles by British architecture critic Reyner Banham to describe Los Angeles in his 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies.[citation needed]

Disneyland Autopia[edit]

Autopia in 1996, before its complete remodel in 2000. The Autopia cars at this time closely resembled the Corvette Stingray.
A 1967-era Corvette Stingray-style Autopia car on display in the Disneyland Hotel.
An overhead view, looking down at an Autopia car in 2003.

The Disneyland Autopia, in one form or another, is one of the few current attractions that opened with the park on July 17, 1955. When it opened, it represented the future of what would become America's multilane limited-access highways, which were still being developed. President Eisenhower had yet to sign the Interstate Highway legislation at the time Disneyland opened.

The cars generate a moderate level of exhaust from the gasoline engines that propel the cars. The park employees that work at this ride are compensated an additional $0.20 an hour for hazardous environment.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Before the park opened, the cars were tested without the bumpers, and were almost completely destroyed by the test drivers. Bumpers were fitted around the vehicle, but there were still problems with collisions, as a guide rail had yet to be implemented on the ride. Eventually the vehicles were fitted with spring-loaded bumpers to discourage collisions.

The first fleet of Autopia cars were dubbed "Mark I". Throughout Disneyland's first few years, Autopia went through a few fleets, as the cars took much abuse. Though basically the same look, they went through Mark I, II, III, and IV by 1958. When the Monorail, Submarine Voyage, and Matterhorn debuted in 1959, so did a new fleet with an all-new look - the "Mark Vs". The next design, Mark VI, came in 1964. It was at this time (1965) the center guide rail was first installed.[1] 1967 brought another new design, the Mark VIIs, which cost $5,000 for each car and looked similar to the new Corvette Stingray.[2] They would remain in service through 1999, till a breed of Mark VIIIs would hit the Autopia roadway. The cars were manufactured by Intermountain Design, Utah [3]

The Tomorrowland version was not the only form of Autopia to exist at Disneyland. Other versions, separate from the Tomorrowland version, included the Midget Autopia, Fantasyland Autopia (Rescue Rangers Raceway), and Junior Autopia. Of these, the Tomorrowland Autopia existed the longest.

The Midget Autopia opened in 1957 and was manufactured by Arrow Development.[4] It was the smallest and was the third Autopia track, after the Tomorrowland Autopia (1955) and the Junior Autopia in Fantasyland (1956). It was located next to the Storybook Land Canal Boats and the Motor Boat Cruise at the very edge of Fantasyland. Adults were not allowed on the ride.[5] It was closed in 1966 and dismantled to make way for 'It's a Small World'. The ride was donated to the city of Marceline, Missouri, where it operated for a few years.

The Fantasyland Autopia began originally as the Junior Autopia in 1956. Unlike the original Autopia, the Junior Autopia track had a center guard rail.[6] It closed in 1958, and reopened in 1959 as the expanded Fantasyland Autopia. It was a duplicate version of the Tomorrowland Autopia and featured the same theme of the original until 1991, when part of the Disney's Afternoon Avenue makeover of Fantasyland, the ride was transformed into the Rescue Rangers Raceway. The theming was kept until 1992, when the promotion ended. The ride remained open on an interim basis until 1999, when both the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland Autopias were closed.

In 2000, Disneyland replaced both existing Autopia tracks with a new, much larger Autopia sponsored by Chevron. The colorful Chevrolet Corvette Stingray-style cars were replaced by three different kinds of cars: Dusty, an off-road style car; Sparky, a sports car; and Suzy, a Volkswagen Beetle-style car. Each was designed to be tied into the Chevron line of animated 'Chevron Cars', and 4 versions of the Autopia cars were sold as toys during the 2000 summer season at Chevron stations nationwide. The queue featured animated dioramas featuring the Chevron Cars, and the ride's background music is taken directly from the park's former PeopleMover attraction, which closed five years before the new Autopia's opening. The voice of Dusty the Autopia car is voiced by Matthew Howard. He is said to be the youngest Disney ride announcer as of 2004. The ride safety spiel was rerecorded in 2004 to remind parents to watch their children due to several minor incidents.[7] New for the track was a short "off-road" section.[8] Chevron's sponsorship ended in the summer of 2012.[9]

Versions in other Disney parks[edit]

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom[edit]

Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Speedway

The second Disney theme park to open was Magic Kingdom. An opening day attraction, the Grand Prix Raceway was based on an international car race rather than the futuristic roadways of Autopia. The original sponsor was Goodyear, as it supplied all of the tires on the Mark VII vehicles.

