Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

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Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Wdw-peoplemover.jpg
The two-way track section at the entrance of Space Mountain
Magic Kingdom
Area Tomorrowland
Coordinates 28°25′06″N 81°34′45″W / 28.41833°N 81.57917°W / 28.41833; -81.57917Coordinates: 28°25′06″N 81°34′45″W / 28.41833°N 81.57917°W / 28.41833; -81.57917
Status Operating
Opening date July 1, 1975
Disneyland
Area Tomorrowland
Status SBNO
Opening date July 2, 1967
Closing date August 21, 1994
Replaced by Rocket Rods
General statistics
Attraction type People mover
Manufacturer Walt Disney Imagineering
Designer WED Enterprises
Length 5,484 ft (1,672 m)
Speed 6.84 mph (11.01 km/h)
Vehicles 32
Riders per vehicle 20
Rows 2
Riders per row 2
Duration 10:03
Host Jack Wagner (1975-1985)
ORAC-1 Commuter Computer (1985-1994)
TTA Central Announcer (Pete Renaday) (1994-October 2009)
Mike Brassell (October 2009-present)
Propulsion Linear Synchronous Motors embedded in track
Platform Speed 1.84 mph
Motor Count 629
Formerly Called WEDway Peoplemover (until June 11, 1994)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority (until August 5, 2010)
Sponsor Alamo Rent a Car

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (also called the Blue Line, TTA and Tomorrowland's Super-Skyway), formerly known as the WEDWay PeopleMover until 1994 and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority until 2010, is a PeopleMover system in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Themed as an urban mass transit system of the future, the ride takes passengers on a tour around the second floor of many attractions in Tomorrowland. It has one station, in the center of Rocket Tower Plaza, located beneath the landmark Astro Orbiter. The TTA's leisurely pace, lack of long queue lines, and the sneak previews it offers of other more extreme Tomorrowland attractions make it a favorite attraction among repeat visitors. The current record for riding this ride is 50 times, lasting 5 hours and 30 minutes. On the ride, the record holders gave out high fives to random patrons gathering exactly 50. Giving the motto, "5 hours, 50 fight fives."

History and layout[edit]

The WEDWay PeopleMover opened on July 1, 1975, based on the first prototype PeopleMover at Disneyland in California. Because it did not utilize the propulsion system of rotating Goodyear tires used in the original, (instead using linear synchronous motors), Goodyear opted not to sponsor the east coast version. The Edison Electric Institute was the original sponsor of the ride. Instead of an open track with covered cars, this ride was designed the opposite from the Disneyland version: open-air cars with a ceiling over the track. The original narration track was provided by longtime Disney voice, Jack Wagner. In June 1985, his narration was replaced by the voice of ORAC One - "The Commuter Computer", which was used until June 11, 1994, when the attraction received a makeover for the New Tomorrowland.

In the spring of 1994, Tomorrowland underwent a massive refurbishment that changed the theme of the land from being a showcase of future technology to a working city of the future. The WEDway PeopleMover received new physical theming as most of the track was updated from smooth Googie-esque white forms to boldly colored metallic structures.

It was during this refurbishment that the attraction's name changed from the WEDWay PeopleMover to Tomorrowland Transit Authority. A new narration was added, with the tour led by Pete Renaday broadcasting from TTA Central. The new name and narration debuted on June 12, 1994. This 1994 recording remained largely unaltered until October 2, 2009, which came shortly after the ride had reopened following a five month down period during the refurbishment of Space Mountain, when it was replaced with a more general tour narration.

On August 5, 2010, it was announced that the name "PeopleMover" would be re-instated into the ride's name, effectively changing it to Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.[1] However, many people still refer to it as simply the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Changes made in the 1994 narration over its 15 years of use included the following:

  • The replacement of the narration for the south show building in 1996 when Delta Dreamflight became Take Flight. This narration was replaced again when Take Flight was turned into Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in 1998.
  • The 1994 narration for Space Mountain said, "Now arriving in Space Mountain, Tomorrowland's gateway to the Galaxy, Presented by Federal Express," noting Space Mountain's sponsorship by FedEx. When FedEx dropped sponsorship in 2004, the narration was altered to cut off after "Galaxy."
  • A narration was played upon leaving the south show building tunnel mentioning The Timekeeper from 1994 to 2006 when The Timekeeper closed. When that closed, the narration on the TTA mentioning it was removed.

