Overlooked Attractions: Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover

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Tomorrowland Transit Authority

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is one of those divisive Walt Disney World attractions. You have one group, let’s arbitrarily call them “Group Cool, Attractive, Sophisticated and Well-Mannered Geniuses” who loves the PeopleMover, and another group, let’s arbitrarily call them “Group Brown Storm-Cloud” who finds the PeopleMover dull or boring. As was the case in the previous installments of this series on Country Bear Jamboree and Carousel of Progress, I will be “unbiased” in my review of the PeopleMover to facilitate comments and feedback from both groups.

TouringPlans.com’s attraction page describes the PeopleMover as “A once-unique prototype of a linear-induction-powered mass-transit system, the PeopleMover’s tramlike cars carry riders on a leisurely tour of Tomorrowland, including a peek inside Space Mountain. In ancient times, the attraction was called the WEDway PeopleMover (“WED” being the initials of one Walter Elias Disney).” This overview isn’t necessarily unfair, but it fails to capture the spirit of the amazing attraction that is the PeopleMover.

To understand the spirit of the PeopleMover, you must know its history. The history of the PeopleMover is something that has long intrigued me. I don’t have the space or expertise to properly detail the fascinating history of this under-appreciated attraction, but you should certainly check out this page at Yesterland detailing Disneyland’s PeopleMover (look at those gorgeous photos!), this page at Daveland describing more history (and photos!), this page at Walt Dated World that shares information about Walt Disney World’s WEDway PeopleMover, and this page at AllEars with more history and photos. If reading those pages doesn’t give you a new-found appreciation for the PeopleMover, I don’t know what will.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t appreciate the historical significance of attractions (and I can appreciate this; after all, a wise man once quipped that Disneyland shouldn’t be a museum…I assume that also applies to Walt Disney World), there are some other reasons why you should appreciate the PeopleMover. The primary reason is the delightful and relaxing tour of Tomorrowland that it offers. Not only do you get to see some incredible views of Tomorrowland, but you get to see little vignettes, a model of Progress City, and you are offered a glimpse inside attractions and shops along the way. Disney has supplemented what would otherwise be a simple and relaxing trip through Tomorrowland on a futuristic transportation network with some entertaining visuals and an enjoyable narration.

The secondary reason, as touched upon above, is because the PeopleMover is the ultimate attraction for relaxation. It typically is a walk-on attraction that lasts nearly 15 minutes, and you can’t go wrong with that wait to attraction duration ratio! Once you’re aboard, you can kick up your feet and simply enjoy the park as you pass it by. You’re off your feet, away from the crowds, and you get an opportunity to really appreciate the beauty of the park. The PeopleMover offers quite possibly the most beautiful view of Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World, and watching the sunset over the Castle as you pass the entrance to Tomorrowland on the PeopleMover is truly magical. Similarly, at night when the neon glows in Tomorrowland, the PeopleMover takes on a totally different feel. To not enjoy the PeopleMover at night is distinctly unpatriotic.

Signature Shot - Hazy Future?

If, despite my compelling and irrefutable argument above, you think that you’re still in “Group Brown Storm-Cloud,” you actually do like the PeopleMover. Trust me. This is because the PeopleMover adds a kinetic energy to Tomorrowland, and in so doing, enhances the experience of every guest, whether they know it or not. Kinetic energy in the parks is a sort of incalculable x-factor that enhances the guest experience through little details that give life to the park. Things as simple as water features, fixtures, theming, and (the obvious) outwardly visible motion-based attractions can all give kinetic energy to the park. A good example of kinetic energy is the Rivers of America at Disneyland. There, you have two boats, plus Davy Crockett canoes all on the same waters. Even if guests experience none of these attractions, they bring life and a certain atmosphere to the water area there. The same can be said for Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, where the criss-crossing transportation attractions of Casey Jr., the Storybook Land Canal Boats, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Autopia, and the Disneyland Monorail (and at one time, the PeopleMover) all operate in close proximity to one another.

Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom has its own special kinetic energy, thanks to the lighting, music, details like the Tomorrowland Palms, Astro Orbitor, and the PeopleMover. Guests may not be able to put their fingers on what gives this area of the park a special energy, but it’s omnipresent in Tomorrowland and enhances the guest experience. So if you’ve ever been happy as you’ve walked through Tomorrowland, you have the PeopleMover to thank. Turns out some of you might have been unknowingly enjoying it after all, right?!

