Friday, September 07, 2007

This just in from Jim Korkis:

[Lainey wrote in to ask about the Midget Autopia (and make sure you visit her website) and it made me realize that I am of a different generation and having grown up as a kid in Southern California I got to experience a Disneyland that disappeared much too quickly and quietly over the years.. So here is a short history of Autopia.

When Disneyland opened in 1955 there was an Autopia in Tomorrowland and it was a huge hit. To satisfy the younger kids who couldn't reach the pedals, Walt installed a Junior Autopia on the area where the Mickey Mouse Club Circus used to be on July 23, 1956. The Imagineers cleverly fastened a block of wood to the gas pedal to help out the smaller drivers. However, the demand for Autopia was so high that Walt closed the Junior Autopia in September 1958 and changing the track and the cars, it opened as the full size Fantasyland Autopia on June 6,1959.

Ah, but Walt didn't forget the younger drivers. He opened yet another Autopia, the Midget Autopia on April 13, 1957 and it ran until April 3, 1966. No adults were allowed to ride along with their kids. It was the first Disney Autopia on a track and each car had two steering wheels (not connected to the actual wheels) so both youngsters in the car can pretend to drive. Since I had two younger brothers, they were always sent off in one car and I followed all by myself in my own car and my parents have a slide of me using both steering wheels to drive. When you are a kid you can never be too careful.

So at one time, there were three different Autopias running at once at Disneyland.

The Midget Autopia was removed to make way for "It's A Small World" but Walt donated everything to Marceline, Missouri so the attraction could be the centerpiece of their Walt Disney Park. It ran for several years before going into storage and disrepair.

Most people don't realize that the Midget Autopia was going to be just one of several attractions in an area called "Mousekatopia" that would feature rides all scaled down for very little kids. There was to be a helicopter ride, a boat ride and of course the Midget Autopia. It was all described in a December 27,1956 memo. However, "Mousekatopia" is just another anecdote in the Disneyland That Never Was.]


Anonymous said...

As a kid raised in Marceline Missouri in the 70's, I fondly remember playing on the inoperative midget cars and playing hide 'n seek in the tunnel where the track ran through. The cars disappeared for several years, but I did hear most of the cars were recovered and restored. the Midget Autopia track in Marceline is located a few yards southeast of the municipal pool.

Lainey Schallock said...

Thanks so much for giving such a great anecdote to help answer my question. I had no idea a whole little tiny-town called "Mousekatopia" was in the works. I'd love to see some concept sketches and more information on that. I guess that essentially answers your question from the post above: I'd love to see a book about the Disneyland that Never Was. Thanks Jim and thanks Didier for posting.

Anonymous said...

is it true that even Hitler enjoyed watching Disney cartoons??

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Didier Ghez said...

This is incorrect. Mussolini did, though.