Archive for October, 2009

Oct 14 2009

Tomorrowland Transit Authority (Magic Kingdom)

Published by under Orlando Articles,Theme Parks



The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is probably not high on many people’s list of ‘must-do’s’ when they visit Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. In fact, you may not even have noticed it, as there are a hundred and one other more exciting things to do, but it is a favourite of mine. Why should that be you may be asking? Well, its not a white knuckle ride, it is not thrilling or exciting, and it rarely has a queue, but after trekking round the parks in the heat I love to sit and relax for 10 minutes or so in reasonable comfort, and in the cool – and at least it allows me to take the weight off my poor old feet! It also gives me the chance to have a superb view of the park from high above the crowds, where I can take some great photos. Not only that, but you get to see inside Space Mountain, and if there aren’t many people waiting in the line they don’t make you get off, and you can sit still and go round again with no queuing – bliss!

The TTA or ‘WEDway People Mover,’ as it was originally called, began its life in Disneyland, California. Walt Disney thought of it as more than just a ride. He had a vision that the People Mover, sponsored by Goodyear, combined with a monorail, could help solve the problems of congestion in cities. In 1967 it was innovative, and included a unique queuing process in which guests boarded a speed-ramp – or what we would call an inclined conveyor belt, or moving walkway – which transported them up to a second boarding area level.  When guests got off the ramp they were deposited onto a stationary platform, but this was surrounded by a large rotating turntable which turned at the same speed as the cars. Because the inside of the disc moved more slowly than the outside ring it enabled guests to make an easy transition into the cars, which didn’t need to slow down significantly in order to be boarded. which werThe little cars were powered by small rubber tyres made by Goodyear which were embedded along the track. About every nine feet or so hundreds of electric motors power these tyres as they press against fibreglass epoxy plates which are positioned on the underside of the cars. Each train had four cars holding four passengers each, and their top speed was a mere 6 miles an hour. Astonishingly the PeopleMover had a capacity of 4.600 guests per hour.

The TTA at Magic Kingdom in Orlando was somewhat different, as it was powered by linear induction motors, not moving wheels embedded in the track. This made the ride much smoother. It was not included in the first stages of the park, and indeed, it was not until July 1975 that it opened, six months after Space Mountain.  The Disneyland People Mover had cars with individual roofs to protect them from the elements, but it was decided that, because of Florida’s weather, this would not be sufficient protection from inclement weather.  They added a fifth car to each train, and covered the entire track. Unlike the Californian ride, the Florida attraction travelled along the same elevation throughout its journey. The Carousel of Progress was dismantled at Disneyland ready to be shipped to Florida, but they decided that the large model of Progress City, the prototype of EPCOT, should be seen whilst riding the ‘WEDway People Mover’ in Florida. It was much too large to fit the available space so it had to be drastically reduced in size. In 1994 it reopened as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which is how it is now known.

Over the years little has changed, and the TTA has recently undergone a refit, with a new coat of paint and different coloured lights around the track. There is also a new audio track which has replaced the original narrative. Some people will miss the jokes, but the narrative points out the various sights along the way. Space Mountain has been closed for some time for a major refit, and as the TTA passed through it, it too, had to be closed. However, with Space Mountain nearing completion for a re-opening date of November, 2009, it was felt that it was sufficiently ready for the TTA to reopen. Whilst it will take you through several of the attractions such as Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin, as yet, Space Mountain is still boarded up.

So next time your feet are aching and you feel like a sit down in the cool, take a ride on the TTA.

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