Sunday, July 1, 2012

Today in WDW History: WEDWay PeopleMover Opened

The PeopleMover definitely holds a special spot in my heart.  I have very few actual memories from my first visit to Walt Disney World.  It was 1983 and I was 4-years-old, so pictures and family movies have been my main source of memory recall.  But there is one very distinct memory forever burned in my brain, and it was my Grandfather's reaction to Space Mountain.  He was a great sport to come along on the thrill ride with me.  So being the good Grandson that I am, after shaking him up on Space Mountain I was more than willing to dial down the intensity for the next attraction.  The WEDway PeopleMover was just what the doctor ordered.  Not only did it give my Grandparents a breather from the the thrills of chasing a little me around the Magic Kingdom, but it peaked the interest of the budding sightseer in me being able to tour around Tomorrowland.

Although the PeopleMover has gone through a few different names and voice over changes, I'm going to be focusing on the original attraction that opened 37 years ago.

The WEDway PeopleMover opened on July 1, 1975.  It has 32 trains (with 5 six-person cars per train) that run on a 5,484 foot track around Tomorrowland at an average of 6.84mph.  Because it didn't utilize the propulsion system of rotating Goodyear tires used in the Disneyland version, (instead using 629 linear synchronous induction motors), Goodyear opted not to sponsor the Magic Kingdom version.  Instead the Edison Electric Institute was the original sponsor of the ride.  The narration track was originally provided by longtime Disney voice, Jack Wagner (the full narration script can be found below).

When the PeopleMover first opened in 1975 it was an E-Ticket attraction.  But was switched to a D-Ticket a year later, where it would remain until the letter tickets stopped in 1982.

Here is a Magic Kingdom map from early 1975 showing the soon to be opened WEDway PeopleMover track.

The Original PeopleMover Narration Script from July 1, 1975

(As the PeopleMover cars move out of the station located underneath the Star Jets platform, an easy-listening music track plays from speakers overhead, accompanied by Jack Wagner's narration.)

Jack Wagner:  The Edison Electric Institute, for America's investor-owned electric companies, welcomes you aboard the WEDway PeopleMover.  On this clean, quiet, electric powered ride of tomorrow, the PeopleMover will be your front row seat for a Grand Circle tour of Tomorrowland.  Along the way on your mile-long journey, you'll preview many attractions looking into the future and see some of the ways electric energy serves mankind. Now and tomorrow.

(The PeopleMover now moves toward the building housing Mission To Mars.)

Jack Wagner:  Inside the pavilion we're now approaching is Mission to Mars.  Where space travelers explore one of our solar system's most mysterious planets.  The rocketship journey leaves every few minutes for outer space.  And across the way is another journey. A Grand Circle-Vision tour of "America The Beautiful."

(The PeopleMover now enters a tunnel where on the left side, an elaborate model of a city of the future is housed.  This is the "Progress City" model that was originally built for the post-show of Disneyland's version of "Carousel Of Progress" that ran from 1967-1973.)

Jack Wagner:  And now sit back in your seat as the PeopleMover presents a preview of the future in the city of tomorrow.  Man's goal of a better place to live, work and play.  This city is a dream.  To make it real, we will need to use our energy resources wisely, not wastefully.  Today and tomorrow. And now, sit back in your seat... we rely on you, as much as you rely on us...

(The PeopleMover offers a look down into the Mickey's Mart store on the right before exiting the tunnel.)

Jack Wagner:  And now the PeopleMover presents a panoramic view of Tomorrowland and the Grand Prix Raceway.  And just ahead is the towering symbol of the Space Age, the spectacular Space Mountain.

(The sounds of cars moving along the Grand Prix Raceway can be heard above the continuing musical track as the PeopleMover draws closer to Space Mountain.)

Jack Wagner:  We're now entering one of the new wonders of our World.  In a moment, we'll preview the Home of Future Living.  And then, Space Mountain's thrilling rocket race through the universe.

(PeopleMover riders see a "Space Mountain" and RCA symbol on the side of the building as they enter the tunnel that takes them inside.  They first look down and see a glimpse of the "Home Of Future Living" postshow walkthrough, and then, as the sounds of screaming Space Mountain passengers fill the air, are able to look down and see the loading area and above them, the coasters headed up on the beginning of their journey.  The darkened effects of stars and swirling galaxies seen by riders of Space Mountain can also be seen by PeopleMover riders during this portion.  Finally, the PeopleMover exits Space Mountain on a track opposite to the one it came in.)

Jack Wagner:  The rocket ride through Space Mountain is really out of this world.  But you can also see the Home of Future Living inside Space Mountain without taking the rocket ride.  Now, as we leave Space Mountain, overhead you can see another form of transportation, the Skyway.  Carrying you high above the Grand Prix Raceway and other adventures.

(The PeopleMover heads back over the Grand Prix Raceway and heads toward the Carousel Of Progress theater.)

Jack Wagner:  You're riding aboard a brand new concept in electric transportation.  The first to use electric linear induction motors.  There are no moving parts in these clean, quiet motors.  Across the way is the Contemporary Resort.  Running right through the hotel is the Walt Disney World Monorail.  Another electric powered transit system here in our Vacation Kingdom.

(The PeopleMover now moves around the Carousel Of Progress theater.)

Jack Wagner:  We're now moving past the Carousel Of Progress.  Where four warm and humorous families welcome you into their homes of yesterday and today, starting way back at the turn of the century.  First presented at the New York World's Fair, this famous theater-in-the-round celebrates how progress through electricity has contributed to better living.

(The PeopleMover now approaches a tunnel alongside the building for If You Had Wings.)

Jack Wagner:  Inside the pavilion we're now entering, you'll travel to vacation ports of call through the magic of "If You Had Wings."

(On the right side of the tunnel are two windows looking directly down into scenes from If You Had Wings, first the "Caribbean Port" sequence, and then the large film projection of swimmers on Dunns River Falls in Jamaica.  The theme music from this part of the ride completes the aura of the PeopleMover's biggest preview of a Tomorrowland attraction.)

Singers:  If you had wings! If you had wings!
If you had wings, had wings, had wings, had wings.
You could fly to Bermuda, like a flying fish.
Have a ball on a cruise ship, or catch fish if you wish.
If you had wings! If you had wings!
If you had wings, had wings, had wings, had wings.

(The third and final preview window of If You Had Wings, on the left side, looks down on the New Orleans scene where fireworks are visible. The PeopleMover then exits the tunnel for its final leg back to the station.)

Jack Wagner:  In the distance, you will see Cinderella castle.  Those of you who have always wanted an invitation to dine in the castle, will find King Stefan's Banquet Hall inside.  Now past the Circle-Vision Theater, where you can see "America The Beautiful" as you've never seen it before.  All around you in a full-circle motion picture.

(The PeopleMover now approaches the station.)

Jack Wagner:  Now as we approach the PeopleMover station, our Grand Circle tour of Tomorrowland is coming to an end, but not to a stop, aboard this transportation system that never stops.  On behalf of the Edison Electric Institute for your electric company, we hope you've enjoyed your trip aboard this electric transportation system of tomorrow, here today.

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