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Disneyland Monorail System
Disneyland Mark VII Monorail Red.jpg
Mark VII Monorail passes over the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage show building
Land Tomorrowland
Manufacturer WED Enterprises,
Attraction type Monorail
Propulsion method Motors on each car
Opening date June 14, 1959
Vehicle type Monorail Trains
Vehicle names Monorail Red, Monorail Blue, Monorail Orange
Guests per car 22
Ride duration approximately 11 minutes
Maximum speed 35 mph (56.3 km/h)
Ticket required E
Max Trains on beam 3
Highest Track Point 41 feet
Lowest Track Point 5 feet
Sponsored by None
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Attraction transfer icon.svg Must transfer from wheelchair

The Disneyland Monorail System is an attraction and transportation system at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, USA. It was the first daily operating monorail in the western hemisphere, and the first in the United States.



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 3 cars each. With the debut of the 4-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 5 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. Unfortunately, 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. [1]

Mark V Monorail Blue travels over the former Submarine Voyage ride which is now the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in Tomorrowland.

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. The notable difference was the loss of the bubble-top driver's area in favor of a streamlined "Learjet" look similar to the Mark IV trains at the Walt Disney World Resort. The new trains also sported closed passenger compartments (with open-able windows) and pneumatic doors. Following the 1985 Disney World monorail fire, a safety handrail was added along the spine of the train, as well as emergency fire exit hatches leading to the roof. The attraction's name remained the "Disneyland Monorail System", as it had been painted on the Mark III trains' skirts. The Mark V trains were built by Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. incorporating bodies that were produced by Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm of Germany. Purple first made her appearance for testing in Autumn of 1986 and began regular operations a few months later. Orange was delivered in late Summer of 1987, followed by Blue in early 1988. The oldest train, Red, was also the last to be removed from the line for refurbishment in the Spring of 1988.

In 1999, the monorail began lengthy periods of closures due to construction of Disney's California Adventure theme park, which the Monorail beamway passed through. Although the beamway's route was not altered, a significant amount of construction was done around the existing beamway, and much of the terrain under the beamway's support columns was regraded, necessitating the closures. Additionally, the Disneyland Hotel station was completely demolished and a new station built in the same location. [2] The system began limited operations in 2000, when the Downtown Disney Station became operational, but a significant portion of the beamway was still unusable due to construction. In 2001, the monorail resumed full capacity operations, passing through the new park, as well as the hotel within the park, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

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 servicing 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 of 2009, and began guest service on April 7, 2009. Monorails Red, Blue, and Orange make up the entire Mark VII fleet.


The original red Mark I ALWEG Monorail train, with one car added, and then designated Mark II. Both trains were created especially for Disneyland. The other train was identical, but blue color. Seen at the Disneyland Hotel station, in August, 1963.
The blue Mark II ALWEG Monorail train. Seen at the Disneyland Park station, in August, 1963
Mark V Monorail in Tomorrowland station.

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. [2] 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.

In the fall of 2006, the Tomorrowland Station was remodeled due to the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage construction. The original speed ramps were removed, and a new concrete ramp was added on the east end of the station to handle the queue and access to the station, with concrete stairs on the west end to handle the exiting Monorail passengers.

All passengers board at a single platform. Leaving Tomorrowland station, the monorail crosses the Disneyland Railroad and continues along Harbor Blvd. on the eastern edge of the park. Turning to enter Disney's California Adventure, it passes Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! and Muppet*Vision 3D. The track then crosses the "Golden Gate Bridge", the gateway to the California Adventure park. Passengers can see Disneyland on the right and Disney's California Adventure on the left. The monorail then passes through Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa then makes a sharp curve to the right and enters the Downtown Disney station, which has a forest theme. The track is also covered with several jungle-themed canopies.

Downtown Disney station has one platform. After a five minute loading, the train leaves Downtown Disney and makes a short loop around the district before crossing above the esplanade between the two parks and heads back to Disneyland. Once inside the park, the monorail crosses the railroad again and goes into a series of sharp bends and curves around Tomorrowland. The tracks travel above the Submarine Lagoon and Autopia. The track actually crosses the lagoon four times. The track then curves around the Matterhorn Bobsleds, giving a view of Fantasyland, then turns left to reenter the Tomorrowland Station.