Tomorrowland - As The World Turns

As is probably apparent by this point, I really enjoy the PeopleMover. It’s one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World, and admittedly, a lot of this is based upon my nostalgia for Tomorrowland ’94. (I am one of those rare PeopleMover fans who actually prefers the Tomorrowland Transit Authority name!) Now, this is not to say that I think the PeopleMover is perfect. I’m not a fan of the current narration, which I find bland and sedate as compared to the previous version that was more rich and gave additional flavor to the attraction. I also think that there are a lot of areas of dead space that Disney could enhance with vignettes or special effects for minimal amounts of money (even if only with some of those cool posters you see throughout Tomorrowland–from design to installation the costs of adding things like that would be de minimis).  Enhancements to the narration and some of the vignettes would make this a perfect attraction in my eyes.

I can understand why some people overlook or don’t pay much attention to the PeopleMover. It’s not thrilling, it’s not incredibly themed, and it’s not cutting edge. People with limited time on Touring Plans bursting at the seams with headliner attractions simply might feel they don’t have the time to “throw away” on a mundane trip around Tomorrowland. However, if you do have the time but have yet to give the PeopleMover a chance, I’d encourage you to slow down, hop aboard the PeopleMover, and really absorb the sights and sounds of the Magic Kingdom as you glide by. You might exit with a new appreciation for the details and architecture of the park!

So what do you think? Are you a PeopleMover Person, or do you think I’m seriously over-hyping a lackluster attraction that slowly circles Tomorrowland? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Posted on May 18, 2012

34 Responses to “Overlooked Attractions: Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover”

  • I LOVE the TTA Peoplemover. I will ride multiple times a day, multiple days while on vacation, but my favorite time to ride is immediately following Wishes when the park is open late. It’s a great way to wind down and relax instead of facing the mass exodus. Great post on a great attraction!

  • I don’t feel like I’ve started my WDW vacation without at least one ride on the TTA.

  • LOVE the TTA Peoplemover!!! Just would not be a trip to Magic Kingdom for me with out several rides. I love being above everyone and getting a birds eye view. Give my feet a well needed rest. On hot days the breeze in your face while moving is great. Love riding at night and seeing all the beautiful colors of the park. Time when they are not busy I have asked to stay on it and have ridden it 2 or 3 times in a row. Great post and great pictures!!

  • I love this attraction! On our first family trip last month, I made it a point to make sure we were in Tomorrowland in the evening, to be able to take in the futuristic quality, with all the bright lights etc. I enjoyed the TTA PM more than I thought I would, smoothly making our way through Tomorrowland, taking in all the cool sights from above. It was sooo soothing, and relaxing, and the breeze in your face just chills you out.

  • The People Mover is one of my favorites and really helps a Tomorrowland that’s not what it was in the ’80s and ’90s. I recently visited Disneyland and loved it, but the one thing that felt weird was no People Mover in Tomorrowland. It seems even odder because the tracks are still there. I like that TL, but it would be even better with a People Mover that functioned.

  • Great post, Tom. The TTA is one of my favorite parts of the park and while it isn’t a headline attraction, it is part of what makes the Magic Kingdom, well, the Magic Kingdom. In fact, one of the larger, more difficult items on my “Disney Bucket List” (which includes ultimate tours, several behind-the-scenes tours and unique dining experiences) is riding TTA while the lights are on for maintenance at Space Mountain.

    Don’t judge me.

    • Why would I judge you for that?! I consider it a noble goal.

      That said, it’s not as cool as you might think. :/

      • Well, that may lower it a little on the bucket list priority chart, but I still want to see it. And, in case anybody cared, #1 on the list is a behind the scenes look at Haunted Mansion. But, I’m going to need to win the lottery for that one, I’m afraid.

  • by Kim (horizons_pa) on May 18, 2012, at 12:08 pm EDT

    PM is a favorite of mine for a variety of reasons (most of which you so eloquently summed up in your fabulous post). Relaxing and completely WDW mood capturing- I would not consider a visit to WDW without a few trips on the TTA. Thanks for the post and all the wonderful links for more info. :)

    • I really hope other people check out those sites. The PeopleMover is really a huge part of Disney history.

      • by Kim (horizons_pa) on May 19, 2012, at 11:31 am EDT

        Tom, by clicking through some of your provided links, I ultimately ended up (we know how that happens-link to link) emailing back and forth with Ron Schneider yesterday and sharing some of my Dreamfinder/Figment photos with him!!! How wonderful…thanks again!!

  • On our last trip to WDW, my husband and I traveled with his brother’s family. The oldest boy was in fifth grade at the time. He insisted on joining us and leaving his family behind. We took him to experience all of our favorites: TTA, Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, etc. This was not his first trip to Disney, but he had never been to any of them because his parents didn’t care for them. However, he discovered his love for them was just as great as ours!