The line is a one-way loop, with a brief stretch at the entrance to Space Mountain operating with two-way traffic. At this point, the trains pass so close to one another that it is possible to reach out and touch hands with people in the oncoming train, though a tongue-in-cheek safety spiel warned guests (specifically visitors from Galaxy M-31) from doing so. The only switches are at Space Mountain, where the main ride track passes through the ride dome and storage tracks run around the outside perimeter. The design of the station platform has guests boarding and disembarking the cars onto a moving platform. This allows the vehicles to remain in motion at all times. The LSMs control the speed of trains, so that they move at the speed of the moving platform in the station and at a moderate pace on the rest of the ride.

Blue, Red, and Green Lines (1994-2009 narration)[edit]

The TTA's backstory in the 1994-2009 version of the ride made reference to the Transit Authority's three different "lines": the Blue Line, the Red Line, and the Green Line. The Blue Line, which constituted the actual ride, was Tomorrowland's intra-city elevated train system. The Red Line took riders 'off-planet' to other destinations in the galaxy, while the Green Line provided local transportation to Tomorrowland's "Hover-Burbs." There was a diorama of a hub station where all three lines intersect located on the second floor of the north show building (Interplanetary Convention Center). Other services provided by the Transit Authority (interstate highway maintenance and long distance space travel) were alluded to in the ride's narration.

1970s-era Attraction Poster

Blue Line stations[edit]

Though only one actually existed, other destinations were announced while riding:

Other locations mentioned in passing, but not as stations on the line included:

Onride viewing windows and dioramas[edit]

Progress City[edit]

In the tunnel above Stitch's Great Escape!, the TTA trains pass a large diorama containing a portion of the Progress City model that originally resided in the upper level of the Carousel of Progress before the attraction was moved from Disneyland to Walt Disney World in 1975. It is only a small portion of the model, which was originally much larger.

Space Mountain[edit]

Since the roller coaster's addition in 1975, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority has offered riders a restricted look down into the two largest of Space Mountain's post-show dioramas.

Original version[edit]

When entering the dome itself, trains passed a blue sign reading Space Mountain and below it, A Journey Through Time and Space. Then the track makes a right hand turn and enters the dome interior. After a short period of darkness, the "Metroliners" (as the trains are called), pass through the lift hill bay of the roller coasters, during which it may be possible to see trains climbing the lift hills to either side. The vehicles then pass two lighted signs reading "Starport: Seven Five" (the themed name of Space Mountain). Then the vehicles proceed around the edge of the dome, during which it is possible to look up and see the projections from the ride. After this, the trains pass over a switch (leading from the storage track), exit the dome, and run along the outside of the dome to return to the railroad bridge.

The neon Space Mountain signs only existed from 2005 to 2009. From 1994 to 2005, a different version was used to reflect FedEx's sponsorship of the ride, featuring the Space Mountain and FedEx logos. From 1985-1994, the signs read RYCA-1 Dream of a New World.

Refurbished ride[edit]

When Space Mountain was refurbished in 2009, the segment of Tomorrowland Transit Authority inside the dome received a number of refurbishments.

Riders still approach the dome as before and cross over the railroad. Replacing the old bold blue Space Mountain letters that had greeted riders since 1975, and the phrase "A Journey through Time and Space," is a new lime-green version of Space Mountain's 1994 ride logo on a blue background that matches up with the shape of the opening permitting for the track to enter the dome.

After entering the dome, riders make a left turn and pass through the lift hill bays just like before. After this, the Space Mountain logos that flanked both sides of the track have been replaced with new logos reflecting a "Starport Seven-Five," (in reference to 1975 being the year that both Space Mountain and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority first opened, and to the new station theme of the refurbished Space Mountain).

The diorama scenes from the post-show follow. While they look virtually the same, a careful observer will notice some new additions to the dioramas.

After passing the dioramas, the trains round a right turn. Until 2009, this was where it was possible to see the Omega track's loading station. New ceilings installed over the stations make it impossible to see boarding Space Mountain riders. The trains on the TTA travel through the outer part of the dome, where it is still possible to hear the screams of riders in the darkness. On the S-turn where the main ride track meets up with the storage track, the trains no longer exit into daylight right away. In an effort to make the ride experience for Space Mountain much darker, the lip for the TTA track exiting the dome was extended almost all the way back to where the track first enters the dome, reducing the amount of daylight that can get into the dome. Once back at the dome entrance, riders return to the double track segment of the ride and the rest of the ride is the same from there.

Space Mountain with work lights on[edit]

This section of the Tomorrowland Transit Authority has gained heavy notoriety among Disney park guests for offering the only easily accessible view of Space Mountain when the dome interior lights are on. Because the two attractions have separate operating systems, the TTA does not close if Space Mountain breaks down, so guests riding the TTA when the dome lights are on can get a rare behind-the-scenes look at the layouts for both tracks, although since 2009 the view has been partially obstructed due to the construction of a roof over the Omega track's loading station.