"Monorail Shop" as it's 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. Monorail Operations at the Disneyland Resort has two separate tractors that allow for the simultaneous towing of two different monorails.[3] In the event of a power failure on the monorail line, the tractors are still operational, as they are powered by on-board diesel engines.


Emergency evacuation

Emergencies requiring train evacuation will be handled differently depending upon the location of the train and the nature of the emergency.

If a train is stopped at a station platform or at the work platform, guests can exit the train onto the platform. Exiting a train is possible even when the doors of the train cars are closed. A cast member outside the car can also forcibly open the rightmost door panel of the car by releasing the air pressure holding that panel closed. The air pressure release is a handle beneath the rectangular center window that is similar in appearance to a car door handle.

If a train is stopped on open beam, then guests evacuate through emergency exits located in the roof of the train. Guests open roof hatches by first removing decorative plastic from the ceiling above a bulkhead footstool and then by lifting open a hinged hatch that will flip across the bulkhead dividing two train cars. Guests evacuate to the roof by climbing through the open hatch onto the top of the train. The bulkheads separating cars are designed as firewalls that will contain a fire within a car to just that car. The open hatch allows guests in the affected car to transfer to an adjacent car where they can safely wait for evacuation by fire response crews.

If the emergency affects the entire train, then guests are evacuated to the surface of the beam. Guests again open the emergency roof hatches, but do not simply move to the adjacent car. Instead, they use a small handrail present along the top of each train car to move all the way to the front of the train. The train's pilot can attach a knotted rope to both the top and the base of the windscreen, and guests use the rope to shimmy down the windscreen to the surface of the beam. They finally start walking along the beam away from the train.

Platform safety

Platform gates are operated manually and remain closed until the next train arrives and cast members determine that is safe to board.

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

Monorail sign in Tomorrowland
  • 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: 13:00
  • 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

Disneyland Monorail trains

Built by ALWEG

  • Mark I : 1959 - 1961
    • 3-car trains
    • colors: red and blue
  • Mark II - 1961 - 1969(Added with track expansion to Disneyland Hotel)
    • 4-car trains
    • Bigger dome on top of front car
    • colors: red, blue and yellow

Built by Walt Disney Imagineering/WED Enterprises

  • Mark III : 1969 - 1987
    • 5-car trains
    • 137 feet (41.8 meters) long
    • colors: red, blue, yellow and green.
  • Mark V : 1987 - 2008
    • 5-car trains
    • Designed by Walt Disney Imagineering
    • Car bodies built by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm of Germany
    • Seats 24 passengers in each of the five cars, plus 7 passengers in the tail cone, and 5 passengers with 1 driver in the nose cone.
    • Total number of passengers per train: 132
    • Utilizes Mk III chassis as re-engineered by Ride & Show Engineering, Inc. of San Dimas,CA.
    • The Mk V was designed to resemble the appearance of the Mark IV series monorails which were operating in the Walt Disney World Resort.
    • colors: red, blue, orange and purple

Built by Dynamic Structures Ltd.

  • Mark VII : 2008 - Present
    • Sleek/Retro design accomplished by installing a MkIII style nose on the existing MkV trains.
    • New island seating configuration, with one row of inward-facing seating at the front and rear ends of each car.
    • The main cabins have a capacity of 22 passengers
    • The tailcone has a capacity of seven passengers while the nosecone has a capacity of five passengers and a pilot.
    • Designed and engineered in-house by Walt Disney Imagineering and TPI Composites
    • Colors: Red, Blue, and Orange.
    • The first Mark VII monorail, Red, was delivered to Disneyland on December 20, 2007.[4] It began service on July 3, 2008.[5]
    • The second Mark VII, Blue, was delivered to Disneyland on April 10, 2008. It began service September 16, 2008.
    • The Third Mark VII, Orange, was delivered to Disneyland on August 14, 2008. It began service on April 7, 2009.


See also

External links


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