Guests are again able to ride aboard monorails at the Disneyland Resort. This morning, Monorail Blue and Monorail Red again began transporting guests over the skies of the Disneyland Resort. The monorails had not been transporting guests since the spring of 2020 when the Disneyland Resort closed due to the pandemic.
DAPS MAGIC team member Steven was on hand this morning to go aboard the monorails for a ride aboard the highway in the sky. Below are photos and videos that he shot.
History of Disneyland’s Monorail System
The monorail original opened at Disneyland on June 14, 1959. This wasn’t the original planned opening date, however. As Disneyland was being developed, Walt Disney hoped that the monorail would be a part of Tomorrowland on opening day. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t the right version yet available to make this happen. Eventually, the Alweg Corporation was found and collaborated with to make the dream a reality. Bob Gurr would design the monorails and the Alweg Corporation designed them. The attraction would open as the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System. Originally there were two Mark 1 monorail trails, Red and Blue. Each of these consisted of three cars. At the time, it was simply a sightseeing attraction for guests to get a view from above of Tomorrowland.
However, in 1961 the Monorail station was expanded to accommodate the new Mark II monorail which had four cars. This also marked the debut of the Gold Monorail. The monorail fleet then consisted of Gold, Red, and Blue Monorails. These monorails also had a larger bubble dome at the front of them. The track for the monorail was expanded to 2.5 miles and a second platform at the Disneyland Hotel was added. At this time, the monorail went from being a sightseeing attraction to a form of transportation.
1968 brought the Mark III to Disneyland. These monorail trains were larger than those before and had five cars on them. This was an effort to increase capacity. This again required that the monorail station be extended to accommodate the new trains. Monorail Green also joined the fleet of red, blue, and gold monorails.
For many years starting in 1969, guests had the option of two versions of a monorail ride. One involved park admission and guests could use the monorail to enter or exit the park from the Disneyland Hotel. The other would allow guests to be seated in a specific part of the monorail and go for a tour to Tomorrowland and back but not disembark from the monorail when it arrived at Disneyland.
In the 1980s, the monorail fleet began to show its age. One by one, the monorails were taken off the line and then rebuilt as Mark V monorails. This started in 1985 with the Mark III Monorail Green. It was completely stripped down to chassis and then rebuilt as a Mark V monorail and became Monorail Purple when it returned to Disneyland in late 1986. The Mark V monorail fleet consisted of red, blue, orange, and purple monorails. They also looked very similar to Walt Disney World’s Mark IV monorail fleet.
After the upgrade of the fleet, in 1994 the monorail beam was also moved. This was to accommodate the building of the Indiana Jones Adventure show building. In 1999, monorail operations were disrupted again as Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney District were built. During this time, the Disneyland Hotel station would be demolished (along with the buildings around it) and the new Downtown Disney station was built. This led to a closure of the monorail during this construction period as well. The station opened in 2000 and the monorail had limited shuttle operations back and forth to Disneyland. It did not resume the full circle route until 2001. This would give guests a look at the new Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Grand California Resort & Spa as they cruised above and through the park and hotel on the monorail. During this time, portions of the monorail track were rerouted to accommodate the additions to the Disneyland Resort.
The upgrade from the Mark V monorails to the current Mark VII monorails began in the mid-2000s. As was done before, the trains were taken off the route and refurbished one at a time. The first to be removed was Monorail Orange in 2004. The new design was meant to make the Mark VII monorail look similar to the classic Mark III monorail. The first Mark VII monorail to arrive at the Disneyland Resort was Monorail Red. This happened on December 20, 2007. It would undergo months of testing and redesigns before first taking guests aboard on July 3, 2008. Monorail Blue would go into service taking guests aboard on September 16, 2008. Monorail Orange would follow and begin transporting guests on April 7, 2009.
The current fleet of Mark VII monorails has continued to transport guests around the Disneyland Resort for over 10 years. During this time, they have been decorated for various celebrations at the Disneyland Resort. For the opening of Cars Land, they received eyes and a wrap to make them look like they lived in the world of Pixar’s Cars. Monorail Red was known as Manny Monorail during this time. Monorail Blue became Mandy Monorail. Monorail Orange was known as Mono Monorail. Currently, the monorails have Mickey Mouse wraps on the side of them. These were added to the monorails for Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday as part of the “Get Your Ears On” celebration. Previously, they also received wraps in 2018 for Pixar Fest.
The return of the monorail trains to the Disneyland Resort is one more step towards “normalcy” for Disney fans. They aren’t just a mode of transportation, but they also add energy to the skies of Disneyland. They are a beloved icon at the Disneyland Resort that will receive a welcome return to guests as they get to again fly aboard the highway in the sky.