CircleVision Building/South Show Building windows[edit]

Originally the tunnel through the south show building (now home to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin) had three windows; one and two on the trains' right, three to the trains' left. This building first housed If You Had Wings, and the windows were carefully placed to look down into the Mexico, Jamaica and Trinidad show scenes in such a way as to hide all projectors, lights and other show support equipment.

When If You Had Wings (renamed If You Could Fly) was closed in January 1989 and remodeled into Delta Dreamflight, the windows no longer lined up correctly with show scenes. The first window was replaced with backlit panels depicting the ride's barnstormer scene. Window two looked into the Parisian Excursion scene, from a viewpoint which heavily distorted the tableau's forced perspective. The third window would have had riders looking directly into an extremely bright light and so was completely obscured with plywood and black fabric.

When the ride transitioned yet again into Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in 1998, the first window was fitted with the diorama of the hair salon, and the second left open to look into the new attraction, though concern was expressed over the fact that this view allows TTA riders to look directly into banks of high-powered blacklights.

Hidden Mickey[edit]

There is at least one Hidden Mickey in the diorama of the hair salon. The alien seen getting her hair cut is wearing a belt,which has a belt buckle with a black Mickey face on it.[2]

In the same scene, the control panel for the hair salon itself is a hidden Mickey.

Attraction scenes[edit]

2009 refurbishment[edit]

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority closed on Sunday, April 19, 2009, in line with the major refurbishment of Space Mountain, and reopened on September 12, 2009.[3] The closure was necessary due to extensive construction work planned for the roller coaster, and the inherent safety risks such activity would pose to Transit Authority riders. Additionally, Space Mountain has access doors that open onto the TTA track that can not be safely used while the attraction is running.

During the refurbishment, the TTA beamway was enhanced with new LED lighting that moves in time with the music being played in Tomorrowland. Other enhancements included freshly re-painted trackway and infrastructure, as well as new speakers for the ride audio system.

From October 2, 2009 until November 21, 2009, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority's new narration had a temporary spiel inside Space Mountain that went, "Greetings, travelers! Please pardon our space dust as we work to improve our launch facilities. Remember, your Tomorrowland Transit Authority is committed to all your space travel needs, no matter how far or how fast you may go." The current narration goes, "We're now entering one of the real wonders of our world: Space Mountain. Blast off on a high speed rocket adventure and convene to the cosmos."

2014 Refurbishment: The Ride will undergo a minor refurbishment lasting from February 10th,2014, until March 27th, 2014.


New narration[edit]

On October 2, 2009, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority received a new narration featuring the voice of Mike Brassell. The new narration is retro, as it is given in a similar fashion to the original WEDway Peoplemover narration and includes segments introducing all attractions in Tomorrowland, including the recent Stitch's Great Escape! and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (the 1994-2009 narration had become dated as it did not contain recordings to reference those attractions when they were built). The narration also includes brief audio clips from characters represented by the various attractions (for example, when passing Stitch's Great Escape!, Stitch can be heard). A temporary segment was added inside Space Mountain during refurbishment, which was replaced once Space Mountain opened. The PeopleMover name is revived in the new narration, which refers to the attraction vehicle as the "Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover," in place of the previous "TTA Metroliner" name introduced after the attraction's 1994 refurbishment.[4]

Controversy[edit]

The new narration and the new name have proved to be extremely controversial. Many Disney fans praised the new narration for having references to Tomorrowland attractions that had not been referenced in the 1994 narration (which had no mentions of either the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor or Stitch's Great Escape) and for being much more peaceful than before, citing its similarities to the ORAC-1 narration that the Tomorrowland Transit Authority had used from 1985 to 1994. However, Disney has received numerous complaints criticizing the new narration, both for taking away from the creativity of the previous narration (such as the narration line, "Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow, your party from Saturn has arrived. Please give them a ring," which played as vehicles passed by the Carousel of Progress), and for the narrator's discernible lack of enthusiasm or emotion.

As of June 16, 2010, the "Paging Mr. Morrow" line has returned. However, it now plays when the trains are passing through Space Mountain just before the point where the post-show dioramas can be seen, and instead goes, "Paging Mr. Morrow. Mr. Tom Morrow. Please contact Mr. Johnson in the Control Tower to confirm your Flight to the Moon," paying tribute to the first attraction to occupy the space now occupied by Stitch's Great Escape!. The new narration is also the first place in a Disney park where Bret Iwan, Mickey's new voice actor, can be heard voicing Mickey while passing over Mickey's Star Traders when Mickey responds with his signature laugh and 'That's Right, it's out of this world!'

See also[edit]

References[edit]