  • by Debbie from Chicago on May 18, 2012, at 12:22 pm EDT

    Dare I say it…I actually forgot to ride the Peoplemover last year. But, having said that, I love it for all of the reaasons you stated and really it reminds me of my childhood. It’s a great place to take a break. My family really didn’t spend much time in Tomorrowland last year, but I will make it a point this year and ride the peoplemover.

  • Also if Space Mountain is down, you can ride the PeopleMover and see inside Space Mountain when all the lights are on. This has happened to us several times. It is really weird to see the roller coaster.

  • Love it. I just wish you could see more of Space Mountain in the dark section.

    I had a wonderful evening ride on the people mover with my 6 year old son and 67 year old father in Feb. Honestly, it was one of the highlights of the trip and a memory I hope to hold on to for a very long time.

  • At WDW right now and really disappointed that TTA closes for EMH. We usually wind over to TTA after Wishes – just in time to see the crew come down the ramp and close the ride. It’s a must do for us. And seeing Space Mtn from TTA during maintenance was to me surprising and disappointing.

  • Love to ride the People Mover with our 3 year old while other members of family are enjoying Space Mountain. We get to rest and enjoy the unique sites. Last visit we rode 3 times in a row, she got a nap! Then I go ride Space Mountian while daughter rides People Mover again (hopefully still napping) with another family member.

  • Thank you for this post! It helped make my Friday after a long week at work. I would much rather be sitting on the Peoplemover right now than my desk chair. Sigh… Anyways, my children love the Peoplemover too so now it’s a must ride for the whole family! And yes, Disneyland seems sort of empty without it. Maybe one day they will bring a back (we can dream, right?!?!).

  • by Andrew Drummond on May 18, 2012, at 2:37 pm EDT

    I can appreciate the post, and while I harbour no hatred of this attraction, I am not a lover like most of you.

    However, I really do like the looks into the attractions and I will ride this at least once if only to see the Progress City model.

    And I love the point about the added ambiance that TTA (how I always think of it) gives Tomorrowland.

  • The PeopleMover is the best. It’s one thing my entire family can agree on. Everyone loves it and it’s a great way to relax. I could ride it all day.

  • I am a cool, Attractive, Sophisticated and Well-Mannered Genius (thanks for the opportunity to say that). I love the people mover and I ride it multiple times on my visits to the MK.

    DL’s kinetic energy really did change after the removal and I am glad to see someone else noticed that. Once upon a time, DL’s Tomorrowland used to buzz with energy. While the new Star Tous and Buzz bring crowds to the land, the energy feels stagnant to me. Peoplemover is necessary to bring that energy back.

  • The TTA is one of my favorite attractions. It’s certainly #1 in all of Walt Disney World when it comes to non-headliners.

    The narration change was pointless though. The ride isn’t different. People that ride the TTA are people who love the ride. Why would they want to distance themselves from that group with the PeopleMover name and the terrible audio track.

    The old track could be recited from beginning to end. It was perfectly corny and fun at the same time and actually fit what Tomorrowland is all about.

    “Now approaching….Mickey’sss Starrr Traderssss.”

    Nuff said.

  • Also one of our family favorites. We ride it at least 3 times per visit!

  • I love the Wedway Peoplemover!

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE the People Mover… especially when its not too busy and the CM lets us just stay on and keep riding…. love the way it speeds up and slows down… the breeze, the musty smell in some of the ‘tunnels’… reminds me of my childhood, too.. and I am sure I have passed this tradition on to my own children. Thanks for the post and bringing a smile to my day!

  • by Joe Schmoe on May 19, 2012, at 9:55 am EDT

    The TTA was my absolute favorite MK attraction…until they (in my opinion) absolutely ruined the entire experience by changing the narration from something that respected the ‘universe’ of Tomorrowland to what sounds to me like some bus tour operator’s cheesy spiel. It’s a boring, chirpy travelogue and just made me so sad that I haven’t been back on it since.

  • by Meredith McCutcheon on May 19, 2012, at 12:09 pm EDT

    We’ve only been to MK once, but we really enjoyed it and it’s definitely on our touring plan again this year. It was so nice to take a break from the madness. My DD4 loved it because it provided a quiet break, and my DS6 really loved the whole ride itself.

  • The Peoplemover is one of my favorite attractions but it is not ranked as high now due to the new narration which I find quite boring. If Disney is paying attention….Please bring the previous narration back! I have yet to figure out why they changed it. What was wrong with the prior narration? Even though I loathe the new narration my husband and I continue to ride it at least once on each visit to WDW. My son likes to ride in a separate car in homes that his breaks away from our group. I prefer the name Tomorrowland Transit Authority vs. The Peoplemover.

  • It’s one of our fave rides, I love the chilled pace.

    I appreciated your utterly unbiased review. More please…