The Train of the Future…(for a little while)
Ever heard of the Disneyland Viewliner?….No? Many people haven’t. It is priveleged to be the attraction at Disneyland that lasted the least amount of time at the park. The Fantasyland and Tomorrowland areas of Disneyland had lots of new attractions under construction in the late 1950’s and the Viewliner was one of those many attractions. So what is the Viewliner exactly and why did it leave the park so quickly?
The Disneyland Viewliner opened on June 26th, 1957 as an attraction that spanned both Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. The Viewliner was created by Imagineering legend Bob Gurr and was nicknamed “the fastest miniature train in the world” and “the train of the future”. The attraction was going to be so popular that two trains were built for two seperate tracks. The trains themselves were designed to look similar to General Motor’s Aerotrain. The tracks were set alongside the Disneyland railroad, intended to show the future and past of the locomotive industry.
The two different trains were distinct and seperated according to their home. The “Fantasyland” train was painted blue and each car was named after a different Disney animated character. The “Tomorrowland” train was red and each car was named after a different planet. There are several videos of the red train riding on it’s track, including a video of Walt Disney himself at the helm.
Unlike many of the attractions at Disneyland, past or present, the Disneyland Viewliner did not have a sponsor hosting the attraction. Instead, imagineers built the attraction with money made by the company in the machine shop at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Despite the lack of sponsorship, that is not the reasoning for the attractions ultimate demise.
Walt Disney was always a man to be looking toward the future and for the next great invention. Unfortunately for the Viewliner, Walt came up with the Monorail. The track area used for the Viewliner was seen as the perfect fit for Walt’s new futuristic form of transportation and the Viewliner gave it’s last ride on September 15th, 1958. that puts it’s time of operation just short of 14 months at the park. Construction quickly began and the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail System opened in June of 1959.
For many years the old Viewliner trains sat in a storage shed in the backstage area of Disneyland, but by the 1970s, imagineers came to understand that there was no longer a use for the trains at the park and the Monorail was there to stay. The trains were then cut up, used as scraps, and sent to junkyards. Will we ever see another attraction like this? Most likely not. With the Monorail still being the standard for Disneyland’s futuristic transportation, and the possibilities of the Wedway People Mover either coming back to Disneyland, or finally being long forgotten in a future refurbishment of Tomorrowland, the need for another mode of transportation in or out of Tomorrowland doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s list of priorities. The Viewliner will still live on in pictures and videos, but that seems to be the only way we will ever see the Viewliner again.
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