The Monorail is one of the most iconic attractions in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The first version of the Monorail began operation in Disneyland in June 1959. While the Monorail was billed as Disney’s transportation of the future, it wasn’t the first demonstration of futuristic land transportation at Disneyland.
Can you tell me what attraction preceded the Monorail as a futuristic transportation demonstration in Disneyland?
And the answer is:
The Viewliner Train of Tomorrow
For a short period of time – from June 1957 through September 1958 – the Viewliner Train of Tomorrow ran alongside a portion of the Disneyland Railroad main line.
The 2 ft 6 in narrow-gauge train was billed by Disneyland as “the fastest miniature train in the world.” Two separate trains, both designed by Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, and each running along its own track, were built as scale replicas of General Motors’ futuristic Aerotrain. The trains traveled along circuits through parts of Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, at times alongside the Disneyland Railroad. The Tomorrowland train featured cars that were named for the planets, while the cars of the Fantasyland train were named after various Disney characters.
Both Viewliner trains were powered by gas engines, and reached peak speeds of 30 mph. Neither Walt nor his Imagineers intended on the Viewliner being a long-term attraction, but both were optimistic that the railway would be a placeholder until an even newer and more advanced train system could replace it.
The attraction operated until September 30, 1958 when construction began on the Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage. The Disneyland Monorail System ultimately took the place of the Viewliner on June 14, 1959, making the Viewliner one of the shortest-lived rides in Disneyland history.
Fun fact: The railroad ties from the attraction were later used to build the Deer Lake Park & Julian Railroad, a 3-foot narrow-gauge backyard railroad owned by Disney animator and train aficionado Ollie Johnston at his vacation home near Julian, California.