Since the beginning the WEDway PeopleMover, now named the Tomorrowland® Transit Authority PeopleMover has been one of my favorite rides in Disney World. Its fun, not intimidating, has no line, and let me experience some of Space Mountain because I was too scared to do the real thing. This simple 10 minute ride also has a lot of interesting aspects.
The WEDway PeopleMover was originally invented to solve an attraction challenge to increase crowd capacity for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, specifically for the Ford Motor Company Pavilion attraction titled Magic Skyway featuring Ford convertibles as the ride vehicles. This conveyer belt system used “embedded electric motors powering urethane wheels along a track every few feet with masonite on the bottom of the vehicles (silent with a great grip). Although the vehicles themselves do not have motors, the urethane wheels spinning below make contact with the masonite mounted on the bottom and push them along.” – Sam Gennawey
Of course this version of the ride was updated for the Disney Parks – Disneyland (1967 – 1995) and Disney World (1975 – present) with a linear synchronous motor. Linear motors have a number of advantages over ordinary motors – “There are no moving parts in these clean, quiet motors.”
There is even one instance of the WEDway PeopleMover OUTSIDE of Disney – in the Houston Airport. The below ground Inter-Terminal Train connects Terminals A,B,Hotel,C,D/E and was launched in 1981. Unfortunately that’s the only WED PeopleMover outside of Disney and is no longer managed by the Disney team. No doubt Walt Disney would have had these as part of the transportation system in his city of EPCOT.
**UPDATE – check out this post from Progress City U.S.A.**
The WEDway PeopleMover pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original vision of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) while you are riding it in the tunnel above Stitch’s Great Escape. Its in this tunnel you can see a diorama of an original part of EPCOT city’s architectural model. Ride Narration
- (1975-1985) Jack Wagner
- (1985-1994) ORAC One – “The Commuter Computer”
Here there was the famous line that made you giggle as you rode passed the Carousel of Progress – “Paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow, your party from Saturn has arrived. Please give them a ring.”
- (1994-2009) Peter Renaday (original Haunted Mansion Ghost)
Its here in 1994 that the name changed from WEDway Peoplemover to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) and the reference to Mr. Tom Morrow is removed.
- (2009 – Present) Mike Brassell (also narrator for Living with the Land)
Now as you pass through Space Mountain you hear “Paging Mr. Morrow. Mr. Tom Morrow. Please contact Mr. Johnson in the Control Tower to confirm your Flight to the Moon”. In addition to the return of Mr. Morrow, in 2010 “Peoplemover” was appended to the new TTA name – Tomorrowland® Transit Authority PeopleMover restoring some faith to us loyal passengers.
Even though my most recent ride on the PeopleMover included some technical difficulties I am still very much looking forward to my next ride. I am disappointed that the 2009 refurb of Space Mountain blocks some of our view of the sneak peak into the ride. I like to use the PeopleMover as a way to psych myself into riding Space Mountain. At the very least I know while others are waiting in line I can whip around on the PeopleMover without a care in the world. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start eating lunch there.