Wuppertal, Germany

Later in the trip, Walt and Lillian were driving north along a major roadway near Cologne, Germany when a monorail train suddenly crossed over their heads. This monorail was very different from the one in Wuppertal. This train rode on top of steel-reinforced concrete beam. Walt was stunned. He wanted to learn more so he drove right to the administrative building to see what he could find out. He learned that the Alweg Corporation was testing the monorail. Alweg was owned and named after the wealthy Dr. Axel Wenner Gren. The company has been working on monorails since 1949. Walt was very excited to have found the idea behind his monorail for Disneyland. The success of this transportation system is a principle reason why Walt thought that EPCOT could work as a city.

Roger Broggie and Bob Gurr modified the suspension technology so that the trains could climb the maximum grades and make it through tight turning radii. Not only did they want to showcase the technology but they also wanted to provide an interesting ride.

At first, the monorail trains where going to be built in Manheim, Germany. However, due to the time it would take to ship the trains to Disneyland and other issues, it was decided to have Standard Carriage Works in Los Angeles build the Mark I version. In order to speed up the manufacture of the Two Monorails, construction was soon moved toth scale.

took less than one year. In that short time span the Imagineers engineered a functional suspension system, designed a beautiful train, installed the track, and tested the system so that it would be safe for the millions of passengers who would soon be riding. Imagine Disney trying to work on that timeline in this day and age.

The attraction opened on June 14, 1959 and was originally called the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System. The initial track was a winding .8-mile loop and became the first daily operating monorail in the western hemisphere. The Monorail also became the first to cross a public street in 1961 when the beamway was extended to a total length of 2.5 miles and a station was built at the Disneyland Hotel. With a second stop, the Monorail had transformed from ride to a full fledged transportation system.

Disney would continually upgrade the technology and soon the Mark II and Mark III versions of the monorail would come online. A major styling change would come in 1987 with the introduction of the Mark V model. Instead of looking like Buck Rodgers, the trains would resemble Gulfstream executive jets. In 2008, Disney introduced the retro-looking Mark VII model. The Disneyland system was granted a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers in December 1986.

Art for the Mark IV Monorails

When Walt Disney World opened, they got their own exclusive trains called the Mark IV. These trains featured air conditioning, are wider and longer than the Disneyland trains. The Orlando trains would be upgraded to the Mark VI model in 1989.

Save Rapid Transit and Improve Metropolitan Environments The Alweg Monorail Company agreed with Bradbury on the merits of the technology and proposed a demonstration system for the City of Los Angeles. After the success of the system at Disneyland and the experienced gained at the 1962 Seattle Century 21 Exposition, Alweg was looking for a way to expand the business. So, on June 4, 1963, President of the Alweg Rapid Transit Systems, Sixten Holmquist, approached the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and made them an offer.

Los Angeles Times When Walt decided to build a city, he figured the Monorail would become the transportation backbone for the entire project. At Disneyland, Walt proved it could function reliably; provide a high level of service, and he wanted to integrate the technology into his city.

We invite you to join Sam and MiceChat at the Huntington Gardens in July
  • David Sloane, Professor, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
  • Hassan Haghani, Community Development Director, City of Glendale
  • Vaughan Davies, Principal and Director of Urban Design, AECOM
  • Neal Payton, Principal, Torti Gallas and Partners

Cost is $40; for students with valid student ID, $20

Fee includes coffee and pastries, lunch, parking, and day pass to the Huntington

Seating is limited; please RSVP to:
Alice Lepis, Secretary
alepis@prodigy.net (preferred) or at 818.769.4179 no later than
Tuesday, July 5, 2011