The ride was expanded in 1973 and remained unchanged until the 1994 remodel of Tomorrowland. Part of the track was also shortened to make room for Mickey's Birthdayland sometime between late 1987 and early 1988. The Grand Prix theme and name was dropped in favor of Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, but the track and vehicles remained the same, as new theming to coincide with the "New Tomorrowland" overlay was installed.

On December 20, 1999, Walt Disney Company and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway partnered to change the theme of the track. The ride was changed to add items from the famous Speedway, such as the famous Yard of Bricks, the Scoring Pylon, Gasoline Alley and the wheel and wing logo. The loading area featured panels with the three Indy events: the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the United States Grand Prix.

The name was changed in 2008 to Tomorrowland Speedway, resulting in the drop of the Indy portion of the title.

Tokyo Disneyland[edit]

Tokyo Disneyland's Grand Circuit Raceway

At Tokyo Disneyland, the ride exists as Grand Circuit Raceway. This version of the ride has remained open since the park's opening in 1983 and has remained largely unchanged. The ride is sponsored by Bridgestone and features a grandstand for visitors to watch the "races" between drivers. The track is described as a "figure eight" shape, but is actually quite longer. A new ride, Aquatopia, opened at neighboring park Tokyo DisneySea in 2001, but other than the name similarity to the Disneyland car ride (it's a homage) Aquatopia is closer (as an attraction) to Disneyland's former Motor Boat Cruise.

Disneyland Paris[edit]

In Disneyland Park in Paris, the attraction, which opened with Euro Disneyland on April 12, 1992, uses the original Disneyland name of Autopia, but has a unique sense of style and theming. The cars are more rounded and feature a toy-like quality to go with a 1950s retro theme, which differs from the Discoveryland theme. The park has multiple cars that go around for approximately 7–9 minutes. The attraction is sponsored by Ford.

Hong Kong Disneyland[edit]

Hong Kong Disneyland's Autopia

Hong Kong Disneyland is the first Disneyland-style park to not open with a form of the Autopia. Opened in summer 2006 as part of its phase one expansion, the Hong Kong version is different from the other versions as it features electric cars with lighting effects and an onboard audio system. Theming includes a lush jungle and alien landscapes. Honda Motors is the sponsor of the attraction.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strodder, Chris (2008). The Disneyland Encyclopedia. California, USA: Santa Monica press. ISBN 978-1-59580-033-6. 
  2. ^ Strodder, Chris (2008). The Disneyland Encyclopedia. California, USA: Santa Monica press. ISBN 978-1-59580-033-6. 
  3. ^ http://www.hiddenmickeys.org/Disneyland/Secrets/Tomorrow/Autopia.html
  4. ^ Gurr, Bob (27 November 2013). "DESIGN: Those Were The Times – No.23 1955 Arrow Development – Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon". MiceChat. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Strodder, Chris (2008). The Disneyland Encyclopedia. California, USA: Santa Monica press. ISBN 978-1-59580-033-6. 
  6. ^ Strodder, Chris (2008). The Disneyland Encyclopedia. California, USA: Santa Monica press. ISBN 978-1-59580-033-6. 
  7. ^ Fun Facts of Disneyland's Autopia
  8. ^ Strodder, Chris (2008). The Disneyland Encyclopedia. California, USA: Santa Monica press. ISBN 978-1-59580-033-6. 
  9. ^ "California entertainment, Cars Land crowds, Matterhorn climbers +MORE". MiceChat. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 

External links[edit]